Interview with Jody McLaughlin of The Compleat Mother Magazine

An audio presentation of this interview can be heard at:  

Carrie: You�re back with Carrie, at Natural Moms Talk Radio. We are joined this week, and I�m so honoured to be talking with Jody McLaughlin of Compleat Mother Magazine.  Welcome, Jody. 

Jody:  Thank you very much, Carrie. 

Carrie:  I�ve been a big fan of Compleat Mother Magazine for years.  I subscribed for a long time, and I was a big fan of the Raspberry Leaf Tea.  I think it was instrumental in my second and third births, very much.  I�m a big fan. 

Jody:  Thank you very much. 

C:  So, Jody, we�re going to talk about several things today, one of which is birth, and after that breastfeeding.  Your background is that you grew up on a farm.  Anybody who grows up on a farm seems to have a unique view of birth. 

J:  That�s not exactly true.  I have talked to people who grew up on a farm, and they don�t understand that humans are also mammals.  If what you�re saying is true, North Dakota would have the best maternal and infant statistics in the world, and we do not.  So the recognition that humans are also mammals is not fully understood, even for some people who grew up on a farm.  I�m one of the exceptions, and I have met many more who understand that anything that interferes with privacy in birth can actually make the birth process more difficult and more dangerous.  That also interferes with successful lactation.  I wish it was true that anyone who had a connection to a farm would be able to make this connection, but unfortunately that is not true. 

However, I have talked to a lot of people who do not have a connection with a farm and hardly even have connections with any kind of animal.  But when I point out the specifics of making birth easier and safer and lactation more successful for humans, and then compare that to what we know to be true for animals, they understand, even if they live in a high rise apartment in New York city, and the only time they have contact with animals is when they walk down the sidewalk.  One of the things that I ask is if you had a baby puppy or a baby kitten, would you take it away from the mother, wash it, and then give it back?  Universally, people say, �No, we wouldn�t do that.�  I say �Why not?�  �She may not accept it; she may not recognise it as her own.�  This leads me to do some additional research as to why we have a compulsion to wash human babies after they�re born. 

C:  Why do we do that?  That�s interesting, that you say that.  My family bred Shetland sheepdogs for years when I was a child, and I remember very vividly what it was like when the mommies would give birth to the pups.  That�s so interesting. Why do we have that compulsion? 

J:  I think partially we think that it�s because of hygiene.  Because babies are born from that place in our bodies, that they must have to be decontaminated. The way I understand it is babies should be born from whatever part of the body they are designed to be born from.  If we wanted a less bacteriologically rich environment for the baby�s to be born from, they would be born from our side, or our thigh, or somewhere, some other part of our body.  But it is absolutely vital for the baby to be exposed to the organisms from the mother�s bacterial environment.  And being born between the space where we pee and where we poo enhances the appropriate colonization of the baby�s system.  When babies are born, they�re born without colonization.  They must get colonized immediately, and the best organisms to colonize the baby are the ones from the environment in which the baby will be living.  Which, of course, comes from the mother.  One of the things that a mom can do if, for example, if she would have a caesarean section, is she can put her mouth over the baby�s mouth and nose as soon after the birth as possible.  If she is not able to do this, then it must be done by the father, because the father also shares the bacterial environment with the mother where the baby will be growing up.  This can enhance the baby�s ability to be colonized with the organisms from his or her environment.  We now know that there are additional problems associated with being born by Caesarean Section, in addition to the obvious ones.  One of them is improper colonization.  It�s absolutely vital for the parents to become proactive on this issue, and to do whatever they need to do to enhance the colonization of their newborn with the organisms from the environment in which the baby will be living.  One of the other issues about washing is the baby has a coating on his or her skin called vernix.  Vernix is a wonderful emollient that is antibacterial and antiviral.  It is absolutely imperative that this substance remain on the skin, to be absorbed by the skin.  It�s as important for the baby to have the vernix retained and not washed off as it is for the baby�s intestinal tract to get the colostrum, which is what the mother releases from the breast before her mature milk comes in. It�s as important for the inside of the body to have colostrum as it is for the outside of the body to have vernix. 

