Seeking a Better Birthing Experience for Mothers

A portrait of Cat Dymond
Cat Dymond

Why Cat Dymond 20N 21N, a mother of two and visionary midwife, upended her life to study nursing at Emory.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black and Indigenous women are three times more likely to die from preventable complications during childbirth than white women. For Cat Dymond, this just won’t do, which is why in 2016 they cashed out their 401(k) and moved from Boston to Atlanta to earn a bachelor’s degree from Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

Dymond, who has two adult children, has been a doula for twenty-seven years, providing their services free of charge. They earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a concentration in maternal-child health from Harvard University. They see nursing as an extension of their earlier work with people experiencing homelessness as well as women who survived domestic violence. While working at a women’s health center in Houston, they had an encounter that changed their life.  

“One night a woman showed up after having experienced an assault,” Dymond says. “Even though we were not an emergency room, the sexual assault nurse examiner, who was also a midwife, was so warm, tender, and respectful. I thought that’s what I want to do. It’s not just about catching babies; it’s about providing health care in the midwifery model of care with a consciousness of trauma and culture.” 

Since enrolling at Emory, Dymond has become entrenched in the community. They are a Woodruff fellow and serve on the Dean’s Executive Student Council, also interning at Grady Hospital in the emergent dialysis unit, which serves people who are dying due to lack of access to dialysis care. They also earned the Emory Alumni Association Leadership Scholarship, as well as a scholarship from the nonprofit Midwives for Black Lives. At the 2020 nursing commencement, Dymond received the Excellence in Social Responsibility Award.

Now, they recently finished their master’s degree in nurse-midwifery. Whatever the future brings, Dymond hopes to deliver maternal health care to people through a mobile midwifery service. They recently won a microgrant from the Hatchery, Emory’s student start-up incubator, to begin delivering care.  

“Beyond the bedside, nursing education is visionary,” Dymond says. “Here I am a middle-aged woman, and I upended my life, and it was worth it. I’m so proud to be a nurse, and I’m looking forward to what I do with it.”