CenteringPregnancy at Kaiser Oakland

Oakland, CA

Parent Q&A

  • Centering Pregnancy at Kaiser Oakland

    (21 replies)

    Hi community

    Has anyone had experience with the Centering Pregnancy prenatal care program at Kaiser Oakland?

    We just found out we are pregnant with our first child at age 36 and are trying to determine if we should stick with our current OB-GYN (who is amazing!!) in favor of these group based appointments.

    thanks in advance for your help

    We did it in 2017 and LOVED it! The program was just called the prenatal group program back then -- I don't know if they changed anything fundamental about after re-naming "Centering Pregnancy."

    I would highly recommend the program. Our son just turned 2, and we still regularly hang out with several of the couples that we met in the group. We've basically had a support system built-in from the beginning, all due to participating in the program. It made a huge difference to go through the whole process with the other parents. We've become good friends with one set of parents in particular, and our children now go to the same daycare/preschool. You can still check in with your OB if you want, and you'll likely see your OB for your last couple of check-ups before your due date. We all learned from each other during the group sessions, as many of us brought up various unique questions that the rest of us hadn't thought of. 

    Hope that helps!

    Congratulations! My husband and I participated in centering in 2017-2018. We had an incredibly positive experience with it, and I think it played a big role in our overall experience in the early days of parenthood being largely positive. The group setting is about more than medical care. Each meeting focuses on a different aspect of pregnancy, childbirth, or early parenthood. It's an opportunity to have some focused time to prepare yourselves mentally for the major life transition. It's also an opportunity for your partner to be more engaged in the process because the conversations are about more than just your pregnancy. Finally, our group managed to make the leap from the Centering process to being a support group after we all gave birth. We met for regular playdates when many of us were on parental leave, we have a vibrant text thread to complain or ask advice, we went camping together, and we continue to provide support to each other even 12+ months into parenting. This is certainly not the norm, but if you or others in the group are motivated enough to make it happen, it is a great way to create a community of fellow parents. A drawback is that the check up portion of the group meetings is pretty light touch --- you take your own vitals and get a quick ultrasound and have a few minutes to chat with the doctor or midwife leader. Kaiser seems to have no problem if you want to make follow up appointments to talk about specific concerns, but it does take a bit more effort than if you were in the normal ob/gyn track.

    We did the centering pregnancy program at UCSF at it was the best experience! I have a group of 10 moms I regularly speak to and have play dates with as a result of the group, it is a wonderful program.

Parent Reviews

Parents, Sign in to post a review on this page.

I'm with Kaiser Oakland, with Dr. Sarah Wilson as my OB. She is fantastic and I highly recommend her. I also did the prenatal group program during my pregnancy (my son is now 1 year old), which I believe has evolved into the "Centering Pregnancy" program as you've described, and I would highly recommend that as well. We ended up choosing one of the Family Medicine doctors who led our group as our son's pediatrician. We still keep in touch with the other couples who were in our same group, and have become good friends with one couple and their baby in particular.

I can't speak to the "holistic" approach as you've described, but I will say that Kaiser did very few ultrasounds during my pregnancy. I think I may have gotten one per trimester. Otherwise, they just used a doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat at the checkups. 

As for a water birth, I doubt that the Kaiser Oakland hospital facility could support that. Another couple in our Kaiser prenatal group did a home birth with a water birth, however. Kaiser Oakland hospital has all the drugs, including nitrous oxide, for pain relief during labor, but I've heard of plenty of women who did not opt to use any when giving birth at Kaiser. The Labor & Delivery rooms at Kaiser Oakland are spacious (so there's lots of room to walk around, use a yoga ball, etc.), and they come with a shower. Kaiser Oakland L&D is also run by midwives - a midwife on duty supervises the OB residents, who take care of the laboring mothers. All the residents that we interacted with during our stay were excellent.

Also, my understanding is that you can also opt to give birth at Kaiser Walnut Creek, where it's all midwives (no OB residents). 

I can only speak to the Centering Pregnancy option...and this is just my own experience.

I wasn't sure about it and we went to the first two sessions and ultimately decided it wasn't for us. This was simply because we have a lot of outside resources (a doula, a prenatal psychotherapist, I have been reading books since early on, hypnobirthing classes, etc.) and it felt like a lot of time to invest to be learning the same things we already knew. What we were hoping for was to connect with other new parents and maybe form relationships outside of the group but the particular group we were in didn't seem interested in community building (though maybe we jumped shipped too soon). I would say try it and thankfully they give you the option of going back to your previous OB/Gyn. When you do the CP program the two doctors who run it (and you don't get to choose I don't think) become your OB/Gyn for your pregnancy and the group meetings take the place of your other checkups so that's something for you consider. 

Hope this was helpful. Happy to answer other questions if you have them.