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Dear Mother Dear
of our newsletter
Midwife Mary Doll
The Doula Doll
Marketing Infant Formula
To whom it may concern:
March 15, 1999
Marketing and promotion of infant formula violates a basic human right of mothers and
babies to receive breastmilk. This violation, which is largely ignored in Canada and
United States, is harmful to the health, nutritional status, and even the survival
infants all over the world.
The negative impact that the marketing and promotion of infant formula has on the health
of North American babies is comparable to the deleterious effects that cigarette marketing
has on the health of teens and adults.
The World Health Organization Code is intended not to restrict women's choice, but to
enable them to make a fully informed choice, free of industry pressure.
Only 60 percent of North American mothers breastfeed their babies at birth, and a mere 20
percent of infants still receive breastmilk by six months of age, even though the
medical community is aware the risks of not breastfeeding for the first twelve months
include reduced IQ, compromised psychological development, greater risk of ear infection,
diarrhea, obesity, allergies and life threatening illnesses and diseases as published by
the American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Breastfeeding, in 1997.
Infant formula manufacturers spend billions of dollars marketing to health care
professionals, and directly to mothers by seminars and mailing campaigns, because each
mother who bottle-feeds represents $800 in sales. As a result of aggressive and
pervasive marketing of infant formula, we have lost a breastfeeding culture in just a few
The health profession has worked, largely unwittingly, along with the formula industry to
render breastfeeding unattainable and undesireable. We need to promote breastfeeding
as normal and healthful for mother and baby and as an expected part of the everyday life
of the average human being. Not to do so is hazardous to the health and well-being
of our nations' infants.
Michael Latham, MD, Professor of International Nutrition at
Michael Latham SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org
Pertussis Was The Culprit
When our first son was three months old, and I was a very young Mom, I took him for his
three months set of shots. Two hours later, as I tried to nurse a very fussy baby, I
noticed he had an unusually large tongue.
I checked and quickly realized he was choking. I rushed him to our hospital and the
doctors agreed and gave him a anaphalctic shot instantly and saved his life. He had just
had one shot. Pertusis is the culprit. Our second child never did have any shots. I
pressed the issue and recieved a letter on their birth records to allow the boys access to
public school admission, unvaccinated for reasons of conscience.
It is terrible that some of our little ones, have to become handicapped or worse,
die as a result of this incompetant vaccine system.
Carli Heinrichs, Grand Forks, British Columbia
I was struggling with depression and despair
after the premature birth of my first baby, feeling like a misfit because I didn't want to
leave my baby with a sitter, sleep him in another room, or give up breastfeeding him for
the benefit of the Gross National Product.
I decided to have my next baby at home, and nursed her and her later sibling, also born at
home, for the next seven years. We've all reaped untold riches all because of the mother's
stories, letters and articles that appeared in this little newsprint quarterly put
together on the kitchen table of a rural Ontario sheepfarm and a Minot, North Dakota
Aliss Terpstra, Toronto, Ontario
I heard the news today, oh boy!
Just heard something good on the evening news as we were headed out the door to our
E.C.F.E. class; American Academy of Pediatrics has officially changed their ways and
decided that circumcision is really cruel and unecessary after all. Is the news
really true?! I admit, I was a bit taken aback that they finally have changed their
tune. I hope this will help a bunch of pediatricians and other responsible folks to
wake up and decide against doing more circumcisions. It'll be very interesting to
observe how things play out in actual practice at hospitals since the culture is so much
into snipping. I wonder if/when the U.S. and internatinal community will decide by
law that genital integrity is not just for females anymore. I definitely think we're
moving in the right direction, yet can't help but think there's so much more to be done!
Happily, many of my students have decided against circumcising their sons (Most of
whom I met after they had already had
Together with my students, we've been exploring complete mother, mothering magazine and
the National Vaccine Information Network sites. I'm very determined that my students
understand their rights to informed consent on all things. Many of them have not
been treated all that well by the medical system and have lots of stories to tell about
either signing forms after they've been drugged during labor and rushed through lots of
paperwork with very little background information to go on. Of course almost all of
them tell me they had no idea they could contientiously object to shots if they want to.
I'm in the position of educating and advocating for them to know their real rights.
Our school nurse who enforces our immunization policy at school is open and is not
a radical shot enforcement queen, even though she doesn't really take the time to talk
with students about pros and cons of shots. I do. Someone has got to.
Then at least they are informed if there is a reaction from a shot.
Martin, Ana, and Allyson Appelbaum, St. Paul, Minnesota
The old question
Noah naps seldom and has never slept more than five
consecutive hours. I've fine-tuned this response, to
the age-old question:
Other Mother: "So, is he sleeping through the night?"
Me: "He's not a sleeper, but he sleeps with us so it all works
Other Mother, shocked: "You better nip that habit
in the bud now. My son/daughter slept through the
night at one/ten weeks!"
Me: "I've read gifted children don't need as much sleep as their
Other Mother: Sputter/ blank stare/ disbelieving nod. (I'm
always hoping they'll continue it with more info about their great sleeper).
My dream ending response if they do: huge sympathetic
smile and, "But, don't worry about your child...
the food service industry is the backbone of our society."
-Emily, mama to Noah (4/8/98) & Romeo, retired racing greyhound (6/90)
See our family at: http://home.inreach.com/droysdon/eroysdon/pics/
My homepage: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Fields/1335/index.html
I am convinced that our society is very mistaken when it comes to
parenting our little ones. I see so many children being treated like inconveniences
instead of the miracles they are.
