MBCP: Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting

The next MBCP offering has not yet been scheduled.
See MindfulBirthing.com for other training opportunities.

Registration & Fees


Mindfulness Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP), offers parents-to-be the opportunity to use the remarkably transformative time of pregnancy and childbirth to learn the life-skill of mindfulness for working with the stress, pain and fear that are a normal part of this profound journey into the unknown and to have these skills in place for parenting mindfully from the moment of birth.  Expectant parents find that as they practice being in the present moment they are able to live through this ordinary–and extraordinary–life transition with greater confidence, wisdom and joy.  The practice of mindfulness becomes not only a way of birthing but a lifelong resource for parenting and living with greater awareness, kindness, connectedness and care.

The MBCP program is a formal adaptation of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program founded in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Like MBSR, this 9-week childbirth education program has, at its core, systematic training in mindfulness meditation. The course was developed by Nancy Bardacke, CNM, MA, mindfulness teacher and Founding Director of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Program (www.mindfulbirthing.org). Nancy has taught the MBCP course to more than 1400 expectant parents in 70 courses over the past 15 years.

Participants in this retreat will experience first-hand each of the mindfulness meditation practices, including yoga, as they are taught in the MBCP classroom, become familiar with the core concepts, exercises and practices of the nine-week MBCP program, explore or deepen their understanding of mindfulness and this way of teaching for expectant parents, and investigate the potential for bringing this approach specifically into the fields of maternal, child and family health in which they work.

Upon completion of this program, participants will be able to understand:

  • the relationship of mind and body during childbirth
  • how the ability to be in the present moment can be critical to supporting the normal physiological process of childbirth
    and directly experience ways to train the mind to work with the intense physical sensations of labor
  • how the practice of mindful inquiry can facilitate a decrease in fear of childbirth
  • the importance of presence for the birthing woman’s partner
  • how mindfulness practice can positively influence the couple relationship
  • the role of mindfulness in healthy parent-infant attachment


mindfulbirthing2The training retreat will be led by Nancy Bardacke, CNM, MA, midwife, mindfulness teacher, and founding director of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) program which she currently leads at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, UCSF Medical Center. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the UCSF School of Nursing. Nancy is the author of Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond. Accompanying Nancy is senior mindfulness teacher Eluned Gold, MSc. Eluned is Head of Continuing Personal and Professional Development at the Centre for Mindfulness, Research and Practice (CMRP) at Bangor University, UK. Eluned developed the Nurturing Parents program, a mindfulness-based wellbeing course for parents. She also works with those bringing mindfulness into classroom education. She has trained as an MBCP Instructor with Nancy Bardacke.

The training will integrate didactic, experiential and small group learning and will include daily meditation practice, yoga/mindful movement, and periods of silence.  As in the MBCP course, retreat participants will explore the ability to clearly experience, in the midst of everyday life, the interplay of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, and learn how awareness of these domains accurately informs or distorts the capacity to manage stress during pregnancy, the pain and fear of childbirth and the capacity for attuned, compassionate and wise parenting.  The retreat is designed to deepen our understanding of ourselves as practitioners and care providers as well as be an opportunity to explore the question of whether to begin or continue the journey of becoming an MBCP instructor.

The training format requires that participants live on-site for the full 6 days.


At the completion of this activity, participants will:

  • Describe how to formally practice mindfulness meditation and how to bring mindfulness into their personal and professional lives
  • Articulate how mindfulness practice benefits expectant parents for working with the stresses of pregnancy and pain and fear during childbirth
  • Describe the importance of mindfulness skills for working with the challenges of postpartum adjustment and early parenting stress, including its potential for decreasing postpartum depression and for facilitating healthy parent-infant attachment
  • List the essential elements, sequencing and experiential exercises that are foundational to the MBCP curriculum
  • Summarize the skills, perspective and commitments necessary to be able to teach MBCP
  • Describe how MBCP is related to current research regarding stress, pregnancy, childbirth, attachment, and the foundational skills needed for emotionally intelligent, attuned parenting that supports the optimal neurological development of infants and babies
  • Summarize the theoretical, philosophical, scientific and pedagogical underpinnings of MBCP
  • Describe the further study, training or experiences that would be necessary (if any) should a participant decide to move forward in becoming an MBCP instructor

