Nurse Midwife Cayo Alba Brings Passion and Experience to the Care for Her Team
Certified Nurse Midwife Cayo Alba grew up in Mendocino County, but spent years away before arriving back home to do what she loves. Working for Mendocino Community Health Clinic’s (MCHC’s) Care for Her program, Alba fits perfectly, both clinically and culturally.
Alba was born in Ukiah and grew up in Fort Bragg before moving to Louisville, Kentucky for her undergraduate studies and New York City to attend NYU for her master’s degree. She then returned to Kentucky for her advanced nursing degree (to become a certified nurse midwife). She worked in Kentucky, New York, and California’s Central Valley, but never felt connected the way she had in Mendocino County.
“I was interested in the National Health Service Corps, and found the Care for Her website through that. When I read MCHC’s mission, the job listing, and the location, I just started crying. I knew it was where I was supposed to be,” she said.
At Care for Her, board-certified OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, women's health nurse practitioners, counselors, nurses, and health educators work together to help women stay healthy through every age and phase of life.
The first time Alba applied to MCHC, they told her she didn’t have enough experience, so Alba worked at a clinic where she served as midwife at approximately 120 births in one year. She continued to work hard, gaining valuable experience so she’d be ready for the next Care for Her opening. Happily for her, when Care for Her posted a CNM position most recently, Alba was ready.
Alba helps women accept and even embrace their bodies and their circumstances, whatever they are in their lives. She speaks English and Spanish, and can therefore communicate well with nearly all of the women in the Ukiah Valley. If a woman is pregnant, Alba lets the patient know that her body is perfectly designed to have a baby. If a woman struggles with addiction or depression, Alba supports her and provides guidance so the patient can make healthier choices. Alba validates each patient’s experience, removing other people’s definition of “normal” and replacing it with whatever is true for the patient.
“I trust my patients to make decisions that are right for them. It’s my job to provide information and support them, not to judge,” she said. She explains that many women are not encouraged to pay attention to their intuition, but Alba believes intuition is a powerful force. “Trust what you know. Just because you haven’t done it, doesn’t mean you don’t know how,” she said.
When it comes to pregnancy, Alba believes society often places unrealistic expectations on new mothers and mothers-to-be.
“If a pregnancy isn’t planned, it can be a shock. I like to give my patients space to express their emotions. When you go from maiden to mother, it’s normal to grieve the loss of your youth. Some dreams get left behind, while others get created. It’s okay to grieve and be excited at the same time,” she explained.
When a new baby is born, Alba says, it’s not all birds singing and constant happiness. “There’s a hormonal shift post partum. Women can have times where they feel isolated, ambivalent, or exhausted. That’s okay.”
As a mother and a midwife, Alba says, she loves her work. “I love women. We are fantastic, amazing creatures. To my patients, I promise to be present; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
When she is not caring for women, Alba spends time with her husband, their six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. “I also love, love, love to belly dance. It is the one thing that is truly mine and rejuvenates me so that I can be more present with mamas and my family,” she said.
Mendocino Community Health Clinic (MCHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides access to excellent health care for the most vulnerable people in local communities. MCHC’s three sites include Hillside Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits, and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport.