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Childbirth at Kaiser Walnut Creek

The Parents Network > Reviews > Health & Medical > Kaiser Doctors > Childbirth at Kaiser Walnut Creek



May 2009

Hello, I am emailing to ask if anyone has any experiences with labor and delivery at Walnut Creek Kaiser. Due to difficulties with my last delivery, I was told by my OB that I will need a C-section this time. Does anyone have any experiences/ opinions about delivering at Walnut Creek Kaiser? Thanks, Bev


I delivered at Kaiser Walnut Creek and it was fabulous. I had a 4 hour labor, was considered high risk and all went smoothly. I had midwife who was amazing support and competent. Just keep in mind that babies are born every day to ''high risk'' mothers and you will indeed do well wherever you go. No matter where you go you will need to advocate for yourself and be in the ongoing discussion of care. I would suggest visiting the facilities, you will know where you feel most comfortable. Consider the distance to each facility as well, and your comfort level with that. The outcome will not necessarily be better or worse at any particular facility. Believe me, medical errors and oversights happen at every hospital, we are all only human. So what is better for one patient may not be for the next. You'll do great
Feb 2009

Re: Baby at Oakland vs. Walnut Creek Kaiser?

I've had two vaginal, drug free, midwife attended births at Kaiser Walnut Creek.#1 was 2004 and #2, in 2007. Sounds like with what you are seeking, it would be a great choice for you. The midwives do check in with a OB Attending, but they were incredibly supportive of a natural birth with as little unnecessary intervention as possible. I also had a great doula who they were very receptive to and I felt incredibly supported by the whole team. At my second birth, there was tense moment when my daughter was stuck and the midwife called a neonatal specialist stat, but then very calmly and firmly coached me through it with breathing. Having that backup should something happen is why we chose the hospital route but having such an experienced midwife guide me through was exactly what I hoped for. Blessings on your upcoming birth!


I got all my prenatal care from a wonderful ob/gyn at Kaiser Oakland, but when it came time to deliver, I chose Walnut Creek. I'd recommend going there. I shared your concerns about the youth and inexperience of the residents; when I went to the meet-and-greet, they all seemed about sixteen years old, plus incredibly tired from the demanding schedule of medical residency. Then there were the philosophical differences between MD's and CNM's, although in a real-life situation I think there ends up being less difference between the two models and the two facilities than you might think (medical model of higher intervention versus ''alternative'' model of lower intervention). Kaiser is Kaiser, it's a big hospital and all they really want is a healthy mom and a healthy baby, however it happens. Which is, of course, all you want in the end, too.

That said, I had a perfectly fine experience at Walnut Creek. It wasn't like I was surrounded by nurturing mother figures singing lullabies, but on the other hand I had a vaginal delivery after prolonged/stalled labor. They gave me every encouragement to keep laboring and working at it, and not once did anyone mention C-section (although they told me afterward that it was a possibility). I don't know if the resident MD's at Oakland would have had the patience or sensitivity to let me do it at my own pace.


My son was born at Kaiser Walnut Creek in 2003. What a great experience! Our nurse midwife was fab. She actually used warm olive oil to massage my perineum to help soften and stretch so baby's head could pass more easily. Lots of pushing, lots of patience on Kaiser's part, vaginal birth!! Delivery room to myself and recovery room to myself. Very nice. happy in Walnut Creek
I chose to have my baby in 2007 at Walnut Creek Kaiser, because of the nurse midwives. But my experience wasn't what I had hoped for. Maybe it was just bad luck, but I felt that the midwife I got pushed me toward medical intervention and in the end, I did have to have a C section. Another down side was that they were very crowded and most of the time we felt on our own. I would suggest hiring a person to attend your birth, someone who knows about childbirth and can advocate for you and help you through the tough times. Kristin
I can only offer that I had two babies at Kaiser WC and the last one being 3 1/2 years ago and can't recommend it highly enough. I loved both midwives and went drug free. I also had a doula which helped a lot. I agree, I wouldn't want a resident practicing on me either. I didn't love the after birth care as much, but thought the midwives were terrific! Good luck! Loved it
Sept 2008

Re: I live in Richmond - which Kaiser for delivery?

Definitely Walnut Creek. I will be delivering my second there in Nov. We live in the Annex and did the drive around 9pm the first time I delivered. It was quick and easy at that time. Our plan was to leave earlier if it was rush hour or a more congested time of day and head over San Pablo Damn Rd as an alternative. Really, labor is uncomfortable/painful so distance doesn't really matter. You won't like being in the car but being out of the car really doesn't matter that much because you are in labor. Pillows and being in the back seat with more room did help but again you are in labor it's just unpleasant. We choose WC over Oakland for several reasons. Oakland is a teaching hospital so there could be many people in your room while you deliver. My friend said she didn't even notice but I relished in my low lit room with only my husband, the midwife and a nurse present at the birth of my little one. She was welcomed into a very calm and serene environment. Oakland, at least two years ago, also had no midwives. I was very set on a midwife as I was very set on having a natural birth. WC's are some of the best and I wouldn't have made it through without our wonderful midwife. We also went for three tours at Oakland and still never saw the facilities because the guide never showed. I wasn't taking myself to a flaky place like that. The only complaint I had with WC was my bed didn't go down. I didn't really notice till after the birth. During labor they just hoisted me up but after when I needed to pee the nurse expected me to hop off the bed. A true impossibility after a natural birth. Thankfully I spotted a stool and the nurse finally helped me to the bathroom. So I'm a WC fan all the way but either way just be VERY prepared in your relaxation techniques, PRACTICE ALL THE TIME especially in early labor when you can still communicate with your coach what is and isn't working for you, and those should carry you through your drive to Oakland or WC. Alexis


