Interview with Jody McLaughlin of The Compleat Mother Magazine
An audio presentation of this interview
can be heard at:
Jody: Thank you very
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
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
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.
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
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
C: How do we do
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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
C: Great point.
Tell us briefly about Compleat Mother, for my listeners who are
unfamiliar with your publication. Tell us a little more about
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Jody McLaughlin, Compleat
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