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Litters Archive

Marketing Infant Formula

To whom it may concern:
March 15, 1999

Marketing and promotion of infant formula violates a basic human right of mothers and babies to receive breastmilk.  This violation, which is largely ignored in Canada and United States,  is harmful to the health, nutritional status, and even the survival of
infants all over the world.

The negative impact that the marketing and promotion of infant formula has on the health of North American babies is comparable to the deleterious effects that cigarette marketing has on the health of teens and adults.

The World Health Organization Code is intended not to restrict women's choice, but to enable them to make a fully informed choice, free of industry pressure.

Only 60 percent of North American mothers breastfeed their babies at birth, and a mere 20 percent of infants still receive breastmilk by six months of age, even though the
medical community is aware the risks of not breastfeeding for the first twelve months include reduced IQ, compromised psychological development, greater risk of ear infection, diarrhea, obesity, allergies and life threatening illnesses and diseases as published by the American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Breastfeeding, in 1997.

Infant formula manufacturers spend billions of dollars marketing to health care professionals, and directly to mothers by seminars and mailing campaigns, because each mother who bottle-feeds represents $800 in sales.  As a result of aggressive and pervasive marketing of infant formula, we have lost a breastfeeding culture in just a few generations.

The health profession has worked, largely unwittingly, along with the formula industry to render breastfeeding unattainable and undesireable.  We need to promote breastfeeding as normal and healthful for mother and baby and as an expected part of the everyday life of the average human being.  Not to do so is hazardous to the health and well-being of our nations' infants.

Michael Latham, MD, Professor of International Nutrition at Cornell University
Michael Latham SMTP:[email protected]

Pertussis Was The Culprit

When our first son was three months old, and I was a very young Mom, I took him for his three months set of shots. Two hours later, as I tried to nurse a very fussy baby, I noticed  he had an unusually large tongue.
I checked and quickly realized he was choking. I rushed him to our hospital and the doctors agreed and gave him a anaphalctic shot instantly and saved his life. He had just had one shot. Pertusis is the culprit. Our second child never did have any shots. I pressed the issue and recieved a letter on their birth records to allow the boys access to public school admission, unvaccinated for reasons of conscience.

It is terrible that some of  our little ones, have to become handicapped or worse, die as a result of this incompetant vaccine system.

Carli Heinrichs, Grand Forks, British Columbia

Thanks, Aliss!

I was struggling with depression and despair
after the premature birth of my first baby, feeling like a misfit because I didn't want to leave my baby with a sitter, sleep him in another room, or give up breastfeeding him for the benefit of the Gross National Product.

I decided to have my next baby at home, and nursed her and her later sibling, also born at home, for the next seven years. We've all reaped untold riches all because of the mother's stories, letters and articles that appeared in this little newsprint quarterly put together on the kitchen table of a rural Ontario sheepfarm and a Minot, North Dakota livingroom.
Aliss Terpstra, Toronto, Ontario

I heard the news today, oh boy!

Just heard something good on the evening news as we were headed out the door to our E.C.F.E. class;  American Academy of Pediatrics has officially changed their ways and decided that circumcision is really cruel and unecessary after all.  Is the news really true?!  I admit, I was a bit taken aback that they finally have changed their tune.  I hope this will help a bunch of pediatricians and other responsible folks to wake up and decide against doing more circumcisions.  It'll be very interesting to observe how things play out in actual practice at hospitals since the culture is so much into snipping.  I wonder if/when the U.S. and internatinal community will decide by law that genital integrity is not just for females anymore.  I definitely think we're moving in the right direction, yet can't help but think there's so much more to be done!   Happily, many of my students have decided against circumcising their sons (Most of whom I met after they had already had
their children!).

Together with my students, we've been exploring complete mother, mothering magazine and the National Vaccine Information Network sites. I'm very determined that my students understand their rights to informed consent on all things.  Many of them have not been treated all that well by the medical system and have lots of stories to tell about either signing forms after they've been drugged during labor and rushed through lots of paperwork with very little background information to go on.  Of course almost all of them tell me they had no idea they could contientiously object to shots if they want to.   I'm in the position of educating and advocating for them to know their real rights.   Our school nurse who enforces our immunization policy at school is open and is not a radical shot enforcement queen, even though she doesn't really take the time to talk with students about pros and cons of shots.  I do.  Someone has got to.  Then at least they are informed if there is a reaction from a shot.
Martin, Ana, and Allyson Appelbaum, St. Paul, Minnesota

The old question

Noah naps seldom and has never slept more than five
consecutive  hours.  I've fine-tuned this response, to
the age-old question:

Other Mother: "So, is he sleeping through the night?"

Me:  "He's not a sleeper, but he sleeps with us so it all works out.

Other Mother,  shocked:  "You better nip that habit
in the bud now.   My son/daughter slept through the
night at one/ten weeks!"

Me: "I've read gifted children don't need as much sleep as their normal peers."

Other Mother: Sputter/ blank stare/ disbelieving nod.  (I'm always hoping they'll continue it with more info about their great  sleeper).

My dream ending response if they do: huge sympathetic smile and,   "But, don't worry about your child...
the food service industry is the backbone of  our society."
   -Emily, mama to Noah (4/8/98) & Romeo, retired racing greyhound (6/90)
See our family at:
My homepage:


I am convinced that our society is very mistaken when it comes to parenting our little ones. I see so many children being treated like inconveniences instead of the miracles they are.

