Maternal Health


Maternal Health in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health and the Bureau of Family Health have been charged with supporting the state’s maternal health efforts for over eighty years. Iowa’s Maternal Health Programs work to ensure optimal health for pregnant, birthing, and postpartum individuals, ensure more babies can celebrate their first birthday (prevent infant mortality), and improve birth outcomes. For more information on maternal health in Iowa, check out the following pages (coming soon):

  • Pregnancy Resources - information, links, and resources for individuals looking for information on becoming pregnant, staying healthy during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum resources
  • Maternal Health Programs - this page provides an overview of maternal health programs at IDPH
  • Maternal Health Data and Reports - links to all maternal health-related data and reports

2021 Maternal Health Strategic Plan

The 2021 Maternal Health Strategic Plan identifies strategic priorities to lead the state’s maternal health efforts. Developed through engagement with community, clinical, and provider perspectives, and in alignment with national public health goals, these strategic priorities will guide IDPH efforts.  Click the link below to view the Strategic Plan and Appendices. 

2021 Maternal Health Strategic Plan

Title V Maternal Health Program

Iowa’s Maternal Health Programs work to make sure more babies can celebrate their first birthday (prevent infant mortality) and improve birth outcomes. This is done through family centered, community based services.  IDPH Title V maternal health clinics provide preventive health services to Medicaid eligible and other low income women. Iowa supports 24 maternal health clinics that are monitored by the Bureau of Family Health (BFH) staff.

All of Iowa’s 99 counties have access to publicly funded maternal health services. Medical services provided by maternal health centers follow the standards of the American College of OB/GYN for ambulatory obstetric care. The BFH maintains a Title V funded contract with the University of Iowa, College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for consultation.

Clinics offer the following services to Iowa residents:

Ensure early and adequate prenatal care

  • Assess health insurance needs and assist with Medicaid presumptive eligibility
  • Provide care coordination to link pregnant women to a medical home, follow up on appointments and send appointment reminders.
  • Transportation assistance
  • Education on the importance of prenatal care
  • Promote flu vaccines and Tdap vaccines and COVID 19 vaccines.

Early identification of risk factors or symptoms that need referral to health care providers.

  • Health screening for depression, tobacco/substance abuse
  • Breastfeeding education and support
  • Signs of preterm labor
  • Teach women to "Count the Kicks" Monitor your baby's movement  Count the Kicks website
  • Signs of high blood pressure and preeclampsia
  • Social assessment and guidance provided by social worker or RN
  • Oral health screening by and RN or RDH with assistance finding a Dentist
  • Postpartum assessment by and RN of Mom and baby done in the home, or clinic.

Promote healthy lifestyle choices

  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco substance abuse
  • Choosing healthy foods and staying active during pregnancy
  • Reducing stress
  • Seat belt use
  • Shaken baby syndrome prevention
  • Safe sleep environment for their infant
  • Wait for labor avoid and elective delivery prior to 39 weeks
  • Enroll in Text4baby and Count the Kicks.
  • Promote healthy birth spacing and reduce unintended pregnancies

Integrate domestic and sexual violence and coercion prevention into services provided

Listening Visits

Among women of reproductive age, approximately 1 out of 10 women suffer from depression within the past year. Screening has improved identification of women with depression; however fewer than half of depressed women receive any treatment. Numerous barriers such as fear, stigma, lack of understanding of the significance of depression, lack of providers, language barriers, financial barriers or logistical barriers prevent women with depressive symptoms from obtaining treatment. Postpartum depression causes unnecessary suffering for the mother, and unfortunately can also have negative effects on the infant.  Early identification, prevention and treatment can alleviate suffering for a new mother and decrease the potentially harmful impact on her infant.

In an Iowa-based randomized controlled trial, researchers at the University of Iowa illustrated the effectiveness of Listening Visits when delivered by U.S. home visitors.  Listening Visits were associated with a statistically and clinically significant reduction in depression, improvement in life satisfaction, and were acceptable to the postpartum women. Based on the evidence the Iowa Department of Public Health implemented Listening Visits in Iowa’s Title V Maternal Health Program in 2014.

