Skip to main content

We’ve Got You, Baby! UC San Diego Health Delivers Top OB/GYN Care to Community

Labor and Delivery Nursing Team at Jacob Medical Center
UC San Diego Health, the region’s only academic medical center, provides the highest standards of care to newborns and families. Pictured are labor and delivery nurses at Jacobs Medical Center. UC San Diego Health gives expectant parents more childbirth options than anywhere else in San Diego.

Published Date

Article Content

From caring for expectant parents with both routine and high-risk pregnancies to specialized care for babies born less than a pound, UC San Diego Health provides the highest standards of care to newborns and families.

As the only academic medical center in the region, UC San Diego Health provides patients’ world-class care from the research lab to the hospital bedside. When expectant parents are considering their options of welcoming a baby into the world, UC San Diego Health, a nationally ranked hospital system, offers the most comprehensive and compassionate care by superb multi-disciplinary teams.

U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in hospital rankings and consumer advice, recently ranked UC San Diego Health’s obstetrics and gynecology care among the top 20 in the nation and a 2022-2023 High Performing Hospital for Maternity Care

These quality outcomes reflect the highest standards of care, including the highest rate of VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) in San Diego County and one of the lowest episiotomy rates in California. UC San Diego Health is also recognized on the C-Section Honor Roll by California Hospital Care Compare for meeting statewide targets for reducing C-sections in low-risk, first-time mothers.

In this Q&A, Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, chair for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine and perinatologist at UC San Diego Health, talks about what patients can expect from the first prenatal appointment to begin their journey to parenthood to overall gynecologic care at UC San Diego Health. 

What differentiates the obstetrics and gynecologic care provided at UC San Diego Health?

We provide services that align with our mission to deliver outstanding patient care through commitment to the community, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching.

Our scientists are conducting research across the spectrum of basic science to clinical and translational research, developing and implementing inclusive, impactful clinical programs. Our patients have access to clinical trials that are examining the most leading-edge therapies not currently available at other hospital systems. 

This is reflected in the diverse portfolio of clinical trials available for patients with gynecologic malignancies. As an example, the gynecologic oncology disease team at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health has three active clinical trials examining novel therapeutic strategies in patients with platinum resistant recurrent ovarian cancer, a difficult disease to treat. 

We offer a broad range of gynecologic care to address the complex and ever-changing health needs of women at every stage, from becoming a parent to menopause. Our teams address all health needs from gynecologic surgeries, infertility, pelvic floor disorders and incontinence. 

UC San Diego Health offers the most birthing options to patients than any other hospital system in San Diego. What should expectant parents know about their choices?:  

Approximately 5,000 babies are born at UC San Diego Health every year.

Having a baby is a profound life experience, and we are honored when families choose UC San Diego Health to be part of that special moment. We are committed to the patients we serve from conception to childbirth and postpartum.

Our tireless and dedicated teams, including outpatient clinicians, nurses and support services offer a gentle hand at the bedside and use evidence-based approaches to deliver babies safely. 

With two distinct birthing locations and a large staff of physicians and midwives, as well as high-risk specialists and technology, UC San Diego Health gives patients more childbirth options than anywhere else in San Diego County.

The Birth Center at Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla offers a more holistic approach, or patients have the option of traditional labor and delivery settings available at both Jacobs Medical Center and UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest. 

UC San Diego Health also offers a free volunteer doula program and is nationally recognized for breastfeeding support.

Both hospitals have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including a Level III NICU at Jacobs Medical Center and a Level II Intermediate NICU at UC San Diego Medical Center. 

UC San Diego Health is the only hospital in San Diego with both a regional NICU and a labor and delivery service in the same facility. The NICU is a highly specialized, nationally recognized center of excellence providing the highest level of care for premature or ill infants.

The NICU team includes team members from many disciplines, including an attending neonatologist, a neonatal nurse practitioner, a registered nurse who specializes in newborn care, a nutritionist, a respiratory therapist, and a therapist who specializes in occupational or physical therapy.

