March 26, 2002

This article about The Compleat Mother magazine was published on March 3, 2002.
Minot Daily News Sun, March 3,  2002

Parents  share experience
Minot woman publishes 'Compleat Mother'
for  parents around the world

By: Andrea Johnson
Editorial  Staff  Writer

- Few international businesses are as far-reaching  as the one Jody  McLaughlin runs out of her Minot home.

Four  times a year - in January,  April, July and October - about 7,000  or 8,000 issues of "The Compleat Mother"  are printed at the Greater  Northwest Publishing Inc. in Minot and mailed to  subscribers  in 14 countries around the world. The magazine is devoted  to homebirth,  breastfeeding and parenting.

"All of the  United States and European  magazines are mailed out of Minot,"  McLaughlin said proudly.

Including  the United States,  subscribers reside in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan,  Argentina,  Brazil, Venezuela, and the Czech Republic. McLaughlin estimated  that  about $36,000 annually comes into the state from the American  edition of the  magazine. Printing, bulk mailing, shipping and  office costs are also funneled  back into Minot and the larger  area by a magazine that many don't realize  exists.

The  Compleat Mother was created 17 years ago in Clifford,  Ontario,  by
Catherine Young.

McLaughlin, who had long been interested  and involved in the issues covered by the magazine, took over  the American  edition of the magazine in 1989. "I had been reading  the magazine for about five  years," McLaughlin said. "I had written  a couple of articles and Catherine knew  I was a really good networker."

Young  found that it was cheaper to mail  the magazine to American subscribers  from Minot than from Canada, McLaughlin  said. She agreed to take  over the printing and mailing of the magazine to ensure  that it  would continue here.

Young died in September 2001 of cancer.  The  Canadian edition of the magazine is now run by her daughter,  Rebecca  Young.

Rebecca Young said McLaughlin has been a  big part of the success  of the magazine.

"She has opened  the states up to the magazine in a way  that we couldn't," said  Young, 23, who lives in Hamilton, Ontario. "We have way  more subscribers  in the states now."

The magazine is comprised with  submissions  from subscribers. Men and women write of their experiences  with  childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting and similar topics.  Articles are submitted  gratis, McLaughlin said, which means the  magazine doesn't receive many articles  from freelance writers  who contribute to other such magazines.

"Mostly we  get  fledgling writers," McLaughlin said.

However, all of the  contributors  are people who have real-life experience with the  subjects they write about, who  don't censor their opinions. McLaughlin  said subscribers recognize that the  Compleat Mother is written  by people who are "experts, not professionals," and  value the  publication for its difference from more mainstream parenting  magazines.

Each  issue features a photo of a woman breastfeeding a child  on the  cover. Many of the photos have been women and children from the  Minot  area, McLaughlin said. A photo of Minot resident Mona Goheen's  baby son  breastfeeding was featured two years ago.

Goheen,  who is also an avid  reader of the magazine, said The Compleat  Mother provided invaluable information  when she was planning a  home water birth in 2000 and when she was breast feeding  her son.

"It's  very helpful," said Goheen, who also called McLaughlin  equally  helpful and "a walking library."

Goheen said she thinks it's  great that a magazine with an international readership is published  in Minot.  McLaughlin said some of the magazine's cover shots are  also submitted by  readers, or are artistic representations of  breastfeeding.

Though some  area women, like Goheen, are  avid readers, most of the magazine's American  subscribers live  out of state. The majority of them live in Minnesota, Michigan,  New York, California and Washington. There is also an online edition  of the  magazine, which contains copies of articles and letters  from some of the  magazine's back issues. Greg Cryns, who lives  Illinois, is the Webmaster for the  online edition of the magazine.  The magazine can be found at (

McLaughlin  said she doesn't think many people know of the existence of the  magazine, even  though it has been printed in Minot for 13 years.  Circulation has grown mainly  through word of mouth. It is passed  out by subscribers to members of a La Leche  League group or at  hospitals, or shared between sisters, friends and  aunts.

"We  have 12-year-olds who read the magazine," said  McLaughlin.

A  police chaplain in Detroit found the magazine in a local  health  food store and was so excited that he bought a lifetime subscription  so  he could share the magazine with others, said McLaughlin. Another  subscriber,  who bought multiple back issues of the magazine, was  an 80-year-old health food  store owner in California.

"The  library at (the University of North  Dakota) has the largest collection
in  the U.S.," said McLaughlin. "We also  have people who want every
available  back issue."

Young said she tries  to pick a variety of  submissions for each issue so there is at least one article  every  reader will be interested in.

"We try and be respectful of  the  readers' diversity," Young said.

Young said an issue  may contain  information about homebirths, breastfeeding and circumcision,  as well as  remedies for medical problems so there is information  of interest to young  mothers and fathers as well as middle-aged  grandmothers.

"It's a  community," said Young. "There are  people who subscribed to the Compleat Mother  17 years ago who  still subscribe. It's a small community, but it's a really  powerful  one ... That's why I'm so attached to (the magazine) ... These are  a  community of people who knew my mother really well."

Her  mother had  already completed much of the fall issue and was worried  about whether the  magazine would be completed in the week before  her death, Young said. She  assured her mother that she would continue  her work.

"The magazine had to  go to the printer four days  after she died," Young said.

Working on the  magazine has  been therapeutic for her and has helped her maintain a connection  with her mother, Young said. While she initially thought she would  only be able  to complete a few issues after her mother died, now  she thinks she will keep  going with it until someone can be found  who is interested in running it on a  permanent basis.

It  would be best for McLaughlin if someone can be found  who can make  a long-term commitment to carry on the magazine, Young  said.

Young  said she's grateful to McLaughlin for being so supportive and  helpful  after the death of her mother. Without McLaughlin's help and the  knowledge she shared with Young, it would have been much more  difficult to  continue the magazine, she said.

"The first  two months were really  difficult," she said. "I didn't know where  my mom kept a lot of things. Her  filing system was really creative,  to say the least. I didn't know who her  advertisers were."

Young  said she wasn't sure how her mother billed her  Canadian advertisers,  so she had to develop her own system. Throughout it all,  McLaughlin's  assistance was invaluable.

"It's been a joy to continue the  work," Young said. "I'm very proud of
Jody. She took a big  risk  ..."

The U.S./Canadian partnership is made easier  with the advent of  e-mail and the Internet. Young is of a generation  that is at ease with  computers. Catherine Young and McLaughlin  took to it with less ease.

"Our  children drag us kicking  and screaming into the 21st century," McLaughlin  said.

Her  daughter, Riva, persuaded McLaughlin to upgrade her equipment a  few years ago. Both Riva, 28, and her sister, Alyson, 25, helped  their mother  with the mailing when they lived at home. Young said  she also persuaded her  mother to upgrade her equipment a while  before her death, but her mother never  became completely comfortable  with computers.

Still, before the advent of  e-mail, Catherine  Young wrote to McLaughlin four times a year with the layouts  for  the American edition of the magazine. After they got e-mail, they  were  trading messages nearly every day, Rebecca Young said. Young  does the entire  layout on her computer. She selects the pieces  that will appear in each  quarterly edition and paginates the pages  using Pagemaker software. Her printer  in Ontario then sends the  layout to McLaughlin by Fedex.

Young said she  handles the  advertisers for the Canadian edition, while McLaughlin handles the  advertising for the American edition. It is a business that McLaughlin  still  finds rewarding after so many years.

"I love what  I'm doing," McLaughlin  said. "I love the flexibility."

She  also loves knowing that the magazine  she has invested so much  time and effort in is making a real difference for  women and children  all over the world.

"This magazine changes lives,"  said  McLaughlin.


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