Peggy Stover. (U-I photo)

A University of Iowa survey about nurse midwifes finds Iowans understand they deliver babies, but don’t know much else about them.

Professor Peggy Stover, director of the U-I’s Undergraduate Marketing Institute, says she was shocked at how little people knew about the midwife profession. “In addition to birth care, prenatal care and post delivery care,” Stover says, “midwives also offer women’s wellness checkups, birth control, menopausal care.”

The U-I’s Carver College of Medicine is planning to open the state’s first nurse midwife education program this fall to help fill gaps in rural areas. Stover predicts it will be an important addition for the state’s health care offerings.  “I think the program is going to go very well, especially given the fact that in a lot of rural areas, there is definitely a need for women wellness providers,” Stover says. “Our goal is to help attract and retain students into the program, in addition to making people aware of all the services a midwife provides.”

While “wife” is in the name, being a midwife is not exclusively a job for women, but it’s a matter of perception.
“In other countries, a male midwife, it doesn’t even blink an eye, but here in the United States, it’s still associated as being and attracting women,” Stover says. “So there’s going to be that learning curve to recruit men into this field, just like the nursing industry went through many, many years ago.”

The survey found a majority of respondents didn’t realize most insurance companies cover the services of a midwife, and that nurse midwifes can deliver babies in a hospital in the event of an emergency.