Doula/Midwife Recommendations in Oak/Berk Area?

Updated on April 26, 2010
C.S. asks from Oakland, CA
40 answers

Hello moms -

I'm getting less happy with Kaiser as the weeks go by. Love my OB, don't like the system (my OB won't delivery my baby, another on-call team will). So I'm really feeling the need for either a doula to be with me at Kaiser when I give birth, or looking at the option to have our baby at a birth center with a midwife. Does anyone have suggestions? My first step is going to be to call Birthways, but personal recommendations are always best.

Thanks! C. S.

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So What Happened?

To all the wonderful mamsource responders -

The number of responses and recommendations I have received from all of you is most heartening! It was especially good to hear from those who have had positive experiences at Kaiser Oak (w/ Midwife or not - didn't know that will be an option there). Even hearing about a negative experience at Kaiser Oak is helpful. I have an appt with my OB at Kaiser on the 29th, and will ask more questions about their birth center practices and Kaiser midwives at that time.

My intent to work with a doula has been reinforced, if I do deliver at Kaiser. I love the idea of home birth and will also look at birth center options, so referrals to midwives and centers are great. I especially want to work with someone who can convince my mother that a 42-year old 1st time laborer can do this at home! I think I've got my husband convinced, and want to keep that option open, depending of course on what happens with me over the next 25 weeks.

I'm big on research, books, classes and options, and you've all given me much to think about. I'm not OVER-thinking this process, I just am the kind of person who is more relaxed when I am prepared, and I know that the extra care from a doula or midwife will provide me with that comfort. The referrals to alternate ideas, whether websites, birth centers, or books, and especially the encouragement to follow my heart and clarify my expectations are all incredibly helpful.

I'll keep you posted!

For those of you who responded to my 'ask me how!', I will write separately to you about my experience getting pregnant.

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D.G.

answers from San Francisco on

It has been many years, buy I LOVED Hsiu Li Cheng in Oakland :-)

http://www.yellowbot.com/cheng-hsiu-li-rn-cnm-oakland-ca-...

I had a VBAC with her help (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and what a joy and relief after the horrible experience of my first birth. Having the support you need may help you avoid the decades of pain I hold from my first birth experience. I owe Hsiu Li so much; I only wish I'd been more diligent to find real support on my first pregnancy.

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A.L.

answers from San Francisco on

I had Karla Robinson. Her web page is http://karladoula.googlepages.com/ and her email is [email protected]____.com is a very strong, grounded lady. Between her and my husband, my birth was long, but I felt so supported.

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M.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi, C.! Congratulations!! I can't recommend our doula, Betsy Appell highly enough: http://www.berkeleydoula.com/. She was fantastic. If it hadn't been for her, I would have probably had a c-section. My baby was big, 9lbs. 2 oz. and the nurse was telling me she was too big too push out. After 32 hrs. of labor, I was ready to do whatever it took to get the baby out safely. Betsy spoke to the nurse, asked her to first let me try to push before they just start on the c-section paperwork. She calmed me down and told me how strong I was and that my body had created the right-size baby and that I could absolutely push the baby out on my own. I only pushed for a half hour and she was born!!

She was fantastic also at massage and hypnobirthing techniques. She was a gem.

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A.B.

answers from San Francisco on

The Bay Area Homebirth Collective will have referrals in your area, whether you decide to deliver at home or in a hospital.

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K.H.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

Congratulations! I gave birth in January at Alta Bates in Berkeley with a midwife and a doula. I can't say enough about having someone that you trust there with you at your birth. That being said, after 6 months of getting to know and bond with our midwife, she informed us that she would be going on vacation right around the time I was expected to deliver. I ended up delivering 4 1/2 weeks early so she was present, but there is no guarantee even with a midwife that she will be the person delivering your baby. I definitely recommend that you hire a doula regardless if you deliver at Kaiser or at a birth center or whereever. We had Erin Crowe ###-###-####), who lives in Oakland and has many, many years of experience. She helped me through a long, long labor, coming to the hospital at midnight to be with me the first day and again when I was back at home the next day and then back at the hospital off and on over a period of 3 days. I don't think I could have had the natural childbirth that I wanted without her support. I highly recommend her. You should also check out the Berkeley Parents Network for other recommendations.

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H.W.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

You might consider Kaiser Walnut Creek. You wouldn't have a specific midwife, but you'd have the option of midwifery care in labor. It would be similar to the birth center feel you are considering... but still using your Kaiser insurance.