Bottlefeeding, scheduling, crying it out at night...all of these contribute to the breakdown of society.

Please send me a new bulk subscription. I feel lost in our crazy world and need the "Mother's" centering.

Angela Woerner  Greeley, Colorado
[email protected]

Not an Easy Society

My youngest (of three) is now almost three. 
He decided he was done with nursing around
two years old.  I was all set to go to whatever
age for him, but he decided it was two.  Right
now the little guy is with his dad at the Children's
Hospital, because he has the flu and there is fear
he might be dehydrated.  I stayed home to be with
the two older children.  When my other son had a
bad flu I was still nursing and there was never any
concern about fluids.  Alot of the breastmilk was
digested before any was vomitted.

I am worried about my littlest, and at the same time
I trust his strong little body to fight this off.  He has
never been vaccinated, he was breastfed as long as
he wanted, and he eats as much organic food as I can
afford.  (Also he is a blood type O and some research
says O's have  strong immune systems.)

Other than this, all is well in our household.  I am  thankful for my three children and their father.  I am just coming off a six month computer contract where I worked four days a week. It was too much;I missed the children terribly, and now   will only accept contracts of three days a week maximum.  It's a bit of a stretch out here in the business world but I have to set the limit.

This is not an easy society to live in. The last many
hundred years haven't been much better.  I take strength from mother  writers   doing all they can for their families.
Karin Harris, Calgary

Pass the Milk

Pass the Milk

I must have been a wetnurse in a past life.

My sister-in-law adopted a newborn, and I
asked her if she would like me to pump my
milk for her new baby.  (They would never
go for direct nursing.)  I also encouraged
her to breastfeed, but the one lactation
consultant she spoke to told her it would
be too much work.

She declined my milk, and I cried.  My
sadness was for  the baby boy, now 14
months and  in daycare five days a week.
He has been on antibiotics several times,
was vaccinated and cries often.  I had
ample milk.  I wish I could have helped.
Jenna Melissas, Woodstock, Georgia

DPT Victim

Last month a child was vaccinated in our area
with the wicked DPT, and is now paralyzed in
both arms and legs. So sad and so unnecessary.
And my best friend had a little boy this morning,
and called to tell me her news, as she had a
moment of time, since the nurses took the little
boy to be circumcised!  I cried. Why should that
baby, only four hours old, who should be snuggled
at his mother's breast, warm and safe, be mutilated
and in writhing pain.  I  pray The Mother reaches
many before they make these painful decisions.
I will leave copies in public places, hoping they
reach someone in time.  Thank you for publishing
our magazine, in a world of chaos.
Wendy Garverick, Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania

It is great to know they are so many of us all
over the world. It is like a LLL International
Conference coming in the mailbox.
Sherri Murphy, Fort Wayne, Indiana

I upgraded husbands, this one is from Canada.
Lori Dietrich, Marietta, Georgia

I am so excited about getting a regular
subscription and not scumming old
issues from half-strangers. You do good.
Natasha DeVoe, Minneapolis, Minnesota

You are my favorite magazine.
Kellie Keys, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

I  am breastfeeding a 4 year-old and a
15 month old. The Mother connects me.
Barbara Mancini, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I loved "Why Hospital Birth Doesn't Work"
Spring '99, and "Suicide by Cesarean" cut
to the soul.
Sue Frizzell, Conway, Arkansas

Being a Mommy to our nursing four and two year
olds, and a weaned five year old is a riot. As our
town's La Leche League Leader, I'm busy.
Lisa Tendler, Midland, Michigan

I am 41 and expecting our firth child, a delightful
surprise. After delivering our first four children,
ages 20, 18, 14 and 11, in hospitals, I am having
a midwife-attended homebirth.  I use herbs, home
remedies, homeschooling  and always thought I
was "different." I guess you are too.
Geri Palmer, Fort Thomas, Arizona

I love the honest, clear-eyed Mother to
Mother column. This has been a rough
year, but reading The Mother is
reassuring and hopeful.
Wini Haun, Chicago, Illinois

I  have four beautiful "little ones".
Jennifer Billick, Kissimmee, Florida

A New Spirit

Please welcome to the world a new spirit, birthed at home, our son, Benjamin Ethan Brown,  Born January 31, 1999 @ 8:51 p.m.

Weighting in at 10 lbs, 2oz!!   and 23" in length!!!

His skin is bright red and he's soo chunky!!  Hardly seems like a newborn!!  And he still has that great smell.  We can't bring ourselves to take it off!  He doesn't cry, just squeaks a little which he is doing

Love Julie, Bill and Zachariah

Niagara Falls Woman Wins Booby Prize (the original article--followed by response from a reader and then a response from our Catherine)

CNEWS Columnist

A Niagara Falls mother of two  was upsetting some of the other parents and children while nursing her two kids . It wouldn't have been a big deal if she was feeding an eight-pound newborn. But Goforth was nursing two toddlers, aged two and four.

Not just one at a time, wrapped in swaddling cloth. Some of the YMCA members felt uncomfortable and asked her to  breastfeed in a private room.

Goforth complained  other moms were bottlefeeding kids of comparable ages. Come on. They were offering bottles, not breastfeeding kids who are walking and talking. It's hardly comparable.

