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Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,103 ratings  ·  113 reviews
With Mindful Birthing, Nancy Bardacke, nurse-midwife and mindfulness teacher, lays out her innovative program for pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, mindfulness meditation, and mind/body medicine, Bardacke offers practices that will help you find calm and ease during this life-changing time, providing lifelong skills for ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by HarperOne
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  1,103 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book 4 stars until I remembered that the techniques I read within helped me have give birth without an epidural. That alone was worth the extra star. The chapter on breathing through contractions, and the mindset to have while having contractions, are clutch. I don't know how many minds I blew afterwards explaining that labor wasn't that bad. It was uncomfortable and parts of it were painful, but it was tolerable and I knew I could do it. This book showed me how.

(Pushing was a differ
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I very much appreciated what this book aims to do, which is bringing mindfulness to the birthing process, but also in a way that it continues to extend throughout one's life. While I did not do all of the exercises, even just reading about them all reminded me of how to stay present and mindful in my experiences, including while pregnant! (I haven't had the baby yet)

The one main issue I had with this book was the style of writing when she would quote group meetings. I understand that she was tr
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. Although the ideas in it (practicing mindfulness to help one through labor and delivery) may seem a little too crunchy-granola for some people, it actually has really solid action steps you can take to prepare yourself to give birth (which is important for someone like me, who likes to be prepared). You can either read the book and just use what works for you, or you can go through the suggested mindfulness "course" outlined at the back of book, which includes different ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Definitely a pregnancy must read - just wish I would have read it months ago!
Alicia Harding
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So I’m saying I “finished” even though technically I didn’t. I went into labor at 36 weeks so I hadn’t actually finished the book yet!

I LOVED this book and can say the strategies and mindset laid out in this book transformed my pregnancy and the birth of my daughter.

This book while very useful for an unmedicated or “natural” (although, aren’t all births “natural”) helps you deal with whatever your pregnancy and birthing experience hand you. The author supports all birthing methods.

In pregnancy
Julie O'Neal
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a good book if you are worried about the pain of childbirth. It helps distinguish the difference between pain and fear and also how they feed on one another. The meditation lessons help you learn to control the fear and pain by focusing on the present moment and not worrying and thinking about the past or the future. This book and its methods aren't even specifically for birthing; it's for men and women in everyday life.

Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book helped me get through the pain of labour and childbirth. I highly recommend it.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: raising-kids
This book came with a birth class, which I was very lucky to have the chance to take.

Somebody did a scientific study of this mindful-birth stuff and found that -- well, it won't save you from using painkillers during birth, and it won't reduce your probability of a C-section. But, what this mindful stuff has done is 1) make women feel more confident going into giving birth and 2) reduce instances of post-partum depression. Those two benefits sounded pretty darn good to me. And long story short,
Leticia Supple
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ok so full disclosure: I am pregnant and haven't given birth yet (and won't for much of this year!). Friends recommended this book to me and I bought it as soon as I could.

I have to say though that since reading it I feel much more at ease, not just with the idea of birthing but with pregnancy too. As someone who has a long history of meditation, I was surprised to find out that it has a direct and beneficial application to one of the most transformative moments of life.

My husband is now reading
Rachel Red-horse
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book! Makes me wish I had attended the birth classes it’s based on/accompanies
One of the most helpful books about pregnancy and birth that I have ever read. I think it would have been a lot harder to connect with if I didn't already have experience with mindfulness training and audio recordings to assist practice. But it's a really helpful way of approaching the experience of pregnancy and birth.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this very slowly over the course of my pregnancy (started around 15 weeks, finished yesterday at 35 weeks). I haven't given birth yet, and I'm not committing to formal mindfulness practice as part of my birth preparation, so I don't think I can fully speak to how effective or not effective mindfulness is as a birthing tool; but I did want to remark on the aspects of this book that I have found helpful so far in influencing my mindset about birth. Here are my favorite takeaways:

1. The conc
Nicole Bloch
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read for parents

This is great for expectant and current parents alike. I started it during my last month of pregnancy and now, seven months later was actually able to finish it. I was able to use a lot of the practice during childbirth and I made it through 26.5 hours of labor naturally and even with a few complications during transition. My midwives said I was the calmest mother they had ever encountered, particularly given some of my challenges. Regardless of one's birth experience, the
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great book for someone preparing for birth, especially if you have concerns about labor, or are interested in mental coping strategies for dealing with pain. This book not only deals with birthing though, it also examines how to be more mindful in every day life, which can ease daily anxiety and improve relationships with spouse and children. I want to read more books on becoming mindful because I truly believe that a full undestanding of this topic coupled with a spiritual faith in God can he ...more
Kirsten Eisele
Jul 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I didn't love how this book was written, but I did get a lot of good information from it and many ideas on how to incorporate meditation and acceptance into the birth process to have a more peaceful and serene childbirth.