C:  That�s interesting.  It always seemed to make sense to me that that creamy, waxy vernix that protected the baby from all that water in utero served a purpose for the skin, to protect it once they�re exposed to dry cold air.   

J:  I think that anything that happens over and over and over again must serve a purpose.  Before we destroy that, we have to ask ourselves �What purpose does this serve?�  Why would babies be born from the vagina rather than from some other part of our body?  Why are babies covered with a substance called vernix?  Why are little boys born with the foreskin still attached to the glands?  Why do babies look around with such wonder as soon as they�re born?  And on the other side, why do we put drops in the baby�s eyes that make them fuzzy?  Why do we take the babies away, when they�re doing testing, and then an hour, or two hours later, we put them back with the mom, when we know that these disturbances could severely impair an animal mother�s ability to care for and be vigilant of the safety of her own offspring? 

C:  I think that people, when they hear that, rationalise that �We�re higher creatures, we have rational minds, intelligent minds and reasoning capacity that makes us different from animals.�   

J:  I can agree with that.  I think we have this higher degree of intelligence and reasoning capacity.  That�s all the more reason why we can�t be disturbing this critical time period in the development of the mother/baby continuum. 

C:  We also have those hormones coming into play, in that very critical time for the bonding to take place, and we need that not to be disturbed. 

J:  We think about the bonding as something that happens at the very beginning.  Yes, the surge in hormones of protectiveness do serve at the time of an undisturbed birth, a spontaneous birth.  Because we are very social creatures, some of that can be overcome later on through our devotion to ourselves, and our devotion to our children, and our devotion to the people who create a safe environment, to ourselves. The problem is with those of us who are in a grey area, those of us to whom I affectionately refer as the walking wounded.  I know a little bit about this condition, because that is me.  I was one of the walking wounded.  I had two obstetrical births.  I didn�t know then what I know now.  I wish I had, they would have been much different.  But you can only do what you can with what you know at the time.  I was surrounded by women who did have high levels of this maternal feeling and expression towards their infants.  I breastfed our children for a full term, and I was able to recapture some of the feelings that a mother needs to have to create a safe environment for her child.  I was able to recapture and recreate that because of the choices that I was making, which was to breastfeed, and which was to surround myself with people who had a high level of nurturing behaviour towards their own children.  If women do not have the opportunity to have the elevation in the hormones of protectiveness towards their offspring, and are sabotaged in their efforts to breastfeed their children, and do not have an environment of women who are lactating for their own babies and children around them, this can be an incredibly lonely and difficult time.  Mothering is a 24-hour a day job, seven days a week, 12 months a year, for years and years. When people ask me what makes Compleat Mothering Magazine different from so many other magazines on the market, I tell them there has to be an easier way to do this.  This is about how to make having children easier.  Not only does this make having children easier, it also makes it more joyful.  Parents who experience joy in their children�s presence are going to have an easier time being present with their children, an easier time being their parent.  One of the things that this attachment does, which I find so incredibly miraculous, is it makes children more charming. And the more charming they are, the more likely they are to be well cared for.  The trick is how do we keep our children charming longer.  How do we stop this tendency for children to become tedious? 

C:  How do we do that? 

J:  By elevating the hormones of maternal respect, and creating, within the mother and the father, the highest desire to have a safe and protected environment for their children.  I�d like to ask farmers �What do you do if you have a sluggish cow, sheep, whatever, who�s not quite mothering up?  What are the tricks?�  And every farmer that I�ve talked to has tricks to get a sluggish cow to mother up.  One said that he would sprinkle salt on the baby, and since the lactating cow craves salt, she�ll lick the salt off the newborn, and she�ll say �Isn�t that the most beautiful little creature you�ve ever seen!?�  The hormones of protection have elevated.  She�ll make sure that little one is always with her or safely hidden, she will always know where he or she is, she will recognise the sound of his or her voice, she will recognise the smell of her offspring, and she will always be vigilant about her young calf�s safety.  When this happens, then the farmer knows the calf will be okay.  Even if coyotes come, they know that the cow will protect her calf.  No matter what happens, they know that her hormones of protection have been elevated, and her calf is going to be okay, and his year long investment in feeding that cow is going to pay off, because the outcome is good. 