Don't get me wrong. I know breast milk is the best possible nutrition for a growing child. But it's just like using diapers. There's a time to potty train just like there's a time to wean. Nobody wants to see a four-year-old marching around in a soiled diaper.

Amen. There is also common-sense consideration for others.  Goforth should grow up. Or at the very least, allow her children too.

You can email the reporter's editor at:
[email protected]
Reporter Jeff Harder's email is:
[email protected]
Niagara Falls breastfeeding mother Julia Goforth is at:[email protected]

Young Mens Christian Association offended by breastfeeding (This is a response from Nicole Miller, B.A. B.Ed.)

Dear Mr. Harder,

Your article "Niagara Falls Woman wins Booby Prize" has recently come to my attention.

Did you know that the average global weaning age for children is 4 years old? It is only our unfortunate western society that forces dependant youngsters to be "independent" as early as possible, it is only our distorted society that allows a baby to be nurtured by a plastic nipple rather than the comfort, warmth and closeness of his mothers.  And sadly, it is articles like yours - both sarcastic and pedantic, that help keep us in the dark ages.

It is painfully obvious, that women and men who have been forced from the breast themselves, or made the tragic decision to force their babies away from it, hold so much pain, guilt and jealousy towards that mom's children that their prejudices and ridiculous statements about a child's independence bely their own unfortunate upbringings.

And for the record, you will never see an untrained four-year old cloth diapered baby - it is only  our gluttonous, convenience-starved disposable society that has produced the comfort and dryness associated with plastic diapers and hence, babies who have no real incentive to train themselves.

I'm sorry that you wrote this article.  I'm sorry that you were not allowed to wean at your pace, and I'm sorry that you chose not to research this topic before writing your silly opinion.


Nicole Miller, B.A. B.Ed.
[SMTP:[email protected]]

Response by Catherine Young to Jeff Harder

Dear Jeff, editor and Christians at the Y:

Psalm 22, Verse 9
"Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother's breast."

Since Jesus, Moses, Solomon, and the rest of the heroes in the new and old testament were allowed to suck nourishing, health-giving,  brain enriching mothers' milk well beyond their third years of life, it seems a  ironic that the Niagara Falls Young Men's Christian Association should banish suckling children where bottle-toting tots are welcome.

Greater minds than Jeff Harder's have  declared breastfeeding to be protective against breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and anxiety in the mother, and that babies who consume breastmilk will be 8.3 IQ points higher than those fed formula with apparent YMCA approval.

The esteemed American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Obs/Gyn of  Canada, the Pediatric Society of Canada and most of the literate world who read scientific headlines at least, now know babies and children given breastmilk are less likely to be victims of SIDS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's, colitis, fatal necrotizing enterocolitis, miningitis, gastro-intestinal illness, lymphoid hypertrophy and bacteremia.

Our fist comfort zone concern must be with our youngest, smallest, most vulnerable.   If Jeff and the members of the YMCA are offended by young children engaging in healthy, happy life-sustaining activity, so be it.  If the Goforth children are spared one medical battle
because their mother did not opt for the soya beans or cow milk fare Harder et al digest with ease, then let them squirm.

Catherine Young
The Friends of Breastfeeding Society
RR# 3 Clifford Ontario N0G 1M0

tel. 519-327-8785
email: [email protected]

Circumcision Guilt

This letter is therapy for a mother who feels an enormous amount of guilt. It is many years in the making, and required a great deal of courage to put on paper. The subject matter is painful for me to think about, talk about, or write about.

In nursing school at the age of 17 I saw my first birth, a boy. As I looked at him I wondered if he was deformed as I had never seen an intact male. It took a few minutes before I realized why his penis looked different. The next day I observed the circumcision of that boy. It never occurred to me to question what was being done.

Pregnant with my first child at the age of 22, I remembered the births I had seen in nursing school and knew I wanted mine to be different. It was. I was well read about avoiding routine interventions by the time my son was born and I delivered him without using medication, in an upright position, without the use of episiotomy or interference of any kind. I was asked to
sign the consent form for circumcision during labor. Risks of the procedure were never discussed, nor did anyone ever suggest to me that it not be done. My husband is circumcised, and I had literally never known anyone who wasn't. My son was born at midnight, and when he was brought to me at 7:00 the next morning he had already been circumcised. I was shown how to keep his raw little penis covered with vaseline on a gauze pad until it healed. He now looked like all the other little boys I'd ever been around.

By the time my second son was born 3 1/2 years later I had been exposed to people who had left their sons intact. I knew it wasn't necessary for medical reasons, but thought that the social reasons were worth considering. I remember a conversation I had with a male friend during my pregnancy in which he told me about his nephews who weren't circumcised. He claimed that these boys begged their mother to let them get their "skin" cut off so they would look like all their friends. That conversation left quite an impression on me.

Unlike his older brother, my second son was born at home. The next day I made an appointment with our family doctor to have him circumcised when he was five days old. I was aware of this doctor's position in support of circumcision. I considered him to be a friend, especially after his willingness to attend our homebirth. Something unexpected happened in this baby's first five days of life. I changed many diapers on my still intact son, and thought how nice he looked. For the first time I entertained the idea of not having him circumcised. At the suggestion of this my husband
started calling his brother and sister to ask what they had done with their sons. Of course he found no support for what I was suggesting. He also told
me locker room stories from his childhood about how "strange" the uncircumcised boys looked.

