New Beginnings:  Season 2 of The All About Breastfeeding Show begins on October 10th , 2016

 Penny Simkin!  Yes, the All About Breastfeeding show hosted Penny Simkin today. She has been my idol for, well, let’s just say, a very, very long time.  We go way back.

 I was first turned on to Penny with her ground breaking book “The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions,”   At the time, I knew of no other books that were talking about labor companions and how I could become one.  There was actually a name for being “that” special person who helped another mom through her labor by providing emotional and physical support.

 Penny does not know this, however, I met her many years ago, in a friend’s home on Long Island, NY.  The Birth Partner was a fairly new book and my childbirth educator friends and I were just learning about what it means to be a labor support person and were learning about this new profession called a Birth Doula.  We were a small group of less than 10 moms and we were suppose to meet for about 2 hours and we wound up talking until the wee hours of the morning.  She really left us with a good impression and I have followed her career ever since.

We talk about how her career has evolved from being a trained physical therapist to becoming a childbirth educator and then training others to become a labor support person.   Along the way she has written books and studied mothers and how the trauma and abuse in their life has the potential to affect their childbearing years and specifically their birth and breastfeeding experiences. Penny is also co-founder of  PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth).  She 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.

 Penny is well versed in many areas of maternal health.  I enjoyed having her on the show because I was very interested in having her share her expertise  on the subject of the effects of childhood abuse on childbearing women. I feel that this is an area of maternal health that is not being talked about enough.  Healthcare providers can benefit from attending a workshop by Penny as this will help them gain the knowledge and skills necessary to fully be able to help some of their clients.

It is my experience that when you don’t understand that there might be past abuse issues in a laboring or postpartum mom,  vital opportunities can be lost in being able to fully help them.  This issue is actually much more common than you might expect.  Penny shares a few stories with us as she shares why she became interested in this subject and how listening to mother’s helped her develop a curriculum for healthcare providers to learn more about this population.  I think one of the most important things we can learn is how to recognize the signs of past abuse.  Given this information, we can then adjust our response to w omen who express emotional concerns during their pregnancy and postpartum period.

As an IBCLC, I find this information is necessary as it enables me to be fully present with a mother.  Instead of wondering why she may be acting odd or thinking that she might be one of those difficult moms, I have learned how to recognize the signs that alert me to possible childhood sexual abuse.  Instead of getting annoyed at a mom because she is not cooperating as I think she should, I have learned how to respond appropriately to her.   I have placed a link here to the show so you can listen to Penny share her wisdom as she tells stories of how she evolved as a practitioner.