Bottlefeeding, scheduling, crying it out at night...all of these
contribute to the breakdown of society.
Please send me a new bulk subscription. I feel lost in our crazy
world and need the "Mother's" centering.
Angela Woerner Greeley, Colorado
Not an Easy Society
My youngest (of three) is now almost three.
He decided he was done with nursing around
two years old. I was all set to go to whatever
age for him, but he decided it was two. Right
now the little guy is with his dad at the Children's
Hospital, because he has the flu and there is fear
he might be dehydrated. I stayed home to be with
the two older children. When my other son had a
bad flu I was still nursing and there was never any
concern about fluids. Alot of the breastmilk was
digested before any was vomitted.
I am worried about my littlest, and at the same time
I trust his strong little body to fight this off. He has
never been vaccinated, he was breastfed as long as
he wanted, and he eats as much organic food as I can
afford. (Also he is a blood type O and some research
says O's have strong immune systems.)
Other than this, all is well in our household. I am thankful for my three
children and their father. I am just coming off a six month computer contract where
I worked four days a week. It was too much;I missed the children terribly, and now
will only accept contracts of three days a week maximum. It's a bit of a stretch out
here in the business world but I have to set the limit.
This is not an easy society to live in. The last many
hundred years haven't been much better. I take strength from mother writers
doing all they can for their families.
Karin Harris, Calgary
Pass the Milk
Pass the Milk
I must have been a wetnurse in a past life.
My sister-in-law adopted a newborn, and I
asked her if she would like me to pump my
milk for her new baby. (They would never
go for direct nursing.) I also encouraged
her to breastfeed, but the one lactation
consultant she spoke to told her it would
be too much work.
She declined my milk, and I cried. My
sadness was for the baby boy, now 14
months and in daycare five days a week.
He has been on antibiotics several times,
was vaccinated and cries often. I had
ample milk. I wish I could have helped.
Jenna Melissas, Woodstock, Georgia
Last month a child was vaccinated in our area
with the wicked DPT, and is now paralyzed in
both arms and legs. So sad and so unnecessary.
And my best friend had a little boy this morning,
and called to tell me her news, as she had a
moment of time, since the nurses took the little
boy to be circumcised! I cried. Why should that
baby, only four hours old, who should be snuggled
at his mother's breast, warm and safe, be mutilated
and in writhing pain. I pray The Mother reaches
many before they make these painful decisions.
I will leave copies in public places, hoping they
reach someone in time. Thank you for publishing
our magazine, in a world of chaos.
Wendy Garverick, Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania
It is great to know they are so many
of us all
over the world. It is like a LLL International
Conference coming in the mailbox.
Sherri Murphy, Fort Wayne, Indiana
I upgraded husbands, this one is from Canada.
Lori Dietrich, Marietta, Georgia
I am so excited about getting a regular
subscription and not scumming old
issues from half-strangers. You do good.
Natasha DeVoe, Minneapolis, Minnesota
You are my favorite magazine.
Kellie Keys, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
I am breastfeeding a 4 year-old and a
15 month old. The Mother connects me.
Barbara Mancini, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I loved "Why Hospital Birth Doesn't Work"
Spring '99, and "Suicide by Cesarean" cut
to the soul.
Sue Frizzell, Conway, Arkansas
Being a Mommy to our nursing four and two year
olds, and a weaned five year old is a riot. As our
town's La Leche League Leader, I'm busy.
Lisa Tendler, Midland, Michigan
I am 41 and expecting our firth child, a delightful
surprise. After delivering our first four children,
ages 20, 18, 14 and 11, in hospitals, I am having
a midwife-attended homebirth. I use herbs, home
remedies, homeschooling and always thought I
was "different." I guess you are too.
Geri Palmer, Fort Thomas, Arizona
I love the honest, clear-eyed Mother to
Mother column. This has been a rough
year, but reading The Mother is
reassuring and hopeful.
Wini Haun, Chicago, Illinois
I have four beautiful "little ones".
Jennifer Billick, Kissimmee, Florida
A New Spirit
Please welcome to the world a new spirit, birthed at
home, our son, Benjamin Ethan Brown, Born January 31, 1999 @ 8:51 p.m.
Weighting in at 10 lbs, 2oz!! and 23" in length!!!
His skin is bright red and he's soo chunky!! Hardly seems like a newborn!! And
he still has that great smell. We can't bring ourselves to take it off! He
doesn't cry, just squeaks a little which he is doing
Love Julie, Bill and Zachariah
Niagara Falls Woman Wins Booby Prize (the
original article--followed by response from a reader and then a response from our
By JEFF HARDER
A Niagara Falls mother of two was upsetting some of the other parents and children
while nursing her two kids . It wouldn't have been a big deal if she was feeding an
eight-pound newborn. But Goforth was nursing two toddlers, aged two and four.
Not just one at a time, wrapped in swaddling cloth. Some of the YMCA members felt
uncomfortable and asked her to breastfeed in a private room.
Goforth complained other moms were bottlefeeding kids of comparable ages. Come on.
They were offering bottles, not breastfeeding kids who are walking and talking. It's
Don't get me wrong. I know breast milk is the best possible nutrition for a growing child.
