What is the difference between MBCP and other childbirth education classes? All childbirth education classes are different depending on the location of the class, the teacher, the teacher's background, experience, and education, and we can only speak for our own classes with any authority. However, generally, childbirth education classes cover extensive information about labor and birth, and often breastfeeding and newborn care (depending on the class). The focus in most childbirth education classes is on information as a tool of power, and this is important. Information is indeed power, and having more of it can allow people to assess options, make decisions, and have an educated voice in their care. We believe in this as a right and an asset. However, it is also our strong belief that information is not what gets people through birth, and that while vital and useful, it is a person's inner resources that get them through the intense, sensation-filled, embodied experience of birth. MBCP is a childbirth education course and mindfulness training in one. The time and financial commitment reflect this more extensive training. It is this cultivation of inner resources, though, that sets MBCP apart. The skills students gain in class support them for more than birth and parenting - they support them for all of the ever changing moments of life - the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Is there a difference in content, though, between MBCP and other childbirth education classes? Practically speaking, childbirth education classes will spend more time on the details of labor and birth, as well as possible interventions for birth (induction, epidural, Cesarean), whereas in MBCP, we spend the necessary time on a foundational understanding of labor and birth, but choose not to spend an abundance of time on information that may or may not be relevant to students, given that we can't predict what will happen in their particular birth. We do spend a good deal of time in mindfulness practice - awareness of moment-to-moment experience -- allowing students to cultivate the presence within themselves that will help them engage with whatever comes up in their actual birth experience. We also set the foundation for navigating how to mindfully make decisions, and how to skillfully partner with your care providers during the labor and delivery process.
Will I learn what I need to learn to give birth? I don't want to miss out on important information! Yes, you will...and also, no you will not. Let us explain: You will come away from this class with a clear understanding of the general trajectory of labor and birth, as well as breastfeeding and first days at home with baby. However, every birth is unique, and there is no way to gather enough information, no matter how many classes you take, to know every single thing you'll want to know / need to know / wish you had known about birth beforehand. Birth (like all of life) is one part predictable -- and three parts mystery. There will always be information you didn't know, or things that happen during birth that surprise you. Mindfulness practice cultivates both the inner knowing that you have everything you need within you to go through your birth experience, as well as the presence of mind to be able and open to finding information when you need it, and dealing with things as they arise, moment-to-moment as you give birth. By honing these resources, students become more comfortable with all of the inevitable unknowns.
I am confused about the difference between Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting, the ten-week class, and the Mind in Labor. What are the differences, and how do I decide between MBCP and MIL? The Mind in Labor intensive, typically a two-and-a-half-day training, draws from the MBCP curriculum. The intensive covers the mind-body relationship in pregnancy and birth by introducing the practical components of MBCP (mindfulness meditation, yoga, partner support) as well as covering the theoretical framework of how the mind and body deal with physical and psychological experiences, including how to work with pain in labor. We have subtitled the MIL "Working with Fear, Pain and Uncertainty in Childbirth" to let participants know that these aspects of the mind are what we will be addressing, but the MBCP is a deeper look at working with the same content simply because it is a longer class. Deciding between MIL vs MBCP sometimes comes down to logistics (time, location, or where you are in your pregnancy) vs the desire to go deeper into mindfulness practice, skill-building and development of community that inevitably occur with the 10-class curriculum. If you have taken MBCP before in a prior pregnancy the MIL can be a wonderful refresher in a subsequent pregnancy.
What trimester of pregnancy should I start MBCP? While many expectant parents take this class during their third trimester, taking MBCP at any time during the pregnancy is useful, and we are happy for you to take it whenever comfortable for you. Also, given the length of the class, it's a good idea to be aware of our teaching schedule, because sometimes when people wait too long to take it, they miss the opportunity to do so! You can never practice too much / too early!
Can I take MBCP and a standard childbirth education course? Sure! But please note that for Lifecycle WomanCare clients, our MBCP class can be taken in place of the required Childbirth Preparation class for first-time parents.
Is this class only for people who want a "natural" birth? What if I'm needing to have a cesarean delivery, or want to get an epidural? This class is for anyone, and particularly useful for anyone who is also interested in exploring the nature of life, reality, their own mind, and its connection to their body. Mindfulness skills are universally useful, and so they are useful during intense, unmedicated contractions, as well as during birth with medical pain relief, or during a Cesarean section, planned or unplanned, or anything else.