As a doula, I love Kaiser WC. They are very respectful of a woman's choices and do not rush interventions.

Birthways is a good avenue to get good info on doulas and care center options. Another local source of doula information is at www.mtdiablodoulacommunity.org. We also host a Meet the Doula night the second Wed. of each month at the Nurture Center at 7 pm.

Follow your heart for the birth experience you want...
H.

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S.F.

answers from San Francisco on

As someone who had a pretty poor experience with birthing at SF Kaiser I would HIGHLY recommend hiring a doula and I plan to when we have our 2nd. http://www.dona.org is the url for the International Doula Organization where you can find listings of certified doulas.

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B.S.

answers from San Francisco on

We had Joan Taylor as our doula (at Alta Bates, with an OB I'd never met but who was also good), and think the world of her. Also found Birthways to be a great resource and the starting place for our search (went to a doula information night; I would definitely recommend going to one if you can).

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C.A.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

I highly recomend Sacred Birth Place. Go to the web site at www.sacredbirthplace.com. This place is owned by a close friend of mine Selena Green. My last of five children was a home birth in Las Vegas 13 years ago. I'm sure you will have a loving experience at Sacred Birth Place. And if that is not the place for you Selena may be able to direct you.

Jahlove, C.

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J.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Tomi Knutson is a wonderful birthing doula that I work with at times. She has a wonderful presence. She also does postpartum work & cranial sacral work for infants and adults. She also has an affiliation with a new birthing center in Oakland that she can give you more information about. Her telephone # is ###-###-####. Hope this helps & good luck.

J. Stevens, L.Ac.
www.yourwholefamilywellness.com

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B.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Congratulations C.!
I’m writing a recommendation for Stacy Vogan ###-###-#### or [email protected]____.com) as a doula. I gave birth on 1/13/08. I was lucky. She was the most amazing guide and birth coach. She honors your needs. If I get pregnant again I would ask for her help. Also, I think she did a fabulous job at respectfully including my husband and sister birth experience.

Over the years I’d heard of several friends and family members who hired doulas and gave birth without medical interventions (i.e. Pitocin, epidural, cesarean etc.) due to their involvement. I wanted to have a natural childbirth so I went looking for a doula. My prenatal yoga instructor recommended Stacy Vogan who lives in the East Bay. I spoke with her on the phone and was impressed by her groundedness and warmth. After meeting with her once, we felt comfortable and hired her services, which turned out to be the best decision we made. My husband and I met with her reviewing our needs and goals as well as fears/anxieties before the birth. She gave us wonderful pre-natal service and information bolstering my confidence in the process. She also phoned periodically to check in the final weeks leading up to the due date. She also had a back up doula in case of an emergency.

Due to her assistance, my son’s birth was amazing and incredibly positive. I feel my actual direct labor time was reduced immensely. Following my wishes, Stacy helped me get though labor without the aide of an epidural or other interventions. Prior to labor I had read about many techniques and took a childbirth class. Even so I did not remember the positions and visualizations on that day as things happened in a blur. She helped me during labor with visualization, massage, calm suggestions, and aromatherapy compresses. She was extremely helpful and knowledgeable in suggesting various positions at different stages of labor and getting me to focus on my breathing and vocalizing so I would during the intense active pushing. She helped me channel my energy to push out my son versus exhausting myself. She kept us all calm and confident. My husband noted how flexible and intuitive she was honoring my many needs and preferences throughout the experience. Her involvement gave me the positive experience I wanted.

Throughout the entire process she offered well-informed suggestions, but left final decision making to us. She did a fabulous job of connecting and building a team with my husband, my sister, the hospital staff, and me. Her goal is to, and she did, hold a wonderful space for all of us. After the birth, my labor & delivery nurse, who was impressed by Stacy’s coaching/rapport, expressed she had never seen such a great doula before. Finally, she is very warm and nurturing, yet also a wonderfully powerful and empowering coach and my husband and I both feel any woman would be lucky to have Stacy as her doula.
Hope this helps and good luck to you C.! Feel free to write me for more details.