But it's just like using diapers. There's a time to potty train just like there's a time
to wean. Nobody wants to see a four-year-old marching around in a soiled diaper.
Amen. There is also common-sense consideration for others. Goforth should grow up.
Or at the very least, allow her children too.
You can email the reporter's editor at:email@example.com
Reporter Jeff Harder's email is:
Niagara Falls breastfeeding mother Julia Goforth is at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Mens Christian Association offended by
breastfeeding (This is a response from Nicole Miller, B.A. B.Ed.)
Dear Mr. Harder,
Your article "Niagara Falls Woman wins Booby Prize" has recently come to my
Did you know that the average global weaning age for children is 4 years old? It is only
our unfortunate western society that forces dependant youngsters to be
"independent" as early as possible, it is only our distorted society that allows
a baby to be nurtured by a plastic nipple rather than the comfort, warmth and closeness of
his mothers. And sadly, it is articles like yours - both sarcastic and pedantic,
that help keep us in the dark ages.
It is painfully obvious, that women and men who have been forced from the breast
themselves, or made the tragic decision to force their babies away from it, hold so much
pain, guilt and jealousy towards that mom's children that their prejudices and ridiculous
statements about a child's independence bely their own unfortunate upbringings.
And for the record, you will never see an untrained four-year old cloth diapered baby - it
is only our gluttonous, convenience-starved disposable society that has produced the
comfort and dryness associated with plastic diapers and hence, babies who have no real
incentive to train themselves.
I'm sorry that you wrote this article. I'm sorry that you were not allowed to wean
at your pace, and I'm sorry that you chose not to research this topic before writing your
Nicole Miller, B.A. B.Ed.
Response by Catherine Young to Jeff Harder
Dear Jeff, editor and Christians at the Y:
Psalm 22, Verse 9
"Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother's breast."
Since Jesus, Moses, Solomon, and the rest of the heroes in the new and old testament were
allowed to suck nourishing, health-giving, brain enriching mothers' milk well beyond
their third years of life, it seems a ironic that the Niagara Falls Young Men's
Christian Association should banish suckling children where bottle-toting tots are
Greater minds than Jeff Harder's have declared breastfeeding to be protective
against breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and anxiety in the mother,
and that babies who consume breastmilk will be 8.3 IQ points higher than those fed formula
with apparent YMCA approval.
The esteemed American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Obs/Gyn of Canada, the
Pediatric Society of Canada and most of the literate world who read scientific headlines
at least, now know babies and children given breastmilk are less likely to be victims of
SIDS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's, colitis, fatal necrotizing enterocolitis, miningitis,
gastro-intestinal illness, lymphoid hypertrophy and bacteremia.
Our fist comfort zone concern must be with our youngest, smallest, most vulnerable.
If Jeff and the members of the YMCA are offended by young children engaging in healthy,
happy life-sustaining activity, so be it. If the Goforth children are spared one
because their mother did not opt for the soya beans or cow milk fare Harder et al digest
with ease, then let them squirm.
The Friends of Breastfeeding Society
RR# 3 Clifford Ontario N0G 1M0
This letter is therapy for a mother who feels an
enormous amount of guilt. It is many years in the making, and required a great deal of
courage to put on paper. The subject matter is painful for me to think about, talk about,
or write about.
In nursing school at the age of 17 I saw my first birth, a boy. As I looked at him I
wondered if he was deformed as I had never seen an intact male. It took a few minutes
before I realized why his penis looked different. The next day I observed the circumcision
of that boy. It never occurred to me to question what was being done.
Pregnant with my first child at the age of 22, I remembered the births I had seen in
nursing school and knew I wanted mine to be different. It was. I was well read about
avoiding routine interventions by the time my son was born and I delivered him without
using medication, in an upright position, without the use of episiotomy or interference of
any kind. I was asked to
sign the consent form for circumcision during labor. Risks of the procedure were never
discussed, nor did anyone ever suggest to me that it not be done. My husband is
circumcised, and I had literally never known anyone who wasn't. My son was born at
midnight, and when he was brought to me at 7:00 the next morning he had already been
circumcised. I was shown how to keep his raw little penis covered with vaseline on a gauze
pad until it healed. He now looked like all the other little boys I'd ever been around.
By the time my second son was born 3 1/2 years later I had been exposed to people who had
left their sons intact. I knew it wasn't necessary for medical reasons, but thought that
the social reasons were worth considering. I remember a conversation I had with a male
friend during my pregnancy in which he told me about his nephews who weren't circumcised.
He claimed that these boys begged their mother to let them get their "skin" cut
off so they would look like all their friends. That conversation left quite an impression
Unlike his older brother, my second son was born at home. The next day I made an
appointment with our family doctor to have him circumcised when he was five days old. I
was aware of this doctor's position in support of circumcision. I considered him to be a
friend, especially after his willingness to attend our homebirth. Something unexpected
happened in this baby's first five days of life. I changed many diapers on my still intact
son, and thought how nice he looked. For the first time I entertained the idea of not
having him circumcised. At the suggestion of this my husband
started calling his brother and sister to ask what they had done with their sons. Of
course he found no support for what I was suggesting. He also told
me locker room stories from his childhood about how "strange" the uncircumcised
When we took our son in at five days, I requested that the doctor do a
"mini-circ" so that my son wouldn't have trouble with too little shaft skin like
I had heard some men do. The doctor responded to my request by saying "get your order
in now while you can". I also insisted on staying in the room while Ethan was
circumcised. The doctor seemed uncomfortable with
this, and remarked that I shouldn't put myself through anything I didn't need to, but I
felt that if Ethan had to go through it, I should too.
