Unlike (for example) a one-day childbirth class through the hospital, MBCP comprises 30 hours of class time, plus practice at home between classes. It is an extensive immersion into preparation for birth. The tools that MBCP gives you apply not only to your birth, but also to your experience of transforming into a parent, and in fact to all of life. Although in this particular class they are geared toward new parents, the skills of mindfulness are honed by thousands of years of experience being used by people around the world. Many of those who have participated in MBCP classes have described them as life-changing. In addition, as well as preparation for birth and parenting and mindfulness skills for life, most MBCP groups become tight-knit communities of new parents going through an important life transition together, and provide tremendous support to each other, often many years into their children’s lives. The class is set up to facilitate this network creation, and includes a reunion after everyone has given birth, to meet the new babies, reflect on the practice as it applied to the participants’ birth experiences, and continue building relationships.
Absolutely not! In fact, one of the most useful aspects of the MBCP approach is that the mindfulness practice it teaches is not just for dealing with contractions. Even if your birth plan includes an epidural or other interventions, or if birth story ends up being something very different from what you planned and envisioned, the practice can help you cope with whatever your experience is as it occurs in the present moment.
In addition to providing essential information about how birth works, MBCP supplies powerful mindfulness-based coping methods that help you to connect with your body while managing the intense sensations of labour contractions. Mindfulness techniques help break the fear-tension-pain cycle that causes the pain of childbirth to become overwhelming. Part of the class is actual “pain practice” in which the techniques are applied in a real-life situation (immersing the hands in a bucket of ice water) so you can trust that they will actually work!
MBCP is Mindfulness-Based Childbirth & Parenting, an approach to childbirth preparation developed by midwife Nancy Bardacke and based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction approach of Jon Kabat-Zinn. MBCP harnesses the power of mindfulness to approach the specific challenges of birth and of parenting a newborn.