DoulaSue Shadow Photographer

Mother Nature plays a key role in San Francisco’s new UCSF Mission Bay 36-bed Women’s Hospital, opening February 1.

Maternity room

Natural light pours through the large windows inviting the outdoors inside, adding garden greenery and spacious skies. From a hallway window you can look out to the Pier 70 ship repair yard, San Francisco Bay and the Oakland Hills. Patients can walk outside to the terrace roof gardens designed to reduce storm water runoff and keep pollutants out of the bay.

Pregnant women and partners looking for prenatal yoga will be pleased to know that Giggling Lotus Yoga, where I teach on Saturdays at 1 p.m.  is only 5 blocks away in the Dogpatch. I believe UCSF is the only SF hospital that does not offer prenatal yoga. So come join us!

View of ship yard, bay and Oakland Hills
View of gardens, shipyard and the Oakland Hills

February 1 should be an auspicious opening because it falls on the same day as the Gaelic festival Imbolc which celebrates the coming of spring. Derived from the Old Irish word, “I m bolg,” it means “in the belly” and refers to the pregnancy of ewes. Originally associated with the pagan fire and fertility goddess Brigid, the Imbolc festival later came to honor the Christian St. Brigid, who in Ireland represents the aspect of divine femininity in her role as patron of:

babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle farmers; children whose parents are not married; children whose mothers are mistreated by the children’s fathers; Clan Douglas; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; Leinster, mariners; midwives; milkmaids; nuns; poets; the poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travelers and watermen.

Isn’t that perfect considering the history of Potrero Hill and Mission Bay?

IMG_2690Laboring women will enjoy the deep bath tubs and probably be indifferent to the huge “media wall” which, our community tour guide said, offers patients access to education videos, medical records, entertainment, food service and environmental controls. To me it seems like more opportunity for partners and family members to ignore a laboring woman’s emotional and physical needs. Don’t forget that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 2 not watch any TV or be exposed to screens (smart phones, tablets, etc.)

IMG_2679 copy copy The media wall could work great for playing music, sound recordings of nature, guided relaxations and birth affirmations to help moms relax during labor. The rooms also have a sleeper sofa for family, refrigerator, rocking chair, and wireless Internet. A volunteer doula program will support low-income women in labor. Just like at the Parnassus campus birthing center, nitrous oxide, “a lower-tech alternative to epidural for pain control” is available. Let’s hope they leave behind the photos of Indira Gandhi and Margy Thatcher!


PDF Map of the entire UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay

UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital, 1855 4th Street between 16th and Mariposa.

I could not figure how they count 36 beds for the birthing center. According to the floor plan (see below) there are 12 antepartum rooms, 9 labor & delivery rooms, 9 triage rooms plus 24 postpartum beds. Let me know if you can figure it out.

IMG_2701 copyThe adjacent Children’s Hospital houses the Emergency Room and serves all patients young and old, pregnant or not:

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, 1975 4th Street at the corner of Mariposa. IMG_2772


Please share any information you have about the new hospital in the comments box below. May UCSF and the mothers who will be birthing during Imbolc have an easy and smooth transition as they birth themselves into being. Wishing you all of the best. Many blessings from St. Brigid!

What a laboring woman sees when entering the hospital!
What a laboring woman in transition probably sees upon arriving 🙂