Today we welcome Dr Stu on the podcast to discuss homebirth after c-section, HBAC, freebirth, natural birth and all things birth!

Dr. Stu’s Mission and Introduction

Ashley: Thank you for joining us.

Dr. Stu: Thanks for having me. It’s always fun to speak to an audience I don’t normally get to speak to. Certainly, in Australia, that’s probably true.

We do have a following of our podcast there, and our message is my mission in life: to get the word out about birth choices, how natural birth can be and should be, and where we’ve gone wrong.


You can listen to this episode using the player below, or using your favourite platform to subscribe and listen there.

The Medical Model and Its Flaws

LYou know, if people have been following medicine for the last 100 years and their eyes have been opened in the last couple of years because of certain events that occurred worldwide, they should understand that this sort of malfeasance and misguided medical interventions have not benefited us as much as they’ve given us detriment.

In medicine, we’re supposed to first do no harm, then do good stuff, and ensure that interventions in nature’s design are proven safe and effective before being instituted.

We have an obligation as practitioners and citizens using healthcare to make sure that the things being done to us are legitimate and not blindly trust the institutions anymore because they have shown us that they are not to be trusted.


Questioning Medical Practices

Someone can make a mistake once, and they can make amends, and you can trust them again. But if they continually make mistakes or purposeful errors or misdirection, they should no longer be trusted.

So, why are we continuing to do these things, knowing all the things that have happened and where the medical model has led us? How come physicians and many women in our profession still follow the leader blindly? I’m glad to talk to your audience and am open to taking any questions you may have for me. I’ve had a long journey. Go ahead, you’re going to ask me a question, so you ask.

Ashley: Yes, well, I mean, you asked the question.

What is the actual answer? I ask this question all the time, and I know it’s complicated. For me, it’s like, what’s the right thing to do when you go with your intuition? How do we treat humans? How do you not be awake to some of the damage happening when you’re working in that system and seeing these things? If women share their stories and say they were hurt, how can doctors dismiss that and say, “Well, you’re lucky you had a healthy baby”? How do they not go home and wonder if there’s some truth to it? Is it worth exploring and listening to more? I don’t understand that disconnect.


Dr. Stu’s Perspective on Cognitive Bias

Dr. Stu: I’m not a psychologist, but I know a little about things like confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, Stage 1 thinking, premature cognitive commitments, and mass formation.

We’re all subject to propaganda all day long, and they use it because it works. If you’ve heard only a certain way of thinking all your life, that’s how you’re going to think. It’s very hard for people to think out of the box, especially when surrounded by family members, friends, and coworkers who think differently. It’s very hard to step out of the collective and become an individual.


The Need for Change in Birth Practices

We’re here, and we need to change why we’re here because we’re not doing well in outcomes for women and babies, and often for the mother’s future babies. We’re managing something so natural that, if left alone, actually works quite well most of the time.

Doctors are trained to treat pregnancy like a disease, and there’s brainwashing and cognitive dissonance going on. They want to do more and more interventions, and we’re seeing rising C-section rates, induction rates, chronic health conditions in babies and young children, and increasing dissatisfaction with poor breastfeeding rates. They can’t think this is because one or two percent of women are giving birth at home.

They choose not to think about it at all because the alternative is unthinkable—that they themselves are doing something harmful.


Moving Forward with Specific Questions

Ashley: Yeah, absolutely. I do have a number of specific questions, and we can get into some of the other stuff as we go along.

I wanted to know your ideas on VBAC women having to choose to free birth because they’re risked out of finding a home birth supportive midwife, usually due to license restrictions and the midwife’s fear of repercussions.

They don’t feel comfortable or safe birthing in a hospital that’s incompatible with the birth they want. What are your thoughts on women having to deal with this?

Dr. Stu: Let’s get to that. I think you first wanted me to give my backstory, didn’t you?


Dr. Stu’s Background and Journey

Ashley: Yes, we can go into that now.

Dr. Stu: For those who don’t know me, I’ve been in practice for 41 years.

I went to medical school at the University of Minnesota and did my residency in Southern California at Cedar Sinai Medical Center. I followed the standard medicalized pathway that most doctors take. During my residency, I spent four months at LA County USC Women’s Hospital, which was doing about 22,000 births a year in the early 80s. I got to see everything—breaches, twins, heart disease, premature labour, fetal anomalies, forceps deliveries, and more. This kind of training isn’t available anymore because of human subjects rules, laws, and economics.

Doctors are not going to get that kind of training in most residency programs. They come out extremely medicalized, and so did I.

I started practicing independently and covered emergency rooms, became the director of free clinics, helped other doctors with surgeries, and built my practice that way. Early in my career, I was approached by some home birth midwives who asked if I would take their home birth transports.

I didn’t know much about home birth or midwives and thought it was stupid, but I agreed because I wanted to make money. This turned out to be very fortuitous because I got to see a different way of doing things.

These women were much better informed than any of my patients, and they knew what they were doing.


