This fact caused one eminent woman specialist to write the following: "The first and most important duty of motherhood is the breast-feeding of her baby. Next to the right of every child to be well born comes the right to his best food, his own mother's breast milk. Mother's milk is the only perfect infant food; it cannot be imitated; and anyone who advises a mother differently is guilty of a serious crime against a helpless baby. When a baby is denied his mother's milk and put upon a bottle he loses half his chance to be kept alive, and nine-tenths of his chances to grow up into a normal healthy man or woman."
Statistics show that only two breast-fed babies contract the so-called contagious diseases where five bottle-fed babies do so, and that where such diseases are contracted the chances for recovery are greatly increased in the breast-fed baby as compared to the chances of the bottle-fed ones. Adenoids and enlarged tonsils are also more common among bottle-fed than among breast fed babies.
Perhaps I am wrong, but I am inclined to believe that a profession that knows the relation of cows milk to tonsillar and adenoid troubles, and which makes large sums of money out of its ruthless slaughter of these organs, knows what it is doing when it urges great milk consumption by all children and even by adults. They know that the more milk one consumes the more tonsillar and adenoid troubles he is likely to have. There is so much commercialism in the medical profession that I think it it capable of almost anything.
American and English mothers are fast losing the capacity to nurse their babies. Investigations have shown that only 12 per cent of American babies are entirely breast-fed, while 28 per cent are absolutely bottle-fed and the residue from both breast and bottle but many of these insufficiently from the breast. These young citizens get a bad start in life and the results show up very plainly when the call for men comes, as in the recent war. Less than fifty per cent of the young men of this nation were found physically fit. In New Zealand, where breast feeding is the rule, the infant death rate is only half of that in America. This in slgnitlcant and should lead mothers to a more wholesome mode of living to enable them to suckle their own children.
Breast feeding is nature's own method and there is none equally as good. No other method can assure your baby the health and strength that breast feeding will. Breast-fed babies have less disease than bottle-fed ones, while ten bottle-fed babies die to one fed on breast milk. Bowel troubles, often fatal to infants in the summer, are comparatively rare in breast-fed infants. Breast milk requires no fixing. It is always ready and never sour. It is free from dirt and all contamination from without. It does not have to be measured and prepared. It does not undergo deterioration like cow's milk. It is given fresh and warm and flows directly from the producer to the consumer, as nature intended.
Aside from their frequent failure to suckle their young, civilized mothers do better after the baby comes, while savage mothers do better up to the time of birth. After that ignorance and lack of sanitation among savages work for a high mortality.
If civilized mothers will learn to do as well or better before baby comes as the savage mother does, and learn to suckle her child as well as the savage mothers this, coupled with her tremendous sanitary and hygienic advantages and greater knowledge, will enable her to reduce the infant death rate to but a small per cent of what it now is. It goes without saying that they should learn to care for baby in every way.
I have little faith, however, in the liklihood of the modern woman ever returning to her primitive vigor and strength. She is not possessed of the desire to do so, nor of the necessary self control to avoid the evils and abuses that have brought about her present condition. Give to a woman a popular cook book and a rational work on diet and she will almost invariably employ the cook book and let the work on diet rust. Teach her the value of exercise and she will ride the cars with her dog. Paint, powder and the dressmaker's art will pass for the appearance of health. Even our atheletic girls, of whom we read and see so much today, are semi-invalids. They have not learned how to live and they will not learn how. Of course, their male acquaintances are not one bit better in these respects. Women can have normal childbirths and supply their children with milk when they learn to live normally. Until then, they will have to depend on artificial foods and that abomination of infant life--calf food.
The chief cause of digestive disorders in infants and of all those other complaints that grow out of these is overfeeding. The habit of feeding babies every two hours during the day and every time it wakes up and cries at night is a ruinous one. Such feeding over works the baby's digestive organs and introduces an excess of food into the alimentary track to ferment and poison the child. It weakens and sickens the child producing diarrhea, colic, skin eruptions, and more serious disorders.
Feeding the baby at night prevents both mother and child from sleeping and teaches the child irregularity in sleep. When the mother's sleep is disturbed in this way, she is weakened and normal secretions are interfered with, resulting in an impairment of her milk. The impairment of the milk reacts unfavorably upon the child. Feeding at night is not only unnecessary, it overfeeds and sickens the child.
This method of feeding, which is also the popular one, is what really makes the problem of infant feeding a difficult one. There is no way to adapt even the most wholesome and easily digested food to an infant when it is fed in such quantities. With proper feeding it is but little trouble to find a food that will "agree" with the baby.