Often the only man in the room, a Colorado nursing-midwifery student pushes back against stereotypes

According to American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), of the more than 13,000 AMCB-certified nurse-midwives in the United States, 85% are white and only 39 (0.3%) are male.

Alvarez hopes to change that. He said that as the population of pregnant women diversifies, so do those who provide their health care.

Alvarez pictured with other nurses.

“I have had and seen [pregnant] patients who did not identify as female. They are not binary or identify as male,” Alvarez added, saying nurse-midwives are part of the community, not strangers telling patients what to do. “Nurse midwives do more than just see you when you visit. They know you outside the hospital and at home. They are worried about your health and do you have child care? Do you have access to healthy food and transportation? It is knowing more than what you are at that moment.

History is one of the main reasons why Alvarez chose this profession.

“In the pre-war South, many enslaved women were the primary guardians of women in their communities. They were the ones who delivered the babies, even those of their slavers. But then the white doctor comes in and says, “That black woman has no education, she’s dirty, and you shouldn’t be treated by her.” OBGYN [obstetrician gynecologists] have been giving birth for 100-200 years; midwives have been doing it for millennia,” he explained.

[Related: Colorado is losing another birth center as midwifery struggles to stay profitable despite rising popularity]

Alvarez also pointed out that he sees fathers becoming more involved in caring for their newborns after seeing him help their partners.

“They’re like, ‘Wait, is this guy supporting my wife? Let me go and let me do something, or maybe I can change my baby’s diaper too!'” Alvarez said. don’t feel the need to be on the other side of the curtain while their wife is in labor.”

Alvarez told Rocky Mountain PBS that sometimes his patients are so thrilled to have someone who looks or talks like them.

“I’ve had patients who were so excited because, ‘Oh my god, my nurse is black! Is that unbelievable? Or when I speak Spanish to my Spanish-speaking patients, they just say, ‘Thank God.’

Statistics of the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention show that black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Alvarez ultimately hopes to change that and take care of people, which is core to his motivations.

“Ultimately, I came into this profession knowing that I wanted to help women and help my sisters of color,” he said. “I want to do good and do good for people.”

Dana Knowles is a media reporter at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].

Dora W. Clawson