Target Audience

NikoWhile this 6-day intensive training retreat is designed for those interested in exploring teaching MBCP and mindfulness within the perinatal context, it is also appropriate for medical and mental health professionals seeking an introduction to mindfulness meditation and understanding its complementary relationship to the domains of obstetrics, midwifery, nursing, pediatrics, family medicine, and clinical psychology.  Obstetricians, midwives, labor and delivery and postpartum nurses, doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, infant mental health professionals, pre- and postnatal yoga instructors, early childhood educators, counselors, or anyone interested in the health and well-being of families, infants and children may well find the program of value to their work–and their lives.  Interested professionals who do not intend to teach MBCP but have other professional interests in family health (i.e. researchers, administrators, etc.) are also welcome.

For information regarding the suggested background for those interested in becoming an MBCP instructor, please click here.

Participant Guidelines

The retreat schedule is rigorous and we welcome those who are open to fully participating in the intensive nature of this inner work.  The retreat is introductory and unless one has had extensive personal experience with mindfulness meditation,is a perinatal health care provider and is already trained to teach a mindfulness-based intervention, participants should not expect to leave the retreat fully prepared to teach MBCP. Each professional will enter into the 6-day training experience with her or his own unique background, skill set and vision of how they might want to bring mindfulness and MBCP into their work. It may very well be that additional learning, skills, training and experiences are necessary before one is ready to enter into teaching this deeply transformative course. Personal commitment, dedication, individual responsibility, integrity and creativity are essential to this approach.

Professional Background:

  • Degree, license and/or certification (or current enrollment in a formal training program) in a medical or mental health-related field (as described above under “Target Audience”)
  • Professional experience or basic familiarity with women, men and infants during the transitional times of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and early parenting
  • Where possible, the following experiences prior to the retreat are suggested, as they will enhance the participant’s learning and retreat experience:
  • Completion of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course or other training in mindfulness meditation
  • Experience or training in a body-centered awareness practice, such as yoga or qigong

Program Format

Mindfulness Practice: Based upon the foundational assumption that the only true teaching of mindfulness can come from one’s own regular personal mindfulness meditation practice, this 5-day training retreat is steeped in the practice of mindfulness. Early morning and evening meditation sessions are a crucial component of the training and will include a variety of mindfulness practices including sitting meditation, mindful movement, mindful walking and others. Selected meals will be eaten in silence; some will be designated as mindful eating practice sessions.  Several evenings will include silence from the conclusion of the evening practice session until breakfast the next morning.

Group Size: Small breakout groups and partner work will be included several times during the training.

Retreat Setting, Accommodations and Self-Care:Accommodations and Self-Care: In order to facilitate mindfulness practice, reduce outside distractions and create a safe and productive holding environment for the unfolding learning of each individual and the group, the retreat setting is relatively isolated. The training is intended to be a protected forum for facilitated experiential learning, the development of group cohesion and deep abiding attention to self-care and compassion.

Single and double rooms are clean and pleasant, yet sparse, in order to encourage focused attention to the work of mindfulness practice itself. Healthful and nourishing meals are thoughtfully prepared and presented by a staff that is sensitive to the nature of the retreat and the needs of the participants. Breaks will be provided to allow time for participants to walk, hike, run or explore the surrounding land in order to facilitate self-care and support the sometimes challenging nature of mindfulness practice.