C:  Wow.  What else do they do?  What are some other tricks they have? 

J:  Another trick is to introduce a small fright.  Not a large one, but a small one.  One of the tricks that my brother has used is if he sees a young heifer, inexperienced, she�s off by herself, she�s just given birth, and she really doesn�t know what�s going on.  He will call the dog, and the dog will come and stand by his side, and the mother is watching the dog.  The calf is able finally to stagger himself to his feet, walk around his mother, and find the business end of the cow, which, of course, is between the hind legs where the utter is, get hold of one of the teats, starts sucking vigorously, and my brother will stand there with the dog until the calf has been fully fed. Then he�ll slowly start walking away.  The cow will see that the dog is no longer a threat to her.  She�ll look around and say, �Where�s that cute little calf?�  Her hormones of protection have been elevated.  The baby calf had its first really good feed; it has received the colostrum, with all the wonderful immunological, antibacteriological inventory from the mother�s system. Now the baby calf is strong enough, he can follow his mom anywhere.  And she is now aware of his presence, because as milk has been removed from her utter, more milk has come in to take its place.  That fullness feeling is a signal for her to be close to her offspring. 

C:  How do you extrapolate these little tricks to human beings? 

J:  We start asking physicians and midwives  �What tricks do you have to get a sluggish mother to mother up?�  This is a whole new territory.  A few midwives have tricks, but if you ask this question of physicians, they pretty much won�t even know what you�re talking about.  Some of the tricks to get a sluggish new mom to mother up are to create an environment for her that we like to call the Baby Moon.  The Baby Moon is when she is with her baby 24 hours a day for 4-6 weeks.  This seems like a long time, but if you think about a honeymoon, 4-6 weeks doesn�t sometimes feel like nearly long enough to be with your heart�s desire.  In this Baby Moon process, the mother receives her sustenance.  Someone comes in and does the cooking, the laundry, they screen phone calls, they limit visitors, they create a safe environment for the baby and the mom to create this lifelong connection. The need to be with your newborn, to feed your newborn, to comfort your newborn, to cradle your newborn, to smell your newborn. 

Another trick for enhancing this mothering up process is not to bathe the newborn.  When mother smells the baby as the baby smells when s/he is born, it creates a loving feeling in her.   For this reason, and for this reason alone, it is absolutely imperative not to wash the baby.  When the father smells the baby�s head, the father also experiences this.  Noah Wyle, the TV actor from ER, talks about this in the video, What Babies Know.  He tried to talk to some of his friends about �Do you remember what your baby smelled like?  Do you remember how it just went into your nose, into your throat, into your chest, and it just filled you up so you thought that you were going to burst?�  And his friends would say, �What are you talking about?� And he said �The smell of the baby.�  And they said �What are you talking a bout?�  He said �Oh no! They missed it.�   

C:  Yeah.  That�s sad, isn�t it? 

J:  Incredibly sad.  This is the only procedure that I know of which interferes with successful lactation and successful attachment, for which there is no billing code.  There seems not to be a financial advantage to bathing the baby, although we are doing this without knowing why we�re doing it.  When my own grand daughter was born, I knew about the baby smell, and so did my daughter and my son in law.  Of course she smelled beautiful when she was born, and for days after.  Whenever my son in law�s mother would call, she wanted to know whether or not the baby had been bathed yet.  I said �No, not today.  Maybe in a couple of days.�  �Why haven�t they bathed her?�  I said, �She still smells really good.�  �Shouldn�t she be bathed?�  �No, she�s doing okay.�  She called back a couple of days later.  �Have they bathed the baby yet?�  �Maybe this afternoon.�  Then she called back that evening  �Have they bathed the baby?�  �No, they took a nap instead of taking a bath.  Everybody�s fine and doing well.�  �When are they going to bathe that baby?�  She�s not a medical professional.  She loves and adores her grand child.  This cultural imperative to make babies clean is something that really deserves more study.  

