For Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), we are highlighting Hispanic/Lantinx midwives.
Hispanic Heritage: Tell us about your Latinx/Hispanic heritage
I was born in Peru where I lived until my 30s. I moved to United States to continue my education as a veterinarian, however plans changed once I had the experience of having my child delivered by a midwife.
Share your story: What does midwifery mean to you? What would you like to be celebrated in the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife?
Midwifery has been the root of supportive care since the beginning of humankind – it is an ancient art. The uniqueness of our holistic approach makes it different in a positive way, therefore it should be accessible to any person at any stage of life.
The Year of the Midwife should celebrate our resilience and the centuries of our work offering care to women and families around the world. This year has been challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many midwives around the world died after getting infected while at work, but once again midwives demonstrated their resilience.
During the pandemic, we as midwives were sought in many states. In New York City, we rose to the challenge and risked our lives to help those in need, no matter their gender, race, or socioeconomic background.
Tell us about your background: Which midwifery education program did you attend or are currently attending? What are your areas of specialty? Who mentor you along the way in your career? What inspired you to become a midwife?
Prior to become a midwife, I was a veterinarian in Peru and cared for farm animals like sheep, llamas, and alpacas. However, my desire to continue my veterinary career changed once I worked with a midwife during my second pregnancy. It was a completely different experience than I had during my first pregnancy when I worked with an obstetrician. Cynthia Casoff was such an inspiration to me and made want to be a midwife.
While I attended New York University to get my bachelor’s in nursing, I met Sylvie Blaustein, another great midwife who attended my third child, who also had a wonderful approach to maternal care. Her and Cynthia’s knowledge, kindness, energy, calmness, and welcoming personalities had a great impact on me.
I then graduated from a master’s program at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Nursing and Midwifery in 2000. During my clinical rotations at Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City, I was mentored by Elizabeth Bonet, who was the first Latinx director that I met in our field. Her support cemented my midwifery career. We continue to be friends to this day.
Tell us about your practice: Where do you practice? What is your patient population like? What are the voices in the community are you trying to uplift, or issues are you trying to alleviate in your practice?
I have been working at Metropolitan Hospital Center for most of my career. I provide full scope midwifery care to a patient population that is 80% Latinx, immigrants, and communities that are underserved.
My passion is to elevate their voices, empower them, and educate them on their rights as they navigate the health care system. I am also actively involved in advocating for Universal Care at the local level in New York. I am focusing on women’s health matters and raising awareness of the role of midwives within the health system.
During the height of COVID-19 pandemic in NYC, I was able to use my voice as a NYC Midwives Co-Chair and fight against the ban in hospitals that did not allow partners to be present to provide support during labor. With the help of doulas, media, and local politicians, the governor listened to our demands and reversed this restriction.
I also founded the “Midwife Project”, which was developed in order to raise awareness of midwifery care and the options women have such as home birth, birthing centers, and hospitals in New York City using social media.