For Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), we are highlighting Hispanic/Lantinx midwives.
My name is María Ascención Ramos Bracamontes and I am a Mexican Indigenous certified nurse-midwife (CNM) in Santa Cruz, California. I was born at home in Ayotitlán, Jalisco, México and raised between Santa Cruz and Ayotitlán. I come from a lineage of traditional Mexican midwives, homebirth and farmers. I am also a mother of three, homebirther, herbalist, and addiction counselor. I currently work in Watsonville, CA, strawberry capital of the world, at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) called Salud Para La Gente, where I primarily serve undocumented indigenous farmworker womb-carriers and pregnant people with substance use disorders.
Being a midwife in English has been something different for me than being a partera in Spanish, in my community, in my culture. Being a partera has come intuitively; I carry that genetic memory of being with women; of protecting physiological birth as part of nature; of simultaneously forming relationships with the whole family, directly with the fetus, and even the ancestors; of working with the elements and spirits to midwife birth ceremonies. In English, being a Mexican midwife is a daily political act as I navigate a white supremacist medical industrial complex.
It took me five years to complete my midwifery education as a single mother, first generation, with English as a second language and as a learning disabilities student at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Systems of higher education in the United States are not created for students of color to succeed; on the contrary, we are targeted and assumed to fail if not acculturated. I have not met a mentor or nurse-midwife of color that I resonate with even today. This is why I am committed to succeed, educate, and bring healing to the birth community. I have been teaching Mexican Traditional Birthwork workshops and founding Spanish-speaking doula collectives since I began my midwifery journey. As a Mexican indigenous partera, I do not have the luxury of being able to just focus on my practice; I also carry the responsibility and commitment to my whole community, to improve care and outcomes for them and all future generations. We must reclaim the sacredness of midwives and birth.
We began this 2020 Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month with the story of a Black nurse formerly working in an Immigration Detention Center in Georgia speaking out about systemic hysterectomies being performed daily to immigrant womb-carriers. But this story is not new. Forced sterilization and eugenics have always occurred under white supremacy. For birth and reproductive justice to materialize, we need to revitalize traditional birthing and healing practices, to return birth back to women, families, and Black and Indigenous midwives.
Specialties/Areas of Interest: Farmworker Women’s Health, Addiction Counseling, Medication Assisted Treatment (Methadone, Buprenorphine, Naltrexone and the rest), Traditional Pregnancy, Birthing, and Postpartum Practices, Traditional Women’s Medicine, Community Building and Empowerment, Anti-Racism Work, Birth and Reproductive Justice, Teaching Traditional Full Spectrum Doula Trainings in Spanish or English to POC only, Birthing in All Settings, Teaching Midwifery, Mentorship, Protecting Mother Earth, Decolonizing Everything
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