Ruth Watson Lubic (born 1927) is a nurse midwife and a MacArthur Fellowship recipient who has championed personalized care during labor and childbirth for all women, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods. She co-founded the National Association of Childbearing Centers in 1983 and has helped establish more than 200 free-standing birth centers.
Lubic, the daughter of a pharmacist, received a nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She married attorney Bill Lubic in 1953, and the couple moved to New York. Lubic worked as a hospital nurse caring for cancer patients. After four years of trying to have a baby, Lubic gave birth to her only child, Douglas, in 1959. She has often said that it was the most important event of her life. Lubic had a labor experience that was very unusual in that era. Her obstetrician, Edward Cullee Mann, allowed her husband to be in the delivery room. For an hour after the birth, the baby was kept with the couple – rather than being whisked away by a nurse – and the parents were allowed to bond with their newborn. Later, Lubic told her doctor that she was considering switching to pediatric nursing. He suggested that she become a midwife.
She received her certificate in midwifery in 1962 from the country's first midwifery school. The program was run by the Maternity Center Association in New York. Lubic spearheaded the development of the Childbearing Center (known as the CbC), an out-of-hospital birth center which was located at 48 E. 92nd St., Manhattan, in the townhouse owned by the Maternity Center Association. The CbC opened in 1975. She founded the Morris Heights Childbearing Center in 1988.
The MacArthur Foundation awarded fellowship to Lubic in 1993 and gave her $375,000 over five years to do whatever she wanted. She used the money to found the DC Developing Families Center in 2000, in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Washington, a city known for its high infant mortality rate. The center includes a health and birth center staffed with midwives and nurse practitioners. Lubic says that the center’s philosophy of “high-touch, low-tech” has resulted in a lower rate of Cesarean sections and premature births than the city as a whole. In March 2000, she founded the District of Columbia Birth Center that provides prenatal care and birthing services to low-income women. In 2007, she appeared before a briefing on infant mortality, led by Congressman Steve Cohen. She is on an Infant Mortality Commission.
- 1993 MacArthur Fellows Program
- 2010 Foremother Award for Lifetime Achievements from the National Research Center for Women & Families
- "Center Survives Close Financial Call; Insurance Spike Nearly Closes Doors", The Washington Post, Susan Levine, Feb 3, 2005
- "Midwife Seeks to Reduce Infant Mortality With Unique 'One Stop Shop'", Voice of America, 25 February 2003
- "A Labor Without End", The Washington Post, Phuong Ly, May 27, 2007
- Founding Mother's Archives
- Ruth Lubic archive, Disruptive Women in Health Care
- "Go to Ruth's House": the social activism of Ruth Lubic and the family health and birth center., Nurs Hist Rev., Fairman J. 2010;18:118-29.