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Penny Simkin

The Passing of a Mentor – Remembering Penny Simkin

A Legacy of Compassion and Education in Childbirth

With profound sadness, we share the news of Penny Simkin’s passing—a visionary doula and an esteemed childbirth educator whose impact on maternal care will be felt for generations. Penny was a beacon of knowledge and compassion in the childbirth community, dedicating over forty years to empowering parents and professionals alike with her groundbreaking approaches to perinatal care.

Her literary contributions are monumental. “The Birth Partner” is essential reading for anyone involved in supporting a birthing individual”doulas, partners, and healthcare professionals alike. This guide, along with her other works such as “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide,” arms caregivers with the tools needed to provide sensitive and effective support through all stages of childbirth.

Penny’s relentless drive to enhance maternal care led her to co-found DONA International, the first-ever doula organization to offer certification to practitioners, thereby professionalizing doula care and setting high standards for practice. Her commitment to excellence in education ensured that doulas were recognized as crucial supporters in the birthing process, equipped with the skills to make a significant difference in the lives of families.

Her legacy extends beyond her written work and professional achievements; it is deeply rooted in her passionate mentorship of
thousands of doulas and childbirth educators. Through her workshops and speeches, Penny shaped an entire industry, fostering a culture of respect and awe for the birthing process and advocating tirelessly for the emotional well-being of all mothers.
As we reflect on her remarkable life, we invite the community to honor Penny by sharing personal stories and the indelible marks she left on our lives and careers. Her teachings, filled with warmth and wisdom, will continue to inspire and guide us.
Penny’s enduring legacy is not only captured in the pages of her books or the protocols she developed but also in the hearts she touched and the practices she transformed. Her life’s work stands as a testament to the strength and gentleness that define the very best of childbirth care.
In remembrance of Penny, we pledge to uphold her ideals—supporting each family with the dignity, care, and compassion that she personified. Her spirit, encapsulated in her teachings, will forever light our way forward.

A personal note:  Today is my 45th Doula-versary. I supported my mom birthing my brother in an unassisted birth when I was 7. Today is now Penny Simkin’s death-day. I have known Penny my entire professional doula career for over 20+ years. I spent hours in her home learning to be a doula. She was one of my greatest personal mentors. I called her on numerous occasions. Having thought many times, “what would Penny do?” Her grace, compassion and wisdom will pass on through the countless doulas who come after her. I secretly thought of her as the Yoda of birth. May the spiral gift her with all the grace of her legacy. — Jesse

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