Raw Milk Research

This is a different kind of post, as it features a research paper I wrote on an unquestionably controversial topic: raw milk.  Because so much of midwifery care involves proper, intentional nutrition, I find that the raw milk debate is often at the center of such discussions.  This is quite valid, as dairy makes up a large portion of the average Western diet, and must be given careful consideration.  Below, I present my findings on this topic, as well as a history of pasteurization’s role in our foods.  I would love to know your thoughts on this debate!

In the days before pasteurization, when farm-fresh butter possessed a natural golden color, and people knew which cow had produced the milk on their table, cow’s milk was a commodity far more precious than many Americans could imagine, for its days were numbered. Our nation has not known dairy foods of this caliber since pasteurization became the standard, and the heating process has altered milk at the consumer’s expense. Originally intended to prevent fatal illnesses, pasteurization and related practices have only managed to create a nutritionally-inadequate food with little resemblance to its intended, natural form. While a few sources of “raw” or “real” milk still remain, it is illegal in most regions of The United States for the cow’s owners to sell and/or distribute raw milk and its byproducts. Raw milk sales should once again be legal because the benefits far outweigh any risks; in chemical and nutritional terms, it is an altogether different food than pasteurized milk, and, therefore, in no way comparable or replicable; and it is the responsibility of the consumer to accept or reject any associated risks.

Raw milk possesses benefits to human health which have been lost since the dawn of pasteurization. The pasteurization process was necessary due to many shortcuts taken by American dairy farmers in the early 19th century (Schmid 53-54). The correlation between inferior animal feed (swill from distilleries), mistreatment of the animals, unsafe handling practices, and inferior milk (the result) was not acknowledged by many, apart from the few ethical dairy farmers and consumers with a desire for high-quality, pure milk. Pasteurization became the proposed solution to a created problem. Schmid argues in this work: “They [health officials] did not grasp the fact that germs, per se, are not the problem, and that every traditional culture that has ever existed has emphasized the importance of raw animal foods in the maintenance of human health, resistance to disease and ultimate reproductive capacity” (55). Schmid’s statement serves to reminds us that all foods, whether processed, heat-treated, or raw, may potentially experience contamination before reaching the consumer. Because raw milk is such a rich food in terms of nutritional accessibility, it promotes human health (among those who consume it regularly, as in the past) in such a way that most present bacteria may be combated by the body’s natural defense systems. Our culture has lost a valuable defense against disease in altering this perfect food.

Additionally, contaminants are only ever from a cow’s environment, and not from the milk itself, which is completely sterile upon production in the udder (Melini 3). It is sufficient to know one’s raw milk provider and the hygiene standards for their dairy to be confident that one is consuming a wonderful, safe food. Ron Schmid, a naturopathic physician and farmer, comments on the health of young children in his practice: “In my own experience, there is not a single problem that occurs in infants and young children that cannot be helped by eliminating milk from the diet.” He continues: “Upper respiratory symptoms, frequent ear infections, and asthma are often the most obvious symptoms, but virtually any complaint may be a manifestation of allergy to pasteurized milk, as well as to other processed foods” (290). The correlations between raw milk and improved health are quite obvious when pasteurized dairy is removed from the patient’s diet. Anne Mendelson, in her book Milk, reminds us that raw milk cannot be pinpointed as the sole culprit contributing to the rise in pathogenic contamination, as pasteurized milk and cheeses produced from pasteurized ingredients continue to be contaminated after production (57). Pasteurization is clearly not the answer to our problem.

Pasteurization is often seen as an innocuous treatment for milk, when, in reality, it transforms the milk into a completely different beverage, both in chemical and nutritional terms. Milk, a perfect food intended to nourish cows’ young at precisely the temperature at which it arrives, is being altered dramatically by the time human consumers partake. Of course, to some degree, time and temperature are factors which we cannot eliminate completely (milk must be refrigerated, and transportation takes some time), but pasteurization is an extreme which is absolutely unnecessary. Anne Mendelson, an acclaimed food writer and critic, comments on the differences which she has observed personally: “The more cost-effective approaches that are almost universal today involve higher temperatures with near-instantaneous heating and cooling by continuous flow. They tend to impart a slightly more cooked flavor while denaturing some of the water-soluble milk proteins…” (55). She goes on to say that homogenization must also be considered when comparing the immense flavor differences between raw and heat-treated milk, but it is generally acknowledged that milk “just doesn’t taste like it used to.” Unfortunately, we continue to consume this beverage in a vastly inferior form for no apparent reason.