Needs Assessment

mindfulbirthing4Instruction in mindfulness practice for the physical and mental health and wellbeing for a wide variety of populations has become a burgeoning area of interest and study particularly over the past decade.. The number of research articles about mindfulness practice in academic journals as well as books and articles in the popular press has grown exponentially. The application of mindfulness to the domains of maternal-child health, parenting and family life as well as mindfulness for school-aged children and adolescents is also expanding. As studies and articles have been published on MBCP, there has been an increasing demand from health professionals in the fields of maternal-child and family health within the US and abroad for an intensive formal training opportunity such as this one.
A limited number of rooms will be available for women with babies and young children. However due to the intensive nature of the retreat,those intending to bring a baby or young child must also be accompanied by a family member or other care provider who will provide childcare during the day and for some evening hours. This will allow the retreatant to fully participate in the learning experience. Mothers with pre-crawling infants may come and go with sensitivity to the needs of the larger group.

Register Online


Psychologists: This program is sponsored by UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course offers 35.5 hours of credit.

California licensed MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, LCSWs: This activity is an approved continuing education program by the American Psychological Association. 35.5 contact hours may be applied to your license renewal through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. For those licensed outside California, please check with your local licensing board to determine if APA accreditation meets their requirements.

Nurses: UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP16351, for 42.5 contact hours.

Nurse Midwives: This program has been approved by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) for 3.65 units (36.5 hours) of Continuing Education.

Cultural and Linguistic Competency Statement

This activity is in compliance with California Assembly Bill 1195 which requires continuing medical education activities with patient care components to include curriculum in the subjects of cultural and linguistic competency. Cultural competency is defined as a set of integrated attitudes, knowledge, and skills that enables health care professionals or organizations to care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups, and communities. Linguistic competency is defined as the ability of a physician or surgeon to provide patients who do not speak English or who have limited ability to speak English, direct communication in the patient’s primary language. Cultural and linguistic competency was incorporated into the planning of this activity. Additional resources can be found on the UC San Diego CME website.


It is the policy of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor. All persons involved in the selection, development and presentation of content are required to disclose any real or apparent conflicts of interest. All conflicts of interest will be resolved prior to an educational activity being delivered to learners through one of the following mechanisms: 1) altering the financial relationship with the commercial interest, 2) altering the individual’s control over CME content about the products or services of the commercial interest, and/or 3) validating the activity content through independent peer review. All persons are also required to disclose any discussions of off label/unapproved uses of drugs or devices. Persons who refuse or fail to disclose will be disqualified from participating in the CME activity.

Schedule & Reading

Tentative Schedule


Registration: 1:00–5:00 pm
Dinner: 5:30–6:30 pm
First Session: 6:45–8:45 pm

Session Ends: 1:00 pm


Required Reading

All books are available on our Amazon Bookshelf.

Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, Nancy Bardacke, RN, CNM, MA

Recommended Reading

All books are available on our Amazon Bookshelf.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Education: Promoting Family Mindfulness During the Perinatal Period. Duncan, L.G. and Bardacke, N.  (2009) Journal of Child and Family Studies

Mindfulness Approaches to Childbirth and Parenting. Hughes, A., Williams, M., Bardacke, N., Duncan, L.G., Dimidjian, S., and Goodman, S.H.  (2009) British Journal of Midwifery

The Mindful Birth. Raguso, E. (2008) The Greater Good


Frequently Asked Questions

I am flying in for the training. What are my options and what do you recommend?
See our LOCATIONS page for details about travel to the retreat centers and preferred airports.  The UCSD Center for Mindfulness will set up a Ride Share Bulletin Board in coordinating shuttle rides for those arriving by air at local airports.

What time should I plan to arrive? When do we finish?
We will begin checking people into the retreat after 1 pm on the first day of the training. However, it may be possible for you to arrive before 1pm and have access to your room. We ask that you plan on arriving no later than 5pm so that we can begin with the full group in attendance at dinnertime. We plan to end the retreat by 1:00 pm on the last day so please plan your travel accordingly, using the time guidelines above. Sometimes situations arise in which people have to leave the retreat earlier than noon on the last day but we strongly urge you to avoid this if at all possible.

Is there wireless service/cellular phone use?
Please do not expect to get consistent, reliable wireless internet service while at the retreat center. It is most advisable to leave your computer at home because of the retreat nature of the training, however we recognize that sometimes computer use is a necessity. Most cellular phones will work in this location. Again, however given the nature of the training there will be limited opportunities to use them, so informing those who may need to contact you of these limitations ahead of time will be helpful.