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L.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.-

I cannot gush enough about the midwife who delivered my baby!!!!! She's incredible. She's been a midwife for 20 years- so experienced. A complete rock. I know several other women who worked with her and we all agree that we would never give birth without her. Some gave birth at home, some in birth centers and others in hospitals- we all rave about her. She spends a lot of time with you before the birth, so you feel very comfortable with her. She's not really mushy or lovey dovey, but instead is completely focused, skilled, unflappable, knowleadgeable, direct, and kind. She's based on sf, but Iknow she works in the East Bay, as I have friends who's baby she delivered in Oakland. I can'y recommend her highly enough. Her name is Maria- her website is www.wisewomanchildbirth.com. Also- when I gave birth 9 m. ago, her assistant midwife was michelle welborn (yes, it's her given name!), who was also AMAZING! She got me through points in the labor when I was panicky and unsure I could go on. She is also an extremely experienced doula. She finished her apprenticeship with maria and is now working with an east bay midwife who I've heard great things about. Her name is Beah Habor. She's a certified nurse midwife. Her website is www.berkeleymidwife.com. Michelle's website is www.welbornbaby.com.. There are a bunch of testimonials for michelle on her website that I would back up completely. I love michelle and maria and would recommend them with complete confidence. They made my birth safe, transformative, magical, and empowering... and I did not have an easy birth or postpartum. Feel free to email me directly if you have any more questions or would like to chat about it. As you can tell, I'm pretty effusive about the whole thing! Good luck!

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L.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Okay, you have my curiosity as to how you got pregnant so I'm asking as you've stated in your message. :0)

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A.P.

answers from San Francisco on

No suggestions, just agree with the idea that you should try it out. I had a good experience with delivery at Kaiser and liked the midwife that I had. it's a good idea to book your checkups with the midwives.

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J.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Amrit Khalsa, ###-###-####

Love her!!

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E.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I also had my baby at Kaiser-Oakland and had a terrific experience. Two residents delivered my baby and they were excellent, very encouraging and positive. My nurses were fantastic, both night and day. They were really helpful in teaching me to nurse and how to hold the baby, etc - stuff you think should be instinctual but of course is not. My lactation consultants were also very good, and the pediatrician who checked my son the next few days became his regular doctor.

So - don't give up on Kaiser. They're a small operation so you won't be lost among dozens of other new moms. Plus, one of the nurses told me that their nursing staff was made up almost entirely of veteran nurses from Alta Bates - something to recommend them.

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M.L.

answers from San Francisco on

My experience with Kaiser in Walnut Creek was AMAZING all three times! Kaiser provided me with a doctor and a MIDWIFE and many nurses during my deliveries. They were all very helpful and wonderful to work with. You might check with your Kaiser hospital to see if it is their practice to have Midwives during baby deliveries.

I remember having so many concerns prior to my first baby but then when you are ready to deliver, it doesn't matter and then before you know it you have a little miracle in your arms!

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A.F.

answers from San Francisco on

My friend and neighbor is a doula and breast feeding specialist. You can email her at [email protected]____.com
-A.

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N.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Oh my God...Congrats...My husbabd and I have been trying for almost 2 years now and no luck :( so what was the secret?

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M.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

I gave birth almost 15 years ago, so it may not exist anymore, but I was briefly a part of the Alta Bates birthing center, which had midwife-nurses. I liked the staff there, but was moved out of the program as a high risk pregnancy, so I can't tell you about the whole experience. I did give birth at Alta Bates and it was a wonderful experience- my whole family in the delivery room and my son by my side the entire time. Good luck!

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J.E.

answers from San Francisco on

I gave birth at Kaiser in Walnut Creek and though I like my OB I had a really good experience with the midwife who was in the delivery room. I don't know about the other Kaiser facilities in the area but in WC you can choose to have a midwife instead of the on call OB. I was also able to meet a couple of the midwife's before hand and they were all great.

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Z.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Call Midwife Lindsy Johnson in Berkeley/Oakland area. Also, I highly recommend that you look into taking a Bradley Childbirth class. There are teachers in your area, but most especially, Ellen Klima in Oakland. You can find out more by going to www.bradleybirth.com. I am a Bradley teacher, but I live in Hayward.

Good luck!
Cynthia Padilla Chavez, AAHCC

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L.T.

answers from San Francisco on

Congratulations C.! Such exciting news! I delivered my beautiful baby girl at Kaiser on Jan. 12, 2008 with not one but TWO doula's, my mom and my husband....we had a big team and I wouldn't have had it any other way!

