The Compleat Mother Magazine

//--Notes from your online editor--//

//-- Chapters from Breastfeeding Anyway and Birth Joy --//

- Cup feeding: an alternative method of infant feeding

- Breath of Life

- God's Fingers Massaged My Womb



//--Notes from your online editor, Greg Cryns --//

Jody McLaughlin, our fearless U.S. editor and distributor of CM is under the weather. Some wicked kind of flu. Please keep her in your prayers.

Also, please keep Rebecca Young in your prayers as well. She is healthy, but probably feeling a bit swamped by now putting out the next great issue of Compleat Mother.

Oh, way off topic, but here's a shameless plug for me! One of the ways I put food on the family table is to help people create their own websites. I can put you on the Web for a ridiculously low $125, including the domain name and hosting. Please visit the three latest, all "our" type of sites, and drop the owners an email telling them how much you enjoyed their sites. They would certainly enjoy your comments.




We're sticking to the pithy stuff in this issue, folks. Where I live, it is just way too hot to think about anything else. Besides, there are gardens to enjoy!

//-- Chapters from Breastfeeding Anyway and Birth Joy --//

Cup feeding: an alternative method of infant feeding Lang, S., Lawrence, C.J. and L'E Orme

The primary purpose of cup feeding is to provide a safe method of feeding low birthweight and premature infants until the infant is strong and mature enough to take the breast.

A second reason is to avoid the use of bottled and artificial nipples and to prevent the increased mortality and morbidity associated with bottle feeding.

Thirdly a feeding method is needed that does not interfere with appropriate sucking techniques. Cup feeding has been used successfully in developing countries for many years and is not yet fully accepted by neonatal units in industrialized countries.

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in the UK gradually introduced cup feeding in its neonatal unit and since 1989, 500 infants had received one or more cup feeds. Six groups of infants were found to benefit:

1. Infants nearing discharge who had established breastfeeding and whose mothers were not resident,
2. Breastfed preterm infants not mature enough to complete a breastfeed,
3. Infants with a cleft lip or palate,
4. Infants with an uncoordinated suck, swallow and breathing pattern,
5. Infants born by cesarean section, until mother able to breastfeed,
6. Term or preterm infants to tired to complete a full breastfeed

The authors suggest a strong association between cup feedings and successful breastfeeding outcomes. This works
pretty good, but it made a terrible "mooing" sound each time it sucked. At home, I set my alarm clock and got up once or twice in the night to pump. (Some wonderful friends chipped in and rented us an electric pump, but it was mean and really sucked my nipples hard. Within a few uses of it my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I gave up on it and used a hand pump my sister gave me.)

Night pumping was most draining, emotionally. I pumped in the room we had fixed up for Rachel, and often I watched a video of her we had taken. Although this always brought tears to my eyes, my milk flowed quickly. Before long, I had enough milk to feed the entire NICU. I was so proud of that!

By Rachel's eighth day she was breathing on her own. During the day I was allowed to take her across the hall to the 'parenting room', a place exclusively for parents whose babies were in the NICU. I was able to put her to the breast twice a day, but at first she had to go back to NICU for feedings so she could be monitored. She held her own and I was able to nurse her without monitors and machines.

I had a terrible time keeping her awake for feedings at my breast: she would mouth the nipple, lick it, and doze off to sleep. I tickled her feet and palms to no avail. Her latch was terrible because she had no suction and didn't open her mouth wide enough. I was virtually expressing milk into her. The nurses were helpful. A midwife and lactation consultant checked on us and her positioning was good. She was just too little and to weak to nurse well. The pediatrician didn't want her at the breast for more than 20 minutes at a time for fear she would spend more energy than she would gain. She was a pound less than her low birthweight. At 4 lbs., 13 oz, it was a slow climb up.

After a week of barely noticeable improvement, I felt discouraged. Would I ever get Rachel home? Her inability to nurse efficiently was keeping her tube-fed in the hospital. Another mother told me bottle fed babies go home sooner than breastfed babies...My husband strongly encouraged me not to give up. My dream of a peaceful birth at the birthing center without bright lights or drugs had been blown apart. I had to breastfeed.

Around day 22, Rachel started to stay awake for longer periods of time and although still only mouthing my breasts, she did it more vigorously. By this time I was putting her to my breast at least three times a day, more often depending on what nurse was one. This was great; the more often she sucked, the less I had to pump, and I was beginning to hate the pump.

