Mindfulness :  What is it?


"The most significant insight I gained from the class is that mindfulness has the power to impact happiness."

 -- Mindful Birth Philadelphia Alumnus

Photo by Zivar Amrami

Photo by Zivar Amrami


Looking for birth and parenting education that prepares you for more than just the day you give birth?  

Mindfulness skills are for life.

Having a baby is often one of the most transformative experiences in a person’s life.  No matter how they go, pregnancy and birth are intense both physically and emotionally, preparing us for the journey of parenting.  

The practice of mindfulness that is: the awareness that comes from learning to pay attention, in the present moment, on purpose and non-judgmentally, can help support us during important life transitions, and can serve us as we navigate our day-to-day, moment-to-moment, life as parents, and as people. When our attention is focused on the present moment, we are, by default, less focused on rehashing the past, or fantasizing about the future. People who practice mindfulness find they have a decrease in stress level, higher coping capabilities, and less emotional reactivity. With mindfulness practice, people often find they experience more space, ease, and equanimity in their lives. This is not because they are avoiding the reality of life, though. Quite the contrary. Mindfulness practice is about being with whatever arises in life in the moment. Often, what arises is challenging, frustrating, upsetting, scary, complex, stressful. But the practice of moving in towards one's experience, rather than away from it in the mind/body, allows us to more fully experience whatever the moment brings. This being more fully in our own lives, is the practice. And it seems the benefits of being more fully in our experience, is what allows space for greater presence, ease, and peace. Riding the waves of life with less tension, less fear. 

Perhaps, lately, you have been seeing the word "Mindfulness" all over the media, or have met people practicing, or yourself have a mindfulness meditation practice.  Mindfulness-based programs are currently found in hospitals, clinics, and schools (from elementary to graduate) all over the world.  Many examples of the therapeutic impact of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) are found in peer-reviewed medical, mental health and educational journals.

Mindfulness Based Childbirth & Parenting (MBCP) is one of those MBIs, and was founded by midwife and mindfulness teacher Nancy Bardacke in 1998. MBCP is an evidence-based adaptation of the well-researched Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.   

One of our favorite introductions to what mindfulness is, and how it can impact your life, is this episode of 60 Minutes with Jon Kabat Zinn and Anderson Cooper.  In addition, the Well Section of the New York Times has an excellent introduction to mindfulness, as well as an article specifically on Nancy Bardacke and MBCP on the benefits of a mindful pregnancy.  The New York Times also has a weekly column on mindfulness practice including this one on how to be mindful while holding a baby.

More information about the history of MBCP, the current research, and Nancy Bardacke can be found at www.mindfulbirthing.org.  You can also check out Nancy’s award-winning book, Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, or watch this video of Nancy talking about MBCP in 2014.

The thing is, reading about mindfulness is one thing, but developing a mindfulness practice is only where one can reap its benefits.  The foundation of our childbirth class is, thus, mindfulness meditation, which we believe gives us invaluable tools to navigate our lives during birth and parenting.