Though our senses readily detect that the flavor of milk has been affected, it is also possible to observe the chemical changes milk is subjected to via the pasteurization process. In a study of the chemical changes in goat milk compounds as a result of heat processing, Martín Buffa and his colleagues discovered the following:

“…pasteurization induces numerous changes in milk relevant to cheese-making, such as destruction of the heat sensitive microbiota, inactivation/activation of enzymes and partial denaturation of whey proteins. In this way, the drastic reduction in the number of propioni bacteria and facultatively heterofermentative lactobacilli produced by milk pasteurization, modifies the catabolism of many organic acids, such as lactate and citrate.”  (247)

Lactate and citrate are vital to cheese-making, yet their quantities are decreased, and the very composition is being modified. In their work, they continued to test the variations between high-pressure treated, pasteurized, and raw milk in order to determine if chemical differences would affect cheese-making. At the end of the 60-day ripening process, it was noted that “cheeses made from [raw] or [pressure-treated] milk exhibited higher concentration of organic acids than in those made from [pasteurized] milk” (249-250). Age-old traditions, including cheese-making, are being dismally affected by pasteurization. For certain enzymes and microbiota to be destroyed means that the dairy product will be altogether different in chemical terms. Certain molds impart their unique flavor to cheeses, lending the distinctive flavors which buyers expect. If the chemical structure of the cheese is different, will the same molds be present, or will they be present to the same degree? (We have established that the microbiome is altogether alien from its original form.) In cheese-making, flavor and quality are of utmost importance, yet pasteurization, a means of tainting both of these characteristics, is now required.

Finally, raw milk production, distribution, and sales should be legal because it is up to consumers to determine whether they will accept or reject any associated risks. Pasteurization undoubtedly played a role in slowing the spread of illness when cities were battling serious contamination and hygiene issues in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s (Schmid 54-57), but to mandate that all dairy be subjected to this process is encroaching on personal choice. It becomes a genuine liberty issue when we cannot choose to partake of one option or the other. Mendelson assuages readers’ potential fears regarding raw dairy products:

“You don’t have to regard all raw milk as a deadly poison in order to think that people looking to buy, sell, or regulate it should pay superficial attention to the cleanliness of cows, milking equipment, and storage conditions. But if produced and handled under eagle-eyed supervision it should be no riskier than other raw foods that command happy followings among food lovers…”  (57)

Mendelson brings up a valid point: Americans partaking of other raw foods, such as sashimi or raw oysters, do so at their own risk. Even cooked seafood often comes with a warning. Yet, in this great country, it is illegal in most areas to drink a glass of farm-fresh milk. Just as people do not need the government to guide them in selecting raw foods from a sushi restaurant, it is ludicrous to think that the eradication of raw milk options will be any more protective.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit a few years ago against the FDA, in response to the ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The alarming response from the defense is as follows: “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish” (26). Our rights to consume whatever we choose are being stripped away in the name of safety, with the raw milk debate serving as a major channel for these disturbing developments.

Opposition may claim that such diseases as tuberculosis, which was once rampant in our nation, are now under control, thanks to the precautionary measures of across-the-board pasteurization. It cannot be overlooked, though, that the cases of tuberculosis infection were associated solely with consumption of pasteurized, and not raw milk (Schmid 271). In response to the statements claiming that only trace amounts of vitamins, such as vitamin C, are present in raw milk, and therefore of no concern when destroyed or altered through pasteurization, it is essential to note that a food so perfect as milk, which is capable of sustaining and equipping both mind and body from birth through infancy, continues to perform functions which our technology cannot yet detect. Until it can, rather than continue to make decisions regarding components of milk which are not currently understood, is it not wisest to be conservative in this matter and preserve as many of these trace elements and vitamins as nature intended? In as many cases as men have disregarded supposedly “non-essential” aspects of life (e.g. the appendix or tonsils and their purposes), harm has nearly always resulted.

