Having been accustomed, prior to becoming a mother, to take a glass or two of wine, and occasionally a tumbler of table beer, she was advised to follow precisely her former dietetic plan, but with the addition of half a pint of barley-milk morning and night. Both parent and child continued in excellent health during the remaining period of suckling, and the latter did not taste artificial food until the ninth month, the parent's milk being all-sufficient for its wants.
No one can doubt that the porter was in this case the source of the mischief. The patient had gone into the lying-in-room in full health, had had a good time, and came out from her chamber (comparatively) as strong as she entered it. Her constitution had not been previously worn down by repeated child-bearing and nursing, she had an ample supply of milk, and was fully capable, therefore, of performing the duties which now devolved upon her, without resorting to any unusual stimulant or support. Her previous habits were totally at variance with the plan which was adopted; her system became too full, disease was produced, and the result experienced was nothing more than what might be expected.
The plan to be followed for the first six months. Until the breast- milk is fully established, which may not be until the second or third day subsequent to delivery (almost invariably so in a first confinement), the infant must be fed upon a little thin gruel, or upon one third water and two thirds milk, sweetened with loaf sugar.
After this time it must obtain its nourishment from the breast alone, and for a week or ten days the appetite of the infant must be the mother's guide, as to the frequency in offering the breast. The stomach at birth is feeble, and as yet unaccustomed to food; its wants, therefore, are easily satisfied, but they are frequently renewed. An interval, however, sufficient for digesting the little swallowed, is obtained before the appetite again revives, and a fresh supply is demanded.
At the expiration of a week or so it is essentially necessary, and with some children this may be done with safety from the first day of suckling, to nurse the infant at regular intervals of three or four hours, day and night. This allows sufficient time for each meal to be digested, and tends to keep the bowels of the child in order. Such regularity, moreover, will do much to obviate fretfulness, and that constant cry, which seems as if it could be allayed only by constantly putting the child to the breast. A young mother very frequently runs into a serious error in this particular, considering every expression of uneasiness as an indication of appetite, and whenever the infant cries offering it the breast, although ten minutes may not have elapsed since its last meal. This is an injurious and even dangerous practice, for, by overloading the stomach, the food remains undigested, the child's bowels are always out of order, it soon becomes restless and feverish, and is, perhaps, eventually lost; when, by simply attending to the above rules of nursing, the infant might have become healthy and vigorous.
For the same reason, the infant that sleeps with its parent must not be allowed to have the nipple remaining in its mouth all night. If nursed as suggested, it will be found to awaken, as the hour for its meal approaches, with great regularity. In reference to night-nursing, I would suggest suckling the babe as late as ten o'clock p. m., and not putting it to the breast again until five o'clock the next morning. Many mothers have adopted this hint, with great advantage to their own health, and without the slightest detriment to that of the child. With the latter it soon becomes a habit; to induce it, however, it must be taught early.
The foregoing plan, and without variation, must be pursued to the sixth month.
After the sixth month to the time of weaning, if the parent has a large supply of good and nourishing milk, and her child is healthy and evidently flourishing upon it, no change in its diet ought to be made. If otherwise, however, (and this will but too frequently be the case, even before the sixth month) the child may be fed twice in the course of the day, and that kind of food chosen which, after a little trial, is found to agree best.