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
Publishing Inc. in Minot and mailed to subscribers in 14 countries around
the world. The magazine is devoted to homebirth, breastfeeding and
"All of the United States and European magazines are mailed out of
McLaughlin said proudly.
McLaughlin, publisher of The Compleat Mother, looks over pictures as she
tries to choose one for the next cover.]
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
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
had written a couple of articles and Catherine knew I was a really good
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
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
"She has opened the states up to the magazine in a way that we
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
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
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 (www.compleatmother.com)
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
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
"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,"
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
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.
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
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
"This magazine changes lives," said McLaughlin.
Dear Mother Dear
Off the Line (News)
Moms Seeking Moms
Fun & Games
Birth, Joy, &
-a new video compiled by Catherine and Amanda Young
of The Compleat Mother
for more information on the waterbirth video!
here for the Home
Sweet Homebirth (Video)