During the circumcision I tried to comfort him by
trying to get him to suck on my finger. The doctor remarked to me that "nothing
helps". At a certain point during the procedure I had the closest thing I have ever
had to an out-of-body experience. I had to emotionally disconnect from what was going on
in that room in order to get through it. I couldn't take his struggling and the soundless
cry that soon changed to listlessness. I felt that I was observing myself watching the
whole thing. I wanted to stop the circumcision soon after it started, but felt that the
harm had already been done (and besides, I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of the
doctor I respected). On my way out of the procedure room I looked at my sons severed
foreskin in the trash can and wondered if it was too late to put it back on.
Ethan slept the rest of the day. I am convinced he was responding to the trauma by this
deepest of sleep. When I changed his first diaper after the circ I was repulsed by what I
saw! My perfect little boy had changed. He looked wounded!! The next day I observed that
the whole body of his penis seemed to be retracted into his body. It looked like he didn't
even have a penis. He was 18 months old before his penis was not retracted into the base
of his abdomen the majority of the time.
I was depressed. My depression only deepened when a friend stopped by with a meal and told
me that she hadn't had either of her boys circumcised. This was a fact I hadn't known. My
husband also reacted to my regret by telling me that his dad hadn'tbeen circumcised, and
one of his closest friends was also intact. I felt angry at him for denying me the
information that could have given me the strength to stand up against Ethan's
circumcision. I tried to defend my actions to myself in order to feel like I wasn't a
monster. To a certain extent I succeeded.
When my son was four months old my good friend Jody McLaughlin was involved in bringing
Marilyn Milos to my hometown for a presentation about genital integrity. She invited me,
and I remember feeling that I really didn't want to attend. But in the end, I went as a
favor to a friend. While there I saw the movie "Fire Eyes" about female
circumcision. I witnessed a baby girl held down while her genitals were cut, and I wanted
to grab her and protect her! I experienced a cringing feeling that started in my genitals
and worked its way up to my throat! I felt sick to my stomach and had to leave the room. I
told Jody "Oh my god! It's the same thing!", (meaning male circumcision and
female circumcision). I realized for the first time how
desensitized I had become to the subject. That day marked a complete turn-around in my
feelings. What had ever made me think that it was a decision I had a right to make? The
thought of someone exerting that kind of control over a child's body moved me like little
When I learned that our third child would be another boy, I have to admit that I was
disappointed. Now I am thankful that God gave me another "Chance" because I have
a stronger voice because of it. At age 5 years Jesse has had no problems with his
uncircumcised penis. I have to admit that it took a little getting used to. It looked so
different from what I was used to seeing, but time has changed my perception. I had never
noticed the scar on my husband and my first two sons until I noticed the ABSENCE of a scar
on Jesse. How I could have ever thought that an uncircumcised penis was cosmetically
better is a mystery to me now. I see how perfect and natural Jesse looks, and I would give
anything to go back 10+ years so that I could have 3 uncircumcised sons. Jesse is less
inhibited about his genitals than his brothers are, and he is much better endowed. I
wonder if the removal of the vast amount of tissue, nerve endings and the circulatory
damage of circumcision somehow affects how the penis develops and matures. Jesse has a
higher pain tolerance than either of his brothers, and he complains less when in cool
water than they do. Both of my other sons hold their genitals and complain about the
temperature of the swimming pool if it isn't warm that day, but Jesse's little
"blanket" serves him well.
I urge any of you who can use my story to do so. If there is one consolation I can take to
my grave it is this. The sacrifice of my first two sons' foreskins has saved countless
more boys from this procedure than if I had left them intact. And it has taught me to
always, always QUESTION.
I am a 30 year old mom with a 13
month old son and have been in Leesburg, Florida for 6 months. I am looking for a
mom/mom's group that is raising their child(ren) in the same manner that I am raising my
son (breastfeeding, homeschooling, healthy eating, etc.) My son needs other children to
play with and I need to meet other moms. It is really difficult being the new kid on the
block. If you could be of any assistance I would greatly appreciate it.
I also want to let you know how much I enjoy you Compleat Mother Magazines.Your
subscription was a gift from my mother-in-law and one of the best I have received.
Fruitland Park, Florida
(Ed. note: one way to network is to post your concerns on our bulletin board.
Try it! It works.
My 3 year old daughter has watched with
intense interest when I breastfeed my newborn son. She now "breastfeeds"
all of her dolls and mimics other motherly activities. While I fed him the other
day, she asked "Mommy, do you have milk or juice in there?"
Jill Pettigrew of Lucerne Valley,
To whom it most concerns at the College of Midwives
It has come to my attention that your College is attempting to put private birth attendant
Gloria Lemay out of business. This is unwise for several reasons. Firstly, she is a highly
qualified birth attendant; in my own obstetric history I have come across many people who
have made a career out of servicing pregnant women, and she is by far the most
knowledgeable of how a normal birth unfolds. And since she has not spent many years in
becoming well-versed in the abnormalities of childbirth, she does not anticipate them.
However, she is quick to address abnormalities if they do occur, and will readily
transport a woman to hospital if need be.