Basically the doula we hired was in another birth when I went into labor 9 days late so she called in a replacement who we loved. Since my birth was so long our original doula finished the birth she was in and joined our party about 24 hours in.

In any case I had a 36 hour labor without a single intervention, though there was talk of breaking my bag of waters, pitocin, the whole deal, and I KNOW I wouldn't have had an intervention free birth at Kaiser without the help of my doula's. Not to mention that they did such an amazing job not just of taking care of me, but taking care of my mom and my husband. Really I could go on and on and on about how great they were, so if you want more info feel free to contact me.

The doula we hired originally was Jessica Berman: [email protected]____.com but we loved Jannell, our replacement as well. Jessica has all her info.

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D.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Congratulations!

Having a doula is a great idea, but if you don't find a professional that you click with, consider having a trusted, practical, friend who can advocate for you as well. Whether it is a professional or a friend, make sure it is someone who can advocate for you without aggravating people (except IF absolutely necessary, and it shouldn't get to that point)

I'm 43 and have 4 year old and 2 year old children, both born through the Oakland Kaiser system, and I just want to add a vote of confidence for Kaiser Oakland. My son was born when Oakland babies were still birthing at Alta Bates, my daughter was born in the Oakland facility in 2003. I have to say that downtown Oakland was a WONDERFUL experience. Better than Alta Bates, for all that it is touted by so many as The Place to have babies. I think the L&D staff - especially the nurses - at Kaiser are a really committed, enlightened and good group of people who really care about the people they are helping.

Congratulations and good luck!

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P.D.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

Since there seems no shortage of recommendations, I think the best thing I could tell you is try to imagine what you will need from your doula. Look for a doula who will suit both your personality and needs. For myself, I knew we needed someone who could reassure both me and my husband.

My husband and I were very happy with our doula, Stacia Biltekoff, ###-###-####. She's very warm, has a sense of humor, plus is able to explain things in detail (all of the things that help me relax). She helped me construct a detailed birth plan and coached my husband and I on how to advocate for our wish for a natural birth. I was able to deliver my son after 10 hours of labor with no interventions or drugs. She also provides post-partum support, which I really needed (I had a hard time with the start of breastfeeding) and was grateful for.

Congratulations and don't forget to enjoy your pregnancy!

P.

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M.E.

answers from San Francisco on

I had a baby at Kaiser in SF and a baby in Walnut Creek at John Muir Medical Center with my doctor. In reality I barely even saw the doctor at John Muir - they come in when you are ready to deliver. The people who matter are the nurses. I remember being a first time mom and obsessing over the birthing details and I'll tell you it's a blip in the radar - it's such a brief experience that the most important thing is to be prepared for a medical emergency. The hard work begins when you get home with your bundle of joy. Good-luck. Michele

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S.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Call Carolynn Melchert ###-###-####) in Oakland/Emeryville. She's a doula and a very lovely person. Good luck with your birth and congratulations!

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D.W.

answers from San Francisco on

I had a doula-in-training and I wish I had all her contact information with me! My birth was one of the last ones she used to become fully qualified, and her name was Traci, based out in Concord or so (it was quite a drive for her to where I delivered!). That was 7 years ago.

I have to say, a Doula is a WONDERFUL luxury. I am so glad I made that decision. I almost let the cost stop me, which is why a friend of mine put me in contact with someone in training. A good Doula will listen to what you want, and handle things in the way you want her to. All that gets discussed before delivery, and often before the hire decision is made. I think you know when you meet the person, if she will work for you. It is so very personal.

But, definitely, go for it. A Doula is a fantastic advocate for your needs.

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A.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Kaiser Walnut Creek and Kaiser Hayward have midwives, and you can give birth at any Kaiser (no matter from which location you currently recieve your care).

Good luck!

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J.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I have a wonderful doula named Debbie Roisman. Lives in North Berkeley
phone number ###-###-####. She has a one year old herself. Good luck
J.

