Childbirth Prep Classes at Kaiser
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Childbirth Prep Classes at Kaiser
I am currently registered for a Childbirth Preparation class at
Kaiser in Oakland, for two consecutive Saturdays, and I just realized
from reading the class registration form that it is not a Lamaze or
Bradley method of childbirth preparation.
Has anyone taken this Kaiser class? If so, how was your experience?
Would you recommend it to others? Or would you rather have taken a
Lamaze or Bradley class - either instead or concurrently?
I now realize that I should have researched this Kaiser class more in
depth before signing up because I am interested in, and accordingly
seeking a program, that focuses on non-medicated, ''natural''
childbirth preparation. If necessary, I am willing to take either a
Lamaze or Bradley class in conjunction with, or additional to, the
Kaiser class. Any advice on this?
I took the Kaiser Oakland childbirth prep class late last year and thought
was really helpful. Our instructor was also a doula and on the crunchy end
things. She walked us through a lot of breathing exercises and positions,
of covering the various pain management options. But one thing I found
helpful was reading The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon. There are so many
different ways in which your birth experience can unfold, I think it's
important to be informed about and open to the various options...so you
stress or judge yourself during or after the fact if it goes differently
your fantasy scenario. (That book really drives that point home and has
many first person accounts of different labor scenarios.)
I envisioned a natural birth, but ended up being induced when we were two
past due. The labor was such a long process (almost 48 hours) that it's
imagine getting through it without some morphine early on and an epidural
towards the end. Being in considerable pain for that long was exhausting
literally nauseating, and I feel good about relying on some meds to get me
Btw, we were at Kaiser Oakland for the delivery and had a wonderful
there both during the birth and postpartum. Every nurse and doctor we
encountered was FABULOUS. We didn't want to leave!
Best of luck to you and congrats!
I recommend taking the Kaiser class in order to answer any questions you
have about how things work at Kaiser. I was really nervous about things
episiotimies and being forced to labor on my back, based on books I was
and it turned out that they almost NEVER do episiotimies and unless you
getting an epidural they allow you to labor in any position, as long as
on a bed for the delivery (at least that was true in April 2011). So if
those kinds of questions, go to the class and get them answered. My
Kaiser Oakland was a doula, and she did go over some pain management
but not much. So I'd recommend taking a separate class - we did Zen
a group class with Betsy Appell and I HIGHLY recommend it:
Her techniques were incredibly useful during labor.
I would also highly recommend doing the tour of the labor and delivery
that Kaiser offers - it was really great to know where we were going when
Happy Kaiser Mom
I assume that you signed up for this class because you will be delivering
at kaiser, so I would stick with the class as it will help orient you to
practices at the facility. My experience with this course was at kaiser
walnut creek in the evenings, so over five nights, and each time we met we
discussed natural pain management, practiced relaxation techniques, etc. I
went into the course and my birth with the desire to do it naturally and,
despite being one of two women in my particular class who felt that way I
felt very supported by the instructor and my midwife. Everything else was
very informative and despite that I had done a lot of reading ahead of
time I learned a lot too. If after you take the class you feel you want
more practice in a specific technique then go for it. I ended up taking a
prenatal yoga class at a local studio and found that the centering
practices really helped me to continue to prepare. Good luck!
I took the Kaiser class, and I'd say that it totally depends on who your
is. My friend was happy with her class, but ours was A.W.F.U.L.
don't remember the teacher's name (I think I blocked it). Luckily, we were
overachievers and were taking another class too (Zen Childbirth with Betsy
Appell, which I *highly* recommend --
http://www.sfdoula.com/Zen_Birthing_Classes.html), so we could actually
what was going on in the class, but otherwise, it was totally scattered
confusing. Each week, there were fewer people, and we only lasted a couple
weeks. We were actually having to explain to others what was going on
knew from our other class. Seriously. The only reason we were glad that we
it is because the video they showed on the first night was really helpful.
Granted, my partner and I both do teaching/facilitation and are picky
teachers, but we usually take that into consideration and try to be
but this was just plain horrible.
Glad we went with Zen
The Kaiser child prep classes are surprisingly very pro natural. My labor
and delivery class at Oakland was taught by a former doula. The videos
they showed depict natural birth not medicated ones. She has a copy of
Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth right on the table when you walk in. I
wouldn't be too attached to Bradey or Lamaze methods. If you read natural
childbirth books such as Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent ( famous midwife in
Bay Area) she actually talks about how bullshit those techniques are. I
wouldn't demonize Kaiser. The classes are very affordable. The Late
Pregnancy class at Richmond was taught by this awesome former labor and
delivery nurse who is also very pro natural. If you go to the Meet the
Delivery Team meeting they also emphasize honoring whatever you want. Best
You should definitely take the standard Kaiser class in addition to
specialized method you want to try. My husband and I took it in 2008 prior
our first child's birth; I was set on a natural delivery(which in fact
transpired, but that's another story) but still found the Kaiser class
It is not biased one way or another; in fact, it was led by a local doula
RN or MD) who clearly was into natural childbirth. Anyway, it's useful to
about the Kaiser approach and what you can expect. Definitely try to take
the hospital you plan to deliver at. It's worth your time.