C:  And they�re clean to begin with.  It�s not like they�re out working in the hot sun and getting sweaty and gross, and stinky B.O. 

J:  But even if they are out working in the hot son, getting sweaty and gross, that�s who they are.  How people smell is who they are.  One of the things I told my daughters when they are dating was �Know how he smells before he�s cleaned up, because that�s who he is.�  The smell that he releases under different kinds of stress, whether physical work stress or emotional stress, should not be offensive to you.  Know how he smells before you get serious about him.  I�ve told young men the same thing about women.  Know how she smells before she�s cleaned up, because that�s who she is.   

C:  That�s right.  This is interesting, because after my babies were born, my mother never asked me when the baby was going to be bathed, but people do.  She told me that with my big sister, she had an old country doctor who was her pediatrician, and he told her �Don�t you dare bathe that baby until she�s six weeks old.� 

J:  Wow.  That�s incredible.  One of the moms that I talked to, she was planning to have her baby at home.  It didn�t work out; she ended up with a transfer.  This was one of the few times where the Caesarean probably was truly necessary.  This was a disappointment to her, but for a variety of reasons we�re very happy to have obstetrical units and trained surgeons and obstetricians to provide their level of care when it is truly needed.  She was not able to have her baby at home as she had intended, but she was also grateful that she was able to have a Caesarean when it was truly necessary in her case.  She was proud of herself, because she had informed the medical staff that her baby would not be bathed.  The nurse was a bit chagrined at this, and told her that if the baby was not bathed, the baby couldn�t be in the nursery.  The mom said, �That�s fine, I don�t want the baby in the nursery anyway.  I just want her to stay with me.�  �Well, if you don�t let us bathe your baby, every time someone handles her they�ll have to put on gloves.�  She said �I don�t want people handling my baby anyway, but if they need to and they have to put on gloves first, that�s fine with me.�  She said, �I must insist, we must bathe the baby.� The mother said, �No, you do not have my permission to bathe the baby.�   The nurse stomped out, and came back with a hand written sign that said �Dirty baby,� and put it in the baby�s bassinette. 

C:  Oh my gosh. 

J:  The mother was so proud, so incredibly proud of herself, that she put that piece of paper where the nurse had scribbled �Dirty baby� in her child�s baby book.  Because she had advocated for her child, and this was proof of that. 

C:  Yeah, might as well own it. 

J:  She did.  She said, �So many things went wrong that I didn�t have any control over.  This was something I had control over, and by God, I was going to make sure that my baby didn�t get bathed.� 

C: I have a couple of other questions for you.  I�m intrigued by this notion of mothering up.  I�ve got to research that more, I love that.  I�ve noticed something in talking to a lot of mothers and working with women breastfeeding, like I used to do.  I noticed that mothers can get to a point when the baby is slowly starting to wean.  Maybe the baby�s about 18 months old, or two, two and a half or three, where they are not enjoying mothering like they did.  Perhaps it�s a hormonal thing, if the baby�s nursing less, their oxytocin levels are adjusting, who knows?  But what�s your opinion on that?  What can a mom do when she�s at that stage where her child isn�t as charming, and she�s not enjoying mothering as much as she did?  What can she do to mother up? 

