Monday, June 24, 2013

Every Doula’s Wish Come True!

Over three hours with Penny Simkin! It was so inspiring to hear Penny tell about her journey as a mother, grandmother, doula, author, birth counselor and childbirth educator. A special thanks to Liz Abbene and all the enlightened women at Enlightened Mama in St. Paul, Minnesota for hosting this amazing event. Penny Simkin, 75 years young, trained as a physical therapist that has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 11,000 women, couples, and siblings for childbirth. She has assisted hundreds of women or couples through childbirth as a doula. She is the producer of several birth-related films and is the author of many books and articles on birth for both parents and professionals. Books include The Labor Progress Handbook (2011), with Ruth Ancheta, The Birth Partner (2008), and When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse of Childbearing Women (2004), with Phyllis Klaus.
Currently, she serves on several boards of consultants, the Editorial Board of the journal, Birth, and serves on the senior faculty at the Simkin Center Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University, which was named in her honor. Today her practice consists of childbirth education, birth counseling, and labor support, combined with a busy schedule of courses, conferences and workshops. Penny and her husband, Peter, have four grown children and eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 7 to 27 years, and a pug, Hugo.
We were also honored to hear about the upcoming work and research that Penny is hoping to do and some the ideas that are still solidifying about birth – both good and bad – in her mind. She is passionate about her work with PATTCh and finding ways to arrest and reverse the unacceptable trends and direction we are seeing in many births today. PATTCh began in 2008 when founders Penny Simkin, Phyllis Klaus, Annie Kennedy, Teri Shilling, Sharon Storton, and Kathy McGrath met at Penny’s house in Seattle. 
From their Website:
What is Traumatic Childbirth?
If a woman experiences or perceives that she and/or her baby were in danger of injury or death to during childbirth, her birth is defined as traumatic  –psychologically, physically, or both. Usually, she experiences extreme sense of helplessness, isolation, lack of care, fear, and anxiety (Beck, 2004a). Traumatic childbirth occurs in as many as 18% of all births. Approximately one-third of those women may develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
We envision a world where women, infants and families experience optimal physical and mental health in pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
The PATTCh board members are a group of psychotherapists, childbirth educators, doulas, researchers, and academicians who are dedicated to bringing together like-minded individuals to educate childbearing women and families and maternity care professionals; develop effective prenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care practices to prevent or reduce traumatic birth and post-birth PTSD; and identify and promote effective treatments to enhance recovery.

Thus yesterday we were honored with an amazing encounter with one of our heroines. Penny continues to inspire thousands of childbirth educators, doulas, midwives, parents and providers and draws us all together to reach our collective goal: that of improving birth outcomes and support for each mother we care for. Thank you Penny Simkin!

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