When we took our son in at five days, I requested that the doctor do a "mini-circ" so that my son wouldn't have trouble with too little shaft skin like I had heard some men do. The doctor responded to my request by saying "get your order in now while you can". I also insisted on staying in the room while Ethan was circumcised. The doctor seemed uncomfortable with
this, and remarked that I shouldn't put myself through anything I didn't need to, but I felt that if Ethan had to go through it, I should too.

During the circumcision I tried to comfort him by trying to get him to suck on my finger. The doctor remarked to me that "nothing helps". At a certain point during the procedure I had the closest thing I have ever had to an out-of-body experience. I had to emotionally disconnect from what was going on in that room in order to get through it. I couldn't take his struggling and the soundless cry that soon changed to listlessness. I felt that I was observing myself watching the whole thing. I wanted to stop the circumcision soon after it started, but felt that the harm had already been done (and besides, I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of the doctor I respected). On my way out of the procedure room I looked at my sons severed foreskin in the trash can and wondered if it was too late to put it back on.

Ethan slept the rest of the day. I am convinced he was responding to the trauma by this deepest of sleep. When I changed his first diaper after the circ I was repulsed by what I saw! My perfect little boy had changed. He looked wounded!! The next day I observed that the whole body of his penis seemed to be retracted into his body. It looked like he didn't even have a penis. He was 18 months old before his penis was not retracted into the base of his abdomen the majority of the time.

I was depressed. My depression only deepened when a friend stopped by with a meal and told me that she hadn't had either of her boys circumcised. This was a fact I hadn't known. My husband also reacted to my regret by telling me that his dad hadn'tbeen circumcised, and one of his closest friends was also intact. I felt angry at him for denying me the information that could have given me the strength to stand up against Ethan's circumcision. I tried to defend my actions to myself in order to feel like I wasn't a monster. To a certain extent I succeeded.

When my son was four months old my good friend Jody McLaughlin was involved in bringing Marilyn Milos to my hometown for a presentation about genital integrity. She invited me, and I remember feeling that I really didn't want to attend. But in the end, I went as a favor to a friend. While there I saw the movie "Fire Eyes" about female circumcision. I witnessed a baby girl held down while her genitals were cut, and I wanted to grab her and protect her! I experienced a cringing feeling that started in my genitals and worked its way up to my throat! I felt sick to my stomach and had to leave the room. I told Jody "Oh my god! It's the same thing!", (meaning male circumcision and female circumcision). I realized for the first time how
desensitized I had become to the subject. That day marked a complete turn-around in my feelings. What had ever made me think that it was a decision I had a right to make? The thought of someone exerting that kind of control over a child's body moved me like little else has.

When I learned that our third child would be another boy, I have to admit that I was disappointed. Now I am thankful that God gave me another "Chance" because I have a stronger voice because of it. At age 5 years Jesse has had no problems with his uncircumcised penis. I have to admit that it took a little getting used to. It looked so different from what I was used to seeing, but time has changed my perception. I had never noticed the scar on my husband and my first two sons until I noticed the ABSENCE of a scar on Jesse. How I could have ever thought that an uncircumcised penis was cosmetically better is a mystery to me now. I see how perfect and natural Jesse looks, and I would give anything to go back 10+ years so that I could have 3 uncircumcised sons. Jesse is less inhibited about his genitals than his brothers are, and he is much better endowed. I wonder if the removal of the vast amount of tissue, nerve endings and the circulatory damage of circumcision somehow affects how the penis develops and matures. Jesse has a higher pain tolerance than either of his brothers, and he complains less when in cool water than they do. Both of my other sons hold their genitals and complain about the temperature of the swimming pool if it isn't warm that day, but Jesse's little "blanket" serves him well.

I urge any of you who can use my story to do so. If there is one consolation I can take to my grave it is this. The sacrifice of my first two sons' foreskins has saved countless more boys from this procedure than if I had left them intact. And it has taught me to always, always QUESTION.
[email protected]

AP Networking

I am a 30 year old mom with a 13 month old son and have been in Leesburg, Florida for 6 months. I am looking for a mom/mom's group that is raising their child(ren) in the same manner that I am raising my son (breastfeeding, homeschooling, healthy eating, etc.) My son needs other children to play with and I need to meet other moms. It is really difficult being the new kid on the block. If you could be of any assistance I would greatly appreciate it.

I also want to let you know how much I enjoy you Compleat Mother Magazines.Your subscription was a gift from my mother-in-law and one of the best I have received.

Many Thanks,
Brenda Skavroneck
Fruitland Park, Florida

(Ed. note: one way to network is to post your concerns on our bulletin board. Try it! It works.

My 3 year old daughter has watched with intense interest when I breastfeed my newborn son.  She now "breastfeeds" all of her dolls and mimics other motherly activities.  While I fed him the other day, she asked "Mommy, do you have milk or juice in there?"

Jill Pettigrew of Lucerne Valley, CA
[email protected]

Canadian Midwife

To whom it most concerns at the College of Midwives of B.C.:

It has come to my attention that your College is attempting to put private birth attendant Gloria Lemay out of business. This is unwise for several reasons. Firstly, she is a highly qualified birth attendant; in my own obstetric history I have come across many people who have made a career out of servicing pregnant women, and she is by far the most knowledgeable of how a normal birth unfolds. And since she has not spent many years in becoming well-versed in the abnormalities of childbirth, she does not anticipate them. However, she is quick to address abnormalities if they do occur, and will readily transport a woman to hospital if need be.

