*I haven’t heard of Mindfulness-Based Childbirth & Parenting — is it new?
MBCP was developed in 1998 by midwife and mindfulness teacher, Nancy Bardacke in Berkeley, CA. She started teaching in her living room until the program grew so much she moved it to the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Fransisco. She has taught more than 1400 couples and, in conjunction with Larissa Duncan PhD, has been researching the effect of MBCP on stress and anxiety during pregnancy, pain during childbirth, infant attachment, postpartum depression, and CenteringPregnancy. Her award-winning book Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond (2012) has brought her teaching to people all over the world. During the last few years, Nancy has turned her attention to training the next generation of MBCP teachers. While very popular on the West coast, MBCP is newer on the East coast and is expanding to crosscountry offerings.
*Is this class a childbirth education class or a mindfulness class?
MBCP is really both. MBCP teaches a childbirth education curriculum, such as positions & physiology for labor, evidence-based practices to optimize your birth, breastfeeding and newborn sleep cycles all from mind/body perspective. The core practices from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), such as awareness of breathing, the body scan, yoga, walking meditation, are taught along with practices specific to pregnancy and birth.
*When in my pregnancy should I take MBCP?
Most expectant parents take MBCP after the 24th week of pregnancy. If you have increased stress and anxiety during your pregnancy or about the birth process or you are just excited to incorporate mindfulness into your life, it would be appropriate to take it earlier.
*Will this class help me if my intention is to labor without pain medication? What if I want an epidural?
MBCP teaches tools that you can use regardless of your intentions around the use or non-use of pain medication. Certainly, learning and practicing mindfulness will help engage your mind to help you during the intense physical and emotional sensations of labor. If you are planning an epidural, MBCP can help you during the early part of labor when you will be experiencing contractions and also for any unexpected times of discomfort and healing postpartum.
*How is MBCP different than other childbirth education programs?
There are many wonderful ways to help prepare to have a baby. Mindfulness can serve you by giving you skills to work with pain & fear that can arise in labor. The intent is not to make pain & fear disappear but to give you greater internal resilience to work them as your birth unfolds, moment by moment. MBCP can provide the framework for a life teaching, which can support you as a parent and help navigate the expected and unexpected bumps along the way.
*I want to take the class but don’t have time to do the home practice. Is this OK?
Home practice is essential to the integration of the teachings into your life. Mindfulness & meditation are not presented as dogma to be accepted but instead are learned experientially. You'll learn what works for you in your life. Preparation for labor from the mind/body perspective is about getting in touch with what is happening physically and emotionally inside of you so you can learn to respond instead of reacting automatically to whatever comes your way.
*Can I come by myself?
Yes! Individuals and couples are welcome. Whether it is because you are single or because your partner cannot join, if you plan to come by yourself, consider asking a friend, loved one or doula to join you. Support during pregnancy will set you up for support postpartum. As is said, “it takes a village.”
*Because of my situation I know I am going to have a Cesarean birth. Would this class still be appropriate for me?
Yes. A Cesarean birth is your experience of giving birth to your baby. The mindfulness practices can be very helpful in working with post-surgical pain, enhancing your healing process postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting.
*I want to sign-up but I may have to miss the all-day retreat. Can I still participate?
Yes. The all-day retreat is a wonderful opportunity to move deeper into practice but you shouldn’t have to miss the whole course just because you can’t attend this session.
acknowledgment and thanks given to to Danielle Oliver, CNM