Advice on Childbirth Classes/doula

Updated on January 15, 2010
D.S. asks from Oakland, CA
17 answers

Hi Mamas,

I am giving birth in September and trying to get things in place. I want to try to have a natural childbirth, but realize that may not be possible. I want to take a Birth class and am wondering about the options out there?
Has anyone tried Hypnobirthing or BRadley?
If I take a class, should I have a doula as well? Can anyone recommend a GOOD experienced, nurturing, kind Doula??

Any advice is so appreciated.

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J.H.

answers from San Francisco on

I personnally havent tried the hypnobirthing but a friend of mine who is a doula was telling me about it and the diffent techniques that they do. i plan on it for my next birth. If you would like to contact her, her name is Leah Mallett ###-###-#### and her email is [email protected]____.com

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A.D.

answers from San Francisco on

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Paula Santi; she is a very special, kind, experienced doula and Le Leche Leader. We were very blessed to have her assistance w/ our daughter.

A.

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A.A.

answers from San Francisco on

So, I speak as a woman who has had two kids in the hospital with a doula and who has taken doula training since, as well as connected with many doulas and women who have had babies at home, birthing centers and hospitals.

I have spoken with a number of people who gave birth using hypnobirthing techniques and it is what I plan to do when I get pregnant again. Deborah Salisby teaches hypnobirthing at 7th Heaven Yoga Center in Berkeley (or at least last I checked.) She is an amazingly wise and friendly woman! You can google 7th Heaven for the website.

I wouldn't give up the dream of natural childbirth. Women have been having babies for centuries many without medications. Doulas are wonderful for helping achieve that. I used to know come wonderful doulas, but they are no longer practicing, so the best I can recommend is check out DONA for certified doulas in your area. I good doula should be clear about what you want for your birthing plan / help you devise one. She should be able to talk with the docs / midwives as needed and help with family as needed. She should be able to massage you, press acupressure points, help you stay focused and remind you of other possible positions to help with the process. If you want to do hypnobirthing, you would want a doula who could support that process with you. And most importantly, she should be someone you feel connected to and trusting of.

I implore with you to please do a little research for yourself about natural birthing vs. medications and hospitals. Medications and hospitals are important if there is something wrong. However, with a healthy, normal pregnancy and birth, there really is no need according to many studies. Studies actually show that hospitals and medications create more stress and complications, contrary to popular belief. There is also an option in between home-birth and hospitals: birthing centers. There are many resources in the Bay Area to support natural birthing if that is truly what you feel is right for you. Don't let me or anyone else make that decision for you. You have to choose what feels right to you.

When my daughters were born, I didn't have the option of home-birthing or going to a birthing center for many reasons, but at least I had a doula. She was indispensible. I don't think I could have made it without her. I did have medications the first time, some were necessary and others caused some complications for my DD. The second time, I had none except for a little pictocin because she was reluctant and I was emotional.

I hope that helps, and feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

A.P.

answers from San Francisco on

I have taken the hypnobirthing course and read the book. I am not due for another 13 days so I can't speak for the birth itself. The book was eye opening and the CD was great to focus attention on me and the baby. There is a class in Berkeley that I took and now I can't remember the name of the center. I just did a search for hypnobirthing classes in East Bay area. I know there is a private instructor in Walnut Creek as well. I would encourage reading the book as a first step to see if it is something you might be into. Your partner will need to read it and take the class as well. They are a huge piece to the puzzle. Good luck!

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P.D.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi D.,
I am also due in September! We have a wonderful doula, but I think she's booked up for September, but I will check...
Also, my husband and I will be taking a hypnobirthing class at the Nurture Center in Lafayette, starting on May 16. If you're interested, here is the instructor's website: http://www.deannasauter.com/

I went to one of her information sessions and really liked her. She's very sweet and seems very committed to doing whatever it takes to help you have a positive birth experience.

Also, I can also recommend a Bradley instructor in the Oakland Hills named Ellen Klima. She's wonderful and very knowledgeable. You can find out about her classes at http://www.bradleybirth.com/ndweb.asp?ID=K184

I'm also hoping to get a small group together for a Birthing From Within class because I'm really enjoying the book. I found an instructor who has offered to teach us privately or semi-privately in a small group. If you're interested, let me know!

P.

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I took a weekend course with Nancy Bardacke called Mindful Birthing that I found very helpful. (mindfulbirthing dot com) She also has 10 week programs or something like that. I'm a meditator so it was perfect for me. I loved the Bradley book I had so I imagine the course would be even more helpful. I bought a hypnobirthing book but didn't find it so helpful.

