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Midwives and childbirth in San Francisco

April 2006

I am two monthes pregnant and am searching for a midwife. I want to give birth in a hospital in San Francisco. I visited St. Lukes and loved the attitude there. I have heard that UCSF and CPMC are so short on midwives, that you aren't guarenteed to have one present for delivery. Is this true? Does anyone have recommendations for an independent midwifery group that would be able to deliver at UCSF or CPMC? Anyone with an experience at St. Lukes to share? Mary


I saw the post regarding delivery experience at St. Luke's. My experience was definitely mixed. I delivered my son there in June of 2004. My Dr., whom I'd seen for the entire pregnancy was supposed to be on call that time, and even though we called ahead to give them notice we were coming out, she did not show up. She didn't come by to check on us once during the entire week we were in the hospital. My son had some respiatory issues which required us to be there the entire week. The other negative issue was that because I was strep B +, I needed to have an IV for at least 4 hours before the birth. My labor went quickly, but there was at least 5 hrs to get the IV working. They couldn't get the right antibiotic in L & D several hours and I only had it for about 45 min. The hosptial had plenty of notice that we needed it as it was written all over my chart. We will never know if that was why my son had the respiatory problems or not. That being said, the Dr. who delivered my son was an on call dr. from UCSF, Dr. Koi. He was excellent and allowed us a lot of freedom- he checked in 2x to meet me, see how things were going, and then came in at the end for the actual delivery. Because my husband was at the foot of the table, he didn't make us move and manuevered over my husband to catch the baby. The staff, although initially reactive to my doula, warmed up to her pretty quickly. They also stopped pushing the sedatives when they realized I didn't want them and the labor was proceeding quickly. They left us pretty much on our own except for checkin in and at the very end during the delivery. The other nice thing was that although they were packed with other new moms, and my insurance only covered 2 days of rooming, they allowed me to stay in the hospital with my son for the entire week, without billing us for the stay. They did cut off meals after day two, but that was not a big deal. So, my advice is that if you have a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy, and you are not choosy about who delivers your baby, this might be the place for you. Having your own doula or advocate is also a major plus. I am now 8.5 mos. pregnant with number 2, and am going to deliver at Alta Bates this time. Different OB too. We are using the same doula. Good luck! St. Luke's the 1st Time, not the 2d!
My daughter was born at St Lukes and the midwives there were incredible. I was supposed to have a home birth but developed preeclampsia at 35 weeks and had to be induced. So, I had not expected to have my baby at St. Lukes, had never been to the L&D there (my back up hospital was somewhere else), knew no one. Every midwife and nurse treated me with the utmost respect, were warm, informative, and attentive. My attending midwife was Laura Pioletti, although I would recommend anyone. One of my homebirth midwives became my labor doula in the hospital and the staff gave her a lot of respect and latitude as well. My postpartum experience was not as good, but that was largely related to some shifts they were making in postnatal care at the time,and a pediatrician who was condescending toward us because of our desire to have a homebirth. Dr. Michael Treece is a pediatrician there who I can recommend if anything goes wrong after the birth (my daughter developed jaundice and had to stay extra days). Monika
I'm having a home birth but my midwife mentioned that if we need to transfer to a hospital, St. Luke's is the best place for a midwife friendly hospital. One thing that stands out there is that while at UCSF you'll have a team of doctors and residents (and hopefully a staff midwife) at the delivery, at St Luke's it is a much more ''intimate'' setting. You won't be on display with a large group of medical staff coming and going. Though I don't have a midwife there to recommend, the hospital is well-regarded by one of the most experienced home birth midwives in SF. Good luck. kim
Warm, knowledgeable, comforting, experienced, loving, dedicated, amazing…just a few of the words that come to mind when I think about my experience with Homestyle Midwifery. Thanks to the wonderful women at Homestyle the birth of my daughter Isabel is one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Homestyle helped me experience my pregnancy, my daughter’s birth, and my post-partum period in a very deep, natural, and spiritual way that I do not believe I could have come close to achieving without them. From the very start they took the time to learn who I was and to know my ''story''... They helped educate me throughout my pregnancy and they were an active part of the process for the months leading up to my daughter's birth. I believe one of the most important things in having a happy & healthy birth experience is being comfortable with those around you and having trust & faith in your body, your baby, and your caregivers - Homestyle helped me achieve all of that. With their help and some smiles from the heaven above my daughter was born in a little under 6 hours with no medication and one tiny tear. No sooner was Isabel born than she was on my chest learning to breast feed with the encouragement of us all. The hospital staff was friendly and efficient and I felt great. I can not say enough wonderful things about Homestyle. They are all truly amazing and I feel blessed to have found them. Yvonne
When I first started thinking about where we’d have our baby, I had a few very strong requirements: I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible; I wanted our birthing place to be comfortable; I wanted my pregnancy and birth to be treated like the natural event it was and not like an illness; and I wanted to know the person who would be catching our baby.

