It sometimes happens that a woman could not nurse a prior baby and she gives up the duty of nursing the present one, because she thinks she can not do it. Inability to nurse one's first baby, for instance, does not mean she cannot nurse subsequent ones.
Some women imagine themselves to be too nervous or too delicate to nurse their children. But many of these "too nervous" women have good milk while many delicate women will find their health improved while nursing. "Delicate" and "nervous" women owe it to their children to at lease make an honest effort to nurse them.
Small breasts do not constitute a reason for not nursing one's child. There is no necessary relation between the size of the breast and the ability to nurse one's child. It is a fact that many women with small breasts secrete more and better milk than women with large breasts. The normal breast is not a large pendulous bag, anyway. There are of course, women who have no breasts. The glands never develop and their chests are adorned with nothing more than the nipples. Such women, if it is possible for them to become mothers, should avoid motherhood.
The resumption of menstruation is, due to the persistence of ancient superstitions about this function, often considered a cause for weaning. It is estimated that almost half of all nursing mothers begin to menstruate again as early as the third month after birth. Children should not be weaned because of this. They do not suffer because of the menstruation.
A slight and brief illness should not cause the mother to wean her child or to with-hold her baby from the breast. Only serious illness should cause her to wean her baby.
Pregnancy need not result in the immediate weaning of the child. Although, this is usually advised, on the grounds that it is too much of a drain upon the mother to nourish two lives besides her own, and her breast milk is likely to become too poor and scanty to nourish the baby properly. I am sure this objection to nursing during pregnancy is valid only if the mother is eating the denatured slops advised by those who make the objection. Most of the drains blamed on pregnancy and lactation are due to a denatured diet and lack of hygiene.
There are a few conditions which demand the weaning of the child. Dr. Tilden says:-- "Convulsions in nursing children, not traceable to objective causes, will usually be found to come from slight septic infections of the mothers, due to injuries incident to child birth; hence it is well to carefully investigate all unaccountable sicknesses occurring in young children soon after birth, with a view of locating the trouble in a blood derangement of the mother and discovering, if possible, whether it comes from septic poisoning.
Again he says:-- "Many, if not all, children born under conventional circumstances, are more or less encumbered with flesh; instead of weighing 5 or 6 pounds, they weigh from 10 to 12 pounds and because of this overweight mothers have long, tedious, and painful labors, and too frequently are forced into instrumental deliveries. As a sequel these mothers suffer greatly from bruises, contusions and lascerations. It matters not how careful the physician who officiates at such confinements is to be scrupulously clean, these women usually have enough septic infection to cause their milk to be unwholesome, and even if they escape having a slight septic infection the severe labor breaks down so much tissue that the blood is deranged and the secretions, including the milk, are impaired to such an extent that before the doctor and the nurse are suspicious that anything is wrong the baby is very sick. This necessitates taking the child from the mother's breast, which is equivalent to weaning it, for the mothers are usually as much encumbered with flesh as the children, and because of this encumbrance, plus the blood impairment described above, they cannot be restored to health until long after they have lost their milk."
Many women who have prolonged and painful and even instrumental deliveries are able to nurse their children well, however.
Women with tuberculosis should not even try to nurse their children. Of course, such women have no business having children, in the first place.
Any acute or chronic disease which deranges the mother's milk should cause her to wean the child. Insanity and epilepsy are usually listed as reasons for not nursing one's baby, but I think these are even better reasons for not having children. So-called syphilis is not a reason for weaning the child.
Babies with lip deformities and premature babies that are too weak to nurse are best fed their mothers milk after this has been expressed from her breasts. The milk should be forced from the breast by the use of the hands. The breasts should not be massaged in this operation.
The breast pump is not advisable. It injures the tissues and invariably causes the breasts to dry up prematurely. Dr. Tilden says of this:
"I found that when the pump was used the breasts were more or less bruised and that the bruising caused inflammation and suppuration. In time I proved to myself that there were more abcesses following the use of the pump than when it was not used."