Secondly, her life's work has been in caring for birthing women; Ms. Lemay has spent the last twenty years assisting parturient women, and it is a grave insult to her, as well as the women she has served, by trying to have her forced out of business, and not serving her community, where her services are needed most.

Thirdly, by trying to eradicate the last of the lay midwives in the province of B.C. you are acting in a way that reminds me of the anti-midwifery movement of the early twentieth century: you are trying to have her legislated out of existence. You are, in effect, calling this scrupulously clean, well-educated woman "dirty and ignorant", and the women she serves, reckless and suspect. Please note that you can
only harm your own credibility when you systematically try to wipe out your sisters in midwifery.

Fourth, you are acting in a way that can only lead me to believe you do not respect my choice as an intelligent, sentient woman in a pluralistic and democratic society,  regarding the choice of who attends me in childbirth: I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough- the choice is mine. No one has has the right to strip me of my right to say who may be with me during this highly personal, highly vulnerable time. Far too many times have my choices been stolen from me, and I will never again be deprived of my rights in childbirth. She will not go down silently.

Which brings me to my last point. If your College persists in the most unwise venture of trying to put private birth attendant Gloria Lemay out of business, I, my children, and my husband, as well as the hundreds of women Ms. Lemay has attended, and their children, and their husbands, will band together to do whatever is necessary to protect and help the woman who protected us, and helped us so well in our most vulnerable time; you, right now, are making her somewhat vulnerable through your persistent attacking, and I will protect her as I love my own children: with ferocity, and unending passion.
With utmost sincerity,

- Lora-Lee McCracken

I just got my first online mailing of Compleat Mother and I LOVE IT! Thanks so much for sending out such wonderful information. I love the homebirth stories!

I  had to have c-sections with my 4 children, but I totally advocate natural childbirth to everyone I meet. I was in an unfortunate situation to have a little bitty pelvis and Type 1 Diabetes for 17 years, thus causing some healthy sized babies.  I still had wonderful experiences and beautiful, healthy, nurtured children. I just had my last baby in May and he is thriving on my milk! What a blessing to have people out there who understand that there isn't another way to give your baby the best! Thanks again, you guys are awesome!


I used to read Compleat Mother years ago when my oldest daughter was an infant, and a friend just sent the url for your online edition. Reading the articles and news reminded me how empowering the magazine was for me as a young mother surrounded by voices telling me that all my instincts were wrong.

After completing the questions in the online edition, I wonder if you might consider including articles about parenting older children...after all, mothering doesn't stop when children are weaned. : )   In any case, keep up the great work. Compleat Mother is a sane voice in an often crazy world.
-Cynthia Ritch


I just finished reading the latest issue and had to say thanks again for such a wonderful publication!  It gives me encouragement when friends and family doubt our decision to continue nursing ("She's STILL nursing?!"; "When are you going to wean her?!"), have a family bed ("Isn't she in her own bed, YET?!"; "You'll never get her out of your bed!") and general attachment parenting, (but frequently comment on how happy and pleasant she is!)  My husband and I know we're doing what's best and right for our daughter, but our friends view us as "freaks" and can't believe the choices we've made.  What I can't believe is that out of 7 Moms in my playgroup, only 2 have breastfed!  I can't help but comment when they state their children are sick, once again, and my 14 mo.old has NEVER been sick.  But they only get defensive when I attribute her good health to breastfeeding!  Could it be because they feel guilty?!...

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for showing me there are others who feel/believe like I do!  I'm taking my well-read back issues to my new midwife
next week!! 
-Joi Straaten
[email protected]


I love The Mother, though  I don't always agree with all the radical views.I have a beautiful 11-month-old-son  born by emergency C-section. ( I whole-heartedly regret not using a midwife and feel that with one I may have birthed vaginally) but look forward to a VBAC without a  doctor for baby #2 . My son and I still share a beautiful and loving nursing relationship and it's my husband who relishes   our family bed more than anyone.
-Susan Annala, Bowser, British Columbia

Australian Homebirth

I was living in Byron Bay, Australia when I found out I was pregnant.   I visited midwife Pam Sonia, who works out of the Mullumbimby Medical Centre and discussed homebirth.

Christine and my brother Sandy sent me back issues of Compleat Mother and some of Catherine's raspberry leaf tea. Pam is also a nurse with over twelve years of experience catching babies - I think it was over four hundred at last count! She was against interference and into natural medicines and homeopathy.

My pregnancy was wonderful - I had no morning sickness, no stretchmarks (apricot kernal oil and at least twenty minutes of sunlight a day on my belly), no emotional upsets and I looked and felt fantastic.

Byron Bay is a great place to have a baby - the support for midwives and for homebirths and motherhood in general is amazing!
Carmel Debreuil  [email protected]

Foreskin Concern

I am a 42 year old mother of four children, ages 2, 4, 7 and 10 (all boys except the 7 year old). Three of my children were home births.  I am new to your magazine and I don't know if you have dealt with the subject of circumcision. I recently had an experience that I'd like to share with all mothers who have uncircumsized boys.

My four year old was diagnosed with a condition called phimosis where the foreskin adheres to the tip of the penis and won't retract. This wouldn't be so bad except his pee hole was the size of a pin head. The urologists all recommended circumcision.  I was disappointed and scared because putting four year old through all that pain was the last thing I wanted to do.