We made the drive from the Richmond Hills to Kaiser WC. I was also considering both Oakland and WC, but liked the midwife and laboring tub options at WC. We planned to take San Pablo Dam Rd. to 24, but decided against it at the last second because it was dark and raining really hard (no traffic though since it was late). So, we just took 80 to 24. My husband was going fast to get us there, but I kept yelling at him to slow down because of the rain. I guess I had 4-5 sets of contractions in the car. It was fairly awful. However, the contractions were also fairly awful at the hospital. I too was worried about the longer drive to WC, but I don't think it mattered because getting there didn't take the pain away (I didn't get meds). So, it is certainly doable. And I loved the care I got there so I would definitely do it again (though hope for no rain). Shauna
I live in Pinole and delivered at Kaiser WC. I didn't drive there in labor because I had complications that required a c-section. But I did need to travel there unexpectedly several times for pregnancy complications. I ended up hospitalized on the OB unit on more than one occasion and cannot say enough positive things about the nursing care and the physicians. I've heard many positive comments about the midwives there, but sadly my pregnancy was considered too high risk for me to receive midwifery care. Good luck with your delivery! Kaiser Mama
I delivered at Kaiser Walnut Creek in June (I live in Oakland) and was absolutely thrilled with the care I received there. The Midwife who was on call and all of the nurses that took care of myself and my son during my 3-day stay (my son was born a month early) were simply incredible. They were very supportive of my plan for an unmedicated birth and the Midwife in particular was an incredible labor coach and was able to help me visualize the pushing in a way that made it really effective for me. I can't say enough good things about the L&D team in WC. While I can't speak from experience for Kaiser Oakland, I've also heard good things but keep in mind that Oakland is also a teaching hospital so there tend to be more observers around (but you don't have to allow them in the room if you're not comfortable with that). And of course WC has the Midwifery program which certainly gives it a different atmosphere. If this is your first baby, I would not worry too much about having time to get to the hospital. Most first babies come with long labors but even if you are like me (3 hour labor - first baby), that's still plenty of time to get there. That said, I HIGHLY recommend taking a good childbirth preparation class so that you can identify what stage of labor you are in and know when to go to the hospital! I would have had my baby at home had I not realized (based on what I learned in my class) that my labor was progressing abnormally quickly. Best of luck to you!!! Cindy
March 2008

Hi there, I checked the archives, but the information is 2 years old. I am pregnant with twins who are due at the end of June. We had our first daughter at Kaiser SF and were happy with our choice. However, we've moved to the East Bay and Kaiser WC would be more convenient than driving over the bridge. Anyone have any advice about having a c-section at WC (our first was breech and apparently Kaiser wont do a VBAC for twins)? Is it still super busy and harried? Should we drive to SF? Thanks! anxious for #2 and #3!


Hi, I had my daughter at WC Kaiser this last August. They are very popular, but we were there and had no problems with it being busy (we were even able to get the room with the jet tub). I wound up having a C-section and it was done very nicely. Dr. Bui did mine, I would highly recommend her, she has a great bed-side manner and is very good. I healed easily and she checked in on me each day and answered all of my questions. WC is a really nice facility and has a nice garden on the new mothers wing that you can sit outside, nurses were great. Also, make sure you talk to Barbara the lactation consultant, she made our visit. Jessie
Hi, I can't advise on WC Kaiser, however, can let you know that you have another Kaiser birthing option in the east bay and that is Oakland Kaiser. I just gave birth to our first child (2 weeks ago!) at Kaiser Oakland and was very impressed with my experience. (click here for the rest of this review.)
I gave birth at Walnut Creek Kaiser in July 2007. I was not nearly as pleased as I expected to be. They had a huge number of birthing women that month, unfortunately, and we spent 2 hours in an overflow room waiting for a midwife to check us in (this was not a terrible thing, but it gives you an idea of how busy they were). Lots of women from other Kaiser locations go there...I was one of those and wish I'd stayed in Oakland. I went there for the midwives, but foudn them to be a lot like the doctors...I wanted a ''real'' midwife. Instead, the second (of three) (I was in labor 31 hours) recommended I have an epidural even though my birth plan indicated I didn't want one and I wasn't asking for one. My feeling is that she just wanted to get me on the meds so she didn't have to pay attention to me - because they were so over-booked. Anyway, all this ended with me pushing for 3 hours then being recommended a c-section. That was a tot! ally traumatic experience mostly becuase they wouldn't let my doula into the operation room after my partner & baby left for the nursery. The surgeons nicked my bladder at some point druing the c-section so the operation lasted over an hour and I was all alone for most of it. I am still really traumatized by the whole thing. While I really liked one of the midwives I saw prenatally at WC, I'm not sure I would recommend going there for the birth...especially if it's a busy month for them. It's a beautiful garden-oriented location but you won't see any of it, since you'll be in bed recovering! Obviously my experience will not be your experience, but I think it's worth hearing about. Good luck with your decision! cv
Feb 2007