Raw milk, then, is as safe as any other raw food, is compromised and transformed into a completely different food through pasteurization and similar practices, and ought to be available to all consumers, to purchase at their own discretion. When discussing a matter so basic as the right to drink either fresh or pasteurized milk, it is imperative to consider the natural repercussions of limiting citizen’s options to that of pasteurized dairy alone, such as loss of health, loss of liberty, and the loss of a uniquely nourishing beverage. Though pasteurization served its purpose in a specific time and place, the breach into the realm of personal liberty through its mandate is an unforgivable one, and is in dire need of reform. In allowing one more food option, or one more privilege to slip away, we relinquish our grip on a plethora of rights, and may only recognize this once it is far too late.


Works Cited

Buffa, Martín et al. “Changes in Organic Acids During Ripening of Cheeses Made from Raw, Pasteurized or High-Pressure-Treated Goats’ Milk.” Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology, vol. 37, 2004, pp. 247-253.

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 1-30. Iowa District Court. 26 Apr. 2010.

Melini, Francesca et al. “Raw and Heat-Treated Milk: From Public Health Risks to Nutritional Quality.” Beverages, vol. 3, no. 4, 2017, pp. 1-33.

Mendelson, Anne. “Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages.” Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.

Schmid, Ron. “The Untold Story of Milk.” NewTrends, 2003.


(Research by Paulina Smith, December 2017.  Featured photo is a stock photo and does not require attribution.)

Do I Need a Doula?

What have been some of your greatest accomplishments?  If you mentioned that you’ve earned a degree, overcome a bad habit, or volunteer your time regularly, I’d be very impressed!  This is because all of these things are HARD to do, which is what makes them WONDERFUL.  You’ve chosen to improve your mind and character through a series of actions which GREW you!  

Life is mysterious:  Some of us are given advantages at birth that others will never have a chance to compensate for.  They are just one-time opportunities, unlike taking up running or hosting a charity event.  It’s easy to see that these are some of the most vital factors which contribute to our lives, because they set us up for every other decision we will ever make.

There are no do-overs when it comes to how we entered the world, and it impacts us for LIFE.

How were you born?  Ask your mom or grandmothers how their births went, and you may be surprised.  

We may imagine a softly lit room, our ancestor laboring with only her closest friends around, and a definite hush as all present anticipate the wondrous moments which they’ve been invited to witness.  It is an honor and privilege to attend a birth!  This should be a time of calm and support.  But all too many of our ancestors (mainly within the past century) have not had such births.  Rather, they experience a plethora of unnecessary interventions and disappointments as their wishes are not honored.  One intervention leads to another, and soon, the birth is indistinguishable from the one they had hoped for.

The simple fact that we have the option to choose WHO will attend our births often makes all the difference in the world!  A hand ready with a cool cloth for your brow, someone to answer the door and quietly usher in your mom, or a reassuring touch when you feel distraught all do much more than words ever could for the laboring mother.

This is why doulas exist!  We serve alongside midwives and doctors as a comforting presence and advocate for your family’s wishes.  Some of a doula’s roles include:

  • Comfort measures for labor
  • Helping the family implement what they learned in childbirth classes
  • Interpreting the signs of labor progress
  • Assisting the father as he supports his wife in labor
  • Staying with the mother so dad can take a nap or eat
  • Cooking and cleaning (so mother is never left alone)
  • Monitoring room and bath temperatures for the mother
  • Reassuring and encouraging the mother
  • Suggesting positions for labor
  • Enforcing the mother’s wishes and communicating this to the birth team and guests
  • Controlling the environment’s volume and light, according to the family’s preferences
  • Serving as volunteer photographer/videographer for your birth 

When it comes to your baby’s story, it will begin with his birth.  This one event affects his emotional stability, comfort preferences, feeding habits, neurological health, skin health, digestive system, and bonding with you and your family for LIFE.  Birth ought to be treated as a big deal, and doulas help foster an environment of peace and joy which aid many mothers in achieving their goals when it comes to labor and birth.  If breastfeeding is important to you, your doula will stay with you for as long as it takes.  If you need time with your husband and baby after the birth, your doula is there to make sure that you are uninterrupted!