All of these wishes were met when we joined Homestyle Midwifery at St. Luke’s. My husband and I were elated with and grateful for the professional and compassionate prenatal care we received. We found the group meetings supportive and warm, which helped the anxiety we felt as expectant parents. And most important, our midwife created a medically safe, yet nurturing and non-clinical environment, to finally greet our baby. She was our guide and our advocate, and helped give us the strength required do the work of giving birth.

We feel incredibly lucky to have found Homestyle Midwifery. And the highest compliment we can give is – we’d love for them to deliver our next baby! Aimee


I recently gave birth with a midwifery practice at St. Luke's -- Homestyle Midwifery. They are a separate practice backed up by OBs at the Women's Health Center there. Homestyle Midwifery is really a unique and amazing practice. They provide wonderful emotional and physical support (long prenatal visits, a 36 week team meeting with all the midwives, your partner and doula, prenatal group meetings, a postpartum home visit, labor tub, birthing stool, and more). They will also not use unnecessary interventions which are routine in so many practices. I was at UCSF for a while, and the midwives seemed really good, but I found the practice too big and impersonal. I researched CPMC, and the gist of what I heard is that they are a pretty high-intervention practice wirh a high cesarean rate, so I did not follow up with them. Homestyle Midwifery: (415) 643-3378, homestylemw@yahoo.com, www.homestylemidwifery.com Julie M.

Childbirth at St. Luke's in San Francisco

March 2005

After a long search and comparisons of different hospitals, I'm thinking of delivering my first child at St. Luke's hospital in San Francisco with a midwife, Yeshi Neumann -- especially since I'd like to have an intervention-free birth, with no drugs, if at all possible. Does anyone have experience at this hospital or with this midwife? Any and all thoughts and comments would be much appreciated! Expectant mother


i just gave birth at st. luke's in december. it was wonderful! i had planned a home birth, but had to transfer (meconium in my waters). liz steinfield was the midwife i had. she was great. but, i've heard good things about yeshi. i had an intervention-free, drug-free birth, except for the fetal monitor. my home midwives always go to st. luke's when possible if needed. we left 7 hours after our baby was born! they were awesome!!! you can call for more info. 510.625.1687 happy mom
My partner and I live in Alameda, but had our first (and only) child at St. Luke's in Sf because our doctor, Dr. Laura Norell, is based there. She is AMAZINg, and St. Luke's was wonderful. Dr. Norell happened to be on call when my partner went into labor and helped deliver the baby even though the midwives at St. Luke's primarily deliver the babies. We had a birth doula as well 9separate from St. luke's). Very supportive team, great midwives, nurses, and doctors! they are not very invasive, and use the minimum of intervention if you do opt for drugs, etc. Very communicative. We had a wonderful experience. They also letr you have the baby right away, and the baby can stay with you or go in the nursery. Some hospitals take the baby and make them stay in the nursery! Feef free to contact us for more info. Jamie
My wife and I had a great experience at St. Lukes, using Yeshi Neuman's midwifery services. Our goal was for natural childbirth. That goal was respected by the hospital staff. We are convinced that the hiring of Yeshi (her backup Nancy Myrick actually delivered our son) and under the additional care of Dr. Norrell, the midwives, and nurses at St. Luke's my wife avoided a c-section (a long story). No pain meds were used and the complement of Yeshi's practice and the OB/GYN's at St. Luke's was outstanding in our case. I can not speak highly enough about Yeshi, Nancy, and Dr. Laura Norrell. We plan to have our second child at St. Luke's. Please feel free to email us if you would like a more detailed recommendation. Jim
I delivered at St. Luke's in 6/03. My OBs were excellent and they treated my doula well even though they didn't know her. I was with St. Luke's Women's center, Dr. Bourgault and Dr. Nichols. I had a natural birth, with no drugs, despite having had pre eclampsia. From 25-39 weeks I had to take non-stress tests 2-3x week and see them every week in addition to the testing. While I was pregnant the OB's were always prompt, encouraging and happy to see me. They also helped me to stay intervention/ drug free during the pregnancy by keeping track of my lab results. During the labor (6 hrs.) it was mainly me, my husband and our doula with an RN peeking in and looking at the heart rate monitor every once and a while. The Dr. who delivered my son was on call. I had never met him before, but he was awesome. His name was Dr. Kai, a specialist OB from UCSF.

