Bastyr University California is enhancing its natural health offerings in January 2013 with the addition of workshops from Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations, offering courses of interest to anyone who cares for pregnant and new families.
Open to the public, the courses offer training for you to become a birth doula, postpartum doula and more from one of the nation's longest-running schools for childbirth education. Simkin Center was founded in 1988 in Seattle, and became part of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, in 2010.
When Simkin Center expands to Bastyr's San Diego campus, the first class will be “When Survivors Give Birth,” taught January 25-26 by birth professions pioneers Penny Simkin, PT, CCE, CD(DONA), and Phyllis Klaus, MFT, LCSW.
Although it is estimated that one in four women has experienced childhood sexual abuse in the United States, the challenges these survivors face during the perinatal period remain among the least understood for caregivers and other providers.
"If you are working with anybody in their childbearing years, you will be working with sexual abuse survivors," says Simkin Center director Annie Kennedy, CD(PALS). "Whether you are going to care for those people adequately and compassionately and help them take steps toward healing depends on how much you understand this issue and learn the skills to work with women."
Penny Simkin, a physical therapist who has helped revive the art of continuous care in childbirth and who also is the namesake of Bastyr's Simkin Center, and Klaus, a licensed marriage and family therapist and social worker, also co-wrote the book When Survivors Give Birth.
"By combining physical therapy and psychotherapy, our goal is to integrate different ways to meet the needs of survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and be sensitive to issues that may come up during pregnancy and birth," says Simkin, who is widely considered the mother of modern childbirth education and of birth doulas. "We also hope to help our students learn specific techniques to deal with those issues and strengthen the woman and empower her."
During the two-day workshop, Simkin and Klaus will cover both the mental and physical components of a woman during and after her pregnancy. The class is geared toward students from various disciplines, including maternity care, mental health and allied providers.
"What we want to do with this workshop is to make people aware of the issue," Kennedy says. "Then it can provide them with skills that they can use in their practice with women, whatever that may be."
Research on doulas that provide nonmedical support to a woman and her family throughout the pregnancy process has shown that compassionate care and knowledgeable practitioners have profound long-term results for women and their babies.
Additional Simkin Center courses are listed on the course calendar. Upcoming workshops at Bastyr University California include:
- Birth Doula Skills Workshop — March 8-11, 2013
- Postpartum Doula Skills Workshop — March 15-18, 2013
- Infant Massage Educator Certificate Training Program — April 11-14, 2013
- Childbirth Educator Training — May 17-19, 2013
There is no admissions process required to register for workshops, which allows a wide range of the community to become involved. Financial assistance is available through the Simkin Center for those who seek it.
For more information about Simkin Center at Bastyr University California, you are invited to attend the Childbirth Professions Information Session as part of the free Experience Bastyr University California event on November 3, 2012.