Secondly, her life's work has been in caring for
birthing women; Ms. Lemay has spent the last twenty years assisting parturient women, and
it is a grave insult to her, as well as the women she has served, by trying to have her
forced out of business, and not serving her community, where her services are needed most.
Thirdly, by trying to eradicate the last of the lay midwives in the province of B.C. you
are acting in a way that reminds me of the anti-midwifery movement of the early twentieth
century: you are trying to have her legislated out of existence. You are, in effect,
calling this scrupulously clean, well-educated woman "dirty and ignorant", and
the women she serves, reckless and suspect. Please note that you can
only harm your own credibility when you systematically try to wipe out your sisters in
Fourth, you are acting in a way that can only lead me
to believe you do not respect my choice as an intelligent, sentient woman in a pluralistic
and democratic society, regarding the choice of who attends me in childbirth: I
cannot emphasize this point strongly enough- the choice is mine. No one has has the right
to strip me of my right to say who may be with me during this highly personal, highly
vulnerable time. Far too many times have my choices been stolen from me, and I will never
again be deprived of my rights in childbirth. She will not go down silently.
Which brings me to my last point. If your College
persists in the most unwise venture of trying to put private birth attendant Gloria Lemay
out of business, I, my children, and my husband, as well as the hundreds of women Ms.
Lemay has attended, and their children, and their husbands, will band together to do
whatever is necessary to protect and help the woman who protected us, and helped us so
well in our most vulnerable time; you, right now, are making her somewhat vulnerable
through your persistent attacking, and I will protect her as I love my own children: with
ferocity, and unending passion.
With utmost sincerity,
- Lora-Lee McCracken
I just got my first online mailing of Compleat Mother
and I LOVE IT! Thanks so much for sending out such wonderful information. I love the
I had to have c-sections with my 4 children,
but I totally advocate natural childbirth to everyone I meet. I was in an unfortunate
situation to have a little bitty pelvis and Type 1 Diabetes for 17 years, thus causing
some healthy sized babies. I still had wonderful experiences and beautiful, healthy,
nurtured children. I just had my last baby in May and he is thriving on my milk! What a
blessing to have people out there who understand that there isn't another way to give your
baby the best! Thanks again, you guys are awesome!
I used to read Compleat Mother years ago when my
oldest daughter was an infant, and a friend just sent the url for your online edition.
Reading the articles and news reminded me how empowering the magazine was for me as a
young mother surrounded by voices telling me that all my instincts were wrong.
After completing the questions in the online edition, I wonder if you might consider
including articles about parenting older children...after all, mothering doesn't stop when
children are weaned. : ) In any case, keep up the great work. Compleat Mother
is a sane voice in an often crazy world.
I just finished reading the latest issue and had to say thanks
again for such a wonderful publication! It gives me encouragement when friends and
family doubt our decision to continue nursing ("She's STILL nursing?!";
"When are you going to wean her?!"), have a family bed ("Isn't she in her
own bed, YET?!"; "You'll never get her out of your bed!") and general
attachment parenting, (but frequently comment on how happy and pleasant she is!) My
husband and I know we're doing what's best and right for our daughter, but our friends
view us as "freaks" and can't believe the choices we've made. What I can't
believe is that out of 7 Moms in my playgroup, only 2 have breastfed! I can't help
but comment when they state their children are sick, once again, and my 14 mo.old has
NEVER been sick. But they only get defensive when I attribute her good health to
breastfeeding! Could it be because they feel guilty?!...
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for showing me there are others who feel/believe like I
do! I'm taking my well-read back issues to my new midwife
I love The Mother, though I don't always agree
with all the radical views.I have a beautiful 11-month-old-son born by emergency
C-section. ( I whole-heartedly regret not using a midwife and feel that with one I may
have birthed vaginally) but look forward to a VBAC without a doctor for baby #2 . My
son and I still share a beautiful and loving nursing relationship and it's my husband who
relishes our family bed more than anyone.
-Susan Annala, Bowser, British Columbia
I was living in Byron Bay, Australia when I found out
I was pregnant. I visited midwife Pam Sonia, who works out of the Mullumbimby
Medical Centre and discussed homebirth.
Christine and my brother Sandy sent me back issues of
Compleat Mother and some of Catherine's raspberry leaf tea. Pam is also a nurse with over
twelve years of experience catching babies - I think it was over four hundred at last
count! She was against interference and into natural medicines and homeopathy.
My pregnancy was wonderful - I had no morning
sickness, no stretchmarks (apricot kernal oil and at least twenty minutes of sunlight a
day on my belly), no emotional upsets and I looked and felt fantastic.
Byron Bay is a great place to have a baby - the
support for midwives and for homebirths and motherhood in general is amazing!
Carmel Debreuil email@example.com
I am a 42 year old mother of four children, ages 2,
4, 7 and 10 (all boys except the 7 year old). Three of my children were home births.
I am new to your magazine and I don't know if you have dealt with the subject of
circumcision. I recently had an experience that I'd like to share with all mothers who
have uncircumsized boys.
My four year old was diagnosed with a condition called phimosis where the foreskin adheres
to the tip of the penis and won't retract. This wouldn't be so bad except his pee hole was
the size of a pin head. The urologists all recommended circumcision. I was
disappointed and scared because putting four year old through all that pain was the last
thing I wanted to do.
