MCHC is excited to announce that Amita Graham, a certified nurse midwife, has been a wonderful addition to the Care for Her Team since joining in July of 2022. Graham works primarily at Hillside Health Center in Ukiah, supporting women through all stages of their pregnancies, including providing breastfeeding and lactation consultations.
Graham is excited to have joined an established team with strong roots in the community and values that align with her own.
“It was an easy decision to work here because my philosophy is the same as MCHC’s philosophy,” Graham said. “I believe in shared decision making and a patient-centered approach that takes the whole person into consideration when providing care.”
Graham was inspired to work in women’s health following a couple of formative experiences early in her life. While in her 20s, she worked as a nanny for a midwife who sometimes brought her along on at-home visits, giving her a first-hand look at caring for pregnant women.
“The opportunity to observe a midwife up close and personal really opened my eyes to the community, healing, and wellbeing that midwives participate in,” Graham said. “It really sparked my interest in women’s health and midwifery.”
Later on in life, during the birth of her own daughter, the team of midwives who supported Graham left a lasting impression on her.
“I received such excellent care, and just adored the way midwives helped their patients while making them feel so safe and comfortable,” Graham said. “That sealed the deal.”
Graham initially turned her passion for women’s health into a 16-year career as a birth doula, providing emotional and physical support to pregnant and postpartum women and their families. She also spent time helping mothers and families at community organizations like the United Way and the Arizona Children’s Association.
In 2008, Graham became a board-certified lactation consultant so she could help women breastfeed their babies, which continues to be a major passion and focus of her work at MCHC.
Soon after her daughter graduated from high school and left home, Graham went back to college at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), earning a Master’s of Science in Nursing in 2018 on her way to becoming a certified nurse midwife and a women’s health nurse practitioner. She trained at several hospitals in the Bay Area while completing her residency, then worked at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona before joining MCHC last year.
Graham also received a Master’s in Public Health in Maternal Child Health from the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in 2015. During her studies, she learned about the great health disparities among people of color in the United States, where many marginalized groups do not have access to the care they need and deserve.
“There just aren’t enough providers who resemble the people who need the most help,” Graham said. “As a Black woman, it’s important to me to represent BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, so they see that there’s someone who can support them and care for them. That type of familiarity has been shown to increase positive outcomes.”
Even after moving to Mendocino County, Graham continues to work with BIPOC midwives in San Francisco, mentoring new midwives of color as part of a larger effort to improve health outcomes for marginalized communities.
During her first year at MCHC, Graham formalized Care for Her’s breastfeeding program, giving new moms the opportunity to meet with her or another midwife for a lactation consultation. Graham is also part of the Mendocino County Breastfeeding Coalition, helping Adventist Health Ukiah Valley work on their breastfeeding policy to meet state requirements.
Colleague and fellow CNM Devery Montano said, “Amita is the most experienced breastfeeding lactation consultant in either the clinic or hospital. She’s a great resource for the community and we’re lucky to have her.”
Personally, Graham enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time outside, especially cruising the waters of San Francisco Bay on her 25-foot sailboat. She loves to garden and make teas, ointments, and salves from plants she grows and forages. Graham and her husband have one daughter, who lives in Arizona.
In addition to her two master’s degrees, Graham received a Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health Sciences in 2004 from the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Graham said that helping women through the major milestones of pregnancy and birth is a rewarding feeling that never gets old.
“There are so many things I love about my job, especially sharing the most intimate moments of people’s lives with them,” Graham said. “It’s an honor to be present for people and hold space for them when they’re vulnerable, open, and need it the most.”