Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Need info on David & Lee Stewart

You know--the NAPSAC people (National Association of Parents and Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth), author of Five Standards for Safe Childbearing...

Here's what I need: I remember hearing that David & Lee Stewart had home births for their children and that some/all (not sure on this part) were unassisted due to a lack of midwives? Now, I have this really annoying problem of remembering arcane details, but not where I found them. I am trying to document if this actually happened. So far I've had no luck finding out whether or not they did have unassisted home births. I'm revising a chapter for my dissertation and discussing one of the strains of unassisted birth--home birth advocates who wanted to have a midwife but, when none were available, chose to do it alone rather than birth in a hospital. This was the case with Marion Sousa, author of Childbirth at Home. Also with Peggy O'Mara (editor of Mothering). Here's an excerpt from Pushed:
Unassisted birth isn’t new. In the 1960s and 1970s it was often the only alternative to a hospital birth—a strapped down, separated from husband, guaranteed episiotomy birth—and the women who did it also gave birth to organized midwifery. “That’s what we were doing in the 1970s before there were any midwives,” says Peggy O’Mara, editor of Mothering. “It was part of the whole back-to-land movement and commune movement.” It was also a natural extension of the early feminist, grab-a-speculum-and-mirror-and-reclaim-your-body ethos, she said. “And I consider it a really legitimate response to certain environments. Where I lived in southern New Mexico, for instance, the choices were so poor that we just wanted to figure it out ourselves.”...For O’Mara, unassisted birth was the best women could do under the circumstances.
If you think about it, Ina May Gaskin et al started out this way too: they wanted to birth on their own terms, so they just started having babies themselves and learned as they went along.

So...if you have any leads, please pass them my way.


  1. Sorry can't help you with the fact checking, but I wanna say that I totally credit the hippies for reviving/reinventing home midwifery -- at least for the white folks up north. Back then there were the southern grand midwives also... It's awful isn't it, that the only thing that keeps direct entry midwifery hanging by a thread is race and economics: the persecution is less fierce because racism doesn't play into it; and the mothers who can afford (but juuust barely) to pay out of pocket are mostly white. Like Kneelingwoman pointed out, midwives so rarely make a living that the single midwife raising children of her own is extremely rare. (My midwife here is one, but she works in another profession as well)

  2. Hi Rixa. In answer to your question about my birth story with Sarah, it's on my blog here:

  3. Well, that didn't seem to work very well. It's on my blog under the month of December. It's called "How I got here"

  4. I remember Marilyn Moran telling me that the Stewarts had unassisted births, but didn't seem to recommend it to others. Perhaps Jody McLaughlin would know. I'll look through the letters I saved from Marilyn and see if I can find anything.

  5. I know for a fact that David and Lee Stewart had unassisted childbirth. In fact I have a video showing the UC of their 4th or 5th child. The title of the video is Children at Birth and it is produced by the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth (The Bradley® Method).

  6. juliebw4--thanks for the info; it's exactly the kind of documentation I was hoping for. Was there any commentary about the birth and the fact that there was no midwife? Do you know what year the birth occurred?

  7. Is this the video?

    Children at Birth by Jay Hathaway - The joy of birth is shown in four natural, unmedicated births at home, in a birth center and at the hospital. Children are present at all the births. ($39.95)

    If so, could you give me info on what year and by what company it was produced? I've been googling it but haven't come up with a citation.

  8. I recently purchased a new book by David Stewart. I know it is the same one, because in it he mentions his childbirth books.

    David Stewart has recently written a book on Essential Oils:
    From the book it seems their web site is
    CARE International, RR 4 Box 646, Marble Hill, MO 63764
    or email

  9. Thanks Chris. I came across the CARE site yesterday and sent them an email seeing if he would get in touch with me.

  10. If you don't hear back from the Stewarts via email in time for your project, please feel free to email me at better_birth{at}yahoo{dot}com. I would be happy to put you in touch or give you their personal phone numbers.
    They did indeed have at least one (I think maybe all) unassisted birth, as they weren't able to find a midwife. Dr. Stewart spoke passionately at our Missouri rally last summer, telling about he and his wife's struggles to figure out what to do, other than going to the hospital to give birth.

  11. I know David and Lee Stewart - Talk to them occasionally and saw them in Missouri 2y ago, for Essential oil seminar. They did have unassisted births. Have their contact info - if you need it.
    You need to incorporate essential oils in your work/births. They are very effective.
    I was the midwife that you talked to about hemorrhage and herbs yesterday, at the Trust Birth conference.

    Blessings, carol

  12. Thanks for the info Carol. Could you send me their contact info to the email address listed on this blog (underneath the photo on the right column)?

  13. It looks like you got plenty of leads already, but I happened to be re-reading the book Mind Over Labor today by Carl Jones and he mentions the Stewarts and UC in it and it triggered a memory that I'd read this post of yours before. So, anyway, the book says..."David and Lee Stewart could not find a physician or midwife to attend any of their five home births (which took place between 1962 and 1976). Accordingly, their five healthy children were all born at unattended births."


  14. Molly--that's exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!

  15. Have you seen the dvd floating out there- Unassisted With Love (i think), a video of a couple's unassisted home birth of twins. See if you can find it. It is amazing, informational, and inspirational...


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