I took the Oakland Kaiser birth preparation class as well as a Zen
Class with Betsy Appell in Berkeley. The Kaiser class did actually teach
birth techniques that were more natural. And actually since I had already
the Zen class the Kaiser class really was mostly a duplication of things
had already learned. I think the Kaiser class can be helpful, though I
did not think that the instructor was all that knowledgeable and she just
to be pushing her doula services. If I was chosing classes all over again
would skip the Kaiser class and just take the Zen Birthing Class. The
class that I did find useful was the newborn care (I think that was the
It taught basic things like bathing your baby, it was simple stuff, but
everything I had thought of before. Plus the instructor for that class was
wonderful! Fun high energy, mother of 3, I enjoyed her class!
Here is a link to Betsy Appell's site,
http://www.sfdoula.com/public_html/Welcome.html I really enjoyed her Zen
Birthing class I feel that it fully prepared me for a natural child birth.
gave birth at Kaiser Oakland and I did NOT have an epidural even though my
active labor was 25 hours. Good Luck! No Epidural Mama
I went to one of the two sessions at Kaiser Oakland. My husband and I felt
that the information covered did not necessitate going for the second 4
hours. The childbirth educator we had did one guided imagery exercise and
some breathing/relaxation exercises. I found that there was a lot of
overlap with one (can't remember the title now) of their other classes. If
you are looking for a more focused, methods-oriented class I would say
skip this one. I would add that the nurses who coached me during my
daughter's birth were amazing, and I worked with them on breathing more
than I relied on what I had learned in any classes.
I took the Kaiser Childbirth Classes at Richmond and thought they were
very educational. It was a 4-week evening class, so I'm not sure if it's
the same content. But the teacher definitely promoted natural birth as the
healthiest way to go for you and your child. Breathing techniques were a
topic, but not the main focus, placing more emphasis on the birthing ball
and different positions or stances to ease pain. Personally I think the
breathing techniques are over-rated. I recommend taking the Kaiser class.
And it's free! Jen
Re: Birthways vs. Kaiser for childbirth prep class
My husband and I are Kaiser members, and we took both the Kaiser
classes (free) and a 10 week Bradley Method class with Sabine Henrie in
Berkeley (http://www.teachstreet.com/teacher/sabine-henrie). The two
experiences were like night and day. The Kaiser class skims the
surface. I still think you should take those classes, because if you
are going to give birth at Kaiser, that will give you some insight into
the ''Kaiser'' approach to birth, but the Bradley Method classes we
took were amazing and full of so much rich information, not only on
preparation for birth, pain management, possible drugs, possible
positions, but also all the emotional issues that come up between you
and your partner, nursing issues, caring for your newborn, resources,
etc. etc. It was really amazing and so was our teacher. It is not just
for people who want a ''drug-free'' birth, because all the preparation
you do will help you if you are in a situation where it is too early
for medication. With the classes we both felt more more emotionally
prepared and educated to make decisions for ourselves. I was going to
go drug-free, but with unforeseen complications, I was able to navigate
my way through a myriad of issues without freaking out or giving in to
the pressures of more stronger medication/cesarean. Contact me if you
want to talk more.
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
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.
I highly recommend taking the Kaiser childbirth prep class at the
hospital you plan to give birth at. We took it in summer 08 prior to
our baby's birth in Sept. 08. Both my husband and I thought it was
useful, he maybe more so. It covers both medicated and non-medicated
pain control options and does not give undue weight to either. (We
were and are fans of natural childbirth, and that's what our son's
birth was.) It is very helpful to know what Kaiser wants you to know
going into your birth, whether it works out that way or not! Also it
is fun to then run into the other couples on the maternity ward (two
others were there at the same time, one in the same room as us!) and in
the Kaiser moms group. Regardless of taking the Birthways class or
getting a doula or whatever, take every class Kaiser offers!
I didn't see the original post, but wanted to share my experience. I took the
Kaiser class (in Oakland) in late 2006 and was very pleased w/ it. The class of 8
couples (not too big in my opinion) was taught by a doula who regularly works at
Kaiser - so got a good perspective on what to expect at Kaiser, but also
perspectives from a doula on what they do and strategies for a drug-free birth.
I agree that the class doesn't go into a lot of detail on pain management, if you
want a drug-free birth it's worth investing in a class that focuses on that or in a
doula. I'm surprised by the number of negative responses to the class - I have to
think that the quality must vary by the teacher/facility - so may be hard to
predict in advance what you'll get? I never felt pressured to take the Kaiser class
- but due to poor planning on my part didn't have any (affordable) alternatives.
One option would be to do a non-Kaiser birth class and take the labor and delivery
tour at the facility in which you're delivering. The L&D tour is free and covers
the logistics of how the hospital works and things like when you should call/come
in (ended up working well for me as a refresher for #2), which are important
details to be comfortable with before you go into labor.
