Welcome to our first profile of Asian American Midwives! Dr. Sunita Iyer is a naturopathic physician and midwife based in Seattle, WA.
What does it mean to you to be an Asian American midwife?
It’s exciting! The demographic of midwifery consumers to include many new Indian immigrant families. They want someone who can relate to their culture, experience, and language in addition to getting to know them as we do in midwifery care. It’s not just Indians either; I have so families that are multi-racial and multi-lingual that simply appreciate the synergy of so many backgrounds.
How did you decide to become a midwife?
I worked for several years with parenting and pregnant teen women in a residential setting through the Department of Social Services and as part of welfare reform in the late 90’s. It was completely different role and what seemed clear at that time is “I was too late”. Meaning, by working with women who already become parents without support during their pregnancy and birth I felt as if I had missed great opportunities to help adjust their own thinking or messages on parenting. I often thought, “how different would this be if they were given the change to step into parenting more powerfully, feeling loved and supported, and not treated as a misstep by the medical community?”
What advice or encouragement would you offer to aspiring midwives, especially midwives of color?
The world is quickly changing and mixing. There is a place for all of us. The training may not always feel that way; many of our mentors and clients do not yet represent this. Even if the clients we serve are not necessarily families of color, the demographic is increasingly ‘global’ and we are part of that.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have often wondered if there were many other Indian midwives around the country. I am excited to ‘meet’ them. Thank you!