UC San Diego Health’s NICU units even have technology that allows family members to watch their babies at any time, even when away from the hospital. An internet-based camera is fastened on the baby's bedside and loved ones can log into a secure account from their laptops, tablets or smartphones for live video streaming. This concept brings comfort to parents during a vulnerable time. 

UC San Diego Health has a Baby-Friendly Designation. What does this prestigious recognition mean for patients?

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is part of a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that are designed to optimize mother-baby bonding and to promote breastfeeding in the first few days of a baby’s life. The designation means UC San Diego Health provides education to enable families to make informed decisions and offers services, such as lactation support, throughout and beyond the hospital stay.

At UC San Diego Health, newborns stay in the hospital room with their mothers, lactation consultants offer personal instruction, techniques and positions with an extra level of assistance for special needs babies and skin-to-skin is promoted immediately after childbirth. 

Skin-to-skin not only promotes breastfeeding, but also strengthens parent-baby bonding, decreases maternal anxiety and stabilizes the newborn’s body temperature, breathing and heart rate. Cesarean section babies are also placed skin-to-skin with their parent and do not go to the neonatal intensive care unit unless it is medically necessary.

UC San Diego Health also delays newborn bathing in order to increase breastfeeding and preserve the protective substance, called vernix, that helps protect against dryness and bacterial infections. 

Families also have the option for a delay in umbilical cord clamping, which allows for more blood transfer from the placenta to the baby.

We train all staff to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Our exclusive breastmilk feeding rate is 81 percent, well over the regional and national averages. Our supportive efforts begin with the first prenatal care visit and are continued post-delivery. Patients have a higher success rate initiating breastfeeding and continuing once discharged with efforts like skin-to-skin, support groups and pump rentals.

Opened in 2020, the University of California Health (UCH) Milk Bank is the first milk bank located in San Diego. Operated by UC San Diego Health and located in the San Diego Blood Bank, the non-profit facility provides pasteurized, donated human milk critical for feeding sick or premature infants when parents do not have a sufficient milk supply for their baby’s nutritional needs. 

The nonprofit human milk bank serves families in Southern California and statewide through all six UCH academic health centers. It offers UC San Diego Health patients and the community the opportunity to donate and receive donated human milk when needed for optimal nutrition for newborn babies. 

When complications arise, how does UC San Diego Health approach high-risk pregnancies?  

UC San Diego Health has elevated the specialty care provided to our high-risk patients entering parenthood on a local and national level. 

We are combining research and clinical care to offer our patients the most advanced treatment while optimizing equitable pregnancy outcomes. We bring deep expertise and are shaping national guidelines that will help improve outcomes for future patients and their growing families.

We provide care for a diverse patient population, many of whom have complicated pregnancies. We have robust programs to assist pregnant individuals with diabetes or cardiac disease, and we are known for our prowess with prenatal diagnosis. UC San Diego Health is also developing innovative programs to address the fourth trimester, the time with the highest risk for maternal mortality.  

A patient may be at risk for pregnancy complications if they have gestational diabetes, are carrying multiples, have high blood pressure or heart disease, such as congenital heart disease, or placenta issues. 

Collaborations with our medical subspecialties, including transplant, cardiology, rheumatology, hematology, pediatrics/neonatology, and surgical subspecialties, along with our multidisciplinary care plan approach, differentiates UC San Diego Health from other hospitals. This approach allows us to care for some of our highest risk patient populations in a safe manner.

We offer the perinatal services, including pregnancy consultations, diagnostic ultrasounds, including 3D/4D, and other screenings, genetic counseling and a special program for maternal weight and wellness care. 

We understand that experiencing a high-risk pregnancy is unexpected and stressful. Our teams are not only providing remarkable care, but also supportive services that address the whole patient and their partners. 

The patients and their providers are on the path together, as a team. We want our patients to participate in their care at all stages. Their voices matter. We see them. We hear them. We are privileged to serve them.

Learn more about obstetrics and gynecology care at UC San Diego Health.

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman
Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, is the chair for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine and perinatologist at UC San Diego Health.
Category navigation with Social links