Why did I make the decision to work as a doula?

I began attending births at the age of 17 as part of my midwifery schooling.  It was quickly apparent to me that moms who had the proper support achieved better outcomes, and I love the role that a doula gets to play in this!  My natural ability to say more with my actions than my words makes me a great fit for this job, as most mothers want peace and quiet rather than questions during labor.  Uninhibited labor leads to uninhibited descent of the baby, which makes birth much more optimal for the mother.  By minimizing such interruptions, I seek to protect your labor time and allow you to progress as naturally as possible.  

I love that my job allows me the joy of seeing children born, and it is an honor to be invited by parents to these beautiful events!  I believe that birth can happen without anyone assisting and turn out perfectly, but for those who would like a servant and support person to emerge from the shadows now and then, a doula is an amazing tool!

It is my hope that you will consider a doula’s services for your next birth!  For more information, I recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.  (Good for dads, too!)

Freezer Meals Follow-Up

Hello there!  This post is to complement my recent class on freezer meals.  (For class times and my schedule for Las Vegas parents, please contact me anytime!)

We covered the basics in just 45 minutes…  Scheduling, writing a meal plan, finding your most freezer-friendly meals, packaging different foods correctly for freezing, and working with the foods which are in season while you cook!  Who doesn’t love having a clean kitchen but PLENTY of food when guests are over?!  Freezer meals have kept our family on budget and have enabled us to spend more time together.  That said, here are some specifics which will enhance your cooking and freezing now that you’re home!

Make a Helpful List

This is a simple task, but a very important one.  (Read:  It is worth the extra effort to write a designated list and NOT on the back of an old receipt!)  🙂  I use graph paper and check boxes just so I won’t miss anything.  If I am going to be cooking several weeks’ worth of meals all at once, the last thing I want to do is pause to make another trip to the store!  REMEMBER:  Garnish is just that.  Rather than purchase the feta cheese and cilantro for that soup you’re planning today, purchase it then.  Herbs and dairy in general do not freeze as well as other things, plus the presentation will be vastly improved.  You will be glad you purchased your garnish fresh, as it lends more flavor and nutrition!  Account for these time differences in your list.

My grocery list

Graph paper simplifies shopping!


Choose Disposable or Reusable Containers

Breads and most baked goods are very well-preserved in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, but a lasagna or pie will require a different means of storage and reheating.  Think about this before you begin cooking…  Is it worth purchasing some small metal pans for the meatloaf?  Some families use the aluminum containers from the dollar store (stock up during Fourth of July and Thanksgiving sales!) to simplify things, and this is especially practical if you usually deliver meals to friends.  For now, use whichever method that encourages you to keep up your momentum.

Freeze Soups, Sauces, and Fillings

Few things make me as happy as a bunch of pot pie filling lined neatly in the freezer, ready to be reheated and added to a crust!  (Find my hands-down favorite crust here.)  We make our soups, sauces and fillings in large quantities, as these are some of the easiest meals to reheat with little notice.  Your favorite Alfredo, pea, and Swedish sauces can be ready in the time it takes for you to boil pasta!  Soups and stews may be frozen as components or a whole, depending on the meal.  I look forward to sharing more on this in the future!

Revive Old Bones

The larger chunks of bone (and even chicken feet) from your most recent meals are worth saving!  These contain collagen and elastin among many other wonderful nutrients which are beneficial to the entire body.