We looked around before we decided to deliver at St. Luke's and finally decided on St. Luke's because the hospital is small and we felt like we wouldn't get lost there. We had to stay an extra week while my son was in the NICU, and the hospital found us a single room until discharge. They made sure that we got to stay near our baby even though the insurance only paid for my son's stay. I also thought that the NICU staff did a great job. I got to see them work on a 24 hr. basis for 7 days and they seemed to pay a lot of attention to and take care of the children and parents coming through there. Good luck! Hope this helps a little bit. A Happy St. Luke's Mommy & Baby


I have heard that this midwife is wonderful at St. Luke's. But one year ago after a delayed post partum hemhorrage in the ER - the ER doc did not call the ob for 3 & 1/2 while I hemmhorraged away - NO INTERVENTIONS were attempted until the ob finally got to me 5 hours later - long story short, I almost died and now am unable to have any more children. They also told me that the way I was treated was standard of care (!!!!!) anon
I attended a birth with Yeshi at St. Luke's last year. I was totally and completely impressed with the way she and the birthing Mom were treated by the staff there -- basically they shut the door and left us completely alone! We set up a birthing tub in the room, brought in our food and music, and basically had a home birth in the hospital. The only time we saw anyone from the hospital was when there was some meconium in the water, so we had to call the pediatrician to come in to watch the baby during and after the delivery. But they were completely hands off and unobtrusive the entire time they were there. I trained as a homebirth midwife, and my friend who was birthing practiced as a homebirth midwife for mamy years in another state. Having a homebirth was not an option for her for several reasons (one of which was she was due on Christmas, so several midwives wouldn't take her as a client!), and working with Yeshi turned out to be an amazing and perfect situation. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Tara
This is mention wonderful experience my wife and I recently had at St Luke's Hospital with the birth of our baby daughter on March 14th. We were so very impressed and comforted by the birthing facilities at St. Luke's, and by the calming presence of all the nurses and their experienced midwife, Yeshi Neumann.

We originally intended to deliver at UCSF hospital, and were well into the second trimester of prenatal visits before deciding to switch to St. Luke's. What prompted us to change was the prospect of having a lhome stylen birth within a hospital setting. My wife felt she would do better if she had a more personalized birthing team working with her than what UCSF could offer. And that's exactly what we got: personal, in-depth, comprehensive involvement, coupled with the security of state- of-the-art medical resources on hand should the need arise. Unlike UCSF, we knew who would be attending our birth. UCSF couldn't offer this certainty. Plus, we didn't have to worry about a crowd of students and residents in attendance. What St. Luke's also gave us was the comforting, personal touch of Ms. Neumann, who - from our first prenatal visit with her -- was never too busy to see us or return our calls. This amazing woman impressed us more than any of the doctors we saw prior to switching to St Luke's. Aside from her vast knowledge and great skill, she hasn't lost site of the fact that truly effective healthcare is about addressing the entire individual, not just the medical issue at hand. She got to know us on a personal level, catering our birth plan to our particular needs and wishes. The same goes for all the nurses on their labor and delivery staff. They were very skilled, with amazing bedside manner. We forgot we were in a hospital! If only all health care could be the same! (Didn't it use to be?)

My wife and I are so very convinced that it is because of this personal touch that the birth of our baby went so well. It allowed my wife to feel safe and comfortable. The end result was a problem-free pregnancy and record-time birth. We will recommend St. Luke's to everyone we know planning to have a child in the future. RM


Pediatrician at St. Luke's in SF

March 2005

I live very close to St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco. Can anyone recommend a pediatrician there? Any other comments, good or bad, about St. Luke's Hospital? Thank you. js


I recently met a pediatrician who works at St. Lukes who seems like a really sharp guy, really open to alternatives and making them available in the hospital (which impressed me), and generally into providing really quality, thoughful care for his patients. This doctors name is Michael Treece. I've also heard good things from some of his patients. Also, most of the doctors that I've met who work at St. Lukes are really happy working there, which I also take as a good sign. Tara
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