News Local/State

Childbirth Class Teaches Mindfulness Techniques To Relieve Pain, Prepare For Parenting

pregnant woman


A childbirth and parenting class in Champaign-Urbana focuses on using mindfulness and meditation to ease the pain of giving birth.

The class is offered by Mindful Birth CU—a collaboration between two Carle hospital-trained midwives and University of Illinois psychology professor Heidemarie Laurent.

Early research shows there are benefits for women who use mindfulness techniques to turn toward the experience of childbirth rather than run away from it, Laurent said.

“Often there’s more suffering and distress when we are in the effort of trying to avoid or struggle against something that we don’t like, as opposed to just being with it as it is and sort of allowing it to unfold as it does,” she said.

Mindfulness teaches a person to pay close attention to what’s unfolding in the present moment without judgment, she added. Doing so engages the body’s natural calming response.

“Your brain is telling the body things are okay, and it is allowing more release of oxytocin and other things nature has given us to help move through childbirth in a more skillful way,” Laurent said.

Laurent said mindfulness training can also help with the parenting challenges that come after the birth. Mindfulness equips people to not worry about past or future troubles and embrace new challenges as they come.

The 9-week class offers guided meditation and teaches mothers and their support partners how to regulate stress in both childbirth and everyday life. It costs $150 and will be led by midwives Kristy Higgs and Jeri Lake.

Laurent will also be recruiting pregnant women for a paid research study that offers free birthing classes.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman