UCSF Medical Center
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UCSF Medical Center
We're moving to SF (from the east coast) in July and I am due in
October. From what I've read on the BPN and elsewhere, UCSF
seems like a good place to deliver - top notch hospital, but
relatively supportive of natural birth and not overly
I'm looking for recommendations for providers or practices who
deliver there, preferably midwives, and preferably a smaller
practice so that we would have the opportunity to meet the
person who would be there for the delivery even though we will
only be in town for 2 months before. I don't know if there is
such a practice - from the little research I've done it seems
like they are all pretty big and there are no guarantees about
who will be at the delivery. Also is it true that the midwives
are only there during the day? Any any advice would be helpful.
I'd also be interested to hear about people's birth experiences
UCSF works a bit differently from other hospital set-ups in that to
deliver at UCSF, you'll need to see a doctor or midwife through UCSF
specifically. Because it is a teaching hospital, the ob-gyn doctors
are also faculty of the medical school. Non-
UCSF doctors do not deliver at UCSF. You can find a listing of all of
I delivered at UCSF 2 years ago, and was seen by Marya Zlatnik (OB)
and Judith Bishop (midwife) during my pregnancy. I was very happy with
both of them, as well as the care at the hospital itself. Judith
Bishop ended up delivering my baby. Throughout the process, I felt
respected with regard to my choices, and supported re: issues that I
didn't have opinions about. I'm now pregnant again and planning to
deliver in the East Bay (we moved), and I actually miss the whole UCSF
setup as I deal separately with the private-practice doc, the lab she
outsources to, and the hospital. Even though it's a big UC
bureaucracy, everything seemed to be a lot more streamlined, since
it's all under one umbrella.
Unfortunately, short of a scheduled birth there's no way to guarantee
which practioner you will have. I don't know what the call hours are
for each practioner (you had asked about whether midwives only work
during the day), but I went in to the L&D center late one night (not
to deliver but early on in the pregnancy), and was seen by a midwife.
As you indicated in your message, the good thing about UCSF is that
they are absolutely a top-notch center, and you will not meet more
knowledgeable practicioners, both with respect to high-risk issues and
complications, and with ''everyday'' issues as well. The potential
downside is that you may well be seen by ob-gyn residents (doctors who
are 1-3 years out of medical school, doing their ob-gyn training) when
you deliver, but they are always supervised by the doctors and
midwives (who are literally looking over the resident's shoulder)
You are correct that at UCSF, there are no guarantees about who will
be at the delivery. I also believe that your understanding that the
midwives are there only during the day is correct, but am not certain
about that. That said, I had a wonderful birth experience at UCSF in
January 2005. My son arrived at 3 in the afternoon - delivered by a
midwife, with the assistance/company of a nurse, resident, and an
intern (with my husband there as well); the OB/GYN who I saw for most
of my visits (Dr. Mari-
Paule Thiet) and another who I saw for some appointments when I
couldn't see Dr. Thiet (sorry, forget his name) both came by during my
labor and after my son was born. All of the labor and delivery folks
were absolutely wonderful, and I was happy to be somewhere with such a
great reputation, etc. in case there had been any problems (which,
thankfully, there weren't).
It's not something I considered, but maybe you could bring a doula
with you to get the best of all worlds?
Best of luck in your decision and birth
I am not an expert on midwives but I LOVE mine, John Fassett
415-668-1010. He is warm and funny and kept me feeling safe and
happy through a tricky pregnancy that had some scary moments. He
practices right across the street from CPMC, where both my
daughters were born (one was pre-term). I have heard only good
things about births at both these hospitals, so since you are
coming from out of town, perhaps you might also be interested in
CPMC. My OB practices in a group of MDs so there is always
someone to back him up if needed. For example, my first child was
born before 36 weeks so one of the MDs had to deliver, so it's
nice to have that built in just in case. You will probably get
lots of great recommendations, but if you want someone really
plugged into an excellent hospital, John might be perfect for
you. If you are intent on having him there to deliver, I can't
say for sure but he came to the hosp. for me on a vacation day.
The deliv. was super fast but he was there 2 minutes after the
baby was born. If you already know there are special
circumstances with the baby, I believe UCSF is where some of the
more specialized NICU surgeries and things like that are
performed, so that is something to consider. Best of luck to you!
For a variety of reasons, I need to plan on delivering my first child at a
hospital in San Francisco. As such, I'm trying to decide between CPMC
and UCSF. I'd like to labor and deliver with minimum intervention and,
hopefully, no drugs -- and therefore would like to be at a hospital where
the nurses are supportive without intervening medically unless
absolutely necessary. I'm leaning towards CPMC simply because UCSF
is a teaching hospital (I think) but any and all advice and experiences
would be much appreciated!!!
I have delivered at both. I sought medication during each
birth. I had to be induced at both after many hours of labor.