The day before his surgery, I found a site on the internet which said that there was 95% success using a steroid cream to correct phimosis. I cancelled the surgery.  I put the cream on my son for the next month and a half. The other day as I was applying some cream and the skin gently slid right down revealing his beautiful tip.  I was ecstatic! 

I want mothers to know that there is an alternative to this condition that works. Please help me spread the word.  Thank you.

Diane Baxter
Burbank, California

(Don't blame me for this letter; only my wife would write a letter extolling the virtues of Caesarian birth to a natural birthing magazine. I just post the emails. Our three Caesarian children are all perfectly normal, except that they always leave rooms by the window.)  -  Annette's husband

Dear Catherine,

I hope this short description of my Caesarian deliveries may give other hospital deliverers encouragement and support. I am a trained yoga teacher and have specialized in maternity yoga. I have enjoyed subscribing to your magazine for over five years now.


Three Births by Caesarian Delivery.

To me, births are all about human possibilities and learning the values of an open heart. Each of my children have been born in hospital with a high number of medical professionals attending us.

With Jerome I laboured on & off for days before going to hospital to further labour, before foetal distress became apparaent and Jerome was successfully delivered by an emergency Caesarian. His birth weight was 9lb 3oz and I am 5ft 2in complete with a small pelvic inlet. He was in Special Care Nursery for one night and I woke from the epidural to begin breastfeeding. I was anxious, exhausted and so happy to begin my worldly responsibilities to this person, our first child. Words cannot completely describe the rapture, joy and pain associated with the births of each of my three children for me. It is beyond and within this immediate experience I am trying to describe to you.

Ceridwen's birth 8lb 9oz was an elective Caesarian. One moment she was sleeping, the next she was born. Held by her father and listening to his songs. She is herself, dancing to music she brought from the stars.

Tasarla our third baby, began "talking" after my uterus was opened and the amniotic fluid sucked away. She was lifted from me, her voice continued to sound and we laughed to witness, another miracle birth.

The Earth Mother watches and guides our mortal deliveries and protects us from being unfeeling channels of Divine Grace. Every birth is a miracle which may lead us to the possibility and continuance of our open hearts, briefly...cherished...forever.

Annette Harman

Dear Annette and Graham;

One day, shortly after I started The Compleat Mother I got a phone call from Dr Grantly Dick-Read's son.  Dr G. was famous in the '50's and 60's for promoting natural birth, and himself married a woman who had a son by cesarean section. Together, they delivered another son, vaginally, at home.  It was a scandal for the times, and Dr G nearly lost his license to practice medicine.

After Dr G died, his son wanted to continue his work, hence the overseas telephone call.

"So you were born vaginally?" I asked.

"No," he replied.  That was his brother, three years younger, who, sadly enough, committed suicide when he was 30 years old.  The one on the phone was the one born by section.

That story has always stayed inside me.  The gentle, easy birth is no more a measure of future success than is six months or six years of breastfeeding, than if vitamin C was swallowed, piano lessons  given, chess taught, trips abroad taken, stories read to or cub scouts enrolled in, university degrees taken or exercises adhered to.

But culturally, if we have a nation of babies delivered from above, a country of scarred women recuping from major surgery and looking after vulnerable newborns, a world of doctors viewing reproductive
mothers as so much suturing, then we have an epidemic of birth gone wrong.

My first child was born eight pounds, a regal purple and more beautiful than anything I had ever seen. She came after three tubes of nitrous oxide, sixteen hours in the hospital, an epidural, forty minutes of pushing and lots of chastising me for taking so long and an abundance of feeling of . . . .

What was the feeling, exactly?  Well, I was sorry I held up the anaesthetist, the Lamaze coach, three shifts of nurses, the MD I had never seen before that night, and my husband.  I really wanted to squat and birth, something like laying an egg, and be proud and go home, all in the same hour.  I was perplexed, that I didn't birth well and easily.   And I was cross that I had hurt so much.

Until the next baby came.  Without a vaginal exam, refusing the amnio hook, forsaking the suture light.  Five hours of serious breathing, and a little vomiting, but no need for gas or drugs or a birthing team
to swear for me to hurry_________and my 8.5 pound pink baby girl was in my arms after a ten minute pushing stage.  Then I felt . . .
proud of my birthing prowess, capable of anything human or beyond, and pissed off that I had missed that huge adrenalin rush of motherhood two years earlier.

Until the next baby came.  At home, in the dark, in the tub, after one hour and forty-eight minutes of pleasure.  Pleasure.  Real, sexual, intense, wonderful, exciting, incredible, pleasure.  The earth moved.  He weighed ten pounds, fourteen ounces, and his sisters giggled when he was born.

