Best place to give birth in SF area?
August 15, 2006 5:15 PM   Subscribe

My pregnant wife and I are traveling to Sausalito, California for a long weekend. She isn't due until late October, but just in case, where should we go if something starts to happen?.

In other words, what is the best hospital in terms of obstetricts and general reputation in the SF area if you were to have an unexpected early labor? Bonus points for being close to Salsalito, but we will have a car.

(Also, her OB has checked her out and approved our trip, so this should be very unecessary.)
posted by Mid to Health & Fitness (24 answers total)
posted by pallen123 at 6:02 PM on August 15, 2006

People I know who have delivered at Alta Bates have raved about it. But I've also heard great things about Marin General, which is probably closer and easier to access.
posted by padraigin at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2006

I have to respectfully disagree with UCSF

California Pacific Medical Center (not too far across the bridge)

I have to admit I'm biased my mom is a nurse in the Intensive Care Nursery
posted by bitdamaged at 6:52 PM on August 15, 2006

Marin General. That's where I was born!

If she just needs an OB/GYN checkup and not necessarily an emergency, go to Women's Medical in Greenbrae - Dr Cunningham is great.
posted by radioamy at 7:06 PM on August 15, 2006

I have close friends whose daughter was born at UCSF nearly four months premature.

They have nothing but effusive praise for the staff and quality of care in general, and specifically for the Intensive Care Nursery, where she spent the first several months of her life. (A year later, she is a healthy, thriving, perfectly normal baby.)
posted by trip and a half at 7:11 PM on August 15, 2006

I was born in Marin General, and so far everything has worked out fine, except that it's harder to park than it was in 1959.
posted by gallois at 7:32 PM on August 15, 2006

Nice poem, gallois!

I have nothing against Marin General*, either: just relating that my friends had a great experience w/UCSF when the unexpected happened.

*In fact, I'm rather fond of MG since I was almost a regular at their ER when I was in college in San Rafael. [Also, I was born in the same year (assuming that was 1959) but far away from Marin.]

/sorry for the off-topic chat

posted by trip and a half at 8:06 PM on August 15, 2006

Not quite your question, but one of the reasons, in addition to health, my wife's OB/GYN told her not to stray too far as the day got closer is that (at least in our case) if she went into labor and gave birth out-of-area (insurance-wise) she wouldn't be covered. That could be anywhere from $12-15K on up.

Your situation/insurance may be different, but if you haven't already, I'd double-check your coverage just to be safe.
posted by jalexei at 8:11 PM on August 15, 2006

You're not too far from Childrens Hospital in Oakland. But if you get stuck in traffic and she's in labor, then it's ok to freak out. :)

Although, having a baby on BART would get you all on the news.
posted by drstein at 10:00 PM on August 15, 2006

No matter what, stay away from San Francisco General, even if you're right next door when the need strikes. There are many dedicated doctors there, but the place is so busy and understaffed that you might end up delivering the baby yourself in a waiting room.
posted by wryly at 10:07 PM on August 15, 2006

I was in a childbirth class in San Francisco about 2 hours ago, and the teacher was talking about Marin General. They are pretty open to natural or low-intervention childbirths, if that's something you're interested in.

Of people I've talked to in the city, CPMC seems pretty popular.
posted by hammurderer at 10:32 PM on August 15, 2006

CPMC delivers over 80% of all babies in San Francisco - I gave birth there 2 months ago and everyone was highly competent. If you are planning a natural birth - St Luke's in San Francisco's mission district is the newest destination for that kind of delivery. I'll second the suggestion to stay clear of SF General.
posted by Wolfie at 10:48 PM on August 15, 2006

Yes, any of the other suggestions before SF General... (I have reasons to be grateful to them, too, but if you have another option, go for it.)
posted by trip and a half at 11:13 PM on August 15, 2006

Definitely get over the Golden Gate back to SF if you're in Sausalito when it happens- and depending on what condition your wife is in, see if you can make it to UCSF. It's one of the top institutions in the country, and is simply the best place to go if you want to insure that you have the most sophisiticated care possible. Cal Pacific is closer to the bridge, however, and apparently quite good. Avoid SF General unless you are in an absolute emergency.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:17 AM on August 16, 2006

Dittos on UCSF. Best teaching institution in the country. They also have great squash courts. But if she's not due til October, you're gonna be fine. (We're due in Nov., and just came back from NYC!)

My rx: Don't worry and have fun!
posted by turducken at 8:11 AM on August 16, 2006

Second the recommendation for Alta Bates. My first son was born there.
posted by laz-e-boy at 8:13 AM on August 16, 2006

Have you asked your OB what hospital he recommends? There are a number of hospitals in that area with national reputations so you should have a number of choices; if something should happen, though, you wife will be about 8 weeks premature and so will need a hospital capable of dealing with that: your OB might be a good person to know which hospitals have level 3 neonatal ICUs and such and may well know physicians at some of the hospitals.
posted by TedW at 8:29 AM on August 16, 2006

The 2006 US News and World Report ranking put UCSF's Medical Center at #9 nationally. There is no other Bay Area hospital ranked higher in terms of overall score or in the speciality area of Gynecology (there isn't a separate Obstetrics category in the scores). It's also #9 in Gynecology.

Children's Hospital at UCSF is ranked #19. Palo Alto is higher but that's way too far.

That said, CPMC does continue to have a great reputation locally for OB/GYN and is closer to Sausalito.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2006

If it's an emergency, dial 911, and they'll almost certainly take her to Children's Hospital in Oakland. I know the chief of pediatric trauma there, and he's good people, as are the staff the whole way down. Seriously. It's one of the best children's hospitals in the country, if not the world, and you can't go wrong with it.

In terms of something less than catastrophe, go with UCSF for the reasons mentioned above. Frankly, though, I have to think that anything out of the ordinary this far in would qualify as an emergency, no? I'll tell you right now that if she goes into premature labor, calling 911 is your single best option, because she'll need a NICU, and there are two in the Bay Area dedicated to that particular art: Children's in Oakland and Lucile Packard in Palo Alto, and you will want to get to one or the other in as immediate a fashion as possible.

YMMV, of course, but for my money you can feel secure in the Bay Area as long as you can dial 911 from your phone.
posted by scrump at 11:17 AM on August 16, 2006

Not to be *too* argumentative about it, but UCSF does have an NICU, and it's excellent.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:51 PM on August 16, 2006

Print up your birth plan (preferences about drugs, episiotomy, etc) and carry copies with you.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:16 PM on August 16, 2006

Allow me to amend my previous comment in light of otherworldlyglow's information (of which I was, embarrassingly, frankly unaware): in terms of distance from Sausalito, go Oakland, then UCSF, then Packard.
posted by scrump at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2006

AskMetafilter: your favorite NICU sucks.

(tongue firmly in cheek)
posted by scrump at 8:56 AM on August 17, 2006

We're back and the baby is still where it should be. Thanks for the advice, though, everyone, and I hope the thread is helpful to SF-area people in the future.
posted by Mid at 6:58 PM on August 23, 2006

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