Mordecai Blankenbaker, born March 7, 2012
Pasture's Delights herd owner Anna Blankenbaker thinks so. Eight years ago she and her husband David were married, and a year and a half later they decided to try for a baby. Soon it was clear that something was wrong, and they learned that Anna wasn't ovulating. They went down the conventional path of fertility doctors and several years of failed treatments. While the experience gave her lots of diagnostics on her health, it did not improve Anna's ovulation. After several years of trying, the couple did conceive in early 2010 but miscarried.
"Leading up to and during that pregnancy, we were eating as typical twenty-somethings in America eat today," says Anna. "After the miscarriage, we decided we should look into alternative options."
A friend of Anna's parents referred them to Martha, a nutritionist based out of Canada. The nutritionist approached food as a type of ministry, a calling. Through telephone and email consultations, she advised the couple on the foods they should and shouldn't be eating. Martha enlightened them on the hormones and other chemicals in processed foods that can negatively impact fertility. They took her advice and began eating primarily organic fruits and vegetables, as well as seeking pasture-raised meats. As Anna did more research, she read about good and bad fats. Among the bad fats, she read about what homogenization does to the fat in milk. Homogenization uses high pressure to alter the butter fat in the milk and keep it from separating.
"I read that while the body benefits from the fats in raw milk, it does not know what to do with these same fats that have been homogenized," Anna says. "I was curious what this was doing to my body."
After reading many blogs and consulting with her nutritionist, Anna decided to make the switch to raw milk. A friend of hers had been getting raw milk through Pasture's Delights, and she recommended Anna try it. "The taste of my first 3 oz. glass of Pasture's Delights raw milk was excellent in flavor and thickness! I wanted to visit the farm and learn more," says Anna.
Anna drove from her home in the Muncie area to tour the farm and meet Farmer Mark Grieshop. She was impressed with Mark's safety protocols and appreciated his concern for the product's safety and the health of the cattle. "I think it's important for anyone looking into raw milk to first know their farmer," says Anna. "My comfort with Mark's operation convinced me to give it a try."
And she was sure glad she did! Just a few months after making the switch to raw milk and other clean eating, Anna happened to ovulate and became pregnant again in late 2010. "I was not using any hormonal fertility treatment drugs at the time. While I can't say for sure, I'm convinced my switch to organic foods and raw milk made the difference."
Unfortunately, this second pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage, but Anna and David continued to have faith and conceived again in the summer of 2011. Anna had been drinking raw milk for nearly a year at this point, and she credits it with her renewed ovulation. "I believe whole-heartedly in raw milk's nutritional benefits. And I've made great fermented foods with the whey! My favorite is my perfected probiotic-rich, fermented salsa."
The Blankenbakers: Anna, David, and Mordecai.
However, Anna had also heard about the risks associated with dairy products and pregnancy. For example, listeriosis, which can be found in both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk, can be deadly for unborn babies. While it's relatively rare—estimated to affect only 1,600 people in the United States each year—pregnant women are particularly susceptible. Anna knew Pasture's Delights milk to be safe from these harmful contaminants, but after two miscarriages she just couldn't take that risk with this pregnancy. "For awhile I converted my milk into yogurt, essentially pasteurizing it, but eventually I decided to stop getting the milk while pregnant. Mark was very understanding."
Mordecai was born March 7, 2012. With a newborn to take care of, the 75-minute drive to Decatur (one-way) was too much for Anna so she hasn't restarted her share. However, Anna says that may soon change. "Now that Pasture's Delights raw milk is being delivered to Muncie, I'm eager to start drinking it again!"
Teagan Moira McShane, born July 2012Anna Blankenbaker is not the first Pasture's Delights herd owner to attribute increased fertility to raw milk. Some, like Anna, take a respite from dairy during their pregnancy while others drink it all the way through. Just recently herd owner and Munster delivery host Anne McShane was blessed with a baby girl, Teagan Moira. She drank and continues to drink raw milk. Congratulations, Anne!
Tell us about your own raw milk baby experience. Please leave a comment!