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Nursing





The attitude of mind of a woman toward her milk supply is important,
as the flow of milk is closely subject to mental influence. The
presence of the child and the consequent exercise of maternal instinct
does more to bring about the prompt, healthy flow of milk than
anything else. Sometimes women in the later months of their first
pregnancy upon seeing a mother nursing her child have felt the flow of
milk to their breasts not rarely with such painful overdistention of
the milk ducts as to require artificial relief. On the other hand, a
fright may stop the flow of milk or make it scanty and a mother's
aversion to a child may prevent her being able to nurse it. The sight
of the father of the child in a state of intoxication may have a
similar result.

How much milk supply may be dependent on the state of mind, or at
least the state of the nervous system, can be realized from the
animals from which we obtain milk. Any serious disturbance is likely
to interfere with the milk supply. When a cow's calf is taken away the
animal will often refuse for a time to give milk. If a cow is scared,
as by the attack of a wild animal, or by being hit though only
slightly injured by an engine, it will often not have milk for several
days or even longer. There is an impression prevalent among farmers
that if a cow takes a dislike to a particular person they are not
likely to "give down" as much milk as would otherwise be the case.
This may be only a curious farmer tradition, that has no basis in
fact, although it is supported by so many observations reported from
many different countries that it is apparently to be taken as of
scientific value.

In modern times many fashionable women do not nurse their children
because they have not the proper supply of milk. It is easy to see how
this can be brought about through suggestion from many sources and the
sight of others neglecting their duty in this matter. Most fashionable
women would rather not nurse their children, and yet many of them feel
a bounden duty in the matter. Some of these, however, having heard
that many mothers of the better class are not capable of nursing their
children, easily persuade themselves that they come in this category,
and so their whole attitude of mind toward nursing is one of extreme
doubt. Knowing as we do how the mental state influences nursing we are
not surprised when these women prove not to have sufficient milk in
the early days of the nursing. If they are to have it they must look
forward with confidence to nursing their children and they must be
ready and willing to take such food and secure such fresh air as will
put them in the best possible condition for this function, always with
the thought that nothing can be better for a child than to be nursed
by its own mother. Nature has made exactly the form of food suited for
the particular child, and it matters not how healthy a wet nurse may
be, her milk is not likely to be so suitable. Much depends on the
nutrition of the child during this early susceptible period of its
life and there is more that passes over with the milk than merely the
food elements. It is well recognized now that the reason why nurslings
are protected from most of the so-called children's diseases and the
contagious diseases generally, is that, as a rule, their mothers
have had these diseases, have acquired an immunity to them and this
immunity is transferred to the child so long as the nursing process is
continued. This has been shown to be true over and over again in
animals and holds good for human beings.

Professor Von Leyden, the distinguished professor of medicine at the
University of Berlin, points out that we are not quite sure as yet
just what may happen to the human race from the very general refusal
of mothers to nurse their children and the almost universal
substitution of the bovine mother; whether in times to come certain
bovine traits, at least as regards susceptibility to disease, may not
be stamped upon the human race, cannot be determined until this
experiment in ethnology, now being conducted on so large a scale, has
been carried to some definite conclusion.

Perhaps this view is groundless, but there is no doubt that milk is
more than merely a food and that during the period after birth when
the child's nervous system is being formed, the perfectly adapted
mother's milk is more likely to be the proper food than anything that
human ingenuity can elaborate. We have heard much in recent years of
the tendency of education and civilization to lower the birth-rate and
to make women less fitted for maternity and for such maternal duties
as nursing, but stronger than any deterioration of the physical
constitution by the mental development is the unfortunate unfavorable
effect of mental suggestion upon such functions, by which the
preparation of the organism for their fulfillment is greatly
influenced. It is in this respect that the women of to-day differ from
the woman of the past much more than in mere physical development.





Next: Maternal Impressions

Previous: Labor



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