hello, i just wanted to describe my very wonderful experience with kaiser walnut creek l+d. i had a midwife, whose name now escapes me, who was fabulous! she was right there with me through my entire delivery. so much more than i ever anticipated. i knew going into my delivery that i would want an epidural, and that was delivered flawlessly by the anesthesiologist. (i do have friends from other institutions who had difficulty obtaining the medications they needed due to short staffing / the medications were not offered by her attendant or whatever). not so great things do happen at all hospitals, that's for sure. the staff at kaiser walnut creek was very professional and responded to my needs in a timely fashion. when i arrived at the hospital, i was 6cm and things went quickly, yet my experience is one that i look back on fondly. medication was offered in a timely manner and there were no problems there. i would consider myself in good hands for my 3rd child there. happy birthing at kaiser wc


My partner and I recently made the decision to deliver at Kaiser Walnut Creek rather than Oakland Kaiser. We came to this decision on the advice of our doula and after touring both facilities.

Our doula strongly recommended WC over Oakland Kaiser. In fact, she feels Kaiser WC is one of the best L&D hospitals in the area, being more sensitive and flexible regarding the mother's wishes for her birth experience. Kaiser Oakland is a teaching facility, and as such, it seems more attached to its protocols. I also believe that the cesarean rate at WC is significantly lower than Oakland. (Although I'm sure you would have ended up with a c-section at either facility with a breech birth.)

As far as the tour went, we found the facilities fairly comparable - Oakland has slightly newer equipment, but WC is more spacious. WC does hand out a letter at the tour explaining their philosophy and some of their standard practices, which I found reassuring.

My daughter is due in just a few weeks, and I also plan for a natural/ drug-free birth barring unforseen problems. I showed my birth plan to the WC midwife and she was supportive. However, she did say that most women there opt for pain medication, so who knows how things will progress since I'm going against the norm. Hoping for the best! Kimberly


April 2006

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser - where to deliver?

I wanted to add my experience with Kaiser Walnut Creek. I had one child there in 99 and another in 03. With my first birth experience the midwife apologized to me for taking too long to contact the doctor that I needed a C section. My son was in distress for quiet a while before I finally had a C section. That went fine. Then the circumcision was crooked ( my sister inlaw had the same experience with that at Walnut Creek). Oh, and they left a staple in me.

My next child was delivered in 2003 at Walnut Creek. My baby again went into distress, they wheeled me into the operating room, after 3 hours of pushing hard, and I was told that if the baby did not come out in the next 10 minutes they would push her back up and give me the C section. She did come out. They did not have the right needle yet she stiched me up anyway. The thread broke later. In my room nursing my beautiful daughter in recovery my husband thought she was breathing hard, nurse said she seemed fine but would check. Off to the NIC unit for a week due to breathing problems. I boarded there (if they have empty rooms you can stay on which is a huge blessing). I went in every 3 hours and was able to breastfeed her within a few days. Most of the shift care was amazing. Wonderful, considerate nurturing nurses. The 2 am shift does not seem to have a doctor on rounds. It was loud in there. The manager yelled from one end of the room to the next, a nurse put a radio really loud next to an 5 month old who kept crying, and the topper was the nurse who said ' stop crying or I will throw you in the trash'. I kid you not. I chose not to report the staff until we were out ( she was in a week).

I was told that the manager was fired, yet I heard from another manager that she was transfered. I sent a complaint to the Chief of the hospital who later forwarded it back to the head of NIC who heard my original complaint. She wanted me to come in so that she could reasure me that it was all better. She was also upset that the complaint I sent to the Chief 'passed through a lot of hands before it got to her.' So, there it is, my experience at Walnut Creek. In hindsight I think it would have been a great choice to have a doula who would have had the experience to shepard us through the experience. I do want to add that I have had a great many positive experiences with Kaiser but this was not one. Anon


Nov 2005

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser - where to deliver?

