Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 13,000 women, couples, and siblings for childbirth. She has assisted hundreds of women and couples through childbirth as a doula. She is author or co-author of books for both parents and professionals, including “The Labor Progress Handbook;” “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide;” “When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women;” “The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions,” She has developed teaching materials for birth classes and produced several videos for educators, doulas, and families , the latest of which is for siblings-to-be, “There’s a Baby.” She is co-founder of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) and PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth).
Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the journal, Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, and serves on the senior faculty of the Simkin Center for 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 conferences and workshops.
Penny and her husband, Peter, have four grown children and eight grandchildren from 11 to 28 years of age, two grandchildren-in-laws, and a pug, Lola.
View Full Presentation Information
The human microbiome consists of trillions of microbes – bacteria and viruses—the balance of which largely determines our health and well-being throughout life. The largest microbiomes in women are located in the mouth the gut, the uterus, the vagina, and the skin. Breastmilk also provides a vital microbiome for the infant. Each microbiome contains different mixes of microbes, which fluctuate as the environment, within and outside the body, fluctuates.
Midwifery care practices have always fostered mother-baby contact, minimal separation, and breastfeeding. However, with increasing knowledge about the microbiome, midwives need to re-examine common practices for how they impact the microbiome, for example: the high cesarean rates, even among midwives, even brief separation from mother, frequent use of antibiotics, the impact of immersion in water on the mother’s skin microbiome and on the transfer of vaginal secretions to the baby in a water birth. Application of the new knowledge will further improve long-term outcomes.