J:  That is an excellent question, and you are very astute to observe this.  If someone was asking me this question, I would assume that they were not satisfied with finding their child less engaging, less endearing, less charming.  I would assume that they want to recreate for themselves a better feeling and a closer feeling with their young person, their small person.  So, depending on who�s asking me this question, I already know what the answer is.  If a woman would be asking this question I know that she wants to feel closer to her child.  I would ask her what influences in her life are making her feel distant from her child?  This could be �All my friends have gone back to work, I�m lonely, there�s nobody around for my daughter to play with anymore.  Everyone�s in preschool, everyone�s in daycare.  I feel isolated, I�m holding my daughter responsible because my life has become tedious, because I feel isolated and abandoned.�  She needs to look at her environment to see what in her environment could be triggering this.  And then she needs to create for herself, and by creating it for herself she will also create this for other people who may be in the same situation.  Create an environment where you can be with people who find their children utterly charming.  This may mean that you need to find some new friends; you�ve got to go to new places. You have to spend more time at the farmer�s market, you have to spend more time at the park, or at the library, or to other child-friendly environments.  For the mom to feel that she may be loosing touch with her very small person, she also has to realise that her infant is becoming a toddler, her infant is moving away from her, as toddlers must.  The mother and the father have to adjust to this.  This is the child exhibiting a level of independence that the child has not exhibited before.  This can be frustrating for a parent.  They used to, if you set them down, stay there.  They weren�t so mobile.  The child has to move away from the parent, that�s how it works.  But, as a child takes two steps forward, they also take one step back, and the mother has to make sure that when the child takes one step back, she is there with open arms and love and cuddling, as if he was a newborn again.  This is one of the reasons that mothers say that their toddlers are nursing even more than their newborns.  They�re so busy growing up and expanding, making their world a larger place, and they need the opportunity to retreat to the safety of their mother�s arms and their mother�s milk.  It�s a dance of independence.  They move forward, they step back.  They move forward, they step back.  And when the mom is there without judgement, it�s a lot easier for the child to make this transition to a more responsible interdependence.  And it also makes it easier for the mom, because she sees all of these changes as inevitable, all these changes as progress, all these changes as an indication that her child is reacting in a wonderful, beautiful way with the child�s larger environment.  She needs to revel in the child�s new skills, their newfound authority over their own personhood.  They are going to exhibit these over and over.  But when they want to retreat, they want to know that Mom is there, as she always has been.  It�s a wonderful way to be with a child as they are moving away from you, because when the mother stays where she is, when she does not waver in her feelings of love and affection for the child, the child can come back, and regroup, and recharge, and then go out and explore more of their world again. 

C:  That�s a wonderful answer.  Let�s talk briefly about some of the barriers that get in the way of a woman nursing her baby and what we can do to prevent those. 

J:  There is a very good book that was written several years ago called The Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding: Protecting The Mother And Baby Continuum.  Mary Kroeger, with Linda J. Smith, wrote this book.  It was published by Jones and Bartlett.  Anyone who wants to increase breastfeeding success in their own community needs to purchase a copy of this book.  If our desire was to remove barriers to successful breastfeeding, one easy way to know what those barriers are is to move back to the animal model of maternity care.  If we know, for example, that creating a disturbed environment and interfering with privacy for the birth of an animal will limit successful lactation, then we know not to do that in the animal world.  We can then move towards the care that is provided to humans, and understand that when we disturb the birthing environment, when the woman does not have a feeling of safety or privacy, that can likewise interfere with her ability to be successful at lactation. 

One of the things that makes this whole process a lot easier is to simply ask yourself �Does this enhance or minimize breastfeeding success?�  �Does this enhance or diminish lactation success?�  You could ask yourself if caesarean sections enhance or diminish lactation success?  It increases the success when the caesarean section is done when it is necessary.  Because when the mother doesn�t live or the baby doesn�t live, of course you cannot have lactation success.  So when the caesarean is truly necessary, this enhances lactation success.  When we are doing caesarean section unnecessarily, then we know that it interferes with lactation success.  One question that I�ve asked farmers is �What would an acceptable caesarean section rate be for your animals on the farm?�  One farmer said �0.�  I said, �Is that realistic?� He said, �I run 100 cows.  In 12 years, we haven�t had one Caesarean section.  So yes, this is realistic.� 

C:  Cows don�t know it�s an option. 