I recently gave birth at Kaiser Walnut creek (August 27, 05) and I thought that the facilities there were wonderful along with the staff. I had unforseen complications and ended up having a c-section. The midwives and DR's handeled everything so kindley and were so wonderful.I had a great experience with this hospital. It was not busy at all when I was there. If you are worried about the ''crowds'' what I did was this...I was torn between Oakland and Walnut creek. So when I was ready to go to the hospital I called both places, which you are suppose to do anyway to let them know you are coming so they can get your records. Anyway when I called Oakland all of their birthing rooms were occupied so I went to walnut creek. Whether or not either of your choices will be busy all I can say is don't worry about it. They told me that around my due date it would be busy too and it was very slow at Walnut creek. Happy birthing! Gina


I had my daughter at Kaiser Walnut Creek this past May and I can't recommend them highly enough. The midwives and nurses were great: helpful, kind, and competent. They were very respectful of my initial decision to forego medication; however, when it became apparent that I could really benefit from it (after hours of vomiting and dehydration) they discussed options with me and respected my right to decide what to do next.

I ended up needing an emergency c-section, and although it was scary, the professionalism, efficiency, and sensitivity of everyone involved made the experience a very positive one in the end. I would definitely go there again.

I believe that Hayward does not have as many midwives on duty as WC does; check this out before you commit to going there.

You can call to go to Walnut Creek first; if they're full, they can reroute you to Hayward. I think it's a positive thing to keep Walnut Creek in such high demand; it may ultimately make Kaiser management sit up and take note that the midwife program there is something to be studied and emulated elsewhere.

Congratulations and good luck! Kimberly Cross


I delivered both of my boys at Kaiser WC in the last 2 yrs. and most recently in Aug. Fabulous experiences at both. Loved both midwives, especially Kristen Caulley (sp?). They were supportive of my desire to deliver naturally and w/the support of my doula. I am convinced that the reason my tearing was minimal was due to the midwives' efforts on both deliveries, specifically massaging the perinium. Can't imagine your average OB doing that! Not as crazy about the post delivery care, but it was still fine. Caroline
I highly recommend Kaiser Walnut Creek. We too were told that it is overcrowded, and yet we were admitted into Labor and Delivery with no problems, and we got a single room for recovery. I loved the midwives and felt that my daughter and I were taken care of very well. We toured Oakland, and what turned me off was the fact that residents deliver babies and there were only 6 LDR rooms, plus you have to share a bathroom if you get a single. I also didn't like the fact that they had triples. Who wants to recover from labor with two other women and their families? I have heard horror stories of Kaiser Hayward. My mother's friend had twins there, and she said it was the worst experience and that she would never go back. I have heard that some doulas won't even work with clients who are going to deliver there because it's so bad. Anon
I gave birth at Kaiser Walnut Creek a little over a year ago. It was my first child, so I can only comment on my experiences there. I live in Berkeley, but chose to go to Walnut Creek because a) they have midwives and b) the Oakland facility had only recently been renovated and a few people said it's better to go somewhere where they've worked out all the kinks.

I had a perfectly fine experience that resulted in a perfectly healthy baby. The staff was very professional on the whole. But, as I think is very common, I was surprised at how medicalized my whole experience still was, even though I had a midwife. Now that I've been through it I know: once you enter the hospital, there are certain protocols and procedures that must be followed regardless of whether they actually result in a better birth. For instance, right when I got to triage they detected that my baby had a decelerating heart rate. This led to constant monitoring...which led to not being able to walk around...which meant my labor was probably longer...which meant I had to push lying on my back as opposed to squatting, etc. It's a very common story, I think regardless of what hospital you give birth in. I had a midwife assigned to me, but she was so overloaded that I spent most of the time with two (very wonderful but pretty traditional) labor nurses. I ended up giving birth naturally, but got the definite impression that this isn't the usual end result of births there.

I'm telling you in the hopes that it'll help you prepare for whatever happens with your birth. I think I had higher expectations because of the midwives, but ended up realizing that because they're working within the hospital system, they don't have a ton of options. I think if I had it to do over again, I would have just gone to Kaiser Oakland because it's a lot closer to home. Good luck with your decision! anon