I had an awesome doula named Nancy Petrin (google "Birth Choice Doula Collective"). She is also a meditator and is super calm, warm, helpful. I highly recommend her. Email me for more info.

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E.B.

answers from San Francisco on

We worked with Sandra Lloyd and couldn't recommend her more highly. www.divadoula.com

We did our childbirth prep through natural resources and would recommend that as well.

Best of luck. Childbirth is beautiful, however you do it.

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B.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I highly recommend the Bradley training. We went through it and it was wonderful preparation both before and during labor. We were fortunate that our teacher was also a doula so she served as both for us. Unfortunately, that was in Kentucky so I can't recommend her for you... However, I felt that both taking the Bradley classes AND having a doula really helped me in having a positive natural birth. My husband was a wonderful support also, but it was great that he could focus just on me and the doula could help with other things and help us think through the best way to get through it all. There were times when my husband was right in front of me helping me to focus while she was behind me giving me a backrub. What a wonderful combination! She was also there as an advocate for us in case any of the medical staff decided to encourage anything outside of our birthing plan.

I wish you all the best in your pregnancy and labor. I just know that as I look back on it, I am so glad for the choices that I made to help my daughter come in to this world naturally.

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J.N.

answers from San Francisco on

I was also very nervous about childbirth for my first, so I totally relate! I believe that good preparation is the key, though, if you want to give birth naturally. If you have a healthy pregnancy and no complications, it's actually better for you and the baby to go drug- and intervention-free. I gave birth to both my kids naturally and I had no problems breastfeeding and recoverd very quickly.
For my first birth, I took a Bradley class in Chicago. It was very helpful because it covered birth from A-Z and it prepared my husband for the birth as well. One thing I didn't like is that it didn't prepare me for the pushing phase. I pushed my firstborn for nearly 3 hours and I was exhausted.
For my second child, I decided to give hypnobirthing a try. I loved it! It filled in some of the gaps left by Bradley. It helps you to focus and relax, and it really helped me during the pushing phase.
I would do both. If you can't, take Bradley class because it's very thorough and buy a Hypnobirthing book and CD.
I had a doula for my second birth. I gave birth at John Muir, where they don't have that much experience with natural childbirth. Her name is Holly Wiersma and she's a very gentle, soothing and knowledgeable person.
Good luck and congratulations!

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S.L.

answers from San Francisco on

that is SO awesome that you want to have a drug-free birth!!!! and you know what? it's SO possible! i went into it thinking i was the only one nowadays, and lots of my friends thought i was crazy...but i think thats only b/c its so uncommon anymore people think its impossible to do. but i used the bradly method, and have a SUPER supportive husband (either that or another trusted friend/doula is pretty important for bradley) and it was possible! all i can say is it is amazing what the body can do without the intervention of drugs. it just knows what to do, and i think as soon as you start intervening it complicates things. i would also look into taking a bradley class and i'm sure you can look it up online and find one. i didn't i just read the book, but a doula rec. it to me. needless to say, after me i passed the book along to two other women who had success with th method! so it STILL DOES HAPPEN! =) its completely understandable for you to be nervous, and i'm not gonna lie, it is painful- but so worth it! but i believe god created the womans body to be able to do this, and if you have the willpower (and no dangerous complications) you can do it! its a lot of the mindset you have too. hope this was helpful!

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E.N.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi, I'm sorry I don't have any recommendations for you on classes or doulas here, as I'm fairly new to the bay area. I just wanted to share some words of encouragement that I received from my mom(a longtime bradley/lamaze educator and labor coach) before I gave birth to my first child. Believe in your ability to give birth naturally, remember that the pain you will feel has a purpose and an end, and remember to keep an open mind about the experience. If you can go all the way with no meds, awesome! If you need help for whatever reason, awesome! What really matters is that you have a positive experience and do exactly what is right for you when the time comes. Good luck and happy birthing!

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B.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi D.,

How exciting! Congratulations on the pregnancy. I absolutely loved being pregnant and giving birth, really:) My husband and I took the Bradley classes and LOVED them. it was amazing. My husband learned so much during the class which totally gave him the knowledge to be confident in his/our decisions during the labor. I had three amazing homebirths to follow and can't imagine it anyother way. Truley the BEST experience of my life. My midwife was Beah Haber. she has an wonderful doula that assists her too. You can contact them at beahmidwife.com I'm sure she can answer more questions about doulas. However, no matter which way you choose, it's a great idea to go to a Bradley class:) also, I am a local chiropractor in Danville. A large portion of my practice is pregnant moms, wanting a pain free pregnancy and a natural birth. It will help assist in the process. I'd love to meet you!

Have a great day and good luck!
B.

