When it comes to the period of pregnancy all through to the birth of the child and parenting, life can get tedious for both parents, especially the mother. There are different body changes to deal with, mental and physical stress, a new routine to get used to, to ensure the pregnancy goes well and so much more.
The new changes, adaptations as well as demands that come within this period can take a toll on the health of the to-be mother and her partner, and may often bring about more problems that may put the parents and unborn child at risk. To prevent this from happening, couples are encouraged to work with the mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting program to make it easy for them.
Here, we will be looking at what the mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting program is, how it works, its benefits, and how to get it.
What is The Mindfulness-Based Childbirth And Parenting (MBCP) Program
In the fewest words possible, this is a program that marries the concepts of mindfulness with education on childbirth.
It aims to help the parents who are looking forward to having a child, through birth, the opportunity to prepare themselves well for the pregnancy, the childbirth itself, and also parenting.
It works to improve and maintain optimal mental health for the woman and the man, promote safe delivery of the baby, and reduce the difficulties that often arise during the labor and childbirth processes (1).
Moreover, it strengthens the relationship of the parents, increases their sensitivity towards parenting, and enhances the well-being of the child when childbirth happens.
Ideally, it is a program that educates the woman who is about to give birth on how to cope with the challenges of the pregnancy period, the delivery of the baby, and the parenting process.
As for the man or the father of the baby, the program seeks to teach them how to be supportive, understanding, and caring to the woman or mother of the baby through the difficult period as well as how to take care of themselves, as a couple, so as to be in a good position to look after the child and work together in parenting.
The program also focuses on how to ensure the well-being of the child is looked after while they are in the mother’s belly when they are brought into the world, and even as they grow.
History of The Mindfulness-Based Childbirth And Parenting Program
The history of the Mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting program can be traced back to 1998, when the creator, Nancy Bardacke, came up with the program after teaching MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) program for a couple of years.
Actually, the MBCP (Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting) program has been adapted from MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), and most of its principles have been applied to the MBCP program in helping women and children cope
Nancy Bardacke is a mindfulness teacher, midwife, and the founder as well as director of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting program. She helped many women deliver safely for about 2 decades before she gained interest in mindfulness-based practices.
In 1994, she got her training in the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) program under Jon-Kabat Zinn and then four years later came up with the MBCP (Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting) program.
At the moment, she is heavily invested in training teachers for the MBCP program to help create more resources and accessibility of the program by people from as many countries in the world as possible.
How The Mindfulness-Based Childbirth And Parenting Program Works
The program essentially trains the pregnant woman to direct her attention and focus on the present moment and remain grounded in it. Being in the present allows you to reduce mind wandering and keep you from entertaining thoughts of experiences that might make you stress, anxious, or afraid, and these experiences often don’t happen.
By focusing on your breath, feelings, and sensations in the here and now, you can handle the fear that creeps in and the pain you may experience.
Also, having your partner by your side reminding you of why you’re going through the experience and what fruit it will bear afterward is an aspect of the program that goes a long way.
The partner or loved one constantly reminds you what to be attentive to and how to practice what you were taught by the program so you have a fairly easy time managing the pain and the period of childbirth.
Applying the same concepts as you care for the baby helps to seamlessly deal with the new challenges and responsibilities the baby might bring to your life.
The program takes 9 weeks with a 3-hour session every week. Around Class 7, on a weekend, you also get to have a silent retreat day that lasts for 7 hours and a reunion class 1 to 3 months later when everyone in your class has delivered (2).
Each class holds up to 12 couples who are expecting, and it doesn’t matter if your partner can make to attend the classes with you or not. If they can, it’s good but if they are too busy with work, it’s still not a problem at all.
The program’s course comes with 3 resources, which are the book “Full Catastrophe of Living” written by Jon-Kabat Zinn, a workbook for reading and accessing resources, and 2 guided meditation CDs.
The resources are packed with information on mindfulness teachings on coping with stress and pain which blend in with pregnancy, birth, labor, breastfeeding, how to adjust during postpartum, and the infant’s psychological needs.
Each week, you get to have one class, and here is what you will learn through the 9 weeks you’ll be working with the program:
Week 1. Introduction – Here you learn about the history of the program, how it is adapted from the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) program, what mindfulness really is as opposed to what most people perceive it to be, how to normalize the stress you are experiencing as an expectant woman and the worries of your partner about how they should support you as you give birth.
