Childbirth and Beyond

Nancy Bardacke shares how she has helped thousands of parents-to-be reduce stress, boost positive emotions, and manage both the contractions of labor and the contractions of life.


In 1994 I attended a week-long retreat for health care professionals interested in mindfulness meditation, led by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I had heard about Jon’s pioneering work at UMass Medical Center teaching mindfulness meditation to patients suffering from a wide range of physical and mental health challenges; as a practicing midwife for more than 20 years, and a meditation practitioner since the early 1980s, I was deeply curious about how Jon’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course might apply to my work as a midwife and benefit the families I served.

Sitting on the floor practicing meditation and learning along with 125 other health care providers that week, I developed a deep appreciation for how the MBSR course helped people access inner resources of strength, resilience, and well-being. And in one flashing moment, I knew what I needed—or, more accurately, felt compelled—to do: bring this way of teaching mindful awareness to expectant couples. In 1998, after teaching the MBSR course for several years, I began morphing it into the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) program, which is currently offered at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center.

We now know…