J:  You lose money every time you have a Caesarean section.  You need to create an environment where the chances of that being necessary are reduced from the very beginning.  For example, a farmer will always make sure that his animals are in good shape before he even puts them in with a bull.  He wants to make sure the outcomes are good.  He will make sure the animals are fed nourishing food, that they have clean water, that they have safety, that they have shelter, that they have good fresh air to breathe.  He will make sure that they have these things because this enhances good outcomes.  Successful lactation is a critical component of having a good outcome.  Because if the mother animal will not nurse her offspring, then that will have a very big impact on the farmer�s ability to survive financially.  This is a critical component of why obstetrics works the way it does.   

I have been working to change obstetrical practice for decades in my state, and have not been very successful.  I finally found out why. The reason is because obstetrics works perfectly.  It�s doing exactly what it was designed to do. 

C:  That�s right, create commerce. 

J:  That�s right.  If it needed to do something different, it would.  But it�s working perfectly as obstetrics was designed to work.  If not, they would change it.  In my applying the animal model of maternity care to care for humans, this is a plan that I already presented to my local Blue Cross/Blue Shield company.  Predictably, they weren�t interested.  But under this system, the doctor, midwife, whoever, would be paid $100 per pound of live baby.  If the baby is born without surgery, no caesarean section, no episiotomy, that amount would double.  When the baby is breastfed at six weeks, that amount would double again.  When the baby is still breastfed at six months, the amount would double again.  It would double again when the baby is still nursed at a year, and again when the baby is still nursed for two years.  Now this makes the goal of the good outcome successful lactation, and with this as the measure of a good outcome, it�s very easy for us to step back and ask a question at every turn in the road.  Does this diminish or increase breastfeeding success?  If it enhances breastfeeding success, than that�s something that needs to be encouraged.  If it diminishes breastfeeding success, that�s something that has to be limited in it�s application.  When we achieve these kinds of measurable good outcomes, then not only will our children be healthier, our families will be healthier, our communities will be healthier.   

One of my favourite authors is Michel Odent, who wrote the book The Farmer and the Obstetrician.  He said no matter where he travels in the world, he knows that it�s safe to go out at night, because he knows what the ratio is between obstetricians and midwives in that country.  The higher your rate of midwife to obstetrician, the lower your crime rate. 

C:  Is that because when babies are exposed during birth to drugs, it predisposes them to drug use later in adulthood? 

J:  Yes.  There�s an important study done by Dr. Bertil Jacobson, an epidemiologist from Sweden, and he showed just that.  Unfortunately, he wasn�t able to publish it because of political forces.  But he did find a connection between children who were born under the effects of pharmaceutical drugs that were given to the mother during labour and birth, and higher incidents of drug abuse.  This is predictable.  Because even when everything goes well, birth is a stressful time, because it is a time of transition, of moving from an inside world to an outside world.  Transitions are always stressful, even when it goes well.  This is a sensitive time period for the baby, and also a sensitive time period for mother.  When the child enters different times of stress in their life, as they do, - toddler hood is stressful.  Moving into adolescence is stressful. Moving into young adulthood is stressful.  There will be a need, a desire to return to that which is familiar.  To them, because of their own birth experiences, this is to be in a drugged state. This is a very important component of why drug abuse is so common in countries whose care system is dominated by allopathy and pharmaceuticals. 

We also know that when children are suctioned at birth, that the suctioning process elicits a gag reflex.  When this happens to them during this sensitive time period, during this time of stress, it actually can condition the individual to elicit the gag reflex during their own times of stress as they get older.   

C:  Sounds like anorexia. 

J:  It does.  If we stop suctioning our babies at birth, it would be very interesting to see what this did to our rates of anorexia in our adolescents. 

C:  Has anyone ever found a correlation between � 

J:  Again, Dr. Bertil Jacobson found this, and he did write about this.  It was very difficult for him when he published his findings, and this lead to him not being able to publish the information about the correlation between being born in a drugged state and later drug abuse.   

C:  This is fascinating stuff.  I know we could go on and on forever. 

