Here is it folks, our user-tested and approved guide to holistic pre- and post-natal resources. The Bay Area happens to be one of the best places in the country to have a baby in terms of all the fabulous classes, groups and practitioners to support parents-to-be. From pre- and post-natal Pilates to mindfulness in labor workshops to handmade lactation cookies, if you can imagine it, you can probably find it here.
Birth Preparation Classes
Whether you are planning a homebirth without pain medications or a Cesarean section, there are a number of great classes to help prepare you and your partner for labor, birth, and parenthood. Here are some of my favorite places for birth preparation classes:Natural Resources SF Homebirth
UCSF The Mind in Labor: Working with Pain in Childbirth & UCSF Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting
Birth and Postpartum Doulas
A doula provides specialized care for women (and sometimes their partners) during labor and/or postpartum. While they do not deliver babies or provide medical care, they offer a wide range of physical, logistical and emotional support during birth and post-partum. Some of them are also yoga instructors, massage and hypnotherapists or lactation consultants, thus bringing their own unique skill set and tools to make your birth experience and transition to motherhood a lot easier. A good doula is worth every penny. SF Doula Group is a great place to check out some of the amazing women who provide doula services in San Francisco. Some of my favorites are:Birth Doula Alexis Cohen Post-partum Doulas Caroline Hervre Lidia Sawakuchi firstname.lastname@example.org
Midwives are highly trained birth professionals who may actually deliver babies either at home or in the hospital. Many, known as Certified Nurse Midwives, are also RNs. I can’t say enough about good things about the midwifery model of peri-natal care. It is a truly holistic and integrative approach, blending metrics from Western medicine like lab screening, and ultrasounds, with personalized care and a wide range of tools to make labor and delivery an empowering, safe experience for mothers and babies. Most midwives in CA work closely with obstetricians, and are excellent at referring out to specialists in cases if there are complications. Some hospitals have midwives on staff for prenatal care, labor and delivery. Another way to experience midwifery care is by having your baby at home.
Homebirth midwives do not have privileges to deliver babies in hospitals, and it is often difficult to get insurance reimbursement for a homebirth, so if you’re planning to have your baby in the hospital, check out the following hospitals that offer midwifery care:Marin General UCSF CPMC St Luke’s Campus Kaiser Redwood City
If you are planning on a homebirth, there is an experienced community of midwives in San Francisco who will work with you. The Bay Area Homebirth Collective is a great place to start if this interests you.
I am particularly fond of Maria Iorillo, an experienced midwife, impressive community-builder and a truly inspirational woman. She’s attended over 1,000 births in her 25+ years of experience
As you may know, acupuncture can do wonders for pregnancy nausea, heartburn, aches and pains, as well as address breech positioning, plancenta previa and prepare the body for labor. Post-partum, acupuncture can help with hormonal re-balancing, milk production, and healing from c-sections.
One of the best things you can do for you and your baby during pregnancy is to stay or get active. While I don’t advocate Cross Fit or super-hot yoga classes, there are so many great group fitness classes for moms and moms to be that are fun, social and a great workout. Here are some of my favorites:
Zumba: The hip-shaking grooves of Zumba are great for loosening up tight hips, and the fun choreography is great for sharpening pregnancy brain. Talia Litle offers an amazing pre/post natal class on Friday mornings at Steppin’ Out Dance Studio. She taught throughout her pregnancy, so knows exactly what mamas-to-be and new moms need.
Yoga: With its attention to opening the body, focusing the mind, and teaching us to be present, yoga is an excellent preparation for parenthood. If you already have a strong practice, you may be able to continue taking regular classes into your third trimester, provided your teacher has experience offering safe modifications for pregnant women; there’s nothing like finding yourself in a class of mostly twisting poses (which are not advised in pregnancy) at 28 weeks staring at your navel. If you are new to yoga, pregnancy is a great time to start, and prenatal classes offer safe and appropriate poses to prepare you for labor and delivery. Here are my favorite teachers and studios in San Francisco:Jane Austin at the Yoga Tree & Bernal Yoga Gabby Yates at the Yoga Garden
Also, both of these teachers offer post-natal mama and baby classes for babies 6 weeks and older. In these classes, anything goes: breastfeeding, crying, napping…and the babies can do all of those things, too!