Kaiser Walnut Creek is wonderful but can be so crowded as to cause problems. I had my son there last year and they were PACKED when I arrived. (We even called ahead and they said to come in. I too chose Walnut Creek over Oakland because of the midwives.) When I got to triage, I was in active labor. They did not have a room ready for me so I had to wait and labor in triage for a long time before they got a room cleaned. It was probably between 20 to 60 min but it seemed like forever for me and it was awful being in active labor there. (I was desparate to get to my room and into the shower!!) My labor stalled in transition and I am sure that having to labor in triage contributed to that. I also had to share a room after the birth (even though they have about 20 private rooms) so I did not get much rest as my roommate had people visiting all the time and watched lots of TV. It also took forever for us to get check out as we were 18th in line out of 20 people wanting to leave and we had to wait hours for the pediatrician to get to us to sign out my son. My advice: if you are in labor and you call them and they are not busy (sometimes they aren't) go there. If not, go to Oakland or Hayward. I have two friends who had goog experiences birthing at Oakland and I may consider it next time, although I really like the midwives at Walnut creek. Oh, the nurses at Walnut Creek are WONDERFUL!! We wanted to take home one of the maternity nurses, we loved her so much. Anon
I had my son at Kaiser Walnut Creek two years ago and had an excellent experience from start to (nearly) finish. After the first few months of prenatal care at Oakland, I toured the WC facility and much preferred the atmosphere there. Plus, at that time, Kaiser Oakland patients delivered at Alta Bates with residents, which was not what I wanted. I really wanted to work with a midwife, and I saw midwife Julie Haymes for nearly all of my prenatal appointments from five months on. She was actually the midwife on duty when I went into labor, and she was fantastic. Although I had a very long childbirth, I felt like the two subsequent midwives and all of the nurses had read my birth plan, and were doing the best they could to give me the birth I wanted. The surroundings were quiet and comfortable, and the staff was very supportive and low key. I never felt like I was ''on the clock'' for interventions. When I eventually chose an epidural, the anaesthesiologist did such a good job that I could feel the coming pressure of all my contractions and push really efficiently. My only complaint would be the whole recovery process. I had a shared room with a mom who wanted the temperature set at freezing. Also, the nurses were not nearly as kind or thoughtful. I escaped after one night! Finally, regarding the concern about being turned away. Yes, the night I was admitted was very busy. I got the last delivery room available. The admitting nurse said it often depended on the time of the month...the night I went into labor there was a full moon and it was pouring rain. I guess water was breaking all over! However, when I left to go home, half the rooms were empty. Hope this helps! Michelle
Hi- I recently delivered my son at Kaiser Walnut Creek (August 2005) and had a great experience. We used a midwife who was terrific (Kat King). The nurse and midwife were very encouraging and positive. I also have had two friends deliver there - one in August and one in September who live in Oakland and they were able to get in. I hope that helps. K
I gave birth to my daughter at Kaiser Walnut Creek in June 2003. I had a wonderful experience. The nurses and midwifes were great. At first I thought our nurse was too attentive, but then my husband and I were so grateful for her help and experience. They are very busy at different times of the year, but it can be hard to tell when the babies are actually going to come. I haven't heard that people get turned away; that certainly wouldn't be good. It was busy when I was there, but not overly so. I have no idea what Hayward Kaiser is like, but was actually born there MANY years ago. Good luck with whatever you choose and wherever you go! Monika
Nov 1999

You should check out Kaiser's Walnut Creek hospital. There they have a shiny new facility with nice birthing rooms, in-room showers and lots of postpartum rooms. When we had our daughter 2 years ago there, they had several nurse-midwives who did deliveries (as well as OBs, of course). We had a quick, easy delivery with a midwife and didn't see an OB until we were in a postpartum room... which was how we wanted it.


Both of my children were born at Kaiser Walnut Creek, the eldest is 7 and the youngest is 4.5 years old, so the judge the information as not too current. During both births midwives were on duty, but for the first child, the midwife was too busy (too many women in labor and I think some difficult labors) and the OB/GYN doctor delivered my daughter. For the second child, the midwife was available and did deliver my son. Some of my observations as the husband/father follow. I was horrified to see the male doctor with the first child take out the scissors and just start cutting my wife. While with the second child and the midwife, she massaged my wife to reduce tearing, which did occur, but was minimal. So just as you expect, the midwife spent more time with my wife and generally had a better bedside manner than the doctor. So even if there is a midwife on duty, you are not guaranteed that she will be able to assist.
Jan 2005

Ok, so what's the real deal with Kaiser? Is it truly a progressive HMO as they claim it to be, or second rate health care for the poor as I hear it described so often? Here's my concern, specifically: I delivered a baby by c-section, 3 (yes, THREE) weeks late, at Kaiser Walnut Creek about 18 months ago after receiving care at their Pleasanton medical offices. Things were just OK through my prenatal care- there seemed to be a lack of communication between health care providers (rarely saw the same NP or dr twice), contradictory medical advice given, no real plan for moms 42weeks+, very chaotic labor&delivery unit (they claim to have been very busy, but I hear that they are just always ''very busy''), and way, way too much medication pushed after surgery among many other things. Anyway, anytime I read things about Kaiser Walnut Creek from other BPN members, it seems like they have nothing but great things to say- and I wonder, did I really deliver in the same place? How could my experience be so far off from other people's wonderful experiences? Granted, I did like most of the nurses I met and the dr who did my c-section seemed very competent (though I was never given a real medical reason for the c-section), but it's unlikely I'd see any of them again. Now, I am pregnant again and about to start the whole thing over- should I give Kaiser another try or should I go with a private practice/different hospital? Am I really the only disappointed Kaiser WC patient?


