AURORA, Colo. — University of Colorado student Eric Alvarez developed an interest in maternal health when he was a nursing student. Eventually, he became a labor and delivery nurse, but he wanted to be more involved in the entire process.
An instructor suggested becoming a midwife.
“Midwife means 'with woman,'” Alvarez noted, clearing up any confusion about the terminology.
But most people do think of midwives as women. There are only around 100 male midwives working in the United States.
Soon there will be one more — Alvarez is the only male student in the nurse midwife program at the University of Colorado College of Nursing on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Alvarez was inspired, in part, by his own mother, who raised him and his brothers as a single mom. He is passionate about equity in healthcare and advocacy for women.
“Women of color really have been mistreated in health care. Women in general have been mistreated in health care. And I wanted to be part of that positive change,” Alvarez said.
CU’s Director of Midwifery Services at the College of Nursing Jessica Anderson is one of Alvarez’s instructors.
“It’s so important to have people with different experiences and different backgrounds because they bring so much to the program and even just to the discussions that we’re having in class,” Anderson said.
Anderson said she hopes bringing more diverse students into the program will help address maternal health disparities, and give more women access to midwife services. Alvarez said he is looking forward to helping his patients feel comfortable and safe during one of the biggest moments in their lives.
“Just to be able to give you, your baby — when you’ve been waiting for so long and to say, 'Congratulations, you did it,' it’s something most people don’t get to experience,” he said.