This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
The child in utero is technically but an appendage or parasite, over which the maternal mind and body exerts a marked influence; consequently, if mothers in the pregnant state pay heed to the moral relations of life, curb for the time any evil disposition they may have, take pleasure only in that which is pure and upright -- in short, lead a blameless moral life--they will most surely be blest with offspring in whom the disposition will be kind and the moral tone exalted. Let me then say to expectant mothers: enlighten and elevate the moral sentiments, exercise desirable talents, cultivate beautiful qualities; for if you do, they will certainly bloom in great brilliancy in your children and children's children. So, too, if there exists among the subtleties of your character any dark spot, exert all your moral strength in order to eradicate it. Surround the growing soul with good influences; cultivate all noble impulses, all holy aspirations; breathe into the opening flower, by the magic power of a mother's love, such knowledge and moral legacy as will prepare it for the world in all its antagonisms; and you will see in the final fruit the reward for all your care, self-denial, and self-abnegation. Husbands must learn to recognize this supreme power of their wives over the ante-natal life (both mental and physical), and they must observe such a line of conduct as not to frustrate any endeavor to exercise it rightly, but should give them the best possible conditions to improve it.
How can parents have healthy children? This is a question of such significant importance to married people that it should engage their most earnest thought and liveliest interest, for parents can by judicious care and careful practice endow their offspring with most excellent physical vigor. To effect this it is only necessary that they should themselves be healthy, or to render inert by proper medication the tendency of transmission of any infirmity or disease with which they may themselves be afflicted. The most potential cause of degenerate health in offspring is the ruinous effect of nervous debility. Any male who previous to marriage practised self-abuse, and who married while suffering form the effects of such a pernicious habit, cannot furnish for the purposes of generation such perfection of formative material as will insure full health in the being that evolves therefrom. The seminal liquid is diseased, and carries with it the germs of low vitality and poverty of physical endurance or capacity. For this reason the author discountenances marriage in those who by youthful errors induced the involuntary expenditure of semen, because that affection destroys the instinct of propagation, and renders the sufferer incapable or unfit to afford such formative material as will result in healthy products of conception. I therefore adjure all these suffering from this infirmity not to marry until by proper and skilful treatment a healthy integrity of the organs is fully re-established. If those who are married suffer from the unmanly losses of semen, they should by all means make early endeavors to have their manhood restored in all its fulness. Those who are partially impotent should not neglect to secure the required treatment -- such as well restore virile vigor and healthy procreating power. Medical treatment is of the greatest importance, and, assuredly, it is only those who have full manly vigor and integrity that can hope for healthy offspring. It is scarcely an allowable exercise of privilege for any male to marry if suffering from the effects of indiscretions, as it is well known to every physiologist that procreative capacity is lessened thereby, and offspring usually of feeble mind and body and low moral tone. Let all such sufferers then fully appreciate the responsibility of the married state, and only enter its portals with healthy genital organs and proper virile capacity. This advice should be heeded by all who properly estimate marital eligibility. Their first duty is to engage the services of a competent physician, who will by proper treatment restore the proper integrity of the organs, impart the required vigor, and secure the necessary conditions for healthy propagation.
Eligibility for motherhood requires full integrity of womanhood. No healthy babe can be born if its ante-natal life is passed in a diseased uterine cavity. Women suffering from inflammation or ulceration of the mucous membrane lining the uterine cavity cannot possibly give birth to a healthy child. It is then a high duty for all wives to make all possible effort to become sexually healthy, and if they have the prudence to engage the proper herbal they will certainly regain the required feminine vigor and motherhood will be blessing instead of a curse.
Proper treatment will even avert the transmission of scrofula, epilepsy, consumption, and other diseases capable of hereditation. This must be given while the child is developing within the uterine cavity. The disease in the parent may not be cured, but rational treatment, under the guidance of a skillful physician, can so modify the gestatory process as to effectually prevent the child from being born with a similar diasthesis.
This subject is one of the most important within the whole range of medicine, and should engage the interest of all; it concerns not only individual welfare, but the health and the mental and moral well-being of the whole human race.
The author gladly gives advice to those who may need counsel or treatment. Parents who submit their cases for my consideration will be fully advised what course should be pursued. All communications held inviolably secret. (See page 385 for guidance as to consultation.)