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Mindful : August 2013
“This isn’t your usual childbirth- prepa ration class,” Nancy Bardacke announced to the 23 expectant mothers and fathers seated in a circle on a late September evening in Sa n Francisco. Ba rdacke won’t be showing birth videos or demonstrating how to diaper a baby. During this first session of her Mind- fulness-Based Childbirth and Pa renting course she hardly talked about labor at all. Her lesson began with a raisin. “ You’ve all seen a raisin before, but you’ve never seen this raisin,” she said as she passed out samples for the exer- cise she has long used to introduce her students to mindfulness. “One of the first practices we learn is beginner’s mind— Reporter Susan Freinkel follows two expectant couples from their first class in mindfulness-based childbirth to the blessed (not to mention painful) event. They learn things on their journey to parenthood that can help us all navigate life’s transitions. parenting with presence Kateryna Rakowsky, a mother in Nancy Bardacke’s Mindful Birthing program, cradles her daughter, Taia Wetmore. to see things anew.” To see, in fact, the way a newborn would—without judg- ments or preconceptions. Examine the raisin closely, she urged, use all your senses to take it in. People squinted at the raisin in their palm, rolled it between their fingers, held it close to their noses to inhale its sweet, musky aroma. The class has drawn a diverse group of parents-to-be, and some are more at ease with this encounter with the raisin than others. There a re strait-laced law- yers, right-brain scientists, a mortgage broker, and a free-spirited couple who sell their own brew of kombucha. Some are pla nning conventional hospital births at tended by obstetricia ns; others are → Photographs by Michael O’Neal and Christine Alicino August 2013 mindful 43 family PHOTOGRAPHBYMICHAELO’NEAL