The day before his surgery, I found a site on the internet which said that there was 95%
success using a steroid cream to correct phimosis. I cancelled the surgery. I put
the cream on my son for the next month and a half. The other day as I was applying some
cream and the skin gently slid right down revealing his beautiful tip. I was
I want mothers to know that there is an alternative to this condition that works. Please
help me spread the word. Thank you.
(Don't blame me for this letter;
only my wife would write a letter extolling the virtues of Caesarian birth to a natural
birthing magazine. I just post the emails. Our three Caesarian children are all perfectly
normal, except that they always leave rooms by the window.) - Annette's
I hope this short description of my Caesarian deliveries may give other hospital
deliverers encouragement and support. I am a trained yoga teacher and have specialized in
maternity yoga. I have enjoyed subscribing to your magazine for over five years now.
Three Births by Caesarian Delivery.
To me, births are all about human possibilities and learning the values of an open heart.
Each of my children have been born in hospital with a high number of medical professionals
With Jerome I laboured on & off for days before going to hospital to further labour,
before foetal distress became apparaent and Jerome was successfully delivered by an
emergency Caesarian. His birth weight was 9lb 3oz and I am 5ft 2in complete with a small
pelvic inlet. He was in Special Care Nursery for one night and I woke from the epidural to
begin breastfeeding. I was anxious, exhausted and so happy to begin my worldly
responsibilities to this person, our first child. Words cannot completely describe the
rapture, joy and pain associated with the births of each of my three children for me. It
is beyond and within this immediate experience I am trying to describe to you.
Ceridwen's birth 8lb 9oz was an elective Caesarian. One moment she was sleeping, the next
she was born. Held by her father and listening to his songs. She is herself, dancing to
music she brought from the stars.
Tasarla our third baby, began "talking" after my uterus was opened and the
amniotic fluid sucked away. She was lifted from me, her voice continued to sound and we
laughed to witness, another miracle birth.
The Earth Mother watches and guides our mortal deliveries and protects us from being
unfeeling channels of Divine Grace. Every birth is a miracle which may lead us to the
possibility and continuance of our open hearts, briefly...cherished...forever.
Dear Annette and Graham;
One day, shortly after I started The Compleat Mother I got a phone call from Dr Grantly
Dick-Read's son. Dr G. was famous in the '50's and 60's for promoting natural birth,
and himself married a woman who had a son by cesarean section. Together, they delivered
another son, vaginally, at home. It was a scandal for the times, and Dr G nearly
lost his license to practice medicine.
After Dr G died, his son wanted to continue his work, hence the overseas telephone call.
"So you were born vaginally?" I asked.
"No," he replied. That was his brother, three years younger, who, sadly
enough, committed suicide when he was 30 years old. The one on the phone was the one
born by section.
That story has always stayed inside me. The
gentle, easy birth is no more a measure of future success than is six months or six years
of breastfeeding, than if vitamin C was swallowed, piano lessons given, chess
taught, trips abroad taken, stories read to or cub scouts enrolled in, university degrees
taken or exercises adhered to.
But culturally, if we have a nation of babies delivered from above, a country of scarred
women recuping from major surgery and looking after vulnerable newborns, a world of
doctors viewing reproductive
mothers as so much suturing, then we have an epidemic of birth gone wrong.
My first child was born eight pounds, a regal purple and more beautiful than anything I
had ever seen. She came after three tubes of nitrous oxide, sixteen hours in the hospital,
an epidural, forty minutes of pushing and lots of chastising me for taking so long and an
abundance of feeling of . . . .
What was the feeling, exactly? Well, I was sorry I held up the anaesthetist, the
Lamaze coach, three shifts of nurses, the MD I had never seen before that night, and my
husband. I really wanted to squat and birth, something like laying an egg, and be
proud and go home, all in the same hour. I was perplexed, that I didn't birth well
and easily. And I was cross that I had hurt so much.
Until the next baby came. Without a vaginal exam, refusing the amnio hook, forsaking
the suture light. Five hours of serious breathing, and a little vomiting, but no
need for gas or drugs or a birthing team
to swear for me to hurry_________and my 8.5 pound pink baby girl was in my arms after a
ten minute pushing stage. Then I felt . . .
proud of my birthing prowess, capable of anything human or beyond, and pissed off that I
had missed that huge adrenalin rush of motherhood two years earlier.
Until the next baby came. At home, in the dark, in the tub, after one hour and
forty-eight minutes of pleasure. Pleasure. Real, sexual, intense, wonderful,
exciting, incredible, pleasure. The earth moved. He weighed ten pounds,
fourteen ounces, and his sisters giggled when he was born.
I'm secretly still nursing my third son William,
three in December. After much grief of explaining nursing, weaning, needing and the
like to family and in-laws, unashamed secrecy is my best bet. I hardly have any milk
but he seems to relish the few drops he finds. I love my sons more than any bottle-feeding
mom can ever know. I am still a waitress, trying to pay off our despicable credit bills,
so we can enjoy life. We had a marvelous stay in Italy and were impressed with the
breastfeeding support in the hospital when I had William. However the birthing support and
knowledge could use a lot of help. Old- fashioned "be a good girl"attitude. But
overall a beautiful country. Seeing 'The Last Supper' in person left me speechless.