This innovative approach has the potential to fill the gap in mental health treatment services for low income women who are at high risk for depression. It is a maternal depression intervention that can be provided by public health nurses, case managers or social workers with little or no prior counseling experience, increasing access to care.  Listening Visits are especially critical in rural Iowa where there is limited access to Mental Health professionals.

To request Listening Visit brochures, call the Healthy Families Line.

Iowa's Maternal Health Innovation Grant

Iowa was awarded $10,361,110 over five years from the Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA)  to execute innovative strategies to address maternal health.  IDPH has partnered with the University of Iowa to implement the following strategies:

  • Develop an Iowa Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (IMQCC).  The IMQCC will bring together experts and stakeholders in maternal health across the state to implement policies and protocols to ensure high quality maternal health care.  As part of the work of the IMQCC, the state of Iowa will submit an application to join the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM).  AIM is a national alliance to ensure safe maternal care and to reduce mortality and morbidity through implementation of evidence-based patient safety bundles.  More information can be found at https://safehealthcareforeverywoman.org
  • Improve state-level maternal health data and surveillance.  IDPH/University of Iowa will identify strategies to collect state-level maternal health data, and will work to improve data collection for severe maternal morbidity and mortality data by validating existing data sources and improving data collection processes.  
  • Implement initiatives to address workforce shortages for obstetrical care, including adding a rural track OB fellowship, a family medicine OB track, and assessing the capacity and need for a Certified Nurse Midwife program in Iowa.
  • Expand existing telemedicine initiatives to increase access to Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists and mental health professionals.
  • Address health disparities in maternal health outcomes and access to care.

Access to Obstetrical Care in Iowa: A Report to the 2021 Iowa State Legislature

The Iowa Department of Public Health, Division of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease Prevention, Bureau of Family Health, respectfully submits this annual report in response to a 1997 mandate that amended Iowa Code 135.11, Section 16 (2015 Iowa Code).  The data summarized in this report provides an overview of the obstetrical workforce and maternity unit closures in Iowa for calendar years 2015 through 2019.  

Statewide OB Summit

A Statewide OB Summit was held on September 17, 2019 at Des Moines University.  The summit provided an opportunity for stakeholders to come together to share areas of opportunity to improve systems of maternal healthcare in Iowa.  Participants discussed the top health challanges for Iowa women including the health of women before pregnancy and in the weeks and months following birth, new challenges in labor and delivery care, and challenges with systems of maternal healthcare such as OB workforce and OB unit closures.  IDPH is in the process of developing a statewide report as a result of the summit and will post here once that is complete.  

Summit Resources and Presentations

OB Summit Report

Welcome from Governor Kim Reynolds: view the welcome video provided by Governor Kim Reynolds for the summit! 

Health Challenges-Preconception and Post Delivery Care: Dr. Stephen Pedron UnityPoint Clinic, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Cedar Rapids, IA

Health Challenges- During Pregnancy, and Labor and Delivery: Stephen Hunter, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics 

Obstetrical Workforce and Health System Challenges for Iowa: Marygrace Elson, MD, MME, Obstetrician Gynecologist, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; President, Iowa Medical Society

Workforce and Health System Challenges a Rural Perspective:

Jim Atty, FACHE, MBA, MHA, Chief Executive Officer, Waverly Health Center, Waverly, Iowa

Douglas Morse, MBA, MHA, Chief Executive Officer, Hansen Family Hospital, Iowa Falls, Iowa

Dr. Wells, Family Practice Physician and Jill Henkle OB manager at Wayne County Hospital an affiliate of MercyOne, Corydon, Iowa

Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Other Links of Interest:

Administrative Manual for Community Based Programs

This manual has been developed as a guide and reference for implementation of the Maternal and Child and Adolescent Health services contract with the Iowa Department of Public Health. However, the manual may be helpful to others interested in systems development or other maternal and child and adolescent health activities.

Click here to view the manual (5th Edition) PDF

For more information:

Stephanie Trusty
Lucas State Office Bldg.
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075
Voice: (515) 418-7604
Fax: (515) 242-6013

You may "Contact Us" to submit questions online.

Healthy Families Line - 1-800-369-2229 (provides information on maternal, child and family planning services)