On day 24 the nurse suggested I stay overnight and feed her for all the feedings. I was excited! After the midnight nursing she gained 65 grams! Incredibly, she no longer needed to be supplemented by tube. I stayed a second night and she gained weight again. Twenty six days after her birth, we finally took our 5 lbs. 2 oz. baby home.

At home we had to wake every four hours. A couple of days later she was waking on her own every two hours. She still only mouthed my nipples. There really was no feeling of suction. If I didn't hold my breast in her mouth, it would fall out. She usually nursed an hour, then was wide awake for an hour. I tried to nurse her lying down, but since she couldn't hold the nipple at all, it didn't work. I wasn't worried about her weight-gain since there were lots of wet diapers.

A couple of weeks after we got home a friend encouraged me to attend a La Leche League meeting. It was our first outing and I was happy to get out, but once I got there I felt horrible. All the moms and babies seemed to be nursing so effortlessly, and they could have a cup of tea with their free arm. I broke down and cried. The leader and some moms reassured me it would get better.

Two days before Rachel's official birth date, seven weeks after her birth, when I sat down to nurse, I felt a tug at my nipple. She was actually sucking! Over the next few days the pull increased and I could actually have one free hand too. When she was 11 weeks old she finally managed to nurse lying down and we started getting some sleep at night.

She cried often, and when she cried I always offered her a breast, but it wasn't always the answer. I wore her in a sling, danced with her, (she still like Stevie Ray Vaughn) slept with her, changed my diet for her, but I guess she just needed to cry. Maybe it was our cruel early separation. She had breastmilk only until seven months. At that time she was already 24 pounds.

Now Rachel is 17 months and nurses like a pro. She sleeps in our bed and nurses every two hours, which drives me crazy but I believe will stop eventually. She's pretty clever.

I still get made when I read about wonderful birthing stories. Establishing a good breastfeeding relationship was the most challenging thing I've ever done, and the best thing I've ever done.

If you have a premature baby, my advice to you is this:
If your baby is hospitalized, make sure the nurses know you want to do as much as possible. You can change diapers, bathe baby, give your milk through the tube, touch your baby as much as possible. Be sure the pumped milk your baby is receiving is given in chronological order.

Surround yourself with people who believe breast is best. Find La Leche League. They can help. Know you will be able to nurse this child. It will be worth it.


Please support our advertisers!

Earth Mama Angel Baby...natural and organic herbal support products for pregnancy, labor, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding and babies. You'll also find a free interactive birth plan and more. www.earthmamaangelbaby.com


Breath of Life

Birth is sacred and marvelous and private.

I felt warm and content, and had an instinctive trust in my body which had blossomed from 115 pounds to a whopping 160. We smiled and kissed, and realized there was no going back now. Each contraction got strong and stronger. Part of me wasn't sure I could cope with this huge powerful thing, labour. I lost all sense of time.

One sweet moment I remember well was when the midwife gently suggested I reach inside my birth passage, to touch for the first time, the head of my new son. I felt his damp, long hair and was renewed in energy to bring him out.
The grand head was born, then the shoulders, and our wet purple-red boy came into the world.

Blessed be. His warm, sweet body was in my arms. Axel was crying, although he managed to remember the first words to our son were in Spanish. (Now he can't remember what they were.)

The room was filled with a golden light as the afternoon sun filled our western window. A feeling of awe and gratitude welcomed the safe landing of our ten pound boy. We named him Abel, the name of his Guatemalan grandfather. It means breath of life.

Emilie Smith-Ayala, Toronto, Ontario


Massaged My Womb

I was strong, and except for the heartburn, enjoyed being pregnant. I had gained at least fifty pounds with this pregnancy, and my belly stuck our magnificently. Few clothes fit, and trying to find a way to sleep was a challenge I met with half a dozen pillows propping my legs, tummy and arms.

My home was clean, though far from lovely. It was newly built by my man and I, and my children adorned the bare drywall with their crayon creations. The floors were plywood, but swept and a recently roughed-in bathroom was ready for my birth needs.

My man was not rich, considerate, or, as I had come to understand, capable of emotional intimacy, but he was witty, kind under duress, physically strong and sexually faithful, technically. He was also a peeping tom. I knew I hadn't picked the ideal life partner, but I also knew how to get what I wanted with what I had.

I wanted a calm, country home for my children, and I wanted to be with them as they developed to their full potential. The day after my due date my man and I walked up and down the big hills of our neighbour's yard, to speed my labour along. I drank a pot of raspberry leaf tea, weeded the strawberry patch on my hands and knees, and went to bed after shushing my daughters out of the bathtub.

