Your Maternity Journey Vol. 3

Maternity at MarinHealth Medical Center: We’ve Thought of Everything

MarinHealth Medical Center has a well-earned reputation as a great place to give birth. As Marin’s only comprehensive maternity care program, we are committed to letting each woman have her baby, her way. That’s why we ask her to fill out a birth plan for the labor and delivery experience that fits her preferences, from pain relief to who she wants in the delivery room. One important choice is whether to use an OB or a midwife to deliver. We are the only hospital in Marin and San Francisco Counties to have both available in the hospital at all times.

Our outcomes are excellent, as evidenced by:

  • 20.3% C-section for first-time moms, compared to a national average of more than 30%
  • A high success rate for vaginal births after cesareans (VBAC)—three times higher than the national average
  • 99% breastfeeding rate

These results are in no small part due to a highly collaborative team of caring experts, available 24/7. For women with high-risk pregnancies and newborns with extra needs, we also collaborate with UCSF Health perinatologists and neonatologists.

Now, with our new Oak Pavilion, MarinHealth is taking maternity care to the next level, from state-of-the-art technology to a serene environment. Our 15 spacious new labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum (LDRP) rooms allow a woman to remain in one place throughout her stay. The rooms have private baths and large windows for views of nature and plenty of natural light. Each room features an adjustable bed, refrigerator, TV, foldout couch for someone to stay the night, and a rocking chair where mom can cuddle and breastfeed her new arrival. We offer labor support tools such as TENS units, nitrous oxide, and peanut balls, as well as wireless fetal monitoring so laboring women can walk around unencumbered.

Expecting the unexpected is the hallmark of excellent maternity care. The hospital has two surgical suites and a surgical team always at the ready in the event of an emergency C-section. A specially trained NICU nurse attends every birth, and premature or medically challenged newborns are cared for in a 7-bed, state-of-the-art Level II NICU, the only place in Marin County fully equipped to treat infants needing extra medical attention. An in-house pediatric hospitalist is available round the clock, with UCSF Health specialists also on call to consult as needed.

Our new NICU has five private rooms, plus a room for twins. Each room features a beautiful view of Mt. Tam, rocking chairs for skin to skin bonding, and the most advanced technologies, such as isolettes, ventilators, intravenous pumps, radiant warmers, and pulse oximeters, as well as breast milk support equipment and lactation staff to help you breastfeed your little one. So if you’re planning on getting pregnant, plan on having your little one at the North Bay’s healing place for the care and comfort you deserve.


(Take a virtual tour of our beautiful new Maternity Center)
(Subtitles in Spanish are available — click the cc button at bottom right of the video screen)


Planning Ahead: Understanding Maternity Leave in California

If you are working, understanding your options for maternity leave is an important consideration. California is one of a small number of states to offer paid family leave. Pregnant women can utilize various types of leave including pregnancy disability, family medical leave, and child bonding leave. Pregnancy disability is designed to protect your job before and after you have given birth and recovered. Child bonding leave is available for both women and men to give them an opportunity to bond with their new baby.

Pregnancy Disability Leave Act (PDL)

The Pregnancy Disability Leave Act (PDL) requires California employers with five or more employees to provide unpaid pregnancy disability leave. (Some companies elect to offer paid maternity leave. Check with your employer’s Human Resources department). Businesses with fewer than five employees have no obligation to preserve your job and may terminate you. Depending on how long you have worked for your employer and how much other protected time off you may have taken, you may be eligible for four months of leave during any period of time you are unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. This time may be taken before or after your baby’s birth. For example, you can choose to take this time for severe morning sickness, medically necessary bed rest, childbirth and recovery, and any pregnancy-related complications. Routine prenatal or postnatal medical care are included. The amount of time off will depend on your situation. Typically, for an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth, employees may be considered to be disabled for four weeks before giving birth plus six weeks after birth for a vaginal delivery, and eight weeks after birth for a cesarean. If you have a pregnancy-related complication that prevents you from working longer than this, you may be eligible to receive up to four months off.

While your employer is not required to continue paying you during pregnancy disability leave, you can use accrued vacation, sick leave, or paid time off (PTO). You may apply for short-term pregnancy disability benefits through the California State Disability Insurance program, enabling you to receive roughly half of your wages based on a maximum amount set by law each year.

Good to know:

  • Your request for maternity leave should be made at least 30 days before the leave is to begin. If you have a medical emergency or unexpected change in your condition that delays the request, make it as soon as you can.
  • Your employer may require a doctor’s certification. Information in this medical certification may include a statement that you are unable to work due to a pregnancy-related disability, the date on which you became disabled, and the anticipated length of the disability.
  • Denial of leave for an illegitimate reason may be discrimination. If you have questions about pregnancy discrimination, contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
  • An employer must return you to the position you held before taking pregnancy disability. If your position was eliminated for legitimate business reasons, please contact your Human Resources department to discuss your options to find a comparable position within your organization.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

Like the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CRFA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a new child. However, you can get paid a percentage of your wages through the state. (If you work in San Francisco, check with Human Resources. San Francisco employers of a certain size are required to provide paid leave under a city ordinance.) Parents who work for businesses with 20-49 employees can obtain this leave under the New Parents Leave Act (NPLA). Family leave is also available for other reasons, such as caring for a sick family member.

You and your spouse or partner may be eligible to take 12 weeks of parental leave within the first year of a child’s arrival by birth, adoption, or foster placement. Because female employees are the only ones who can become pregnant and give birth, they can receive additional time off for pregnancy disability (see above).

To qualify for FMLA/CFRA or for NPLA leave, you must:

  • Have worked for a covered employer for at least one year
  • Have put in at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding the leave
  • Work at a location where your employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius for FMLA/CFRA and at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius for NPLA

Getting Paid During Parental Leave

While you take time to get to know your new arrival, you and your partner can receive partial wages from the state. Depending on your income, California pays 60-70% percent of wages for six weeks, up to a weekly maximum set by state law. In addition, you can request—or your employer may require—that your accrued paid vacation, sick leave, or PTO be paid out during your leave. Your employer is obligated to continue your group health coverage during your leave. At the end of your leave, your employer is required to reinstate you to the same job, or a comparable one. If you or your partner or spouse work for an employer with fewer than 20 employees, you are not legally entitled to time off and will not be entitled to job-protected leave. However, you can still receive paid family leave benefits.

Under the FMLA/CFRA, as with pregnancy disability leave, your employer can require at least 30 days’ notice when you have a specific need, such as your due date. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, such as in the case of a medical emergency, you should give notice as soon as you get the chance.