Quotes I liked:

You are the ultimate authority on your experience, and learning how to trust your inner wisdom is the path to what is best for you in birthing, parenting, and the general conduct of your life. Mindfulness practice offers a different kind of trust -- a trust in yo
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pregnancy
This is definitely a must-read for any Buddhist Mother keen on incorporating practice into birthing & post-birth care. I practice Tibetan Buddhism but I found these mindfulness practices complimentary to my existing practice and Nancy's midwivery background tied in beautifully with the information I was already being provided by my midwife. What's even better is the Mindfulness Birthing app that you can download for your iphone / ipad. The audio guided meditations were a great support to the pra ...more
Katie Myhre
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Great underlying premise, but the execution seemed a little heavy-handed and preachy at times
Amy VanHym
Dec 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Patronizing and disabling. Talks down to the reader from the very start. The author plays word games under a pretense of wisdom:

"Occasionally [...] a pregnant woman will say something about wanting 'a natural childbirth.' If that comes up, I gently explain to her that from a mindfulness perspective, every birth is natural. It’s natural for a baby to grow inside its mother’s body, it’s natural for a baby to be born, and it’s natural for people to want to help with the process."

It isn't wise to de
Gabriela Medina
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked this book and the message in it. I practice mindfulness and I appreciate that this book exists because it can introduce the practice of mindfulness to expectant mothers. But it’s totally plagiarized from the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn and there is no credit given to the Mindfulness Zen teacher who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by MLK Jr for his teachings on mindfulness, inter-being, peace and compassion. And I can’t help but feel like this is just another privileged white lad ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was recommended by my doula, for me and partner to read, and even try out some of the exercises outlined. It was pretty informative and hopefully will be helpful. It felt like the advice in this book lined up with anti-anxiety advice from my therapist and anti-burnout advice from work.

I have to say, this book was a little too crunchy for me. I can't see myself doing a full 9-week course, or meditating with a raisin, without laughing or getting frustrated. I like a bit more science and data
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book takes the principles of mindfulness and applies them to pregnancy, childbirth, and the early days of parenting. As someone who knows a little bit about mindfulness but is not a regular practitioner, and as someone who desired a medication-free, low intervention labor and delivery, I enjoyed and appreciated this book and felt that it helped me approach labor with more confidence. I thought the information about the physiological process of giving birth was especially helpful, and the in ...more
Janelle Kim
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend for any pregnant woman and especially if you want to have an unmedicated birth. I didn’t know a lot about mindfulness before reading this book and I feel that I gained a lot of important tools to use not only during the birth but for the stresses of pregnancy, parenting, and life in general. Granted, I haven’t given birth yet, and I’m just starting my meditation practice, but I feel even just the little I’ve done so far has been really helpful. I am a mindfulness and meditation ...more
Beth Weisberger
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Definitely written for a first pregnancy. And also someone planning on a hospital birth (neither things are true for me).

I did not like her style of writing where she pretends you are in the class and is almost writing as if it’s a transcription. It makes the book long and redundant.

I appreciate her general principles around mindfulness and labor. She needs an annotated version of this book!

I read about 2/3, but won’t finish it as the rest does not seem applicable for what I am looking for.

I do
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did a "social experiment" and asked friends to lend me 2 books from their collection that they think I'd like. This was lent to me by Sharifa who at the time was pregnant with her second child. She said she thought I'd like the ideas presented in the book that has to do with mindfulness, even though I'm not necessarily interested in childbirth.

It was interesting if nothing else to just get to know what it's like for women giving birth. I was also mistaken three times for a pregnant woman duri
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I will admit that I didn't read the entire book cover to cover, but even the portions I did read made a huge impact! I have some background in meditation an mindfulness and was looking for some strategies to help me achieve labor (for my second child)without an epidural, etc. well, this book was the key to my success! I was reminded of things I had learned before and also given amazing new outlook to change my way of thinking both in labor and life. and yes, I was able to have a beautiful, inter ...more
Jen Hubbard
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I just don't think this book is for me. I checked it out from the library at the suggestion of my prenatal yoga instructor but struggled to get through it. The writing was lacking and I found myself skimming over the passages following the class she references throughout. Overall the idea of bringing mindfulness to pregnancy and birthing was good to read about, especially the parts about shifting your perspective on pain during labor. I would prefer to take a similar class in person versus tryin ...more
Lauren Read
Listening to this audiobook in my final month of pregnancy (and first month of motherhood) proved beneficial, even if I didn't take on (or rather, recommence) a formal mindfulness practice. The content -- explaining mind-body concepts and revolving around a real-life course's participants' stories -- and the reader herself were quite affirming, relaxing, and empowering. The book assisted my living in the present, whether walking to work or breastfeeding my baby. A baby is a mindfulness teacher: ...more
Jeff Walker
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
This book was an invaluable resource for my wife and I during the pregnancy and birth of our first child. It provided practical advise and a step-by-step set of instructions including a 9-week plan for learning about mindfulness and how to apply it to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. It has truly changed out perspective on not only child-related aspects of life, but all aspects of life in general. Highly recommended for anyone expecting a child and hoping to deliver with minimal interventio ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, babies
I found this read beneficial not only for decreasing fears associated with child birth, but also increasing my own mindfulness in general. I've read many self-help books, and yet, with this one I felt I truly connected with the author's practices. I actually wanted to follow her advice and instructions, not just scan through the text and cherry-pick what might work for me.

Word of advice - for all my natural childbirth readings, I still ended up with a c-section, so keep an open mind to all the s
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This variation on Jon Kabatt-Zinn's mbsr program for pregnant women combines an excellent introduction to mindfulness with an experienced midwife's advice. Though I did not do all of the exercises, the book itself was a great help to me during pregnancy and in preparation for childbirth. I would really recommend it if you're dealing with stress and fears concerning pregnancy and labor and/or want to prepare for a natural birth.
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