Kaiser's not so bad
Re: Birthing class for natural labor at Kaiser
I delivered at KP Oakland in March and took both the KP birthing
class and one through Birthways. I actually found that the KP
birthing class was wonderful. The instructor was very
knowledgeable, thorough, and engaging. The Birthways class was
not bad, but in retrospect we would have been fine with just the
KP class (we took the 2 Saturday Mornings option at Kaiser and
the short option at Birthways).
Neither class promoted any single ''method'' and both classes were
very pro-natural birth. The Birthways class was a tad more in
depth (because it was a tad longer) but there was nothing very
different presented. I think the classes were important 1) for me
to be comfortable with what was going to happen with my body 2)
for my partner to learn the techniques and 3) for my partner to
learn how I respond to pain and soothing. Both classes did this.
I remembered very little of what we learned during labor - it was
my partner that remembered a lot of the breathing techniques
(with some help from our doula). So for us it was important to
choose a class/classes that had a format that my partner could
digest and that would make me feel comfortable.
Also, the Birthways class included a breastfeeding day, but I
found the KP breastfeeding class (offered separately) more thorough.
I am expecting 12/29 and have been taking lots of classes from Kaiser
Hayward. They have a free, 6-week, rotating series of drop-in classes
with a variety of instructors (Labor & Delivery, Breast Feeding Basics,
Breast Feeding & The Working Mom, Cesarean Delivery & Pain Medication,
Adjusting to Parenthood, New Baby Care). Also offered is a $40, 6-week
Childbirth Preparation (formerly known as Lamaze) class taught by Sylvia
Boyd and finally a free, Now the Cord Is Cut class that they schedule
for you like an appointment. The Heath Education Center phone is
My advice is the more knowledge/classes the better. I had heard
negative things about the Childbirth Preparation instructor and we almost
didn't take the class, but I am glad we did. I learn something new and
valuable every time. I am also glad I am taking classes with my husband
because then we have the same knowledge base as opposed to me reading books
and passing on things to him.
I have heard good things about Kate Livson who teaches (or did a couple of
years ago) childbirth ed classes at Kaiser. We took the babycare class
(don't remember the teacher) and found it to be useful. It is very basic
-- swaddling, changing diapers, holding baby -- so if you already know
that stuff you may not need it. They use dolls. It was great for us
practice before the baby came.
Good luck. The best advice is to trust your body. Learn what you can and
then try to relax and be open to however the labor and delivery unfolds.
My husband & I took Roseanne Piccini's (sp?) childbirth prep class at
Kaiser. We both liked Roseanne a lot -- she is very warm, very down to
earth, & very knowledgeable. She is the mother of 5 kids, the youngest
of whom was 5 mos. old when we took the class. She brought her daughter to
class &, as first timers, it was great to see a child, & to see how
Roseann fed her, burped her, etc. The class itself was helpful -- pretty
basic info re: the process, what to expect, & so on. It felt like we
could have used one more session -- things were a bit rushed at the end. The
relaxation exercises were good, & it was nice to get to know other couples.
The best part of the class was that Roseann had her graduates from her
last class come & tell us their birth stories on our last night -- very
interesting & helpful. Then, we got to come back for her next class &
have a reunion with our classmates, hear their birth stories, & tell ours.
That was great.
Overall, I thought it was helpful. Roseanne did miss one class, &
someone else whose name I can't remember was a substitute & she was awful.
I took the classes offered at Kaiser and they were okay as far
as they went, but when I went to give birth, I was extremely
glad my husband and I had also taken a course in the Bradley
Method of natural childbirth. We knew much more than our Kaiser
classmates (some of whom were at the hospital on the same day we
were) and, because of the training, were ableto manage the pain
without drugs. We ended up with substantially the birth
experience we wanted. There are several Bradley instructors in
the area (you can get a contact list by contacting the American
Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth, 1-800-4-A-Birth, or
www.bradleybirth.com); we liked Ellen Klima, who teaches in
We just finished our childbirth prep classes at Kaiser in Oakland and
had a good experience. The instructor we had was Karin Hannula. I was
pleased because she tailored the class to meet the needs of the
couples. She spent time talking with us to find out what kind of birth
we wanted and then gave us the information to achieve that, but also
all the information about other options that may come up. She seems
very experienced... I suspect she assists with births on the side
because she has lots of stories. She is also very familiar with the
Kaiser system and the dr's who do the deliveries. She also gives lots
of good advice... like "ask the dr to leave the room and then ask the
nurses their opinions before you make any decisions." One of the best
things was that she had a class from early in the fall come in and
give "testimonials" one night. It was good to hear how things ended up
with other couples, and to hear about the Alta Bates experience. I do
recommend the class... you can't beat the $40 fee. Also, just to let
you know, when we went to the Baby Care class at Kaiser, one of the
hand outs was a list of about a dozen places that offer Childbirth
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