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The Des Moines BirthPlace records

Identifier: IWA0195

Scope and Contents

The Des Moines BirthPlace records date from 1980 to 1993 and measure 2.75 linear feet. The records are arranged in six series: Administrative files, Legal documents, Financial records, National birth centers, Photographs, and Patient evaluations.   The Administrative files series (1982-1992) includes organizational materials; Financial records comprises budgets and fundraising information; National Birth Centers contains information about centers throughout the country and national birth center organizations. Photographs of the babies born at the center from August 1984 to April 1990 are included in two albums.   The Patient evaluation series includes questionnaire responses from persons using the BirthPlace facility.   Researchers wishing to view the Patient Evaluation forms in box 7 must first sign the "Conditions Of Access To The Patient Evaluation Records" form. Please ask a staff member for the form.


  • 1980-1993


Conditions Governing Access

The records are open for research. Researchers wishing to view the Patient Evaluation forms in box 7 must first sign the "Conditions Of Access To The Patient Evaluation Records" form. [Staff: kept in donor file.]

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

Biographical / Historical

The Des Moines BirthPlace, an out-of-hospital birth center specializing in nurse-midwifery services, was established by Womancare, Inc., in 1984 and became Iowa's first licensed birth center. During the eight years of its existence, 274 babies were born at the center. The center offered routine gynecological exams, pregnancy counseling, prenatal care, childbirth classes, labor and delivery facilities and postpartum care. It provided a place where women could give birth in a homelike setting. A certified nurse midwife (CNM) and a registered nurse attended each birth with a physician providing twenty-four-hour medical backup should a complication arise. Concern for safety at a facility outside a hospital tempered the medical community's support of BirthPlace. The center closed in 1992 when its backup physician no longer had sufficient time to provide his service. When the Des Moines BirthPlace opened in 1984 it became part of a nationwide network of birth centers. In 1975 the Maternity Center Association (MCA) had opened the first childbearing center in the nation in New York City. By 1979 the need for a communication network to provide information about establishing and operating birth centers became apparent. Two years later, in May 1981, the John A. Hartford Foundation awarded a grant to MCA to develop a cooperative network, the Cooperative Birth Center Network (CBCN), "to assist and support the development and accessibility of safe, cost-efficient birth alternatives, with particular attention to the out-of-hospital birth center." The second phase in developing a national support system for freestanding birth centers was inaugurated in May 1983 with the establishment of the National Association of Childbearing Centers (NACC). Like its predecessors, NACC is devoted to providing guidelines, standards, licensure, reimbursement, public information and direct assistance to operating centers. The group also collects data, disseminates information, provides consultations and offers workshops.


2.75 linear feet


The first licensed birth center in Iowa, specializing in nurse-midwifery.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 276) were donated by Dana Ericson in 1995 and succeeding years.

Other Descriptive Information


Natalie S. Brody, 1996 and succeeding years.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)