I have a suggestion: ask to see your chart. Call ahead and make an appointment so you don't wait while they fish it out. Even with medical mumbo-jumbo, it should explain what the medical folks were thinking at the time but were too busy to communicate. Then feel free to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

I've been a Kaiser member for 15 years and had 2 kids with them. Like any other large, bureaucratic system, a lot depends on the individuals you come in contact with. There have been times when procedures seemed capricious and burdensome and other time where the bureaucracy has actually meant better communication and timely intervention. But even in my most frustrated moments, I've stayed because I'm not convinced that the other HMOs or PPPs are any better. In fact, with other plans, the communication between doctors is often worse because other HMOs aren't as centralized. To sum up, Kaiser works best if you have a pleasant, non-confrontational, but persistent advocate with you (I say with you because in labor you or your partner are unlikely to be any of those things!). Good luck. Brenda


I am wondering if you can contact me offline. I work for Kaiser and want to direct your concern to the Medical Group Administrator of the Walnut Creek facility. I work closely with him and I think this is something that he would want to know. Please let me try to address your concern. If anyone else has issues, please call me. That is after you have went through the facility's member services and have seen no change in your services. lena
I noticed in your message that you are pregnant now. You should know that you won't be able to get insurance anywhere else right now since you're already pregnant. You might want to work on finding out how to get the best prenatal care you can at Kaiser. I'm a health insurance broker and would be happy to answer any questions you have on the topic. Denise
I can only speak with regards to Kaiser Oakland, but our family's experience has been great for the entire five years that we've been members. I, too, am pregnant with my second. I have had the same OB/GYN Doc & NP since we signed up, the same family doctor and pediatrician all along, and a good birth experience - in the Kaiser Oakland Alta Bates days. I look forward to excellect care at the new Labor & Delivery in the Kaiser Oakland Hospital, and, in fact, have heard only good things from doulas, etc about the new unit. When I struggled with depression due to miscarriages, the therapist selected for me was great and caring - and even recommended a Meditation and Mindfulness class offered there, which was beyond any expectations I would have of a ''normal'' HMO. I will use things learned in that course throughout life's tough times, and even in labor.

So, my advice, give Kaiser Oakland a try this time. Ask to see if Rebecca Avery, NP OB/GYN, is available. Roberta Cunningham is a fabulous pediatrician. And, I'd recommend Dr. Lawrence Sirott for a primary care doc.

And, no, I don't work for Kaiser, though it sounds like it, huh? signed, A happy Kaiser family


I'm so sorry you had such a horrid experience. (Interestingly, my experience with post-CS pain meds was the opposite--I practically had to beg for them with one nurse, at Summit Hosp!)

I've had a very, very good experience with Kaiser Oakland. My physician and pediatrician have been top-notch, as have been the specialists. But don't take my word for it: there are surveys every year of health providers by Consumer Reports and others, and of the ones available in California, Kaiser No Cal & So Cal always come out WAY above anything else, including HealthNet, which I left after my son was born. I mean, like on a different page, the others are so much farther down in terms of satisfaction rating.

I don't discount your experience, and have heard of others who have been dissatisfied (sometimes deeply dissatisfied) with Kaiser, but that doesn't seem to be the norm. If Kaiser Oakland is convenient for you, drop me a note and I'd be happy to supply the names of my doctors. Hope this helps. Jennie


I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative birth experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek. I too delivered at Walnut Creek and went to the Pleasanton Medical Offices. I truly had a great experience and was really impressed with the whole prenatal care and delivery (also a c-section)process.

I say give it another try but you need some consistancy. Pick a doctor as your primary OB and see only her/him. You can also pick a secondary Doc or NP, in case your primary is on vacation or sick. I only saw my doctor and loved her. In fact, she did my c-section as well.

I'm not one to whole heartedly endorse Kaiser, as I have not always had the best experience with them but after my pregnancy/birth experience, I really hope I have Kaiser with the next child.

Hope this helps, Karen


Hi There. Kaiser Walnut Creek is a little dirfferent in the fact of having midwives staffed there. As a doula, I have witnessed a variety of situations good and bad. Of all the Kaisers, Walnut Creek and Hayward have been the most outstanding when circumstances have arose. I do validated the fact that they tend to be chaotic in their commincations and their protocols. I think that since you are pregnant again, check into giving Walnut Creek another chance. Maybe you could have a personal support team that would allow you to labor, and leave all the business affairs to your support team. Walnut Creek has responded positive in having family/friends/doulas present for the birthing mom. Last note- KWC does stay busy, its a populare site because they are more relaxed than other Kaisers. Niccole
I've been a Kaiser member for over 20 years, and have been a patient at WC, SF and now Oakland.

Overall, I really like Kaiser, but I notice now that I have Primary Care Physicians for both me and my kids, the Kaiser system is even better. Do you have a PCP? For years and years I didn't have one, and when I was pregnant with my kids I saw whomever they gave me.

Now I just call my personal physicians, and I have had nothing but excellent customer service and care.

It's true, different doctors will sometimes give you conflicting information, but I think that is true of any practice, not just Kaiser.

I also had c-sections, but I know for a fact that Kaiser is pro-natural. They tried to talk me into a VBAC, and they also let me go 2 weeks and one day the first time around. Their policy is not to induce until you are 42 weeks. They also won't give you an epidural until you are 4 cm.

