Black History Month – Birth Artist Cheyenne Varner

With the theme “African Americans and the Arts”, Black History Month 2024 gives us the opportunity to meet black artists and their art that brings attention to the black maternal health crisis we are currently experiencing .

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Cheyenne Varner is a certified birth and postpartum doula and founder of The Educated Birth, and Everyday Birth Magazine. Since 2016, she has supported and educated families through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences in and beyond her home base of Richmond, VA. She has developed hundreds of industry-changing illustrations and teaching tools for reproductive health professionals that are used today throughout the US and internationally.

She has attended and completed birth and postpartum support trainings with toLabor, Ancient Song Doula Trainings, and Doula Trainings International (DTI), completing her certification

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with DTI. She has also completed additional training in Spinning Babies® and Dysfunctional Labor ManeuversSM. In 2023, her services to parents through The Educated Birth became recognized as an Official Perinatal Safe Spot by Common Sense Childbirth’s National Perinatal Task Force.

Her work has been used and/or featured by organizations including Babylist, Doula Trainings International, Birthing Advocacy Doula Training, The Birth Place Lab, Common Sense Childbirth, Inc, Hypnobabies, and more. Her core mission revolves around transforming the narratives surrounding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum to make them more realistic, individualized, and inclusive. And it is her joy to meet parents

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where they are and provide them with the highest quality and most accessible education to empower them for the best possible experience.

Cheyenne says that her story is that when I became a birth worker in 2016, I *could not find* happy, healthy images of Black pregnant women online to include in my prenatal education. The vast majority of artwork and photography that I could find showed only/overwhelmingly white women. That’s what led me to begin illustrating and designing my own childbirth ed materials — and when I began sharing with other birthworkers online — I realized this wasn’t something I was just having a hard time finding — it was something that really didn’t

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exist and many other people were looking for, too.

The best stories, however, I believe come from the people who’ve engaged with the work that my team and I have created. Here are a few: 

“”As my client’s 5-year-old daughter was leaving their OB visit, she asks me, “How did you know?” I replied, how I knew what? And she points to one of the images of a partner supporting the birthing person and says, “That’s mommy’s color, that’s daddy’s color and that’s the baby.” Representation is so important, thank you for your work!” – Anonymous

“The Educated Birth has my patients so happy!!!!! Every SINGLE PATIENT had

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questions about [our] poster. Pssst, even a few nurses did as well!!!” – Lodz Joseph-Lemon, CNM

“… as a (secretly) pregnant nonbinary person your account gives me so much hope and makes me feel so valid. Everywhere I look… it makes me feel like I instantly don’t belong and am not safe… You are the only account I follow that uses inclusive language and I’m so thankful…” – Anonymous

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“It wasn’t until I saw this that I realized that every single anatomy thing I’ve ever looked at is a white person. This really moved me.” – @alyssa_mayumi

The bottom line message I’d like for people to know is that representation is powerfully and practically significant. The lack of inclusivity and accessibility in childbirth

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ed historically is connected to the poor maternal health outcomes that we see. A renaissance of what childbirth ed looks like, sounds like, and feels like is needed — it is an essential part of an equitable health system.

Learn more about how you can support this work to not only keep going, but keep growing — go to

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