Our History

PALS Doulas (originally Pacific Association for Labor Support – PALS, for short) was formed in 1988 in response to the growing need for labor support in the Pacific Northwest. We are incorporated and registered as a non-profit organization in the state of Washington. PALS has members from Bellingham to Olympia, and we invite you to become a member of our growing organization of doulas. PALS members are a diverse group of supporters and doulas, most of whom have completed the training through Simkin Center for Allied Birth (formally Seattle Midwifery School), which is offered several times each year.

Historical Timeline

Early 1989:
PALS founded by Penny Simkin after the first Seattle Midwifery School sponsored Labor Support Course. PALS began providing referrals for doulas within the first year. PALS holds monthly meetings for members.
PALS files for incorporation and develops bylaws, scope of practice, code of ethics and goals. PALS, during the early ’90s develops the referral line, certification process and the apprentice program.
             PALS becomes an official not-for-profit corporation in the State of Washington.
PALS doulas recognized as community health workers by Public Health – Seattle King County, Island County and the statewide Maternity Support Services (MSS). Contracts with other MSS providers follow.

1993:   With the help of some of the founding members of PALS, DONA International is founded.

1994:   PALS holds the Warmest Welcome Conference. Prominent names from all over the world gather in Seattle.

1995:   PALS begins a major restructuring process after being rejected by the federal government as a 501c3 not for profit

1996:   PALS welcome its sister organization Northwest Association for Postpartum Support (NAPS.)

1998:   PALS restructuring completed. PALS has a new mission statement and is now a trade organization supporting doulas.
PALS sister organization, Pacific Foundation for Childbirth Support (PFCS), is formed and receives its 501c3 status. The mission of PFCS is to serve birthing women through doula support.
PALS develops its website.
PALS celebrates ten years with a Birthday Brunch.
Penny Simkin Scholarship Program is created to honor Penny’s work with PALS.
PALS moves into its first office at El Centro de la Raza. Phone number, address, and referrals remain out of Penny Simkin’s offices.
During the early 2000, PALS has contracts with 10 contracts in counties throughout the state to pay doulas to serve low income women. The Federal government, in 2004, will disallow the state to reimburse for doula care through maternity support services.
Penny Simkin Scholarship Program is transferred to PFCS to administer.
PFCS becomes Open Arms Perinatal Services and begins co-administering the Mentored Pathway Apprenticeship with PALS.
PALS changes its name to PALS Doulas and officially changes their logo.
The First Annual Northwest Doula Conference takes place in Seattle. It is presented by PALS Doulas and NAPS.
PALS Doulas creates an online referral system to go along with the phone referral line.
PALS Doulas begins to recertify their doulas.

2012:  PALS members form PERC, PALS ending racism committee.

2013:   PALS Doulas adopts a new logo and website.

2014:  The membership votes to have the board go from being a working board to a governing board and the office manager  is promoted to Program Director.