Mother to Mother

Compleat Mother issue #88

I googled Was Barack Obama breastfed? and got 285,000 hits.
When I googled Was John McCain breastfed? I got only (!) 118,000 hits.
I don�t know what this means, but if I loved my computer that much, I surely would find out.

Dear Friends, Rabble Rousers, Ring Leaders and Malcontents,

My husband received a call from a political field office and was asked if he would be voting for Senator Barack Obama for president. My husband told them that was personal and said �goodbye.�
    The next evening I got the call and was asked the same question. I said I wasn�t sure, I had some questions. �What questions?�
    �Why does Senator Obama talk about health care reform when we do not have a health care system?� �What do you mean?�
    Thirty minutes later the 22 year old woman said all these ideas were very interesting, I asked her if she would take my name, address, phone number and email address and run the information up the chain of command. I said if I didn�t hear from anyone, I would know it was of no use.
    Lo and behold, the next morning I got a call from Andrew, Deputy Political Director for the Barack Obama campaign in North Dakota (also in his early 20�s). He invited me to submit my interesting ideas to campaign headquarters, which I did (see below).
    I also asked him if he could find out if Senator Barack was breastfed. Barack was born in 1961, his family didn�t have much money and there was no WIC program yet to give away free artificial baby milk to poor moms. (WIC, a federal nutrition program for Women Infants and Children was lobbied through congress by formula manufacturers in the early 1970�s.) So... maybe this presidential candidate WAS breastfed. Andrew knew our last president that was breastfed was Jimmy Carter, so he understood why this information was important to my voting decision. I also want to know if Barack�s daughters were nursed, but first things first.

Dear Andrew,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I am sending you a copy of my email to the Obama �Suggest Your Own Policy� site.
Let me know when you find out if Senator Obama was breastfed. Were his daughters? It seems like an odd question, I am sure, but it makes all the difference in the world when I am talking to people about these issues.
Thank you in advance for reading my ideas. Any comments or suggestions will, of course, be welcomed.Most Sincerely,

        Although I did not hear back from the Obama Campaign Office, I have it on good authority that Senator Obama�s daughters were nursed, but I still don�t know about their dad.

What follows is my submission to the Obama Campaign �Suggest Your Own Policy� website� .
I was pleased to read Senator Obama�s �Plan for a Healthy America: Lowering health care costs and ensuring affordable, high-quality health care for all�.
    I would like to offer Senator Obama an idea that would separate him from all the pundits campaigning for their respective elections and elevate this part of his campaign to a higher level.
    Replace rhetoric about �health care reform� to meaningful MEDICAL CARE REFORM discussion. Starting with a new title for his PLAN� �Barack Obama�s Plan for a Healthy America: Lowering MEDICAL care costs and ensuring affordable, high-quality MEDICAL AND health care for all.�All the other political candidates will be talking about �healthcare� reform, affordable �health insurance� and the �health care� crisis... we have all been hearing this spin for years and we know it means business as usual.
    I have been tracking these issues for three decades. This is what I have observed: Our local facility was called Trinity HOSPITAL, later re-named Trinity MEDICAL CENTER, and now it is Trinity HEALTH.
    In the late 70�s and early 80�s the discussions centered around the MEDICAL crisis, MEDICAL reform, MEDICAL insurance and MEDICAL care cost containment.
    MEDICAL insurance morphed into HEALTH CARE insurance. MEDICAL reform morphed into HEALTHCARE reform.
        This is a difference with a distinction.
    Health care includes clean air and safe water, enough good food to eat, exercise, rest, shelter and a safe environment as well as healing arts and the availability of and appropriate utilization of medical care services.
    Medical care is surgery, pharmaceuticals, invasive tests and procedures. Malpractice tort reform is on the agenda too but no one is talking about reducing the incidence of malpractice, or alleviating the malpractice crisis by improving outcomes.