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C.A.

answers from San Francisco on

The free monthly "meet the doula nights" are still going on in Lafayette. here's the link. http://shop.nurturecenter.com/clatnuce.html

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C.A.

answers from San Francisco on

I had my baby girl at Kaiser. Granted I've only heard horror stories from my elders about SF Kaiser, but the team (which inlcuded a Kaiser midwife) that delievered my baby was wonderful. I knew my dr wouldn't be doing it. This is something I learned to expect since I was a young girl, Kaiser or not. The midwife I had was wonderful. Everyone was. I fortunate to have a birthing room. In the birth classes I was informed they usually didn't put first time moms in birthing rooms. But when I got there, there was only one woman in labor. Having the birthing room was great. My parents and friends got to all hang out with me. My dad slept in a comfy chair as my labor progressed through the night. My mom finally kicked out my friends at about 2 am while I was in the shower. This was before I asked for an epidural. The pain was getting really intense and I was crying, moaning, and groaning in the shower. But I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about being transfered from a labor room to a delivery room.

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T.B.

answers from San Francisco on

The Nurture Center in Lafayette is a wonderful resource, along with having all you'll ever need for baby they can refer a Doula/Midwife. http://www.nurturecenter.com/home.html

I delivered my son at Kaiser (in Walnut Creek), and had a wonderful experience, they were very accommodating to the fact I wanted to go natural and didn't push drugs at all. I had a Doula and Midwife which made for a smooth experience. I wish you the same :) Good Luck! Oh, and if you do make it out to Walnut Creek ever, Dr. Bergen is my son's Ped, he is *Father Nature*.. I recommend him to everyone I know!

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H.G.

answers from Fort Collins on

C.,
We had our daughter at Safe Femme Midwifery in SF. It's a small birthing center in the city. It's not in the nicest area, but it's a gem. When I have more kids, I will definitely use them again. I also have Kaiser and was frustrated that I wouldn't get to use whatever person I found for my actual birth. (I never found someone I liked, though.) Kaiser doesn't cover the birthing center, but you could possibly look at their sliding scale. They may even be cheaper than a doula.

They have a team of midwives who see you for your entire pregnancy and spend at least an hour at each visit. Each of those women will also be at your birth, no matter what time of day or day of the week you deliver, which is wonderful. I had my daughter in a birthing tub and felt like I was in fabulous hands. The head midwife has been delivering babies for over 20 years and I trust her with anything. She's a little bit abrasive, but once you get past that, you will have the most amazing experience. They don't offer any drugs during the birth, but have a number of pain management methods that are wonderful.

They're at www.sagefemme.net.
Good luck!
H.

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S.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

Congratulation on having a baby and wanting to taking responsability with your first birth!
My name is S., I'm 44 and have a son who will soon turn 3. Like you I was 41 when I gave birth for the first time. I'm also a doula and used to volunteer at Kaiser in San Francisco, but I had a home birth in Berkeley and I'm so glad about it. It was extremely painful, but it was worth it.
I've seen young mothers just getting up and doing their things after the birth, but it wasn't like this for me, probably because of my age. Although I'm healthy and quite fit, It took me a whole year to regain my energy level, that dropped dramatically after the birth and during breastfeeding.
I would also recommend the book from Pamela England "Birthing From Within": I'm actually a child birth educator, and the training was extremely helpful for me.
Feel free to email me if you want at [email protected]____.com

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C.M.

answers from San Francisco on

All i want to say to you iS CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Only wishing you all the happiness with your first beautiful child!!!!!!!

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T.W.

answers from San Francisco on

Felicia Roche is an excellent, warm, grounded doula with years of experience who helped me deliver my first at Kaiser Oakland. Her website is feliciaroche.com. I labored for a long time, so she was there through the nurse and OB changes, making the labor less choppy with her steady presence. She dimmed the lights, brought many supplies, coordinated well with my family, helped me make decisions when I was in pain and not thinking logically, and she facilitated more comfort than I thought possible during 22 hours of labor and three failed epidurals. I was surprised that I kept choosing her to hold my gaze, since I could see the fear in my partner's and sister's eyes. I liked Kaiser Oakland's amount of space and renovated facilities, and the private room for recovery was so important.

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A.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,
It is so nice to have the continuity of care in working with a midwife, establishing a relationship and then knowing that she will be at your birth! The only birth center in the East Bay is called Sacred Birth Place and is run by a lovely midwife named Selena Green. Their website is sacredbirthplace,com. I know her personally and am confident you would get excellent, personalized care from her. There is also a collective of experienced doulas; contact Janelle, [email protected]____.com to find out more.
Best,
A.

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K.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi, I don't have any recommendations, and I am hoping that I can get pregnant sometime this year-I am 38 and have never been pregnant.
Love to hear your story about how your pregnancy happened!
Thanks! K. O

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