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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Classes & Lessons > Birthways Prep Classes

May 2009

Re: Birthways vs. Kaiser for childbirth prep class

I took the Birthways 3-weekend class ('Childbirth Preparation Intensive') last fall with Constance. A midwife at Kaiser actually recommended that I NOT take the Kaiser class! She thought I would get a better perspective on natural childbirth in the Birthways class. I had a drug-free delivery after laboring in the water tub, so I can't argue with the results. The extra expense is not that immense, since Kaiser's childbirth classes aren't free. I can't say that we learned anything earth-shattering in the class, it was just a supportive environment where we covered the basics. The Birthways class also convinced me to hire a doula, which ended up being a blessing. Mary

I'm a Kaiser member who decided to do the childbirth class at Birthways and I was very happy with my choice. When I started my prenatal care at Kaiser Oakland I was told that I HAD to enroll in the first pregnancy class (I forget the exact name, it was about the first trimester.) It was a waste of my time and I was angry that I'd been made to go. The later classes might be of higher quality but I had such a negative impression that I didn't want to enroll in them. I feel that Kaiser, coming from a public health perspective, 1) targets a very wide audience and therefore assumes you know nothing and spends large amounts of time imparting very basic information; 2) has large classes; and 3) assumes that common medical practice is the only way to do things.

I liked that Birthways had smaller classes and wasn't associated with a hospital. Because the teachers are doulas, they have experience with local hospitals and can tell you what are common practices but also what your options are. I also felt that I was treated as an individual with my own hopes/fears for my birth experience, which I didn't feel at Kaiser. There was a lot of information on the physical aspects of birth, medical practices and questions to ask at the hospital, and a range of coping strategies. I felt like the class emphasized supporting drug-and intervention-free births, which is something I wanted. The class at Birhways definitely eased my fears about birth and gave me overall positive feelings about the entire process. And I absolutely used some of the techniques I learned during my labor. Laura

Jan 2003

Re: Should We Supplement the Alta Bates Class?
My husband and I suggest trying Heather Morrison's Hypnobirthing classes that she teaches at Birthways in Oakland. We haven't taken her class but we did refresher lessons with her on a private basis. We took Hypnobirthing classes down on the Peninsula for the birth of our first child and I hardly knew I was in labor, showing up at the hospital 5 cm dilated. We were glad to find someone in Oakland. We found her refresher lessons to be informative and it allowed me to follow up on the part of my first labor that I thought could have gone better. I'm really looking forward to my next delivery in the next few weeks. Heather's # is 510-452-8939 Amy

Dec 1999

My husband and I recently took the Birthways childbirth preparation classes with Treesa McLeon (sp?). We took the class from July to August on six consecutive Sunday evenings. We are first-time parents and I think we both felt the classes were helpful and instructive. Our instructor was knowledgeable and I think fairly objective about different apporaches to childbirth (not too biased in favor of natural childbirth). In fact, I think most people in the class were not planning on natural childbirth and they asked a lot of questions about different pain management techniques and medications. (I opted for natural childbirth, but my mind was already made up before the class.) We also got to meet a couple with a new baby at our last class, as a sort of preview of what life with a newborn would be like. I would recommend the classes . Incidentally, all the folks in our group went as couples... It was a pretty diverse group too.

Nov 1999

We were also Kaiser Oakland patients and chose to take our multi-session childbirth education classes through Birthways (it is in the phone book). The class was ok. I have nothing to compare it to but we did not love or hate it. We decided to go outside of Kaiser because we hoped to meet other new parents and felt that our experience at Kaiser classes was that we were 10-15 years older than most of the other parents. This did not turn to be a good source of friends and we did not see anyone in the group again. Luck of the draw. We had Teresa Mc something. She was fine. I think Janake Costello would be great. She is also a lactation consultant and I have heard good things about her.

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