Mindful Childbirth

Pregnancy, birth and early parenting are the most transformational time in the adult life cycle. Barry Boyce reports on a mindfulness center that teaches skills that interrupts patterns of dysfunction. 

Courtesy of Nancy Bardacke

The Center for Mindfulness held its seventh annual International Scientific Conference for Clinicians, Researchers, and Educators in March, and recently issued a call for papers and presentations for next year’s conference, April 7-11, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Nancy Bardacke, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Education Program, was among the many presenters at this year’s conference. She and Larissa Duncan—from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, where Bardacke’s program is now presented—reported on preliminary evidence that suggests mindfulness practice improves mothers’ ability to cope with a crying baby, fatigue and interrupted sleep, breastfeeding, a baby’s admission to neonatal intensive care, and challenges in the changing relationship with a partner. Bardacke is working on a book, Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, to be published by HarperCollins in winter 2011.

“Pregnancy, birth, and early parenting is the most transformative period in the adult life cycle,” Bardacke said when I talked to her about the significance of her work. “The experiences that emerge during this time can be some of the most stressful of people’s lives. Nothing really prepares you for it. Mindfulness skills help everyone involved navigate…