Is it possible to stay extra nights at the facility or arrive a day or two early?
The retreat center is often booked both right before and right after our training, so arriving early or staying an extra night or two after the retreat is over is not likely to be a possibility. You can of course arrange to stay at lodging near the retreat center if you would like to extend your stay. Contact the retreat center directly to make such arrangements.

What do I need to bring?
If it is at all possible, please bring a meditation cushion (zafu) and a yoga mat. We will have a few cushions but not enough to go around, so if you have one and can squeeze it into your luggage or bring it as a carry-on please consider doing so. It is always advisable to check the weather forecast prior to traveling, to help guide you in proper clothing choices.

The relatively remote location makes security a minor concern, but we do want people to know that with shared sleeping quarters and very limited availability of keys to lock rooms, we highly recommend leaving valuable items at home to reduce the possibility of anything being lost or stolen. Certainly some of us will have vehicles where such items can be secured if this is necessary.

What should I expect regarding the format of the training?
This training is taught in a retreat format, which means there is a great deal of mindfulness practice embedded in the training, and we want to reiterate that now so you are not surprised when you get here. The venue very much facilitates this format; we will will meet, eat and be housed in a relatively secluded area. There are no other large groups planned in the center that week so it should be relatively quiet and secluded. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not by any means luxurious. and as you probably noted on the website, you will have a roommate. In most cases several of you will share a dorm-style bathroom nearby.

What should I read prior to arriving?
Check the “Schedule and Required Reading” page of the specific training you are registered to attend.

What if I require some special accommodations or have dietary restrictions?
While you are asked to note specific food restrictions on your registration application, if there are any additional food or medical concerns we should be aware of please let us know of these in advance so we may assist you.

Registration and Fees

$100 “Early-Bird Discount” if you register and pay in full on or before TBA Early-Bird Rate
On or Before
On or After
General Registration $950 $1050
UC San Diego Faculty / Staff $850 $950
Room and Board Single Occupancy $1300 $1300
Room and Board Double Occupancy $980 $980
  1. Registration fee does not include standard room and board charge.
  2. A limited number of rooms will be available for women with babies and young children. However due to the intensive nature of the retreat, those intending to bring a baby or young child must also bring a family member or other care provider who will provide childcare during the day and for some evening hours. This will allow the retreatant to fully participate in the learning experience. Pre-crawling infants and their mothers may come and go with sensitivity to the needs of the larger group. Contact the UCSD Center for Mindfulness at mindfulness@ucsd.edu  to inquire about making arrangements to attend with your small child.
  3. Upon submission of your registration you will be asked to submit an online application.
  4. Continuing education credits for participation in this program are available for an additional fee.

Continuing Education Credit Fees

Continuing education credits for participation in this program are available for an additional fee
Psychologists, Psychotherapists (LCSW, MFT, LPC), Nurses, Nurse Midwives $75

Partial Payments

Partial payments are acceptable; however a non-refundable minimum deposit of $100 USD is due upon registration.

Please be aware that the early-bird rate is available for all participants who register and pay their balance in full by the early-bird deadline (see registration information above). All early-bird rate participants who have a remaining balance on or after the early-bird deadline will have their fees automatically adjusted to the General Session Rate.

All remaining balances must be paid in full 30 days prior to the start of the training or your registration will be cancelled for non-payment and you will not be permitted to attend.

Cancellation Policy

A refund (minus your $100 non-refundable deposit) will be made for cancellations submitted in writing 30 days prior to the training. No refunds will be allowed after that date.

In the unlikely event that the course is cancelled, UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is responsible only for a full refund of the registration fee and not for transportation, hotel accommodations or any miscellaneous expenses.

Application Essay

Upon submission of your registration, you will be asked to complete an online MBCP Application form which includes a short essay describing your reason(s) for wanting to attend the training retreat. Should your background or previous training not be suitable for retreat attendance, you will be given a full refund.