When Japhy was born on March 5, 2011, he was welcomed by his mother and father and sleepy big sister, 2½-year-old Maya, who kept herself awake for her brother’s late-night debut by watching videos.
“The birth was beautiful, very straightforward and uncomplicated—a family event,” says Sarah Davis ’03, the midwife who attended the birth in San Diego at the home of parents Yukiko Honda and Doug Beacom.
“A family event” describes Davis’s philosophy about birth. “While the broader culture always considers birth to be a medical situation, we say it’s always a family event and sometimes a medical event,” says
Davis, who co-founded Birth Roots in 2008 with partner and fellow midwife Darynée Blount. In 2010, they opened the Birth Roots Health and Maternity Center in a cozy old Craftsman home in Chula Vista near San Diego.
For Davis, midwifery combines interests in women’s health and social justice she had as a student at Pomona. As a Black studies major, the historical research she did on African-American midwifery for her senior thesis sparked an interest in modern midwifery, eventually leading to a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship with a midwife in San Diego. “Once I started attending births,” she says, “I knew I loved it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Now Davis helps others follow her path. Birth Roots has two student midwives who are enrolled in school and participate in prenatal visits and births. “That’s what I do to keep midwifery going,” she says. “I’d love to see a midwife on every block and a birthing center in every neighborhood. If you need medical care, you’re going to get it, but I look forward to the day where a hospital birth isn’t the expected routine.”
After being a part of an estimated 300 births, Davis knows to carefully tend her calendar, and not just because infants can arrive at any crazy hour. The midwife role also carries some special social obligations. “I get invited to a lot of first birthday parties,” she says.