The diet of the nursing mother or wet nurse must be regulated, to prevent noxious substances from passing into the breast milk and to keep her in good health, so that she does not suffer from constipation, indigestion, or anaemia. Her weight should not alter, and if she has menstruated once or twice the milk changes and may disagree.

If milk does not make her constipated or bilious she may drink it abundantly. She may take gruels and meat broths, and she should eat simple nourishing food, meat, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. The latter, even if sour, do not react unfavourably upon the child, provided the mother's digestion is good, and they serve to keep the child's bowels active. The mother should forego the drinking of much tea and coffee. Beer and wine also should not be drunk unless they are especially prescribed as a tonic. Wet nurses often demand beer, ale,, or porter with their meals if they have been accustomed to it; but the popular idea that such beverages are especially beneficial is fallacious. Malt liquor sometimes causes the secretion of more milk, because more fluid is drunk, but the milk is no better for it. A reasonable quantity of fluids should be drunk, however, or the secretion of milk will suffer. The fluid may be in the form of plain or effervescing water, milk, soups, etc.

The mother or wet nurse should avoid all fatigue, worry, and emotional excitement of any kind, which may inhibit her digestive functions, and should take daily outdoor exercise.

On the whole, the best indication for the dietetic treatment of the wet nurse is the study of the condition of the child's digestion, bowels, and nutrition. A too meagre diet for the nurse is soon evident in lack of nutrition and development of the infant.

Drugs In Human Milk

Not many drugs pass unchanged into the milk which are likely to poison the child through its food, but there are some which should be carefully avoided on this account. Such are belladonna, opium, morphine, and other alkaloids; iodine and its preparations; mercury and its salts; salicylic acid (see p. 57).

When, for any reason, it becomes necessary to discontinue the nursing and to stop further secretion of milk, the diet should at once be made as dry as possible, and a minimum quantity only of fluid is allowed.