Pilates: Pilates is especially helpful postpartum to heal the pelvis and abdomen after childbirth. Be sure to work with an instructor who has experience with pre and post natal clients, as rebuilding the core should be done very mindfully if there have been any complications such as C-section, or diastasis recti. There are many great instructors in San Francisco, but I love Stephanie Forester of Preggo Pilates.
Hiking: Walking and moderate hiking are also wonderful ways to maintain cardio fitness during pregnancy. With all the hills in San Francisco, you are sure to get a workout just walking around in most neighborhoods, but if you’re looking for new jaunts, check out Lands End or Stairways of San Francisco.
Massage & Bodywork
Massage during pregnancy can soothe sore muscles and give the body an opportunity to rest and relax. In addition to prenatal massage, cranio-sacral massage, Maya abdominal therapy and prenatal Thai massage are appropriate modalities to address aches and pains of pregnancy as well as general relaxation and circulation enhancing effects of bodywork. Here are some of my favorite practitioners in San Francisco:Cranio-sacral massage with Randi Kofsky Pre-natal Thai Massage at La Biang Maya Abdominal Therapy (after 20 weeks): Yours truly and Jaime Shapiro
Some women report that taking their placenta orally helps expedite post-partum healing and supports energy and lactation. Your placenta is extremely nutrient-rich with protein, vitamins and minerals, and your own hormones. While not everyone is going to make placenta smoothies (although if you’re inclined, by all means…), many women find taking prepared encapsulated placenta or placenta tincture easy and helpful. I love the women at Placenta Apothecary.
Pelvic pain during pregnancy, including pubic symphysis issues, can really put a damper on prenatal bliss. A well-trained physical therapist can help. In terms of postpartum care, a pelvic floor PT can help with issues ranging from incontinence to pain to diastasis recti. The therapists at The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center are amazing at what they do, and are some of the leaders in pelvic floor PT nationally.
The first few months postpartum can be a hazy blur of time and space. Most new families could use healthy, nourishing foods delivered to their door. Here are some of my favorite services:For DYI meal delivery, Meal Train , is an easy-to-use template for organizing your friends and family’s visits and meal deliveries. Mama Tong: Traditional Chinese soups for post-partum recovery. Munchery: Delicious meals delivered to your door with many options for a range of dietary preferences.
Although breastfeeding SEEMS like it should be the most natural thing in the world, it is not always the most intuitive or easy experience for new mothers and babies. From latching problems to low milk production, there are a number of challenges with which a good lactation consultant can help. Many hospitals offer lactation consultants on-site, but there are plenty of independent professionals who will do home visits. Also, there are a few purveyors of delicious lactation support treats in SF. Here are my favorites:Chris Pritchard Mama’s Cookies Mrs. Patel’s Fenugreek Bars
You know that phrase “sleeps like a baby?” Unless you’ve spent a lot of time around infants, it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. Infant sleep in the first three months is erratic, choppy and interrupted by hungry little bellies every 2-4 hours. While you can’t do much about this in the first few months, around 4 months, you may need some guidance on how to encourage healthy sleep habits. Here are some of my favorite resources:Teresa Morris Angelique Millette (amazing webinars as well as services)
Nobody WANTS to have a lot of stuff for baby. We all say that going in, but even the most minimalist “ultra light” baby gear aficionados end up with an absurd amount of accessories. Trust me, I actually sawed off the handle of my toothbrush when I hiked the Pacific Crest trail to save weight, and now my home is partially decorated by Fisher Price. Here’s my list of some gear guides and a few of my favorite newborn services.Lucie’s List, an amazing blog dedicated to reviewing baby gear and other first year decisions. So funny. So awesome. This is really all you need to help wade through the endless possibilities of stuff. http://www.lucieslist.com/ Eartbaby Diapers: Compostable diapers that get picked up from your house weekly. Not quite as sturdy as Pampers, but pretty good, earth-friendlier option. http://www.earth-baby.com/ Baby-Proofing: It is astounding the things these little munckins get into once they start crawling and realizing the versatility of opposable thumbs. Alex at Safey Nook is amazing at trouble shooting and then baby-proofing your home. Maternity and Infant Photos: Keri Vaca is the eye behind Small Miracles Photography. It is so worth having some newborn photos taken. They are only that small for a blink of an eye, and really, your cell phone probably doesn’t cut it.
Books, Apps, Websites DVDsMindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster Birthing from Within Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD The Sleep easy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5 by Jennifer Waldburger The Wonder Weeks by Plooij Frans (also has a great app for smart phones)