Transition to Home Birth

After about 10 years of doing things the medical way, like having 6-7 minute prenatal visits, recommending vaccines during pregnancy, catching a baby dressed in a full hazmat suit, clamping the cord immediately, and showing the mother the baby before walking it across the room to a warmer, I started to change.

When the term breach trial came out in 2000, I stopped doing breach deliveries because the hospital made me. But by then, I was already transforming into a different kind of practitioner. I started to fight more for my clients’ decisions and rights, which got me into trouble.

Eventually, I started a collaborative practice with two certified nurse midwives, where they took care of normal stuff, and I handled the complications.

We had a C-section rate of 7%, compared to 25% for other groups in the community, simply by using the midwifery model. However, we were never accepted in the community, and they made it hard for us at every turn.

Eventually, they banned midwives, breach delivery, and VBAC in the hospital. Faced with the choice of fighting them legally or finding another way, I decided to start doing home births. I went to my first home birth in 2010 and got enamored with it. I started doing breaches, twins, hypertensives, diabetics, and women with chromosomal anomalies, realizing that these cases could still have the beauty of a home birth.


Challenges and Rewards of Home Birth

I learned from midwives to think out of the box. My colleagues are stuck in a hamster wheel with no way of getting off because of all the forces keeping them there.

They are very afraid to let go of the hospital model because they don’t know what’s out there. Despite being ready to get out, I wasn’t sure it would work for me, but it turns out it’s great. I lost income but gained job satisfaction and a better life.

I drove from the Mexican border to San Luis Obispo, about a 5.5-hour range. After about 12-13 years, I decided to take a break and moved to a freer state. Now, I feel free and have no master. I’m making doctors uncomfortable because women are challenging their obtuseness based on what they hear on our podcast.


The Future of Birth Practices

The hospital model needs to go. It’s not that hospitals aren’t valuable, but the model needs to change. They need to lose huge amounts of market share for this to happen. The current model isn’t working, and hospitals only circle their wagons tighter when challenged. This model will eventually implode, but it won’t be fast enough to save many women over the next couple of decades.

Ashley: My fear is that we go down this medicalized route where women no longer birth vaginally, and everything becomes technological. We’re going too far.

Dr. Stu: Yes, science fiction often preempts the future. The idea of babies being bred in incubators is not far-fetched. However, the masses are the future of humanity. The masses are waking up, and people need to rise up. Australians need to regain their fighting spirit.


Free Birthing as an Option

Ashley: What are your thoughts on women being forced into free birthing as a choice?

Dr. Stu: I’m not against free birthing. If the only choices are medicalized induction and monitoring because of a previous C-section or being coerced with skewed statistics, I’d stay away from those people. Ideally, you’d


Free Birthing and Safety Concerns

Ashley: Yeah, what’s your take on women essentially being forced into that as a choice?

Dr. Stu: Well, I’m not against free birthing. I’m really not if the only choices are medicalized induction monitoring because you’ve had a previous C-section, or working in a small community where they don’t even offer you a VBAC and they coerce you with skewed statistics to make you fearful. I would stay away from those people as long as possible. If I had to do it at home alone, I would. Ideally, you’d want someone medicalized to help you, but if they make that illegal, think about why they’re making that illegal.

Ashley: Absolutely.




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Navigating Legal and Medical Obstacles

Ashley: What about the legal and medical issues with midwives and doulas?

Dr. Stu: Many midwives are fed up with licensing and giving it up. They can’t legally carry meds or do certain things. Doulas, experienced in normal labour, shouldn’t be doing medical stuff.

They shouldn’t be listening to the baby or doing vaginal exams but can recognize normal and abnormal signs. Having someone knowledgeable there to say, “This isn’t normal, it’s time to go to the hospital,” makes more sense than having nobody. I understand the desire to be left alone without interference, and it’s up to each person. Until recently, no one would argue that you have a choice over your body. The hypocrisy is apparent when a woman can refuse a C-section for a wanted baby but could abort a pregnancy if she didn’t want the baby.

Ashley: That’s crazy.

Dr. Stu: It’s hypocritical and schizophrenic. The people making the rules don’t think it through; they don’t consider the impact of their policies. Every deviation from nature’s design must be proven safe and effective. Monitoring all babies for their heart rate in labour to eliminate cerebral palsy is one example where the policy wasn’t tested for safety. It raised the C-section rate by 500%, causing more harm than good. Stage 1 thinking, where only immediate outcomes are considered, doesn’t account for long-term effects on mothers and babies.

Ashley: I feel your frustration. These policies don’t make sense, and it’s infuriating to see the medical community so closed-minded.

Dr. Stu: Yes, many doctors can’t see beyond their training. They can’t compute new information. This is why I’m in the home birth space, supporting and raising awareness for women who want something different.


Importance of Independent Research and Informed Choices

Ashley: How can people know what’s true?