According to Jennifer McGruther in her book Broth & Stock:  “While stocks simmer for many hours until richly flavored, bone broths cook for considerably longer, often for half a day or up to two full days.  At completion, the bones will have simmered so long that they typically crumble when pinched between the thumb and forefinger.  This extended cooking time produces extremely flavorful results and extracts as much gelatin as possible as well as some minerals from the bones and connective tissue.

What an invaluable source of nutrition to have on hand for your family!  I often save bones from one stew for the next…  Leeching minerals from them twice still proves effective and imparts flavor.


I hope these tips have whetted your appetite for our next class on cooking and advanced preparation!

Be watching for my next post on last-minute meals and meals for unannounced guests!

Life With Your Newborn

The first few hours and days with your newborn have been identified by many professionals as both precious and as a crucial time of laying the foundation for the rest of your relationship.  Late nights, soiled diapers, and unforeseen joys may dominate this season of your lives, but managing (and even enjoying!) your time rather than simply surviving is an aspect which many parents may miss.  Here are some tips for making your transition into life with your new child ideal:

  • Take Charge of Your Birth

That’s right:  Your birth plans ought to be respected and enforced.  Because many parts of the birth process will affect your baby for the postpartum period (and even for life), consider weighing your options and making a birth plan.  This is especially essential in the hospital setting, as such routine practices as prophylactic eye ointment and the vitamin K shot may inhibit your bonding.  Read up on the Golden Hour following birth in Dr. Michel Odent’s article.  Hiring a doula not only increases your comfort, but allows you the ease of consulting someone who has your best interests at heart at any point during labor.

  • Protect your bonding time

This may seem simple, but simply holding your baby while reading a book or sleeping in a family bed makes for an amount of security which your baby would certainly not have experienced otherwise!  Think about it:  This is the apex of your giving and baby’s taking.  Eventually, contributions will become 50/50 as your child does their share in the home and blesses you with their many talents, and in your old age, you will be the one “taking” as they care for you (and rightly so).  Why not enjoy the moments in which you are the absolute center of your child’s attention?  You may be the one preparing them for the world, but for now, you are their world!

Finally, enlist friends or a postpartum doula to help with chores and meals to avoid becoming overwhelmed and to maximize time with your spouse, baby, and family.

  • Consider Attachment Parenting

I would encourage ALL parents to at least try attachment parenting, as both father and mother share equal responsibility and, therefore, reap equal rewards!  This is absolutely related to the first point, but is more of a philosophy and lifestyle which ought to be embraced for life.  As Dr. Sears states:  “The attachment-parented baby learns to trust, and trust fosters healthy independence.” [4] Read more about attachment parenting here.

  • Breastfeed

This is undoubtedly one of the best ways for optimizing bonding, health, comfort, sleep regularity, digestive health, increased immunity, and (eventually) discipline, among many other things! [3] Take advantage of this resource.

  • Over-stimulation:  Know Your Baby’s Alert States

Babies are taking in many things for the first time, and although listening to you speak and play is essential for development, down time is necessary, as well.  Over-stimulation simply results from babies’ immature nervous systems becoming overwhelmed by multiple stimuli. [1, 2]  Eventually, more sounds, sights, textures, and smells will be more manageable, and you will learn what each type of cry means for your baby.  Feeding, swaddling, and even baths may be the solution for over-stimulation in your newborn.

  •  Daytime & Nighttime Routines

Expect some adjustment time, as even you and your spouse are learning what it is like to sleep with a newborn.  Your baby may benefit from a tranquil environment during the day, which will promote peace during bedtime.  A newborn must be expected to have needs at all hours, as they grow hungry frequently and are still learning to self-soothe.  Luckily, attachment parenting extends into bedtime, and keeping your baby close to you throughout the day will teach them to trust that their needs will soon be met.  

Keeping a bedtime routine (perhaps a warm bath, followed by pajamas, then a song, and then mom reads while breastfeeding) will give your child cues as to what is coming next, adding an extra layer of comfort and reliability.  

Newborns do not necessarily sleep through the night, and it is suggested by many that light sleepers are safest when it comes to SIDS. [9]  Ensure that your baby drifts back to sleep quickly by offering breastmilk at the slightest stirring.  

