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What to Expect if You’re Expecting at: Alta Bates in Berkeley


Fall is in full swing, and our practice is as busy as ever as we head into the holiday season. One question we’re asked often during initial consultations, and also throughout our clients’ pregnancies, are policies and procedures at the hospitals they’re planning to give birth at. To help those who may have some questions, I’m kicking off a three-part series breaking down some of the ins and outs of three Bay Area hospitals, starting with Alta Bates.

With more than 20 years of birth experience between our practice, we know a thing or two about many individual hospitals. While our clients deliver at hospitals all around the Bay Area, including Stanford, UCSF, and Walnut Creek Kaiser, our “home hospitals” or the ones we’re at the most often are Alta Bates in Berkeley, Kaiser Oakland, and CPMC in San Francisco.

If you’re thinking of giving birth at one of those three hospitals, you’re in luck! Majority of hospitals in the Bay Area are very similar in what they will and won’t allow. But, of course, there are some differences among the three. Today, let’s dive into some of the intricacies at Alta Bates in Berkeley.

Alta Bates in Berkeley:

– Alta Bates recently started enforcing much stricter security measures. This doesn’t mean too much for you personally, but what it could impact is how fast your doula gets to you (especially if you have a fast labor). When you first arrive to the hospital and get checked in triage, there is only one other person allowed to be in that room with you. Most likely, this is your partner so doulas don’t join you in triage. Another security measure is your doula (or any other visitor) cannot join you until your name is in the hospital’s system. Partners, this is where you’ll come in handy. Once you are checked, have your partner make sure to tell the nurses that your doula will join you shortly, and ask that your partner’s information is put into the system ASAP. This is especially important if things are moving quickly. Note: they will also make you and your doula sign a form essentially stating that doulas will only operate within their scope (aka not do anything medical or interfere with the medical staff).

– Another thing to note, is that you’re only allowed four visitors at a time on the labor and delivery floor. Should more than four family members or friends come, they’ll need to wait in the general lobby area on the first floor.

– Should a need for a C-section occur, only one support person can join you in the operating room. Again, typically that’s your partner.

– Eating/drinking during labor can all depend on your nurse. If you are having an unmedicated labor, you won’t have much push back if you’d like to eat/drink throughout it. If you do have an epidural, opt for some narcotics for pain management, or are on Pitocin, you are restricted to ice chips. Some nurses will allow you to have any type of clear liquids, but again that all depends on the individual nurse.

– Other general observations: Alta Bates has traveling nurses so lots of times I don’t recognize them since they’re always rotating. However, they are almost always doula friendly!

Be on the lookout for posts #2 and #3 where I’ll be dishing on Kaiser Oakland and CPMC in San Francisco. PS, if you have questions on our favorite OB practice at Alta Bates, reach out! They are AMAZING.



Disclaimer: this is based off what I’ve experienced at the births I’ve done at this hospital. There are not any hard numbers to back these up, and therefore it is not “evidence-based,” so please keep that in mind during your own experiences as they may be different than what’s listed here.

About Katelyn Gonzalez

Hi, I’m Katelyn - a seasoned birth doula, childbirth educator, placenta specialist, Ayurvedic postpartum care practitioner, and certified women’s health coach. My #1 priority is to empower women to see what they can do when they believe in themselves and their beautiful bodies. I live in the East Bay with my husband and fur babies.

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