Dr. Stu: Trust independent journalists and sources like Substack, where writers have no bosses controlling what they can publish. Be wary of studies funded by big pharma or organizations with vested interests. Look at who funded the paper, the sample size, and the methods.

Many studies are skewed to prove what the funders want. For instance, the term breach trial and the ARRIVE trial were accepted because they proved what the medical community wanted, despite being outliers and flawed.

Ashley: I agree. We need to understand who’s funding the studies and what they might be leaving out.

Dr. Stu: Exactly. They often use relative risk to scare people rather than actual risk. For example, if something happened once in 40 million people and then ten times the next year, they might say there’s a tenfold increase, but the actual risk is still minuscule. They use these statistics to justify unnecessary interventions. When everyone starts spouting the same thing, be suspicious. Critical thinking is essential.

Ashley: It’s essential to dig deeper and understand the real risks. Your insights are invaluable, and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

Dr. Stu: Thank you. It’s about raising awareness and encouraging informed choices. The midwifery model of care often provides better outcomes, and more people need to be aware of it.

Ashley: Absolutely. Let’s continue spreading the word and supporting those seeking better birth options.


VBAC Success Rates: Home Birth vs. Hospital

If you look at papers on VBAC, home VBAC success rates are almost always over 90%. In comparison, the success rate for the same cohort of women giving birth in the hospital is about 56 to 64%.

These are the same women, but the difference lies in the model of care. In a home environment, women labour in a trusted, safe space with a trusted team.

They are free to move about and do the things a labouring mammal should be able to do. In the hospital, they’re treated as if they’re about to explode at any moment, requiring constant monitoring and likely an epidural “just in case.”

Ashley: I knew the success rate was higher at home, but I didn’t realize it was 90%.

Dr. Stu: In my practice, we had a 93% success rate with VBACs. Our numbers aren’t large enough to reach statistical significance, but they still provide valuable information. Sometimes, you don’t need studies to prove what common sense would dictate.

For example, you don’t need a study to know that crossing the street when the light is green is safer than when it’s red. The same goes for many aspects of childbirth. One of my mentors taught me that studies will either prove what common sense tells you or they’re wrong.


Views on Special Scars and homebirth

Ashley: What are your views on special scars?

Dr. Stu: A true classical C-section carries a 2 to 4% risk of rupture. People often claim it’s much higher, but when a classical scar ruptures, it’s more significant than when a low transverse scar ruptures because the upper part of the uterus is more vascular and thicker. Other types of incisions, like low vertical or T-incisions, don’t show a significant statistical difference in the safety of attempting a VBAC. Articles may say it’s riskier, but “riskier” doesn’t necessarily mean risky.

Ashley: I was told by an obstetrician that my special scar carried a 7% risk of rupture, but she couldn’t provide a study to back that up.

Dr. Stu: People skew their counseling to funnel you down the path they want you to take. We all have biases. My bias comes from spending 28 years in a hospital setting and 13 years in home settings. I’ve lived in both worlds and see a huge difference. Looking back at what I used to do, I want to pat that person on the back and say, “It’s okay, you didn’t know any better back then.”


Learning from History when it comes to birth

It’s important not to judge people’s past actions by today’s standards. In the Bible, Noah is called a righteous man in his time. Sacrificing goats might have been acceptable then, but not now. Historical figures had different norms. If we tear down statues of past heroes because of their flaws, we might end up tearing down statues of modern figures for things like smoking or eating meat.

Ashley: It’s a fine line between learning from the past and overly punishing historical figures by modern standards.

Dr. Stu: Exactly. We need to understand history to avoid repeating its mistakes. Women deserve better care. Fifty years ago, the C-section rate in Western countries was 5%. Now, in countries like Armenia, South Africa, and Brazil, it’s 70%. What are we doing to these women and future generations? Are we epigenetically eliminating our ability to give birth vaginally?


Preparing for a Better Birth Experience VBAC

Consider putting money aside from a younger age to prepare for the birth that women want.
Ashley: That’s a good idea about putting money aside for your children’s births.

It costs about $5000 AUD for a private midwife in Australia, which sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it for a positive birth experience.

Dr. Stu: $5000 sounds like a lot, but a few years later, it doesn’t seem like much. The memory of a positive birth experience will be with you forever. If you can’t find what you need in your state, consider traveling or even coming to America.


Staying Connected with Dr. Stu

Keep up with Dr Stu on the Birthing Instincts Podcast, available on Spotify, Apple, and other apps. 

Instagram: @birthinginstincts


There are several published papers available on the homepage, and more are coming soon.

** Please note every effort has been made to keep this interview to its true form, although AI has been used and there may be some word errors or sometimes taken out of context.  Please listen to the episode to hear the original context**


Ashley is on a mission to raise the rates of women having vaginal birth after Caesarean worldwide and empower women planning VBACs and HBACS.(Homebirth after Caesarean).

As a dedicated birth coach and mentor, Ashley works intimately with pregnant women, guiding them through the journey of overcoming fear and mindset challenges associated with VBACs and HBACS.

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