Childbirth classes for a birth at Alta Bates

Hi, I am new to Berkeley and a first time mom to be.  We will be delivering at Alta Bates in the early Fall.  Alta Bates has a class on Delivery and then on Childcare, which look decent.  But, I figured I would check out other options too.  I noticed there are two private classes in the area: Loving Arms and Then Comes Baby.  Are there any other options around the area?  I think we are most concerned about learning as much as we can about caring for the baby, e.g. sleep, soothing, etc... 

Please send any recommendations/thoughts.  Thank you!

Thank you,


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Welcome to Berkeley! My husband and I took an 8-week class at Loving Arms with Molly as our instructor. The class was great - we learned a lot and felt prepared going into our birth. It was a good way to meet other young couples who will have similarly-aged babies. I've heard almost universally wonderful things about Molly though not as amazing things about other instructors at Loving Arms. Loving Arms does have a natural birth bent, which may or may not be what you're looking for. We didn't cover much newborn care-related information in the class, but for what it's worth, I found that you learn that stuff pretty quickly by doing. On the soothing front, I highly recommend googling the "5 S's" - they were a lifesaver in the early days when we needed to help our baby calm down!

Hi Andrea,

My husband and I took the childbirth class at Alta Bates and really enjoyed it. The best part of the class was learning about the hospital and how they do things more than the actual help with labor and childbirth. You hear so many horror stories about hospitals and the medical complex it was really nice to get information about the Alta Bates and their philosophies.

I'm not sure what other options there are in the area, but like you, we were making a choice between these two places as well... for us the hospital classes didn't feel like a good fit. 

Our Alta Bates midwife recommended Then Comes Baby, and I have to say, it was a really wonderful experience.  We took a birth prep series with Anna and both our a breastfeeding class (free with the series) and a class all about understanding your newborn (sleeping, soothing, and getting into the rhythm of llfe) with Sabrina.  My husband was initially not that excited to sign up for classes since we're so busy, but then he ended up being the biggest fan!  The education manner was both relaxed but authoritative -- they know what they are talking about but are mellow about how they present the info!  That was helpful for both us, not having someone make us feel more stressed, but being clear on the "why" behind things.  Thankfully, the skills came in handy for my husband and he was really a rock for me in labor.  The best part, though, is that we made friends that we are still in touch with, and me and a few moms from birth class just took the moms group there after (also expertly ran).  I actually had a discount on that group, too (bonus!) because I had lactation consulting both in my home and in their office (super cozy with beautiful light and air conditioning!), as recommended by my pediatrician.  

So, all in all, I guess you can say that I am a fan of Then Comes Baby. :-)   But, I think that you'll be take care of at both places -- they both have good reputations, so it's probably about what feels like the right fit for your life.  Best wishes!

We took our childbirth class and newborn care class at Birthways in north Berkeley, and I also went to the mommy-and-baby support group after our daughter was born. I have nothing but praise for the teachers and community. The default starting point for conversations around birth is definitely a "natural" perspective (i.e., assumes that parents are anticipating/desiring a vaginal birth with minimal medical interventions), but my husband and I felt that our teacher, Yve Saville, also gave a good overview of what would be entailed in some of the more common medical interventions. And our birth class did SO much more than teach us how to breathe :) we talked about emotional baggage around birth, strategized coaching language for partners, watched many birth videos, and really bonded with the other couples -- we still get together w/our babies literally every month and the kids are now almost a year old. The newborn care class could probably have been a little more comprehensive but was a good overview on diapering, feeding, etc., plus a general look at some of the things that are likely to freak you out when you bring your newborn home. And the mom-and-baby group was a lifesaver in the early weeks/months. I would recommend the whole organization. We found our doula through them too. Good luck!

We looked at all the local choices, and wound up doing the four-week class at Alta Bates.  It was amazing.  Great content, wonderful instructor, and we really learned what to expect giving birth, and doing it at Alta Bates.  I strongly recommend it.   

I took Then Comes Baby's childbirth class and based on what you are looking for, I would not recommend it. The class covered natural child birth coping techniques only. There was little mention of interventions or pain relief options which was something I wanted to learn more about. The class literally covered up to getting the baby out of your body. It did not cover what happens at the hospital after the baby is out and we did not go over any baby care whatsoever. I felt the class did not cover the things I needed to know so I ended up taking a baby care class through Stanford Hospital because it was the only class available before my baby's arrival. That class was very informative. It covered dressing, bathing, soothing, feeding. It sounds like something like that would better suit your needs.

Hi Andrea! 

Congratulations on your pregnancy! 

My husband and I went to Birthways (located in Berkeley in the Gourmet Ghetto - or at least it was 5 years ago when we attended classes there). It was both affordable and great. We met several other couples and the teacher was  wonderful, interesting and kind. 


If it's not too far for you to travel, I would highly recommend all the classes at Carmel Blue in North Beach, SF.

We went to Birthways in Berkeley, Tabitha was our teacher and she was fantastic. It is a much longer class, something like once a week for 10 weeks? We learned a ton about the birth process, comfort measures, newborn care, etc in a very organized and thorough way. Best of all is that because it was a longer class we got to know the other couples well and they really became our support network and friends. We still meet up with the babes 18 months later.
Good luck!


I'm also a first-time mom to be. Our midwife, Esther Healy, has an amazing birth class and newborn class that I would highly recommend. We are planning a home birth, so the birth class might not be for you (although there is lots of great info about the birth process and a lot of knowledge of centuries of women and midwifery that are passed down in that class), but the newborn class taught us a LOT and might be right up your alley.

Good luck!