I found UCSF a little more ready and willing to ride things out
(slow to induce, long long pushing) and a little more tentative
on asking about desire for drugs. But only slightly. I went to
CPMC for the second baby because I wanted a more ''private
practice'' clinic experience (easier to schedule appointments,
better staffed office, less hectic crowded office atmosphere).
For me the lead up to birth was better for CPMC but the
birthing experience was fairly similar with slight differences
I am a Doula and have worked at both CPMC and UCSF and would
reccomend UCSF with the midwife option for a birthwith as few
interventions as possible. It is a teaching hospital so it has
its limits but my experience there has been more supportive of
natural birth, you may want a Doula as well.
I would HIGHLY recommend having your child at UCSF. They are
wonderful. The labor rooms are huge, and have a great view of
the city. I did opt for pain medication myself, but it wasn't
pushed on me. The nurses were very attentive, and very nice. We
didn't hire a doula, but my husband was right there, holding my
other leg while I pushed, and they talked him through it. They
had a lactation consultant and arranged for a visiting nurse to
visit me at home the day after I was discharged.
I think they have this cool looking optional program where they
will match you with a medical student who is interested in
OBGYN, who goes to all your appointments with you and is there
as a support person while you are in labor. The student gets
exposed to pregnant women, the mother gets another support
person. I found out about this after my baby was born,
unfortunately, or I totally would have participated.
Also, if you want minimum intervention, this is the place to do
it. They have the lowest C-section rate around. The reason is
that they are always set up to do an emergency C-section quickly
if the need arises, so they feel more comfortable waiting longer
for you to have a chance to have a natural childbirth than most
other places. If you have any more questions, write me!
UCSF is definately a teaching hospital for OB so residents would
surely be involved there. CPMC is also a teaching hospital but
I'm not sure if they have OB trainees or not.
I'm a doc myself and I had the choice of the 2 and opted for
CPMC. Why? Because the front desk staff for the UCSF OB/GYN
clinic were absolutely impossible to work with. They were rigid,
unpleasant and unhelpful. They were also hard to reach. I didn't
ever ask for anything out of line that would merrit this
treatment. Once I did ask them to run an appt date past the doc (
would she think it was too late) and they acted like I was a big
pain in the a** and didn't do it (I think). So I opted for a CPMC
doc who's front desk staff were wonderful, warm and very helpful.
Believe me, I was VERY happy about my decision. Her name is
Rebecca Yee M.D. She's tops.
I can't compare the 2 hospitals along the lines you asked, but
these are issues that you might want to think about.
I've attended births at all of the SF hospitals. To answer your
specific question: UCSF! If you are seeking low intervention,
woman/ family centered care, definitely UCSF over CPMC. If you
really want it, then go to SFGH, I'm serious. UCSF has some
midwives (the FOGG practice) and SFGH has a whole team of them
(who train the residents who work at both UCSF and SFGH). That
means the OBs and nurses are much more in line with natural
birth (at both UCSF and SFGH). Just because SFGH is a public
hospital, don't knock it. You will get excellent care there and
the L&D area is really nice looking too (with tubs in all
Many docs who use CPMC discourage doulas-- if that gives you
some idea of the place. Of course, it all depends on your OB or
midwife and which nurse you get that day- in ANY location.
As an aside, St Lukes has midwives also and is ramping up to be
a great place to give birth, but the facilities aren't quite
Kim (a nurse-midwife)
I had my son at UCSF 4 years ago next month. We had a wonderful birthing
experience and found the labor nurses absolutely fantastic. You're right that UCSF
*is* a teaching hospital, but we believe that's why they were willing to let me labor
without intervention, eat during labor (which CPMC forbids), and be very flexible
and accomodating of my needs. We had also heard that CPMC was more rigid than
UCSF and performed more c-sections (but I have no stats to back that up). That
said, they're both excellent institutions.
I would definitely go back to UCSF if/when I ever have a second child.
I delivered my first child at UCSF (granted is was more than
five years ago) ... I like the fact that it was small (they
deliver considerably fewer babies at UCSF than at CPMC). Since I
was there for four days, I ended up getting to be quite familiar
with the nursing staff -- who were universally excellent and
really were able to spend one-on-one time with me. Nurses have
12-hour shifts so you only have to deal with two shift changes a
day instead of three. Yes, it is a teaching hospital so it
seemed like there were a lot of extra people in the delivery
room. But, when you're in the middle of labor, you don't really
pay much attention to who is in the room. In fact, one of the
first year residents went and got me some ice water when I was
thirsty -- don't know many full-fledged MDs who would do that!
Some other advantages to UCSF: it is the only hospital in the
Bay Area that offers nitrous oxide as an options for pain
relief. At the time (perhaps, because it is a teaching
hospital), they did a newborn hearing test on my baby --
something that I did not get with my next child who was born
three years later at Alta Bates. My doula, who had coached
births all over the Bay Area told us that UCSF was her favorite
hospital to work in. Having said all that, many of my friends
who delivered at CPMC had satisfying and happy births there.
See also: Childbirth at CPMS
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