In this class, you also get to be involved in a session on mindful eating, where you eat a raisin mindfully and understand how to engage your senses in mindfulness and the activity of eating.
Week 2. Group work and Body Scan – In this class, you are encouraged to share with your fellow classmates your fears and hopes about pregnancy, parenting, and childbirth. Opening up helps to form stronger relationships with other people who are in your class and who are experiencing the same thing you are. On top of that, you are taken through the formal body scan meditation for self-awareness.
Week 3. Childbirth perception, mindfulness challenges, and more meditation – In this class, a better perception of childbirth is promoted to help reduce the fear that comes with the thought of childbirth which often results in more stress and complications. Also, you get to learn the common challenges that come with being mindful and doing body scan meditation, and how to deal with them so as to be more mindful. A daily sitting practice that lasts 10 minutes is also taught to help you learn how to be mindful in your daily activities.
Week 4, 5, and 6. Yoga, pain management, and coping with childbirth – In these 3 classes, you get to learn to use yoga, which is a useful mindful movement practice, as an alternative for body scan, and how you can use it during your labor process.
You will also understand how you can focus your attention, acknowledge and accept, and even let the extreme body sensations express themselves through various techniques including breath counting and using low pitch sounds. Your partner is also shown how to work with mindful touch to keep you calm and composed during the childbirth process.
Other crucial aspects like choosing a care provider, where to deliver the baby, extra labor, support, and a demonstration of the journey of the baby during childbirth are among the highlights of the classes.
The retreat day – This is a day where you get to spend most of your time in the present moment through various mindfulness practices taught in the previous classes such as mindful eating, mindful movement through yoga, body scan, and sitting meditation. Walking meditation and mindful listening and speaking are also introduced in this class.
Week 7. Loving-kindness meditation, retreat day experiences, and child’s needs – In this class, you learn the essence and practice of loving-kindness meditation, and how it plays out during parenting. Also, you get to share your insightful, inspiring, and difficult experiences of the retreat day and how to go about the difficult ones. Moreover, the born child’s needs (emotions, social and biological needs), the plans for you and your partner, and the family as a whole, for postpartum are explained.
Week 8. Mindful breastfeeding and postpartum depression – In this class, you get to share your experiences with meditation in the previous week, and understand not to mention make use of mindful breastfeeding to bond with the child. Possible symptoms for you and your partner during the postpartum period are discussed and you are taught how to look for the right help. Plus, you are encouraged to meditate without using the help of CDs in the following week.
Week 9. A visit from alumni and continued support – In this class, you get visited by a couple who previously and recently went through the program and delivered their child to share with you and your classmates the experiences they had during the pregnancy, delivery, and early parenting periods. You also finalize the course, review all you have learned, and prepare for the graduation ceremony.
You also get to share your contacts with your classmates and you’re encouraged to keep in touch and meet often even after the course is over to keep supporting and encouraging one another to live and parent your children mindfully.
The last phase, which is the class reunion, is pretty much about meeting each other after delivering your babies, meeting your classmates’ babies, sharing your childbirth experiences, and how you are actively working mindfulness in your parenting period.
Benefits of The Mindfulness-Based Childbirth And Parenting Program
The benefits dragged along with making use of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting program include:
1. Helping you engage your mind to manage pain during labor
2. Reducing the risk of premature death
3. Bringing down high levels of stress and anxiety associated with pregnancy and childbirth (3)
4. Reducing and managing postpartum depression for both parents
5. Encouraging healthy delivery and development of the born child
6. Having a sense of positivity and proper perception of the childbirth process
7. Improving confidence and mental as well as physical strength needed for the labor and delivery processes
8. Creating a good meditation routine for long term use for handling parenthood
9. Connecting with other pregnant couples and feeling supported
10. Improving your overall well-being as well as your partner’s and child’s
11. Improving your overall level of mindfulness
Where to Get The Mindfulness-Based Childbirth And Parenting Program
You can choose to get the program either online or offline.
You can check if your local health care center or centers within your town or city offer the program. You can also look for MBCP teachers online who are credible and are well-trained, qualified, and experienced to help you through the program via online classes.