J:  This is something I want your readers to take home; this is the take home message. Any time someone suggests something to you or offers something to you, you have to ask yourself �Does this make sense to me?�  In answering that question, you will have a pretty good idea of what decisions you will be making.  If you still don�t know, if you still don�t understand whether it would be a good idea, then ask yourself the second question, which is �Would we do this to an animal?�  If you know in your heart of hearts that this is something you would not do to an animal, then there is probably a really good reason not to do it yourself, not to subject your child to this.   

C:  Great point.  Tell us briefly about Compleat Mother, for my listeners who are unfamiliar with your publication.  Tell us a little more about it. 

J:  Compleat Mother Magazine started publishing in 1985 in Ontario, Canada.  The woman who founded this magazine, Catherine Young, was writing for a mainstream publication.  She has this incredible birth story that she wanted published, but they weren�t interested in incredible birth stories.  They wanted her to go to the Toronto Children�s Hospital, and do a story on the tiniest babies in the Intensive Care Unit, complete with tubes running in and out of their bodies, with close-up photographs.  Catherine thought that it was obscene that they had an opportunity to do a story about a wonderful, incredible birth of a beautiful healthy child, but instead they wanted to do a story on babies that are born too soon and too small.  This is, of course, a tragedy, and we need to know more about that, but this is not something that we need to be feeding into the hearts and minds of new parents, because this is very stressful to them. 

The most important component that is nearly lacking in most women�s prenatal environment is the experience of joy.  Catherine thought that if she could bring to new and expectant parents the possibility of having joyful pregnancies, joyful births, joyful breastfeeding, that this would enhance the health not only of communities, but entire cultures.  Of course, she was right.  But there are so many financial incentives to not have good outcomes. 

One of the comparisons I make between the animal model and the medical model of maternity care is in the animal model you get paid the highest price when you have the best outcome.  And in the medical model, you get paid the highest when the outcomes are poor.  So there seems not to be a financial motive to have good outcomes for humans.   I believe this needs to be changed.  I believe it can be changed, I believe it�s absolutely vital that it be changed, but I don�t have the power to do that.  All I can suggest to women is if the system is not meeting their needs, they must walk away.  I want to get back to that a little bit later, but first I want to tell you a little bit more about Compleat Mother Magazine. 

This is the magazine of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  We have information in this publication that you will not find anywhere else. 

C:  I can definitely vouch for that. 

J:  One of the reasons that Compleat Mother Magazine is so resourceful and so innovative is because experts rather than professionals write almost all of our stories.  You may ask the question �What�s the difference between an expert and a professional?�  An expert is telling his or her own story.  A professional is telling someone else�s story.  We much prefer when people tell their own stories, especially when their stories contain an insight, an �AHA!� moment.  An �Oh, now I understand!�  We need to know people�s stories when they move themselves from the walking wounded to the clearly focused.  Because all of us have the chance to be among the walking wounded if our decision-making process is hindered by fear.  We make much better decisions for ourselves and our children if our decision-making process is based on instinct, insight, resourcefulness, creativity, knowledge, understanding� understanding of our own motivations, understanding other people�s motivations. What I want, more than anything, is for people to create for themselves a secure environment in which they can make decisions they know are best for themselves and best for their families.   

I wanted to briefly read something from a book a subscriber brought to my attention recently.  The title of this book is Childbirth Yesterday and Today: A Story of Childbirth Through the Ages To the Present.  The author is A. J. Rongy MD, who was an obstetrician.  This book was published in 1937.  The last page of the book contains this sage advice.  �If maternal mortality and morbidity is to be reduced at all, a change must be made in the practice of obstetrics.  Meddlesome obstetrics costing the lives of many women must be eliminated.  A method, a practice must be established, whereby it would be impossible for any obstetrician to �rush� his case.  Artificial delivery, whether simple or complicated, should not be attempted�� And Dr. Rongy goes on to say: �But these and similar reforms can come about only as a result of pressure from the women of this country.� And� �Regretfully, women do not seem to realize that men will never solve their problems for them; that is essentially a problem that should and must be solved by the women.  They must concern themselves with the fundamental questions relating to maternal mortality; whether improvements can be obtained through government or private agencies; whether maternity centers, catering to and providing for all classes of society must be provided; whether steps should be taken to remove the haphazard methods of obstetrical services.� 

I want to remind you, this was written in 1937.   