Trina Werner, Riverside, California
My parents chose to deliver me themselves at home
and I was subsequently breast fed, and not circumcised. Only now do I realize how
rare that was in 1971, especially considering my parents are both from the North American
culture. I am really glad my mom did her own reading on the subject. My wife is
expecting in April.
Graydon Raymer, Toronto, Ontario
Nurses at the doctor's
We just started going to a new pediatrician. The
nurse there came in to ask the usual round of questions (sleeping, feeding, etc). She said
Annika (5 months old) should be eating fruit and cereal and was annoyed when I told her we
weren't starting solids until 6 months or whenever Annika wants them. She said
"You should REALLY be feeding her cereal by now." I started quoting AAP
guidelines to her and she cut me off and said "Well, if that's what you WANT to
do!" Like maybe I am just making up these guidelines to please myself?
Sheesh. The doctor is great... we interviewed him to make sure he was supportive of
our decisions, but I wonder where these nurses come from. Ironically, we left our
old group of peds in part because of a really obnoxious nurse (there were lots of other
things we didn't like, but she was the straw that broke the camel's back).
Lisa and Hollis, 12/14/95 and Annika, 3/19/98
* firstname.lastname@example.org THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
Recovering from a Cesarean
I had an emergency cesarean in May '96 under
general anesthesia for fetal distress. My son, Freddy, was fine, luckily, but for me
it was a traumatic and unsatisfying experience. Emotionally, it took me a long time to
recover, and the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) online chapter
proved to be a wonderful source of support and information. I am
expecting at the end of November, but this time planning a homebirth (VBAC) with a
midwife. I breastfed Freddy for 13 months and plan on nursing the next little one as
long as he/she needs. It was a source of great satisfaction to me to be able to breastfeed
Freddy successfully, especially after his birth seemed to go so wrong, and it was
certainly a factor that helped me heal emotionally from the cesarean.
Breastfeeding was tough for the first month and I am so sad for the many moms
who are not able to get breastfeeding going after a c-section or other traumatic birth.
It's just another source of grief for many of them. Psychologically, it's like
adding insult to injury; first the body appears to "fail" at giving birth, then
appears to "fail" at breastfeeding. Our North American medical climate so often
undermines the natural birth process with interventions, then it encourages the mother to
blame herself for failing to birth or initiate breastfeeding successfully under such
restrictions, by refusing to take any responsibility for interfering with the natural
process. Then, it fails to recognise the post-partum depression, post-traumatic
stress syndrome or emotional distress that occurs as a result, and society
tells the woman "the only thing that matters is your
healthy baby" as if her emotional and mental well being is somehow incidental to her
ability to nurture and care for her family!
Shame on our North American culture and pride,
especially when our neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity statistics do not bear
out the superiority of our obstetrical practices!
Pippa Freyer, Minden, Ontario
On Hard Work and Happiness
Why does everyone say having a baby is such ard work?
(Before and after a homebirth and breastfeeding) Not one spoke of
the joys of motherhood. No one (except my midwives and La Leche League) had any positive
suggesstions. Months ago, I thought they were all wrong. Now I know they are.
It's hard to explain, the amzing love I feel for my three month
old son. I am a mother lioness, and he is my kitten. I would rip to shreds anyone that
came between us. I am completely happy with motherhood as my career. Even on bad days,
when he fusses and fusses, and I can't get a thing done, I want to cry, my heart is
bursting with such happiness. I wish I could spread these feelings as a message to the
majority of "Mass media mothers." I wish I could tell them all the
"necessary conveniences" don't mean diddly to the happiness and well-being of
your child. Life is easier when you follow your heart.
.... Julie Luck
We were told for ten years that we couldn't have children due to
my entometriosis. While my doctors couldn't 'cure' me, I decided to do it myself, through
a vegetarian/vegan diet, yoga and exercise. I had not eaten meat/fish/chicken for five
years, then gave up dairy, and noticed a vast improvement. I added more tofu/soy
products and nuts.
I added yoga to my existing regimen of aerobics and swimming. I
did aerobics and swam four laps a day until I was eight months pregnant! My
labor was 16 hours of intense back labor , but Bradley Method Classes and yoga,
breathing and squats, made it pleasant. I loved every second. Having
my husband there to support me was the best thing. We left the birthing centre after two
I had gained 29.5 pounds (110 lbs to 140 on a 5'
frame) and lost 17 overnight and five more in the next five days. I attribute it
to a good diet and yoga. My baby was exclusively breastfed until 10
months, at which time we introduced organic fruits and veggies only. The
pediatrician told us we waited too long, but now she is 12 months and an avid eater of
anything, especially tofu. She has no allergies. We parents need to listen to
Joi and Baby Ruby Straaten
47 Brenton Street
Litchfield, NH 03052-1070
Bulk me for two years. My
sister loved the back issues.
When I feel like I am alone in the world, I pick up The Mother.
Kathy Lukomski Holland, Pennsylvania
Pleasure is so fun, it's like chocolate.
Gloria LeMay, Midwife, Vancouver, British Columbia
Although I don't always
agree with The Mother's viewpoint, you have presented interesting and challenging ideas. I
especialy appreciate boycott news.
Jill Askin, London, Ontario
Bulk me for two
years. My sister loved the back issues.
When I feel like I am alone in the world, I pick up The Mother.
Kathy Lukomski Holland, Pennsylvania
The Mother always
arrives just when I need it. Send a Winter Supplyof the Tea, and back issues.