Secret Breastfeeding

I'm secretly still nursing my third son William,
three in December.  After much grief of explaining nursing, weaning, needing and the
like to family and in-laws, unashamed secrecy is my best bet.  I hardly have any milk but he seems to relish the few drops he finds. I love my sons more than any bottle-feeding mom can ever know. I am still a waitress, trying to pay off our despicable credit bills, so we can enjoy life. We had a marvelous stay in Italy and were impressed with the breastfeeding support in the hospital when I had William. However the birthing support and knowledge could use a lot of help. Old- fashioned "be a good girl"attitude. But overall a beautiful country. Seeing 'The Last Supper' in person left me speechless.
Trina Werner, Riverside, California



My parents chose to deliver me themselves at home
and I was subsequently breast fed, and not circumcised.  Only now do I realize how rare that was in 1971, especially considering my parents are both from the North American culture.  I am really glad my mom did her own reading on the subject. My wife is expecting in April.
Graydon Raymer, Toronto, Ontario


Nurses at the doctor's office      

We just started going to a new pediatrician. The nurse there came in to ask the usual round of questions (sleeping, feeding, etc). She said Annika (5 months old) should be eating fruit and cereal and was annoyed when I told her we weren't starting solids until 6 months or whenever Annika wants them.  She said "You should REALLY be feeding her cereal by now."  I started quoting AAP guidelines to her and she cut me off and said "Well, if that's what you WANT to do!"  Like maybe I am just making up these guidelines to please myself?  Sheesh.  The doctor is great... we interviewed him to make sure he was supportive of our decisions, but I wonder where these nurses come from.  Ironically, we left our old group of peds in part because of a really obnoxious nurse (there were lots of other things we didn't like, but she was the straw that broke the camel's back).
Lisa and Hollis, 12/14/95 and Annika, 3/19/98
* [email protected]  THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE  



Recovering from a Cesarean

     I had an emergency cesarean in May '96 under general anesthesia for fetal distress.  My son, Freddy, was fine, luckily, but for me it was a traumatic and unsatisfying experience. Emotionally, it took me a long time to recover, and the  International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) online chapter proved to be a wonderful source of support and information.      I am expecting at the end of November, but this time planning a homebirth (VBAC) with a midwife. I breastfed Freddy for 13 months and  plan on nursing the next little one as long as he/she needs. It was a source of great satisfaction to me to be able to breastfeed Freddy successfully, especially after his birth seemed to go so wrong, and it was certainly a factor that helped me heal emotionally from the cesarean.

Breastfeeding was tough for the first month  and I am so sad  for the many moms who are not able to get breastfeeding going after a c-section or other traumatic birth. It's just another source of grief for many of them.  Psychologically, it's like adding insult to injury; first the body appears to "fail" at giving birth, then appears to "fail" at breastfeeding. Our North American medical climate so often undermines the natural birth process with interventions, then it encourages the mother to blame herself for failing to birth or initiate breastfeeding successfully under such restrictions, by refusing to take any responsibility for interfering with the natural process.  Then, it fails to recognise the post-partum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome or emotional distress that occurs as a result, and society
tells the woman "the only thing that matters is your
healthy baby" as if her emotional and mental well being is somehow incidental to her ability to nurture and care for her family!

Shame on our North American culture and pride,
especially when our neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity statistics do not bear out the superiority of our obstetrical practices!
Pippa Freyer, Minden, Ontario
[email protected]


On Hard Work and Happiness

Why does everyone say having a baby is such ard work?
     (Before and after a homebirth and breastfeeding) Not one spoke of the joys of motherhood. No one (except my midwives and La Leche League) had any positive suggesstions. Months ago, I thought they were all wrong. Now I know they are.
     It's hard to explain, the amzing love I feel for my three month old son. I am a mother lioness, and he is my kitten. I would rip to shreds anyone that came between us. I am completely happy with motherhood as my career. Even on bad days, when he fusses and fusses, and I can't get a thing done, I want to cry, my heart is bursting with such happiness. I wish I could spread these feelings as a message to the majority of "Mass media mothers." I wish I could tell them all the "necessary conveniences" don't mean diddly to the happiness and well-being of your child. Life is easier when you follow your heart.
                                                   .... Julie Luck


Ending Endometriosis

We were told for ten years that we couldn't have children due to my entometriosis. While my doctors couldn't 'cure' me, I decided to do it myself, through a vegetarian/vegan diet, yoga and exercise. I had not eaten meat/fish/chicken for five years, then gave up dairy, and noticed a vast improvement.  I added more tofu/soy products and  nuts.

I added yoga to my existing regimen of aerobics and swimming. I did aerobics and swam four laps a day  until I was eight months pregnant!  My labor was 16 hours of intense back labor , but  Bradley Method Classes and yoga, breathing and squats, made it pleasant. I loved every second. Having my husband there to support me was the best thing. We left the birthing centre after two hours.

I had gained 29.5 pounds (110 lbs to 140 on a 5' frame) and lost 17 overnight and five more in the next five days. I attribute it to a good diet and yoga. My baby was exclusively breastfed until 10 months, at which time we introduced organic fruits and veggies only.  The pediatrician told us we waited too long, but now she is 12 months and an avid eater of anything, especially tofu.  She has no allergies.  We parents need to listen to our instincts.
Joi and Baby Ruby Straaten
47 Brenton Street
Litchfield, NH  03052-1070
email: [email protected]


Bulk me for two years. My sister loved the back issues.
When I feel like I am alone in the world, I pick up The Mother.
Kathy Lukomski  Holland, Pennsylvania


Birth Pleasure is so fun, it's like chocolate.
Gloria LeMay, Midwife, Vancouver, British Columbia


Although I don't always agree with The Mother's viewpoint, you have presented interesting and challenging ideas. I especialy appreciate boycott news.
Jill Askin, London, Ontario


Bulk me for two years. My sister loved the back issues.
When I feel like I am alone in the world, I pick up The Mother.
Kathy Lukomski  Holland, Pennsylvania