I woke at midnight. My man snored beside me; I felt a pop and sat a long time on the toilet before I realized I must be dripping amniotic sac water.

The bathtub was filled with grey, soapy water and a dozen plastic toys. I got down on hands and knees and scrubbed it clean before filling it for myself. Trips to the toilet, with labour diarrhea, were frequent. I was amazed at the emptying, and at my body's competence.

The tub felt fine. We were alone, my soon-born child and I, for the first time. I enjoyed thoughts of what our life would be like, how we would deal with misfortunes, no doubt ahead and also the pleasures.

Aaaah, the pleasures. God's fingers massaged my womb and I enjoyed the caress. Snores in the background, girls making sleep sounds down the hall, me splashing out of the tub to empty my bowels again, oooooh it's strong out there, back in the tub and God's fingers did not quit.

Oh, all alone I was free to open my mouth the size of a grape, and Oh again, the size of a plum.

I called for my man to wake up and turn out the light. It was only 40 watts and around the corner, but far too bright for my labouring self. He made it pitch black, except for a sliver of moonlight.

Oh, my mouth could fit a peach and, Oh, an orange! How wonderful no-one was there to stare, and put it on a chart. Oh, my mouth was as big as a grapefruit and dowwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnn falls America into the ocean, surely.
I called to my man to call Linda Lou the nurse, and Dr. Peter who both hurried, and I thought it would be nice if he showered for the baby, but ten seconds later I ordered him out of there, I wanted back in the nice, warm, safe, clean, pain free bathtub and in I got. He woke the little girls and Linda Lou was there, cheeks glowing.

"Check me Linda Lou. Is my cervix fully dilated?" (It couldn't possibly be, yet, there's been no pain!)
"Check you Catherine? Your baby's head is crowning dear. The cervix is fully dilated and baby is out of the womb, waiting to be pushed into the world."

Out of the lovely tub that had been such a pleasure to labour in, and over the big queen size bed. My man had hung a rope from the rafter, for me to hold for a squatting birth, but it was uncomfortable as hell, and besides, it seemed baby would push out my bum, so I sealed off the back passage by sitting my cheeks on the edge of the bed.

Linda Lou is a large-economy-size woman and she gave me her abundant shoulder to drape my arm over. My girls were bright-eyed and smiling in their nighties, sitting on a stuffed rocker by the bedside. My man knelt in front of me and I pushed my baby's head forth.

Knock on the door. Linda Lou wasn't getting it; my man stayed put. My big girl, almost five, encouraged by a beseeching look from her labouring mother, braved the night terrors and went downstairs to let in Dr. Peter. Bless him, he returned with a black bag and parked it and him in the shadows.

Another push into Linda Lou's big shoulder and the head is all out and staring at the floor. "Can I kiss the head?" asks the three year old, but her sister insists, "I will wait till it's cleaned off first," and out came the shoulders, legs, and my arms are receiving my third child from my man who may not be perfect but makes a perfectly good Accoucher at the time.

The baby has cried and latched on to my great nipple, is covered in soft, flannelette receiving blankets and is surrounded by sisters. Linda Lou asks if it wouldn't be too much of an intrusion to have the light on to see the baby's colour and I laugh and the baby is a nice pink and has wondrous red balls and I laugh again.

My son weighed 10 pounds, 11 ounces and my labour was one hour and forty eight minutes of pleasure. I had no tear and am proud of myself as a woman who gave wonderful birth, and enjoyed herself immensely in spite of adverse circumstances.



Midwife, Yvonne Cryns, is still being hounded by the State of Illinois. She's been put out of business and humiliated in public trial. Now they want their pond of proverbial flesh. They want to put her in jail.

The Supreme Court of Illinois AGREED to hear the civil case of IDPR (Illinois Department of Professional Regulations) vs Yvonne Cryns. This is significant for many reasons, not the least of which is that the Supreme Court takes on very few cases. The Court will review and rule on a very recent Appellate Court decision that the IDPR can control independent (unlicensed) midwifery.
The essence of this case is whether or not IDPR has the right to regulate unlicensed professions. The implications of this Supreme Court decision could be significant for midwives and the Illinois community at large. This case is not directly involved with Ms. Cryns criminal case which is now in the Appellate court.

You can read many articles about this perplexing case here:

and for information about other midwives go here:


Yvonne is not the only midwife under fire, of course. In almost every state of the U.S. there are horror stories to tell about how traditional midwives