I think just like any other organization, some years they give better service than others, and some branches might be better than other branches. Maybe WC is having a bad year. Kaiser fan


I had my first child at Kaiser and was very disappointed with the chaotic care I received. Although my daughter is seven years old, I remember seeing a different doctor throughout the entire pregnancy and did not even know the doctor that delivered my baby. The only thing good was there were no medical bills. I switched after being a member since I was a kid because they wanted to perform surgery on my six month old daughter for constant ear infections. Now my second pregnancy was high risk and my doctor was wonderful and proactive throughout the ENTIRE pregnancy. His name is Dr. Kevin Smith and he has an office in Oakland (Chinatown) and Oakland(Montclair). I too had a c-section at Kaiser & was able to give birth to a boy vaginally. I also had gestational diabetes, early onset depression (due 2 post-partum blues with the first, spotting and a host of other things. It was like when one thing got repaired something else happened. But I was confident throughout the entire process and didn't worry. Kimberly
I have delivered at Kaiser WC twice in the last 2 years. I had both bad and good experiences respectively. My first labor was 36 hours long. I went into labor with the birth plan to have the least amount of intervention as possible, but not totally closed to pain meds if I truly felt I couldn't handle it. I ended up with every intervention - okay not EVERY, but plenty, including water droplets to help stop back labor pain (which it didn't), narcotics (which made me hallucinate), and an epidural at about hour 24. I was there for so long I went through plenty of nurses, and ended up with a real loser for the actual pushing and delivery. I was threatened that I was going to have a C-section for the last 11 hours of my labor. I was dilating REALLY slow, but I WAS dilating, and the baby was not in distress. I begged and cried for them to let me keep trying to have a vaginal birth. Reluctantly they let me go. The nurses were rude to me when I was contemplating the epidural, asking ''what are you afraid of'' in a condescending manner. They didn't encourage me by telling me what a good job I was doing, or that I was strong and could do. When I was finally pushing no one was telling me what was going on, and when I asked the nurse replied ''it's going to be a while'' in this bored tone. The Midwife came in at the very last second to catch the baby. After the baby was born, my after care wasn't great either. I had very bad tearing and a hematoma (a big pocket of blood protruding from the perinium - VERY painful). Yet I constantly had to get out of bed to get myself juice or call for a nurse as they weren't answering my pages.

Labor number 2 which was this last April was totally different. I had a GREAT experience, but my labor was also totally different. This time I was only in labor for 2 hours (and I mean from the very first contraction). I got to the hospital at 9cm, let out a wail like only a woman in labor can do, and was literally swept off my feet to a delivery room. I begged for the epidural, was told it was too late, that the baby was coming, and was ENCOURAGED that I could do it. The nurses helped me breath through the contractions, and in general were there for me in the intensity of the moment. Right away the baby went into distress, and they called for the doctor. I was told they couldn't find the heartbeat, and I needed to push the baby out right that moment or they were going to do an emergency c-section. I opted for bearing down and pushing with everything in me, and the baby was born in about 3 minutes. My after care was also great. The nurses were friendly and helpful, and seemed to have my best interest at heart. My only complaint this time was that ALL NIGHT LONG people were in and out of my room, and I got very little sleep. Nurses came in to do vitals on me and baby, came in to check serial numbers on the beds (or something like that), they came in to empty the trash, the circumcision doctor came in at 2am to discuss the circumcision with me, then a half later (just as I was getting back to sleep) the nurse came in with the cicumcision paperwork, they came and took the baby to do the hearing test, and Lord only knows what else. It was INSANE. I had to stay another night (because I fainted for some unknown reason), and my doctor left a note to leave out room alone. There were still a couple interruptions, but nothing like the night before.

So, I would have to say that you just don't know what you are going to get. Do I think they improved that much over the 21 months since I had been there. Not really. I think it's the luck of the draw. But I also think it's that way anywhere you go. The only predctable thing about labor and delivery is that it is unpredictable. There are no guarantees no matter where ou go. Good Luck in your decision! Done with L & D


hello, after reading your posting, as a healthcare professional, i got a sense from some of your comments that you need to take more control of your health care. for example, thoroughly research your kaiser's prenatal practitioners, and by all means understand why your c-section was performed (i assume you signed a consent form and had the risks and benefits of your c-section explained to you). surgical procedures are NOT performed without reason. i would encourage you to even follow up on this and ask your ob precisely why your c-section was performed, aren't you curious? i am a very pleased kaiser patient, and i thoroughly researched the obstetricians in our office prior to committing to one for the delivery of my daughter. and i continue to see him for my routine well ob care as well. in order to see your chosen practitioner as often as possbile, you should book your next appt whenever you are at an ob well baby appotintment. yet at the same time, as in many multi-physician offices, you need to accept that you will see different practitioners occassionally.

you'll feel better about your care if you connect with your ob on SOME level (who you see quite often during pregnancy!). read about the birthing process and convey how you would like your delivery to go to your delivery team. i guarantee that you too can be a happy kaiser patient if you do your research and voice your concerns and needs. PARTNERS in health = patient and caregivers working together! good luck!