Senator Obama�s PLAN uses the word �health� approximately 100 times when the word �medical� would be far more accurate.
    If Senator Obama starts to talk about MEDICAL reform, the distinction will be significant. Those of us who have been around for decades, watching everything get worse, will be heartened to know Senator Obama knows the difference between MEDICAL care, which is in desperate need of reform and a HEALTH CARE mandate which must be developed. Anyone who has been tracking these issues knows the United States does not have a HEALTH CARE system to reform. In addition, it is my belief that we have about the right amount of medical care, the problem is mal-distribution. Unnecessary surgeries and over-treatment are common... so are denials of medical treatment for those who truly need it.

Where do we start?

   The foundation of this entire structure is maternity care reform. I know what is wrong in maternity care and I know what must be corrected. I know the medical and health care providers who can turn this around once the barriers to achieving good outcomes are overcome. The most significant impediment to these changes is the payment system. Poor outcomes generate more billable services than good outcomes.
   When I started my research, the cesarean section rate was under 5%. Now cesarean rates of 30% are not unusual and the costs have increased exponentially. (see �The Farmer and the Obstetrician� by Michel Odent, MD and �Expecting Trouble� by Thomas H. Strong MD, obstetrician and neonatologist and the film �Birth As We Know It� and if you can bare the sight of strong women voting with their feet, see �The Big Stretch�.)
    Prenatal care has been re-named Prenatal Scare because of the high levels of stressful anxiety generated by obstetrical maternity care. To find the solution, look at other countries that have better maternity statistics. The film �Midwives, Lullabies and Mother Earth� is a good place to start.
    The prematurity rate is going up in the US. Our Infant Mortality rate is the worst in the developed world. Our Maternal Mortality Rate is increasing.
    If this happened to a farmer, he would go broke. To remain financially viable, he would need to make sure his animals were getting enough to eat, had clean water, space to exercise, shelter, safety and freedom of movement and privacy for birth. Babies would not be routinely separated from their mothers and nothing would be allowed to interfere with successful lactation. Colonization of the baby�s system with the organisms
from the environment in which the baby will be living and the full immunological inventory from the mother�s milk is guaranteed.
    When human mothers and babies have poor outcomes, obstetrical experts claim that no one really knows what causes premature birth or low weight gain. They do not know which medical practices lead to lactation failure or the development of poor �mothering-up� skills. Nutrition in pregnancy is not even in the curriculum of our state medical school� I was told �It does not matter what women eat, it has no bearing on the outcome.� I grew up on a farm. I know what you feed your animals is of critical importance if your goal is healthy babies and mothers who will nurse them, care for them and protect them from harm. Farmers also have tricks to get a sluggish new mom to �Mother-Up.� A vigilant mother is vital if the farmer�s year-long investment is to pay off.
    State of the art maternity care programs developed with a solid understanding of the normal physiology of gestation, birth and lactation will prove their value within one short year with measurable indicators that will rank our programs favorably by improved outcomes including lactation success and lower costs. Successful lactation is the single most important indicator of future health resulting in a further reduction in medical costs, (see �Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding� by Mary Kroeger with Linda J. Smith and the film �Birth and Parenting for the 21st Century�). Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. Thank you for your time and attention.

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

Full disclosure: Jody McLaughlin is the publisher
of Compleat Mother, the Magazine of Pregnancy,
Birth and Breastfeeding web:
and supports protecting the Genital Integrity of all,
especially children�

    I have not heard back from anyone, so maybe this too, fell on deaf ears. Anyway, always look for people with the four �I�s: Intelligence, Integrity, Interest and a willingness to make an Investment. If they do not have all four qualities, chances are, they will not be able to understand what we are saying.
    When the Deputy Political Director of the North Dakota Campaign for Change says... It was wonderful talking to you and thank you so much for your time and input. Your passion for Maternal care is exuberant and contagious. I hope these resources help to allow you to take more ownership over this campaign. Please provide us feedback on our plan! it is just so much smoke and mirrors. And my husband had it right from the start.

-- Jody McLaughlin, Compleat Mother Magazine, Publisher

I�m asking you to believe. Not just in my
ability to bring about real change in Washington...
I�m asking you to believe in yours.




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