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Mindfulness-based Childbirth & Parenting

RCM awards logo2014_SHORTLISTEDOften one of the biggest challenges of childbirth is learning how to work with pain and anxiety. Learning how to use our minds to work with these challenges can make a huge difference in labour, birth and parenthood. The Mindfulness Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) programme is an opportunity for learning about managing pain and stress and increasing ‘availability’ of attention for your baby by being in the present moment. The skills taught in the classes are based upon mind-body meditation practices and there is an expectation of a home practice commitment to this.

The MBCP programme is intended to provide an introduction to mindfulness meditation practice as a way of:

  • Learning how to work with stress, pain & fear during childbirth
  • Developing skills for managing pain, stress, anxiety and other difficult emotions during the transition to parenthood and everyday life
  • Developing confidence in your ability to cope with labour, childbirth & parenting
  • Providing information on labour, breastfeeding, the postnatal period and the social and emotional needs of the newborn
  • Becoming part of a community of new parents
  • Reducing the risk of postpartum depression and increasing availability of attention for the baby
  • Enhancing partner communication skills
  • Becoming more aware of your own approach to parenting

Working as a nurse-midwife in California, Nancy Bardacke (Mindfulness teacher and Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco) used MBSR as a foundation to develop antenatal classes for both parents, with the aim of reversing the negative impact that high stress and fear have on maternal and neonatal outcomes. She developed Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP). The initial evidence is very compelling, with reported changes not only in the experience of childbirth, but also in the relationship with the baby afterwards. Many of the couples stay in touch and support each other in the years after the birth of their babies. Given the known effects of mindfulness in preventing depression, the obvious next step is to research the effects of MBCP on perinatal depression, especially in those parents known to be vulnerable. This
considers potential of mindfulness for parents preparing for childbirth. Nancy Bardacke’s book covering the 8 week MBCP programme, Mindful Birthing, was published in July 2012 to find out more, details here.

Dr Maret Dymond, a Clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher / trainer at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre is working with Nancy Bardacke from the University of California, San Francisco and Dr Sian Warriner of Oxford Universities Hospital Trust to bring MBCP to the UK. A feasibility study in 2011 brought a group of midwives up to the level of competence required to begin training to teach mindfulness.

A pilot project to look at the acceptability of MBCT within the UK NHS in collaboration with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust is ongoing. Two groups have now been delivered to a total of 22 women and their partners at the John Radcliffe Hospital and a local children’s centre with very positive participant feedback. A preliminary service evaluation of these pilot groups, investigating their impact on mindfulness, stress, depression and anxiety is ongoing. More information on the results of this to follow in mid-2013. Read more about this project…


Congratulations to the MBCP team on being nominated for a ‘Evidence into Practice’ award by the Royal College of Midwifery!

Read more about the award here.


Innovating for Life Awards

Congratulations to the Mindfulness Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) team at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre  (Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford) and Oxford University Hospitals Trust who won the Midwifery category of the Innovating for Life Awards in May 2012!

The award is part of a joint initiative by the British Journal of Midwifery and Infant Journal, with a commercial sponsor, and was presented to the team at the Royal Society in London earlier this month, supporting the first pilot of the MBCP programme in the UK.

In addition, the Oxford Hospitals Innovation and Enhancement Fund (HIEF) have demonstrated an interest in the dissemination of the MBCP approach by supporting the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, University of Oxford, to begin to train local midwives to be able to offer this approach directly to antenatal service users within the Oxford area.

How does MBCP help with difficulties? >>

Information and booking for MBCP classes in Oxford >>

The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is now offering a one-year, part-time course as a foundation for teaching MBCP >>

Suggested Background for MBCP Instructors