In Memoriam: Penny Simkin

May 31, 1938 – April 11, 2024

Penny’s heartbroken family shares this sad news of our beloved Mom/Gummy/sister

Originally posted by DONA International Social Media Channels; reposted here with permission.

With profound sadness and a heavy heart, DONA International announces the passing of our esteemed co-founder, Penny Simkin, PT, after a brief battle with cancer. Her departure on April 11, 2024 marks a tremendous loss not only to our organization but to the global doula community, childbirth educators, perinatal researchers, families she supported, and the countless lives she touched through her pioneering work in childbirth and maternity care.

Penny’s unwavering dedication to supporting families during one of the most significant moments of their lives has left an indelible mark on the field of labor support and childbirth education. Since 1968, Penny, a skilled physical therapist, embarked on a mission to transform the childbirth experience, making it more empowering, informed, and supported. Her tireless commitment to this cause led her to prepare over 15,000 individuals, couples, and siblings for childbirth, directly assist hundreds of families through labor as a doula, and author several influential books that have become staples in the field that have been translated into several languages.

Penny was a visionary and a luminary in every sense. Her work has paved the way for a new generation of doulas and childbirth educators, instilling in them the values of compassion, evidence-based practice, and relentless advocacy for birthing people and their families. Through her profound contributions and co-founding of DONA International, Penny has revolutionized doula care and childbirth education across the globe, leaving a legacy that will undoubtedly endure for generations to come.

Her book, The Birth Partner, remains a beloved resource for anyone involved in the childbirth process, illustrating her commitment to not only the physical but also the emotional well-being of doulas and families during childbirth.

Though she recently stepped back from her professional endeavors to focus on her family, Penny’s legacy continues to thrive through the work of the many doulas she trained, the families she supported, and the impactful works she left behind. Her life was a testament to her passion for making childbirth a positive and supported experience for all.

Penny’s life was rich not only in professional achievements but also in love and joy. She and her husband, Peter, were blessed with four grown children, nine grandchildren, many grandchildren-in-law, five great-grandchildren, and a beloved dog, Casey. Her family was her pride and joy, and she cherished the time spent with her loved ones.

As we mourn the loss of Penny Simkin, we also celebrate her extraordinary life and the countless ways she has enriched ours. Her legacy will continue to inspire and guide us as we carry forward her mission to improve childbirth and support families around the world. Penny’s spirit lives on in the work of DONA International, in the lives of the families she has touched, and in the hearts of the many who loved her.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to DONA International in Penny Simkin’s memory, to continue her life’s work of supporting and educating doulas and families. For more information on how to make a contribution, please visit¬†

We invite all who knew Penny, were touched by her work, or wish to share their thoughts and memories to do so by sending them to Your stories and memories will be a great comfort and a cherished collection for her family during this difficult time.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Penny’s family, friends, and the many individuals whose lives she has touched. May her soul rest in peace, and may her legacy of love, support, and education continue to flourish in the years to come.