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Margaret Elizabeth Craig
School of Nursing

Margaret Elizabeth Craig, B.S.N., M.S.N., M.D., Assistant Professor of Nursing and Clinical Director, Obstetric Nursing

B.S.N., University of Michigan School of Nursing, 1968; M.S.N. (Maternal – Newborn Health Nursing), Yale University, 1970; Certified Nurse-Midwife, 1970; M.D., University of Michigan Medical School, 1977.

Nurse-Midwife, Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, 1970-1972; Assistant Professor of Nursing, University of Michigan School of Nursing, and Clinical Director, Obstetric Nursing, University of Michigan Hospital, 1972-1973.

Margaret Craig, as the first modern nurse-midwife at University of Michigan, was a novelty to the people of the State of Michigan as well as the hospital staff. The Hospital Star, an internal publication, explained Craig’s innovative role as well as some background and context in a story called, “New Nurse-Midwifery Service Introduced at Women’s Hospital.” In January 1973 local newspapers carried stories such as: “U-M’s First Modern Nurse Midwife Soon To Be Delivering Babies”; “Nurse-Midwife Awaiting State Approval at U-M”; “U-M Midwife Awaits Approval”; “U-M Seeks Midwife OK”. Initially the State of Michigan did not allow Craig to conduct a delivery, though she had delivered about 260 babies in New York City and had been a certified nurse-midwife since 1970.

Midwives successfully practiced in other states, but Michigan law was biased toward physicians when it came to managing childbirth. The new nurse-midwife at University of Michigan was role-restricted because of a 1925 Michigan law that discouraged the use of midwives, who were generally lacking in knowledge and training in the early 1900s. Indeed, infant and maternal mortality decreased when women began to prefer to have their babies delivered by obstetricians in hospitals.

In the 1960s and 1970s, however, there was a shortage of obstetricians. That shortage was a major factor in the drive to develop satisfactory training programs for nurse-midwives, according to Dr. J. Robert Willson, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at University of Michigan. He is quoted in the Hospital Star as saying, “There is little hope of solving the problem by graduating more physicians.” Dr. Willson was president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1970 when it issued a joint statement with American College of Nurse-Midwives, a standard-setting organization, recognizing the competency of members of the latter organization to manage the full range of services provided to maternity patients.

Nurse-midwives function as part of larger team that includes physicians and specific protocols define their responsibilities. Attempts were underway in 1973 to make the institutional setting more inviting to those who were considering home delivery. As quoted in the Hospital Star, Craig said, nurse-midwifery “is a hospital service. We are interested in making the hospital more like home for our patients; we don’t believe that their health would be well served presently by delivery at home. Readily available emergency facilities are absolutely necessary.”

In January 1973 Craig’s clinical practice primarily involved prenatal care of adolescent mothers-to-be. She explained, “Teenaged mothers are particularly in need of sensitive, individual care. They are often deprived of the support offered by the child’s father. Their own parents may withhold affection precisely when it is most crucial.” A nurse midwife has more time to spend with patients and may fulfill a special role, she said. The nurse-midwife is aware of the problems of pregnant women and is “able to provide the sort of long-term support, from early pregnancy to delivery room, which a busy obstetrician can’t.”

Subsequently, Craig entered University of Michigan Medical School, graduating in 1977. She practices obstetrics and gynecology in Walnut Grove, California.