Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by BVN
Davison talks about her experience as a birthworker on April 4, 2023. Davison knew her grandmother was a registered nurse but it was not until after her grandmother passed away that Davison learned that her grandmother was a certified midwife before immigrating to the U.S. from Antigua. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
April 11, 2023 through April 17, 2023 marks Black Maternal Health Week, a week-long campaign founded and organized by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance which is a Black women-led, cross-sectoral organization that centers Black mothers and birthing people.
The purpose of Black Maternal Health Week is to “build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black Mamas and birthing people.”
As news reports and data continue to reveal the rising rate of Black maternal mortality and inadequate treatment in hospital settings, this year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week, “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!”, seeks to shine a light on community-centered and cultural practices for maternal care delivered by Black midwives, full-spectrum doulas and other birth and maternal health workers.
In line with the theme of restoring Black autonomy and Joy and with the support of Inland Empire community-based doulas and midwives, the Black Voice News spoke with Black midwives, doulas and families in the area about the joys of parenting and serving their communities, how they hold on to joy while balancing obligations and what they hope for the future.
Meet Aiyana Davison, a Certified Nurse Midwife
Aiyana Davison, 39, knew her grandmother to be a registered nurse. It wasn’t until after her grandmother passed away that Davison found out that she and her grandmother shared more than DNA. Before immigrating to the U.S. from Antigua, Davison’s grandmother was a certified midwife.
“She never talked about that part [of her life] and now I’m wishing she had or I had inquired or dug. She knew I was going to be a midwife,” Davison shared. “I knew she was excited for me, especially as I got into nursing and all of that. So, I come from the lineage of midwifery.”
When Davison’s grandmother came to the states, “She remained a registered nurse, got a referral from whoever her doctor was in the islands. I have that piece of letter, the actual letter, but I didn’t find out until she passed away,” Davison shared.
Her grandmother however did not remain a midwife because she may have been forced to go back to school for midwifery and at the time, it would have been a struggle for her grandmother as a Black woman, Davison guessed.
Davison is a certified nurse midwife whose scope of work includes every facet of reproductive health, including prenatal and postpartum care, contraceptives, breast cancer screening and abortion services. As a certified nurse midwife, Davison is licensed to work in the hospital setting, where she works now.
With her experience as a certified nurse midwife and her passion for education, Davison uses her knowledge to inform the masses using The Vagina Chronicles, an online safe space for discussing “birth empowerment” and reproductive health. With her platform, Davison provides resources and writes blogs where she shares her experiences in midwifery training and discusses topics like birth, the pelvic floor and reclaiming postpartum.
“I found that I would meet with people in the clinic or in the hospital that didn’t really know about their body and wanted to learn. No one ever taught them certain things,” Davison explained. “I use the Vagina Chronicles as that platform where I can share information. With the Vagina Chronicles, it really was about sharing with other people about their bodies.”
Educating the community is one part of her work that brings her joy. Davison loves to teach and learn, and part of the joy has been teaching people and giving them permission to explore what their body is doing. Another part that brings her joy is seeing families grow and witnessing the intimacy of birth. Davison explained that while birth can be scary, it may not be as “fear-based as we promote it.” She said that birth can be an inclusive event and recalled a recent birth where a sibling chose to participate in the experience.
“There’s also something to be said about supporting your own community through the process, especially when you know they’re struggling. So, there’s many facets of joy to it: education, family, supporting the community — that brings me joy.”
Davison wears many hats: certified nurse midwife, educator and entrepreneur. Last year, Davison opened her own home birth practice called The Village House, “because it does take a village, not just to raise children, but also to support families and to get good health care,” Davison said.
Outside of her career, Davison finds joy in getting together with her circle of sisters where “we pour into each other, [and] mostly give each other the harsh talks, but that brings me joy.” She also enjoys traveling and reading books that aren’t clinical texts.
In this season of her life, Davison has been focusing on herself more because in the past she has spent so much time focusing on other people — “almost using it as an excuse to keep busy and also an excuse to not take care of myself,” Davison admitted. Now, she is prepared to focus on herself so she can continue doing what she wants and be able to support friends and family.
According to Davison, a lot of midwives may feel confined to a certain type of midwifery but she encouraged other midwives and any professionals to consider how they want to impact people in their profession. She said it is important to recognize there are many different ways to do this work.
“The thing I’ve really been promoting is, make midwifery work for you,” Davison said. “You don’t have to be tied down to someone else’s rules.”
As she continues to share her knowledge with the community and support families, Davison hopes to open up a physical birth center in Riverside for The Village House. She also hopes that people find their village because “we are not meant to do life alone.”
“I hope to remain really joyous in the profession. I don’t want to lose my joy. I know things ebb and flow, but I don’t ever want to get to the point where I don’t want to do midwifery anymore or get to that point where I don’t want to be at the birth of babies,” Davison shared.