The Mother always arrives just when I need it. Send a Winter Supplyof the Tea, and back issues.
Laura Fitz   Jupiter, Florida


I just inherited back issues of The Mother and gobbled them up. I'm glad to have found a magazine that isn't afraid to be straight forward and BOLD (like Summer '96 "Barbie in Private"). Send a two year bulk subscription. I promise to get lots of other mothers hip. I'd also like a Winter Supply of The Mother's Tea as I have baby number three on the way.
Mira Fannin  Cincinnati, Ohio


The Mother is the best, most amazing publication that exists.
Hara Lewis, Los Angeles, California


Cancel my subscription. The Mother is too new age for my beliefs, the ads are tacky and the advice questionable.
Brenda Ward, New Lebanon, Ohio


The other "parenting" magazines out there just don't cut it. Excuse the stationery, at least it's ink and not crayon.
Leigh Royse, Troy, Michigan


The Mother is refreshing, unusual and unique. I don't always agree with everything, but it's always thought-provoking and interesting. The Thing (Win'96) was terrific. While I'm at it, let me have a tin of the Raspberry Leaf Tea. (I've got to see what all the fuss is about).
Melanie Wittman, Webster Groves, Missouri


I wonder why some people find the concept of motherhood as a blessing, so hard to grasp. Why are they too uptight and heavy to hear about birthing alternatives and breastfeeding advice? Why do they believe lousy information from ignorant doctors and all those babies who need their mommies one hundred percent to get a plastic nipple and fake milk instead.
Karla Shandrowsky, Spruce Grove, Alberta


When I offered to sew some cloth diapers for my cousins new baby, she declined. "I'm not getting my hands dirty; I'm using disposables." So instead of sewing her diapers, I'll send her Mother.
Generous Mother X, somewhere in Manitoba


Too many publications are just wishy washy, trying not to offend anyone to increase subscribers. I love your strong opinions and persistance.
Tracy Higgins, Worthington, Massachussettes


Stimulating Magazine
Chele Marmet, Los Angeles, CA


It's raining babies. Send a bulk subscription.
Jennifer Adams  Ayr, Ontario


I wish I hadn't finished Stretch Marks. I so enjoyed reading it at night.
Silvana Viridlramo  Walkerton, Ontario
(Ed. note: Stretch Marks is available in Mother Books)


After reading several Mothers borrowed from my La Leche League leader, I had a homebirth that has been the high-light of my life and my marriage. Many thanks.
Shannon Hering  Georgetown, Ontario


The Mother is extremely negative towards doctors; a paragraph in Volume 50 depicts doctors as insensitive and rude. I do not see any reason to be so derogatory about physicians; I am an obstetrician and extremely pro-breastfeeding. Despite these views, which seem to be concurrent with your magazine, I was insulted. I hope the rest of your campaign might be less slanderous towards physicians. Remember the commandment "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Susan Shinoff, MD, Toronto, Ontario


Please, please avoid the temptation to become more mainstream, normal or moderate as some have. That would be a tragedy. Breastfeeding Anyway is excellent; I recommend it to everyone.
Mnica Reid, Windsor, Ontario


I was needing a cut back and thought letting go of The Mother was a good place to start. But I cannot do it. You nourish and uplift and validate me. Renew me.
Lisa Brockway, Arcata, California


A good and important magazine; I'm sending it to Dr. Tom Verny in Toronto.
Marvin Surkin, PhD, The New Institute, Portland, Oregon


Send posters for me to hang in my office and pass out to my supportive doctor friends. Homebirth is best and so is breast! In my practice it's mandatory that all my women breastfeed, but that's no problem, they usually do for years and years.
Ellen Leigh Rabe, Marquette, Michigan


Even though our family is set with three kids, I love reading stories about birth and breastfeeding. They are just plain heartwarming.
Zarifa Aziz, Mamaroneck, New York


I'm a doula and need a bulk subscription for my clients and my doula friends.
Twyla Cluster, Ogden, Utah


I'll donate back issues to my local libraries for lending; I want others to be as inspired, informed and sustained as I was. Send Birth Pleasure and Breastfeeding Anyway for my sister-in-law, to encourage her through the most daunting aspects of pregnancy. (after I've read them)
Lee Sanmiya, Vancouver, British Columbia


Enough of raving already. Send us The Tea; we're dying to try it.
Julie Keint, La Leche League of Norfolk-AM  Norfolk, Nebraska


The Mother keeps me sane.
Wini Haun,  Chicago, Illinois


The Mother is too "New Age" for my beliefs, the ads are tacky and the advice questionable.
Brenda j. Ward, New Lebanon, Ohio
(Ed. note: Glad to know we're on the right track!)


I was blown away by your upfront, unashamed attitude that's so hard to find in our society of political correctness and fear of truth. The continued encouragement for parents who want to raise their children with an in-depth understanding of love, intimacy and nurturing, is appreciated.
Nicole, Jonathan, and Katie Gaertner, Atascadero, California


Although we're on a tight one income budget, I'm cancelling all other subscriptions, so I can get The Mother. I'm expecting (surprise) baby number five in October. My others are ten, eight, five and two. My first three were c-sections due to breech presentation. My fourth was my long-awaited VBAC of my beautiful breastfed Joshua who recently weaned at 2 1/2. For my fifth birth I found a midwife to carry me through another wonderful faginal and natural birth.
Linda Thomas  Mesa, Arizona



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