In the fourth issue of ‘Birthing While Black’ — our interview series underscoring the complexity of the Black maternal health crisis and the varied experiences of a community that we too often lump together — we speak to Iya Mystique Hargrove aka the Black Birth Healer about their experiences as a Black queer community student midwife and the opportunities and challenges that come with this. Iya Mystique drives home the importance of taking intersecting identities into account when providing health services and the work that needs to be done to diversify the midwifery workforce, ensuring marginalised groups can access care from someone that understands their lived experiences.
Iya Mystique (they/she) is a “unicorn”, Blactinx (Black and Latinx; Caribbean-Indigenous) queer femme community student midwife who is a certified full-spectrum doula, lactation educator, childbirth educator, lactation specialist, maternal-child health community worker, and a Reiki I and II practitioner. With a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counselling, Iya Mystique is a trained newborn care specialist and advanced holistic plant medicine practitioner.
Iya Mystique specialises in Caribbean-Indigenous practices in their role as an Ifa priestess in perinatal health, reproductive health and justice, as well as mental health wellness, “Blactation” (Black lactation), healing justice, plant medicine, and advocacy in perinatal mental health care for the Black community, especially for Black LGBTQ+ individuals. Iya Mystique’s vision is to one day to incorporate community healing justice, lactation, and affirmative reproductive education in their future full-spectrum midwifery practice.