I was a Kaiser member for over 20 years. I even paid for the plan for several years even though my employer offered a fantastic indemnity plan that let me choose any dr. I wanted to and had no co-pays. I chose to have my baby at Kaiser WC even though I could have gone anywhere (and did tour Alta Bates and other are hospitals). I happened to tour KWC on a night it was pretty empty and not chaotic. I happened to go into labor on a day when apparently everyone in the Easy Bay did too. It was very busy the entire 3 days I was there and a nurse was yelling for a dr. while my daughter was coming out on her own. That said, I loved my experience at Kaiser in every way. In my 20+ years as a member, there were many things that I didn't like and many doctors I was unhappy with. So I would switch doctors until I found one I liked. Now that I have an outside plan, I may see ''the best'' docs out there but I still wait months for appointments and have yet to impressed by any of them. I also don't like having to go to so many different offices and feel a big lack of continuity in care. While at Kaiser, I felt that there was good communication between all the doctors and staff about my care vs now where i feel like i have to wade through a huge system on my own. That was all taken care of at Kaiser. It is not perfect, but I do believe it is good. My family has had Kaiser for minor and major medical issues and we never felt like we had low quality care. We only stopped with Kaiser because it seemed ridiculous not to take advantage of my company's free coverage. If I had a choice, I would happily stay with Kaiser. Nic
I have had great experiences with Kaiser Walnut Creek-both with my care and delivery in 2003 and my care in my next pregnancy, due in April. I think Kaiser can be a wonderful resource if you are willing and able to be a strong personal advocate for yourself. During the course of my care, I found a few things to really help the quality and continuity of care:

1. If possible, see a MD. Now I know they want you to see a NP, and a lot of them are very good. If the pregnancy is complication free, seeing the same NP is fine. However, I found that if there was ever a worry or complication, I'd have to first see the NP and then come back to see a MD--a waste of my time to do both. Finally I saw a doctor that said I could just continue seeing him over the course of my pregnancy instead of switching. His name is Francis Wright, and he can be brusque and a little by-the-book Western in his approach, but he is a kind, caring man that is pleasant to see and he lets me e-mail him questions and is always very responsive to anything I need. Once I settled on him, it was a much more personal experience. Even if you do see an NP, you must insist on seeing the same one (see below).

2. Don't let them switch providers on you. The nurses that schedule the follow up appointments have tried, several times over the course of this pregnancy, to schedule me with someone totally random. I just give a big smile and very sweetly say ''Oh, I'm sorry, I only see Dr. Wright, what are his available times?''. You shouldn't be expected to see more than one person, unless its a vacation or something unusual.

3. Talk to the doctor about all of your concerns, if they are good they will help with this scheduling business.

4. Having a single provider helps when you are in labor, too. Dr. Wright would call up to my room and come in to check in. He wasen't there to deliver, but I did feel like I had an outside resource.

5. Have a friend or doula at delivery. I think their delivery ward is great, but I also think its somewhat typical that you need someone other than yourself to help ask questions/make the big decisions. If you feel that you didn't have a real reason for the C-section, you needed someone advocating for you (no, it can't be you in labor!) and getting those questions answered. Also, if things are not living up to your expectations, talk to the doctor on duty. We had one nurse we didn't feel comfortable with, we talked with the attending, and we never saw that nurse again. We found that when we communicated our needs, they were willing to go the extra mile to make us happy.

In answer to your question, I love Kaiser WC and will continue to use it (even though I drive from Livermore, I have worked to establish myself with one doc in one place and I'm sticking with it). I do think you have to be a firm advocate for the quality of your own care. If you are willing to do that, Kaiser can be a great resource. Good luck! Rebecca


I can't comment on whether or not Kaiser is ''progressive'', nor can I comment on the Walnut Creek facilities (I use the Oakland facilities). However, I can say that I have been overall happy with my care with Kaiser. I've been with them for nearly three years now, and had a few medical issues that were, for the most part, dealt with well. The same medical issues that were brushed off by previous doctors were quickly referred to specialists with Kaiser. The problems that did arise were not Kaiser-specific. I'm now pregnant and expect to deliver at the Oakland hospital in a few weeks.

All that said I am also the type of person to take a very active role in my healthcare in general. I make sure that I see the same doctor/nurse for my visits, ask lots and lots of questions, and research things independently. I also have hired a doula to be with me at birth, because, yes, hospitals are busy, chaotic places. The last time I was in a (non-Kaiser) hospital I was forgotten about in the recovery room!

From reading your post it sounds like it is possible that you may be happier in a small private practice. I have little experience with such practices, so I couldn't compare. Either way, it is important that you make your concerns known to your practitioner and take the time to develop a relationship with them. Best luck with your pregnancy and healthcare decisions! Kaiser patient


A dear friend of mine is due in March, and I will be with her during the birth. She has been going to Kaiser S.F., and I have had some opportunities to check it out. We are very impressed with their birthing center, their staff, and how informative they are. they also really stress how willing they are to work with her needs and wants during the birth, and claim they are supportive of doing as little intervention as they can. They also claim a very low C-section rate, and were able to cite statistics, as well. Since we haven't gone through the delivery yet, we don't know how true this all is, but we're hoping it's as good as it seems. Anon
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