What is MBCP?
Pregnancy is a period of great changes, from two people comes a third (or more!). The body of a pregnant woman goes through amazing changes, her moods, self-image and energy levels may change. As a partner, you are also going through many changes and likely invested into making space for this new person. Things are changing in your house, maybe in how you are eating together. You may be making decisions about your work schedules, care for your child to be born and so on. And then generally after about 9 months comes the grande finale or the beginning: the birth. An event that most people count to be on the top of their list of remarkable life events. And then…you are a parent! And then the adventure really begins.
The mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting program (MBCP) is an 8-week childbirth education class designed to help you go through all of these changes, prepare for birth and the life beyond: parenting. The course offers you and your partner life-long mindfulness skills that help you cope with the daily challenges parenting will surely provide.
Course structure and what you will learn
The MBCP course includes 8 weekly classes of 2h45 hours, an additional stillness day and a post-birth reunion.
Classes include the physiology of childbirth, mind-body awareness practices, hand-on practices to work with pain during labor, positions for birthing, increased awareness of breath, breastfeeding and parenting a newborn. Participants learn mindfulness meditation as a self-regulation approach to the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy, birth and parenting. You will have the most benefit from this course if you start early in your pregnancy (as early as 12 weeks is possible!) to benefit from the course during your pregnancy.
In this class we will:
- Access deep physical and mental relaxation
- Learn to engage the mind to work with pain during labor
- Increase confidence and courage for the experience of labor and delivery
- Practice prenatal yoga for strength and flexibility
- Develop skills for managing stress in pregnancy, parenting and daily life
- Enhance partner communication skills
- Become more aware of our own approach to parenting
A lovely moment with the creator of the Mindfulness Based Childbirth and Parenting Program, Nancy Bardacke.
Home practice is a very important aspect of the course and success of this approach. Is it key that participants make space and time for daily practice during the 8-weeks of the course. A minimum of 30 minutes practice a day is recommended. This requires a lot of personal commitment, discipline, and an open mind.
Before the course begins, we have an intake meeting or call. This is an opportunity for us to get to know each other. Expectant parents share some background information as well as their needs and expectations around the course and can ask any questions.
Course materials include a workbook and guided audio practices.
Note that MBCP is a course that caters to the expectant couple and supports the pregnant woman as well as her partner. We welcome people from all backgrounds and sexual orientation. Single parents are very welcome to the course and we would like to support them the best we can. We would recommend then choosing a birthing partner, be it a doula, midwife, mother or friend to attend this course with you.
Pregnancy is a very special time to start a mindfulness practice when self-care takes on a whole other dimension. Mindfulness supports health, well-being, relaxation and balance and can significantly help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Pregnant women and their partners who have attended an MBCP program report an increase in confidence and a decrease in fear of childbirth. They also feel an overall sense of well-being and an increased ability to manage stress in daily life. Though still in its infancy, research is growing to support these clinical observations.
Our desk-based, demanding and technological lifestyles have created a highly charged mindset that is neither beneficial to the mind or the body – and certainly not to pregnancy. Prolonged periods of stress during pregnancy increase the risk of having a preterm birth, of baby having a low birth weight, sleep and behavioural disorders in young children and chances of post-partum depression in mothers. In addition to learning pain coping skills for childbirth, expectant parents learn self-care tools to decrease stress in daily life. While some degree of stress is unavoidable, learning tools to reduce and cope with the stress in pregnancy is more than just a good idea. This process will benefit you, your partner and the life of your yet to be born child.
Here are some of the ways in which mindfulness can transform your pregnancy and birth experience:
- Become more aware of and in tune with your body and more connected to the amazing physiological experience of pregnancy.
- Letting go of unhelpful and fearful beliefs or expectations around the birth experience. Replacing these with trust, confidence and more helpful beliefs.
- Being fully present and letting the birth process unfold moment by moment. Embracing and surrendering to the sensations of labour rather than resisting these. Allowing for a quicker, more effective labour and overall more positive birth experience.
- Partners can use their mindfulness skills to support the birthing mother to remain centered and present throughout. They can make a difference especially in the more challenging moments of labour.
- A smoother birth experience for you and your baby. If your mind is calm and your body relaxed, the hormonal environment for you and your baby will also be one of calm and ease, which will support the birth process and decrease the likelihood of foetal distress.
- Be flexible when things don’t go according to plan. Ultimately, we can prepare the best we can for the birth, but it remains a leap in the unknown. We don’t know when or where labour will start, how it will feel, what will occur and what complications may occur. Mindfulness supports us to be more comfortable with the unknown, let go of our expectations and be more open and accepting with the outcome of the birth.
- Being a more Mindful New parent : Postnatal life is intense. The endless feeds, the sleepless nights, the constant responsibility can all be very overwhelming. But with a more mindful approach to parenting you will be able to step into your new role with a little more confidence and much less stress. Whenever a challenge arises you can use your new skills and understanding to remain present, loving and calm – the best gift you can give to your child.
‘The breathing exercises helped immensely during labor’.
‘My mindfulness practice has been very useful after birth during meltdowns and crying episodes’.
‘My biggest insight about myself was: That I can actually do it. My body did it, is doing it’!
‘Our birth was quite hectic, my mindfulness practice was very useful in feeling what I was feeling and calming myself (partner)’.
‘I felt calm during birth, I think this has to do with what I learned in the course, it helped me prepare also emotionally’.
‘The course was exactly as advertised’.
‘What we used was so useful, if we would have learned this earlier we would have had our second baby much sooner’! It helped us have a much more positive birth experience even though labor was long.
The mindfulness approach really helped me through the birth process and is appearing to be even move valuable with the newborn- Vera
“When I heard about the mindfulness training for pregnant women, I knew the course had found me. I was looking for some pregnancy-related course, but not the regular pregnancy yoga or birth preparation course. When I was pregnant with my first child I followed a hypnobirthing course, which in a way is similar to mindfulness but somehow wasn’t the right match for me. What I really liked about this mindfulness course is that it helps you accept things as they are. This was very helpful for me during labor, especially when I went from 5 to10 cm in just a couple of hours. I was the most afraid of this part during labor. And indeed, the pain was very intense, but using the techniques that I learned, I managed to ‘be in the zone’ and be with the pain, rather than trying to avoid it or trying to run away from it. And this actually is what it’s all about. Being in the moment, being present, rather than distracting yourself or wishing you were in another moment. I can definitely recommend this course to every pregnant woman. Even if it’s not your first child, you will learn things that can change your whole birthing experience, and also for parenthood beyond birth and life in general.” – Marlene
“De bevalling is in ons geval eigenlijk heel ontspannen verlopen. Een groot aandeel hierin was onze eigen houding versterkt met de fijne mindfulness tools geleerd in de cursus. Ik heb mij tijdens de weeën met name alleen maar op mijn adem gefocust waarmee ik ontspande. Ook heb ik verschillende poses uitgeprobeerd. Ik vond het zelf erg fijn dat ik door de cursus meerdere mogelijkheden in mijn hoofd had zitten die ik kon uitproberen zowel voor het ademen als de poses. Door er zo ontspannen mogelijk mee om te gaan heb ik het grootste gedeelte van mijn weeën goed kunnen opvangen. Kortom, ik ben heel dankbaar voor wat jullie ons hebben meegegeven tijdens de cursus. Het is zo een mooi waardevol cadeau geweest. Ik weet 100% zeker dat de cursus een heel groot aandeel is geweest mbt mijn zeer positieve en ontspannen birth experience“ – Lilian