© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Licensing Iowa midwives would help the state's disappearing birth centers and OB/GYNs

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

In Iowa, the rate of maternal death is rising. At the same time, the number of birth centers and OB/GYNs is falling. Some advocates argue midwives could be part of the state's solution.

For more than two decades, a handful of lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation that would create a licensure process for Iowa's midwives, people trained to assist in birthing a child. But a bill has never reached the floor of either legislative chamber until now.

Last week, the Iowa House passed a bill that would regulate the practice, giving midwives access to medication for conditions like hemorrhage and access to Medicaid to cover costs associated with midwifery. On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with two legislative leaders from opposite sides of the aisle who've been working to pass this bill since the beginning. We also hear from a midwife and doula working to get the bill approved. And Ida Darragh, the executive director of the North American Registry of Midwives, stops by to explain how this push to professionalize the field has looked elsewhere.


  • Natalie Krebs, IPR’s health reporter
  • Ida Darragh, executive director of North American Registry of Midwives
  • Bethany Gates, midwife based out of Vinton, Iowa
  • State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, Iowa Republican representing Cedar County and northeastern Johnson County
  • State Rep. Mary Mascher, Iowa Democrat representing part of Iowa City
  • Megan Day Suhr, doula based out of Knoxville, Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa