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ATT :: Advanced Teacher Training for MBSR and MBCT Teachers
June 14-19, 2015 / Petaluma, CA
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Childbirth and Parenting

January 18-24, 2015 / Petaluma, CA
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February 15-20, 2015 / Petaluma, CA
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MBCP :: Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting

Faculty: Nancy Bardacke, RN, CNM, MA, Catherine Polan Orzech, MA, LMFT and Larissa Duncan, PhD

January 18-24, 2015 • EarthRise Retreat Center, Petaluma, CA

Early-Bird Registration Fee: $950 + Room & Board

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 ( 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


The training retreat will be led by Nancy Bardacke, CNM, MA the founding director of the MBCP program and author of the book Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, HarperCollins/HarperOne. Accompanying Nancy is senior mindfulness teacher Catherine Polan Orzech, MA, LMFT. Rounding out the teaching team is Larissa Duncan, PhD, who will share her research expertise on the role of stress and coping in the perinatal period and mindful parenting.

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

While 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. Each participant will receive individual consultation with a retreat leader to address the subsequent appropriate steps needed in order to become fully prepared to teach MBCP.

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

Instruction 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.

UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness    •   5060 Shoreham Place, Suite 200    •   San Diego, CA 92122-0980
 Phone: (858) 334-4631    •   Fax: (858) 334-4601    •   E-mail:     •   Website:

Content is subject to change without notice. Please refer to the activity website for the most current information.
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