Will this class support me if I want to have a birth with no medical interventions? Yes. Mindfulness skills are found to be incredibly supportive during challenging experiences, emotional, physical, or metaphysical. To be clear, this class will not necessarily get you the unmedicated birth you want, but no class will. This class will give you skills to use to deal with birth and life as it arises, moment by moment.
Do you teach breastfeeding and newborn care? Yes, we do. Though, again, we take the approach of teaching content in context of mindfulness practice. We spend the better part of a class on breastfeeding, and two classes talking about early days postpartum, life with newborns, and mindful family making. There is a lot of conversation around life with babies and what to do when you suddenly find yourself living with a new person who mainly sleeps, eats, and poops. And, (spoiler alert) we invite recently-birthed couples and their babies to join us for our last class so that you can hear about their experience (and have a live baby demonstration!) We don't teach people how to change diapers (though we are happy to do so if you want a lesson after class for a few minutes!) or go over details that you can learn from your provider / nurse after birth or easily from a book (again, because of the likelihood of information overload or irrelevance). Information is readily available and we are happy to share resources. We find it is more useful to spend time in present-moment practice, and an exploration of what that means for feeding and caring for a newborn.
Do I need to have experience with mindfulness or meditation to take the class? Both beginning and experienced meditators are welcome.
Does this class require time outside of class-time? Indeed! Mindfulness practice is experiential education. It requires the participation of each and all. So that people can get a real jumpstart on having a mindfulness practice, understanding what that means, and seeing its benefits in their lives, we ask that everyone taking the class commit to a formal mindfulness practice (with weekly guided meditations) for 30 minutes / day, 6 days / week, while in the class. It is hard to see the benefits of mindfulness practice without regular practice, so the commitment supports everyone in benefiting from class. Also, we recognize that everyone taking the class is human, so therefore, practice will not always happen exactly as planned. Dealing with things not going according to plan is a practice in itself!
Do I have to be a first-time parent to take this class? No! This class is great for both beginning and experienced parents. The majority of people taking childbirth education classes are first time parents, but this is a class that is particularly useful for experienced parents as well. We know it can be extra difficult for parents to arrange to come to class together, but this can be a particularly enjoyable class to take with your partner once you already have a child / children, as it gives you a shared language around practice that you can integrate into your experience of already being a parent. It's also wonderful for people who may be looking to have a different experience this time than the last time they gave birth.
I really want to take this class but I can't afford it. We want this class to be accessible to anyone who really wants to take it. If money is the prohibiting factor, please get in touch and we will work something out.
I really want to take this class but I have to miss a class or two because of previous plans. This class is a commitment, and we ask that everyone plans to be there for all classes, however, we understand that things happen and sometimes people have to miss class--particularly in the longer class series. If it's a class or two you'll need to miss, just let us know and we will catch you up in whatever ways possible.
Do I have to take this class with a partner? If you have a partner, we ask that you take the class with them. If you don't have a partner, you are welcome to take the class alone or with another support person (doula / friend / family member).
What if I have a partner but they don't want to take this class? One especially great thing about MBCP is that this is a childbirth education class is equally as useful and relevant for partners as it is for pregnant moms. Partners do not just have to come along for the ride! Every person has their own mindfulness practice, and benefits from it individually. Partners often remark that they are surprised by how much they got out of the class , not merely as a support person, but just for themselves, in their own right. Taking the class together also provides a shared language and understanding about practice that tends to lay a foundation for more understanding between partners and benefits couple communication as well, so the skills, again, reach way beyond birth. The class is a commitment, though, and it doesn't serve anyone for someone to be in it who doesn't want to be there. If one partner wants to take it and the other really doesn't, let's talk and see what we can work out.
What about your Mindful Parenting Workshops and Classes: do I have to have taken MBCP, or have a mindfulness practice, to participate? When we started going out into the community to tell people about MBCP, we heard people say, again and again: "Why weren't you around years ago when I gave birth?! Now I need mindfulness as a parent...will you please include me?" As parents ourselves, we understand! We invite everyone to participate in our Mindful Parenting offerings...including blooming parents (pregnant or considering adoption, for example), parents of children of any age (birth, school-aged, teens and beyond); we have even had grandparents come to our workshops! Most of our one-day or drop-in parenting events are accessible to beginning mindfulness practitioners. By offering month-long or consecutive Mindful Parenting Class Series we hope to expose folks to the benefits of sustained, supported practice, as well as grow a class community. We know how difficult it is to find the time to step away from the everyday tasks of parenting, but we truly believe in the numerous benefits you will receive by exploring mindful parenting!