A midwife’s labor of love

Ruth Lubic is a woman on a mission. At an age when most people would have already retired, she embarked on a new project – starting a midwife-operated birthing center in one of the poorest areas of Washington D.C. The infant mortality rate in D.C. is almost double the national average, yet after 800 babies in 8 years the center has “never lost a child in childbirth, and has cut the rate of premature births – the biggest risk factor for infant mortality – in half.”

Ruth Lubic and DC Birth Center babiesAt age 81 Ruth Lubic continues her labor of love. She believes that low-income women can really benefit from the care and prenatal education that midwives provide. The key to DC Birth Center‘s results of beating the odds she believes are, “Time [spent with the women], respect and treating people with dignity.” She thinks the national infant mortality rate is disgraceful, but believes midwives can help solve it and says that her results at the birthing center in poverty-stricken D.C. are proof that her ideas could work anywhere.

Rixa Freeze at The Truth Face of Birth wrote about Lubic in her post “Time, respect and dignity,” where Mother2Midwife commented, “This is what I’ve been trying to tell my girlfriends for years! Shouldn’t this tell us that even those of us who aren’t ‘low-income’ would have better outcomes with more face time with our care providers, and more education about pregnancy and birth?”

Over at Our Bodies, Ourselves Blog, Rachel wrote about Lubic’s CBS video interview (which you can watch here) and also shares this video interview where Lubic discusses her work with the center and talks with one of her clients about her prenatal experience at the center. There’s also a very informative article about Lubic in the Washington Post from last year.

Stacy at How Sweet It Is is thrilled to see a midwife “get some awesome media attention” and thanks CBS for a great story.

Back in August, Nikki at Kirsch Family Adventures who is expecting her first baby in January 2009, wrote about her decision to use a midwife and not an OB and shares some information about the Midwives Model of Care, the types of midwives in the U.S. and tries to clear up some misconceptions regarding midwives vs. OBs.

Over at Mama Speaks, Stephanie of Adventures in Babywearing (who, after three hospital births, gave birth to her fourth child at home with a midwife) recently posted a brief review of the book Pushed by Jennifer Block and believes it is a book that should be read by pretty much everyone because you can never be too informed about modern day maternity care. “Some things you won’t want to believe, but it is full of fact and truth. It’s just a very difficult pill to swallow. But Mamas, if you want what is best for you and your baby before and after birth, this is medicine you must open up and take.”

There is still a lot that needs to be done in the United States to improve the quality of prenatal care women and babies receive which is why I think it’s such an easy choice for Ruth Lubic to continue her work at the birthing center and congressional briefings. When it was suggested that at age 81 she could be retired, Lubic replied, “I’m not tired the first time! Much less retired.” If only we all had her dedication and passion. She truly is an inspiration.

* Photo credit: Washington Post

Cross-posted on BlogHer

0 thoughts on “A midwife’s labor of love”

  1. Amazing story. I’d never heard of her and I *live* in DC. I can tell you that the birthing options for women in DC have been dwindling over the years – first Columbia Hospital for Women closed, then a couple midwife practices at hospitals (insurance costs) and finally a freestanding Maternity Center in Bethesda (close in suburb). So it’s heartening to hear of Lubic’s work.

  2. I agree with Stacy…it’s about time that a midwife get some positive media action!!! I could most likely write a book with just all my personal reasons I chose a midwife…and encourage everyone else to do so. Another book I happened to come across in the library is “Born in the USA” it’s written by a doctor and he exposes truly how disgusting the OB’s and their practice are in the US! If you have time…it would be an interesting read.

  3. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we switched to a homebirth midwife in the middle of my pregnancy… it saddens me that technically my midwife wasn’t “legal” considering she taught me more in just the last two months than i’d ever learned even tho I’d had 3 pregnancies before!

    Honestly my hubby and I feel that having our homebirth was one of the best decisions and experiences we’ve ever made.


  4. what a great post! i will definitely check out more of the story through the link.

    a midwife delivered our first baby last fall, and we wouldn’t trade her for any doctor!

  5. How wonderful! I love to hear stories about women like this.

    On a side note…I read Pushed, and I found it to be a fascinating read. I think many women would benefit from reading it.

  6. I’ve been lurking your blog for some time and have to say I’m THRILLED that more women will be able to receive care from a midwife and birthing center. I was fortunate enough to have my son in a midwife-run bc last summer, and I can’t rave enough about the experience! Great, informative post!!!

  7. What an inspriring woman! I had my son at a birth center, and I love my midwife there :)..she is a pioneer here in N. California. When my son was born almost 7 years ago, we were still “strange”. Thankfully, BC’s are becoming more mainstream….lucky mamas :).

  8. Midwives don’t usually lose babies in childbirth because THEY DON’T ACCEPT HIGH RISK PREGNANCYS! NOT because they are more qualified than doctors. What a horrible misconception.

  9. Anonymous, almost every single woman I know had a completely textbook,uneventful pregnancy, yet almost all of them ended up with an “emergency” C-section once they got to the hospital. The truth is, women and babies are having horrible outcomes in the hospital because of medical responses based on fear of litigation, not good science.

    Anywho, thank you Amy for bringing this woman’s work to my attention. I was recently reading that when it comes to infant mortality in America, in some cities, black babies would have a better outcome if they were born in so-called third world countries. So yes, if you’re black and poor and live in Milwaukee, you may as well be giving birth in Sri Lanka. I’m glad that someone is working to make these odds better.

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