This same fact is true of the plant world. The fertility of a plant depends on the presence, in the soil, in proper proportions and amounts of the essential elements of plant nutrition, in an available form. Experiments show that the fertility of plants may be increased, by proper mineral fertilization to three times the fertility of plants grown on manure fertilized land, or on land fertilized with the three-part fertilizer of commerce. Properly fertilized plants also resist insect pests almost wholly. They grow larger, stronger and firmer and resist weather changes and strong winds better than plants fertilized in the time honored ways.
Man is not exempt from this UNIFORMITY OF NATURE. Undoubtly, much of the unfertility of the average American family is due to deficient nutrition. Much of the decreased resistance to disease influences, and the progressive physical and mental deterioration, seen In each successive generation, are due to these same causes.
There are conditions of dietary deficiency, such as advanced cases of sprue, for instance, in which, so great is the deficiency, the body's resistance to poisons is so much lowered that once inflammation has set up, it tends to persist indefinitely. I do not doubt that deficient diets, eaten by mothers during pregnancy, are frequently responsible for the many cases of stubborn inflammatory diseases in children which persist for a long time despite our best efforts. If the diet of the parent reaches the germ plasm of himself and his offspring, and we know that it does this, there is certainly nothing far-fetched in the thought that it reaches the "soma-plasm" of the offspring.
Seeing, then, how necessary it is to give your baby a good start in life, by eating properly during pregnancy and before, it behooves the intelligent mother to study the subject of diet very thoroughly and make use of her knowledge. She will profit as much by this course as will her children and grand children. I recomend to every reader of this book my Orthotrophy--Or The Natural Diet of Man.
How foolish to eat recklessly and haphazzardly during pregnancy and then attempt to undo, in your child, after birth, the mischief you have produced by your lawless course. Give your child the right start in life by supplying it with the best nutrition you can.
The time of the greatest growth and development of the brain and nerves is during the prenatal period and the first two years after birth. This is the best time to lay the foundation of a good brain and nervous system. It is asserted that the whole future of an individual is determined by the time he is four years old, just as the whole future of a calf is determined by the time it is six months old. How very important that the mother supply her unborn child with the very best nutrition!
Oh! if mothers could only be made to realize that preparation for motherhood should begin in infancy! Today our daughters are trained and equipped for everything else except this supreme accomplishment.
Dr. Tilden observes: "It is pathetic to see a tuberculous mother struggling in a hopeless endeavor to make her baby strong after it has once got a bad start."
"Such mothers will so frequently say: 'why cannot my baby be strong, like Mrs. so-and-so's? She feeds her baby any thing, and neglects it; yet it thrives."
There is a wide gulf, physically or vitally, between the two children. The care, in spite of which the strong one will thrive, will speedily kill the weak one. Sick mothers should refrain from having children. yet I have known them not only to bear children, but to disregard every rule of hygiene during pregnancy. Then they suffer and the baby suffers until it dies, and these mothers will blame everything but themselves for their "misfortune."
This chapter would not be complete without some reference to the almost universal, as well as very ancient, belief that a mother can "mark" her child. Many young mothers go through pregnancy in a constant state of agony because of the many stories of maternal impressions which they hear on all sides from their friends. "Old wives" seem to delight in telling ghost stories about the direful results which have followed or are supposed to follow the seeing of distressing sights during pregnancy. They eagerly grab up every story they hear and enlarge upon it in the customary manner. Each tries to outdo the other in these tales of horror.
Books are written and many of them are widely circulated, which carry chapters devoted to these maternal impressions in which are presented "examples" of the impressions.
I do not wonder that people take such things seriously. I cannot blame them. Yet I know, and everyone knows, who has investigated the matter, that the whole thing is false and ridiculous, There is not an authentic case of a mother marking her child on record. The other half of this story is that no such case will ever go on record, for no such case can ever exist.
What are "maternal impressions?" As popularly understood and believed in, A MATERIAL IMPRESSION IS THE IMPRESSION MADE UPON THE BODY AND MIND OF HER UNBORN CHILD BY THE MENTAL STATE OF THE MOTHER.
We are told that by thinking intently enough upon music, or art, or war, etc., a mother may make of her child a great musician, a great artist, or a great general. Napoleon, we are informed, was made a great military leader by his mother, before he was born. Previous to his birth she is said to have accompained her husband on war expeditions. She is said to have enjoyed the horrors and details of war. For ages we have been told that the ancient Greek mothers created a genius for art in their sons, by gazing for hours, during gestation, upon the beautiful statues and pictures in the Greek temples. Albert Edward Wiggam very appropriately asks, concerning this: "What did the mothers of the sculptors and artists who made the statues gaze at?"