C:  wow. 

J:  We now know that the infant mortality rate in the United States is higher than 40 other countries. We have the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world.  We also know that the maternal mortality rate is increasing.   

C: The perception among so many women about that, though, is that it�s because women don�t have good access to healthcare. 

J:  The first thing I want to say is we have to understand the difference and the significance between healthcare and medical care.   

C:  That�s right 

J:  Healthcare is the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the safety in our environment, having shelter.  That is healthcare.  Medical care is surgery, pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures and tests; that is medical care, not healthcare.  There is an important book called Expecting Trouble: The Myth of Prenatal Care in America, written by Thomas H. Strong JR. M.D., obstetrician, neonatologist from Prescott, Arizona.  In his book, he points out that the poor outcomes increase in direct proportion to how much �prenatal care� the woman receives. 

C:  I believe that. 

J:  Because of his reflection on this, I have started calling this process Prenatal Scare rather than prenatal care, because women are frightened over and over into compliance, into saying �yes� to things they may not be sure is okay for them.  All these tests, AFP tests, chorionic villi tests, all the ultrasound scans, we know babies don�t like ultrasound scanning.  All these things that are done over and over frighten women, impair the ability to feel joy in her pregnancy, and ultimately create a poor outcome.  The most important thing a woman can do after she has enough good food to eat, clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, and a safe environment is to experience joy.  And one of the best ways to experience joy is through singing and dancing.  When was the last time a physician asked a woman �Did you join that signing group I asked you about?  Are you dancing?  Are you moving your hips?�   

C:  I�ll have to look into that book, because I was trying to make an intelligent argument with a woman who thought the answer to our high infant mortality rate in the United States was socialized medicine.  I don�t believe that�s the answer. 

J:  It would be, if the care provided was appropriate. 

C:  That�s my point.  The very women who do get �free� healthcare in this country are the women who have the worst infant mortality rates.   

J:  What if the poor quality of medical care given to people in our country was given to even more people?  I recently got a letter from one of my congressmen about �improved healthcare� � I�d asked him about medical care, not healthcare. We don�t have a healthcare system in this country, although our medical care system is in dire need of being reformed.  His answer was to provide more cheap pharmaceuticals.  We already know that more people die of complications of their appropriately prescribed and appropriately ingested pharmaceuticals than from many other causes. The number of people that die from drug reactions is staggering.  His answer was  �Provide more drugs.�  And so I can see from his response that he has been highly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.   

C:  That�s right. 

J:  I think the lobbyists are doing more to destroy our ability to create for ourselves a workable medical care system.  We need medical care but we don�t need it as it is now being delivered. We have many people who need medical care who can�t get it; we have many people who don�t need medical care who are getting an abundance of it.  It�s my assessment that we probably have about the right amount of medical care, but the people who need it aren�t getting it, and the people who don�t need it are getting it.  We just have to find a way to equal that out.  I don�t have a voice in Washington.  I don�t know if you have a voice in Washington, but right now the lobbyists are the ones who are calling the shots.  They are actually writing the bills that are passing into laws.  I can�t do anything about that. All I can do is walk away. 

C:  And you can continue publishing your magazine, which educates mothers and women, and we as individuals can make those decisions. 

J:  Don�t forget about the fathers. 

C:  And fathers.  Well, Jody, I know we could talk all day, and I would love to have you back on the show again. Again, I am a big fan of your publication, and I�m so happy that you�re my 100th guest.  I�m so pleased with that.  Thank you so much for joining us. 

J:  Thank you so much. 

Jody McLaughlin, Compleat Mother Magazine
PO Box 209
Minot, North Dakota 58702-0209
email: [email protected]   phone: 701 852-2822

web sites: 

See Was Barack Obama breastfed? at mothertomother.htm 

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