Childbirth Education: An Underutilized Asset in Maternity Care

Speaker: Penny Simkin, PT


At the end of this session, the learner will be able to:

  1. Report findings of an informal survey of 100 plus childbirth educators.
  2. Discuss ACOG's 2017 Committee Opinion, as it may relate to childbirth education.
  3. List evidence-based recommendations in the Committee Opinion that may be more successful in improving obstetric outcomes if knowledgeable parents participate actively.


About the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)

The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) is a professional organization that supports educators and health care professionals who believe in freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in family-centered maternity and newborn care.


All times are adjusted to your local timezone. Printable Schedule || Times, presenters and sessions are subject to change.

2:00 PM
3:00 PM


Childbirth Education: An Underutilized Asset in Maternity Care

Penny  Simkin, PT
This presentation explores the present and potential contributions of childbirth education. Current scientific findings regarding effectiveness of childbirth education indicate little demonstrable benefit in improving obstetric outcomes. Why? First of all, the designs of the studies are inconsistent and too small to give meaningful results. A review of major childbirth education organizations and a survey of childbirth educators raises questions about their commitment to educating parents to deal with the challenges that face them with the new guidelines (i.e., later admission to hospital, less aggressive management of PROM at term, later dilation defining active labor, and more). Are parents really gaining mastery of comfort techniques in their childbirth classes? One might question whether parents are equipped to participate in the practices (such as confidence in laboring at home, employing appropriate  comfort and labor enhancing techniques) that are known to improve outcomes. Without parents’ participation, ACOG’s recommendations are likely to bring far less benefit than with their participation. Ms. Simkin will discuss the essential information and skills that parents must have, along with a study design that would be adequate to demonstrate the usefulness if childbirth education in improving obstetric outcomes.


Penny Simkin, PT

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 pre-teen to late twenties, two grandchildren-in-law, and a pug, Lola.

Childbirth Education: An Underutilized Asset in Maternity Care

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