Pregnant women and their partners are invited to attend new pregnancy and childbirth preparation classes set to begin in November at Petaluma Health Center.

The health center moved in June to 1179 North McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma, and is introducing new and expanded prenatal services for the community. The classes are open to PHC patients and non-patients. The five-class series will include nutrition, prenatal fitness, fetal development, childbirth preparation, breastfeeding and newborn care.

Petaluma Health Center certified nurse-midwife Rebecca McLeod-Waldo created the series curriculum, and will be teaching the classes in English. Maria Hermosilla, a PHC case manager, will be teaching the Spanish series.

Several maternity programs in Marin County and Rohnert Park have recently closed, and women residing in those areas are encouraged to seek prenatal and postpartum care at PHC. The nonprofit health center’s services are open to those with insurance and those with limited ability to pay in southern Sonoma County and Marin County.

With obstetrics/gynecology physicians, family practice doctors, and certified nurse- midwives on staff, Petaluma Health Center is serving as the “medical home” for pregnant women and their families.

As part of the integrated approach at PHC, clients can have a variety of their health and wellness needs met on site with appointments to dentists, nutritionists, behavioral health specialists or acupuncturists.

PHC doctors and midwives deliver an estimated 40 babies monthly at Petaluma Valley Hospital, and its new family birthing center is an inviting place for pregnant women and their families. Health center families represent at least 80% of babies born at PVH.

The hospital has a nurse anesthetist available specifically for the obstetrics department, and the facility recently became equipped to serve women who are attempting vaginal birth following a previous cesarean section delivery. PHC physicians and midwives are available to assist with high-risk or low-risk obstetrics.

New moms are regularly seen by a hospital lactation educator to help with any breastfeeding issues, and 90% of infants born at PVH are breastfed as newborns. Babies who begin life breastfeeding are less susceptible later on to illness and allergies, said PHC nurse-midwife LeAnn James. Petaluma Valley Hospital has the highest breastfeeding rate in Sonoma County, and is ranked third in California for small hospitals.

The health center team closely monitors a patient and her baby’s health immediately after childbirth. Midwives usually meet with postpartum women soon after delivery, and newborn babies typically have a doctor’s appointment scheduled within its first week of life.

The personalized care at PHC often includes health education during physician and midwife visits, said James.

“It’s an opportunity to talk about what’s healthy for the mom to eat during and after pregnancy, and what’s good for her new baby. It’s also a chance to share family parenting skills. If someone needs to see a mental health professional, we can make a referral to a practitioner right here at the health center,” she said.

“What’s good about this place is it’s really a medical home and there are so many options. That’s what makes us special,”
said James.

The health center also offers pregnancy counseling and confidential testing, and appointments can be scheduled with bilingual/bicultural counselors on staff.

The new English prenatal classes will begin Wednesday, November 2 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 at the health center and meet for five consecutive weeks. The Spanish classes will begin on Thursday, November 10 from 10:30 a.m. to noon and also meet for five weeks. Both English and Spanish classes will continue in a 5-week series throughout 2011-2012.  New and experienced parents welcome.  The classes are free for PHC patients and cost $15 per session for non-patients. It is not necessary to sign up for the entire series, and people may attend as many classes as they like.

For further information about PHC services
or classes or to make a prenatal appointment,
call 707-559-7500 or 707-559-7525.

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