Laura Fitz Jupiter, Florida
I just inherited back
issues of The Mother and gobbled them up. I'm glad to have found a magazine that isn't
afraid to be straight forward and BOLD (like Summer '96 "Barbie in Private").
Send a two year bulk subscription. I promise to get lots of other mothers hip. I'd also
like a Winter Supply of The Mother's Tea as I have baby number three on the way.
Mira Fannin Cincinnati, Ohio
is the best, most amazing publication that exists.
Hara Lewis, Los Angeles, California
subscription. The Mother is too new age for my beliefs, the ads are tacky and the
Brenda Ward, New Lebanon, Ohio
"parenting" magazines out there just don't cut it. Excuse the stationery, at
least it's ink and not crayon.
Leigh Royse, Troy, Michigan
The Mother is
refreshing, unusual and unique. I don't always agree with everything, but it's always
thought-provoking and interesting. The Thing (Win'96) was terrific. While I'm at
it, let me have a tin of the Raspberry Leaf Tea. (I've got to see what all the fuss
Melanie Wittman, Webster Groves, Missouri
I wonder why some people
find the concept of motherhood as a blessing, so hard to grasp. Why are they too uptight
and heavy to hear about birthing alternatives and breastfeeding advice? Why do they
believe lousy information from ignorant doctors and all those babies who need their
mommies one hundred percent to get a plastic nipple and fake milk instead.
Karla Shandrowsky, Spruce Grove, Alberta
When I offered to sew some
cloth diapers for my cousins new baby, she declined. "I'm not getting my hands dirty;
I'm using disposables." So instead of sewing her diapers, I'll send her Mother.
Generous Mother X, somewhere in Manitoba
Too many publications are just wishy washy, trying not to offend anyone to
increase subscribers. I love your strong opinions and persistance.
Tracy Higgins, Worthington, Massachussettes
Chele Marmet, Los Angeles, CA
It's raining babies. Send a
Jennifer Adams Ayr, Ontario
I wish I hadn't finished Stretch
Marks. I so enjoyed reading it at night.
Silvana Viridlramo Walkerton, Ontario
(Ed. note: Stretch Marks is available in Mother Books)
After reading several Mothers
borrowed from my La Leche League leader, I had a homebirth that has been the high-light of
my life and my marriage. Many thanks.
Shannon Hering Georgetown, Ontario
The Mother is extremely
negative towards doctors; a paragraph in Volume 50 depicts doctors as
insensitive and rude. I do not see any reason to be so derogatory about physicians; I am
an obstetrician and extremely pro-breastfeeding. Despite these views, which seem to be
concurrent with your magazine, I was insulted. I hope the rest of your campaign might be
less slanderous towards physicians. Remember the commandment "Do unto others as you
would have them do unto you."
Susan Shinoff, MD, Toronto, Ontario
Please, please avoid the
temptation to become more mainstream, normal or moderate as some have. That would be a
tragedy. Breastfeeding Anyway is excellent; I recommend it to everyone.
Mnica Reid, Windsor, Ontario
I was needing a cut back and
thought letting go of The Mother was a good place to start. But I cannot do it.
You nourish and uplift and validate me. Renew me.
Lisa Brockway, Arcata, California
A good and important
magazine; I'm sending it to Dr. Tom Verny in Toronto.
Marvin Surkin, PhD, The New Institute, Portland, Oregon
Send posters for me to hang
in my office and pass out to my supportive doctor friends. Homebirth is best and so is
breast! In my practice it's mandatory that all my women breastfeed, but that's no problem,
they usually do for years and years.
Ellen Leigh Rabe, Marquette, Michigan
Even though our family is
set with three kids, I love reading stories about birth and breastfeeding. They are just
Zarifa Aziz, Mamaroneck, New York
I'm a doula and need a bulk
subscription for my clients and my doula friends.
Twyla Cluster, Ogden, Utah
I'll donate back issues to
my local libraries for lending; I want others to be as inspired, informed and sustained as
I was. Send Birth Pleasure and Breastfeeding Anyway for my
sister-in-law, to encourage her through the most daunting aspects of pregnancy. (after
I've read them)
Lee Sanmiya, Vancouver, British Columbia
Enough of raving already.
Send us The Tea; we're dying to try it.
Julie Keint, La Leche League of Norfolk-AM Norfolk, Nebraska
The Mother keeps me
Wini Haun, Chicago, Illinois
The Mother is too
"New Age" for my beliefs, the ads are tacky and the advice questionable.
Brenda j. Ward, New Lebanon, Ohio
(Ed. note: Glad to know we're on the right track!)
I was blown away by your
upfront, unashamed attitude that's so hard to find in our society of political correctness
and fear of truth. The continued encouragement for parents who want to raise their
children with an in-depth understanding of love, intimacy and nurturing, is appreciated.
Nicole, Jonathan, and Katie Gaertner, Atascadero, California
Although we're on a tight
one income budget, I'm cancelling all other subscriptions, so I can get The Mother. I'm
expecting (surprise) baby number five in October. My others are ten, eight, five and two.
My first three were c-sections due to breech presentation. My fourth was my long-awaited
VBAC of my beautiful breastfed Joshua who recently weaned at 2 1/2. For my fifth birth I
found a midwife to carry me through another wonderful faginal and natural birth.
Linda Thomas Mesa, Arizona
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