“…mother–infant co-sleeping represents the most biologically appropriate sleeping arrangement for humans and is both ancient and ubiquitous simply because breast feeding is not possible, nor as easily managed, without it.  The increased sensory contact and proximity between the mother and infant induces potentially beneficial behavioural and physiological changes in the infants.”[5-8]

  • Bowel Movements

After the tar-like meconium, your baby’s stool will eventually progress in color and texture.  By the end of week 1, stools should be greenish brown.  After this, they will become yellowish brown and somewhat resemble mustard in texture.  Depending upon your choice of breastmilk or formula, your child’s frequency may range from only one or two to up to twenty stools per day.  Breastfed babies in particular should pass stool more frequently.  Dehydration is a possibility if this is not the case.  Read more about how to assess your baby’s stools here.

Remember that this precious time for discovery belongs to both you and your child.  As you get to know your baby’s needs and comforts, indulge them and enjoy the oneness which continues for many months after birth and which may, in many cases, extend into your adult relationship as a result of this foundation.

1.  Foundations of Maternal-Newborn and Women’s Health Nursing, pg. 467
2.  Roach, J. A. (2003), Newborn Stimulation. AWHONN Lifelines, 7: 530–535. doi:10.1177/1091592303261925
3.  The Baby Book, Sears & Sears, pg. 125
4.  The Baby Book, Sears & Sears, pg. 12
5.  Lozoff B, Brittenham G. Infant care: cache or carry. Journal of Pediatrics 1979; 95: 478–483. 13.
6.   McKenna JJ, Volpe LE. Sleeping with baby: an internet-based sampling of parental experiences, choices, perceptions, and interpretations in a Western industrialized context. Infant and Child Development (in press).
7.  McKenna JJ, Mosko S. Mother-infant cosleeping: toward a new scientific beginning. In: Byard R, Krous H, eds: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Problems, Puzzles, Possibilities. New York: Arnold Publishing, 2001. pp. 259–272. 1
8.  Ball HL. Breastfeeding, bedsharing, and infant sleep. Birth 2003; 30: 181–188.
9. McKenna, J. Experimental studies of infant-parent co-sleeping: mutual physiological and behavioral influences and their relevance to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Early Hum Dev. 1994 Sep 15; 38(3):187–201.


Resource: Special Needs

While beginning life with a special-needs child brings its own set of blessings and discoveries, healing from past loss typically requires a different type of support.  My prayer is that these resources serve you well.


Grief and loss:


Abortion-related trauma:






Down Syndrome:


If you have been helped by these or other resources which are not yet on my list, please feel free to comment with your experience.  Your contribution will help other families!

In Due Season’s Purpose

My name is Paulina Smith, and I am pursuing a ministry in the area of midwifery.  In this case, midwifery refers to supporting families in the process of giving birth naturally, and typically in the family’s own home.  I hope that this page serves as a platform from which to share interesting articles, spiritually uplifting writings, and the things I am currently learning regarding the processes (and joys) of birth and mothering!

My main goal is to exude Christ in all things.  I am a committed follower of Christ and recognize His handiwork in the human body and its processes, as well as the rest of creation.  While all articles will be founded upon scientific fact and findings, the Creator will be acknowledged regularly, because He is the Founder of science.

I assume that many other families are like mine:  We seek to know as much as we can about our options in any decision because we feel this is most responsible.  I admire families who take this same approach concerning birth, and thought it necessary to share all that I come across which might be valuable to my fellow researchers.  

Please keep in mind that these posts will be written from the perspective of a single young woman who is endeavoring to become a midwife.  (I don’t know all that motherhood and marriage may entail, but trust that the Lord has equipped me with enough understanding to see which practices are most honoring to Him.)  I am seeking to edify and encourage those who visit this site, and hope that you learn as much as I have about birth and how an informed choice is the very best.

May God bless you!

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”  Proverbs 15:23 KJV

(Emphasis mine)