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S.G.

answers from San Francisco on

I can't say enough good things about Rachel Yellen's hypnobirthing class at the JCC. Her web site is http://www.one-moon.com/

I also loved the 6-week childbirth prep class at Natural Resources. They're oriented towards natural childbirth and teach many comfort measures for unmedicated birth and labor, but they also educate you about all the options for interventions and pain relief so that you'll understand the pros and cons and be able to decide when they're the right path. Their web site is http://www.naturalresources-sf.com/.

As far as doulas go, you can meet a bunch at the "Meet the Doulas" event at Natural Resources. I adore, cannot rave enough about, just plain love, the doula that I had last October for the birth of my daughter, Desiree Tamsky. Her contact information is:

Desiree Tamsky ###-###-#### (c) [email protected]____.com

She's solid, comforting, sensible, kind, and loving, and a mom herself. I think she's wonderful.

Congratulations on your new baby-to-come!

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M.P.

answers from San Francisco on

wow, i logged on so i could add our doula's name, and she's already on here. Paula Santi was our doula and my husband and both say we couldn't have done it without her. our hospital experience was less than desirable and if you are birthing in a hospital, i highly recommend a doula. Paula has such a calm spirit and has birthed two sons unmedicated. in the end, when i was pushing, it was the doula i was looking at for support, not my husband. the pushing part was scary and i knew she'd done it before. i got Paula's name of Berkeley Parent's Network, so she comes highly recommended.

as for natural childbirth, you can do. you can do it! but i won't lie, it is really hard. and i agree with other women on here, i believe it's worth it. for how painful it was, i would totally do it unmedicated again for #2. i gave birth in August and the hospital was so overcrowded that i had to share a room with another woman and my husband wasn't going to be able to stay the night with me. i gave birth at 2am and we left the hospital around 7 or 8 pm. they didn't like it, but they couldn't keep me. i didn't have a spinal tap that needed to be monitored and my baby was totally alert, breast fed right away and passed the nasty poo right away (because he could nurse right away), so they couldn't keep me. i was so happy to be home. he is strong and healthy.

on the flip side, birth can be hairball and medication might be inevitable. i like that you are going to do you best to have an unmedicated birth. don't get so attached to the idea that if something happens and you have to get medication that you are disappointed with the birth later.

best of luck. you can do it!!! roar like a lion!

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A.S.

answers from San Francisco on

My husband and I took the childbirth class at Natural Resources - it was great! Everything we needed to know about pain management we learned in class, and last November we had a completely natural birth. We labored at home for nearly the entire labor, then went to the hospital to push. I did hypnobabies CDs but I didn't use them during labor. My OB practice does not allow doulas so we didn't have one, which worked out fine. The other thing that helped was that I exercised (cycling and rock climbing) - with my doctor's approval of course - right up until the day my labor started. I think that helped me get my (first) son out in only 5 pushes.

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T.J.

answers from San Francisco on

I wonder why you think it might not be possible? I would strongly recommend a Bradley class. We took one with Zann Erick ([email protected]____.com) and we loved it, and I know you will not feel as nervous after you take this class. I would try to do a class that isn't associated with the hospital, and is more than one Saturday afternoon. What I liked about the Bradley class is that it was very comprehensive and really helped get your mind around your body, its capabilities and the birth.

I'd recommend a doula (esp if a hospital birth) because they provide the continuity and emotional support that hospital staff is not able to do. And you will meet ahead of time with the doula to talk about your wishes, thoughts, concerns, etc. I would recommend our doula, but she's not doing it anymore because she's training to become a midwife.

Good luck! You can do it! Our bodies are meant for this, and women have been doing it for thousands of years!

ps-- in reading some of the other posts, I also was surprised that friends did not really support a natural childbirth and would say things like "you need to do what's best for the baby" (as if drugs were the best thing?--I never got that). So the doula and Bradley classmates might provide some balance that you might not be getting from even your closer friends.

I had a drug free birth birth and it was an incredible, wonderful experience. I find it ironic that friends who had pain meds talk about how awful the experience was! I'm due in 3 weeks with #2 and don't have second thoughts about going drug free.

Oh, another ps - are you in SF? St. Luke's Hospital is known for being the most natural childbirth "friendly," CPMC main campus the least. I know a lot of people have wonderful experiences any place, but this is word on the street from doulas and others who promote natural childbirth.

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D.S.

answers from San Francisco on

D. Sauter provides childbirth classes in Walnut Creek, Oakland, Berkeley and the surrounding East Bay Area. Classes are held at the Nurture Center in Lafayette. She offers HypnoBirthing and Integrated Methods childbirth classes, group and private classes too.

D. Mulder-Sauter, Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Massage Therapist, Hypnotherapist
www.deannasauter.com
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