Mother's Milk


   Milk, the normal food of the young of all mammals, is prepared by the milk glands of each species to meet the specific and peculiar growth and developmental needs of the young of the particular species. The milk of one species, while it may be used by the young of another, is not adapted to the needs of the young of any other species. The great differences between the chemical compositions of the milk of the various species, differences that are accompanied by physical differences equally as great, may be partially seen by a glance at the following tables:


Average Chemical Composition Percent 













































































Composition of mineral matter in 1,000 parts of water free substance of human and animal milks.
       Acid binding                Acid forming
          elements   |                elements
         Pot-  Sod-- |  Cal-  Mag-  Iron   Pho-  Sul-  Sil-  Chl-
         ass-  ium   |  cium  nes-         sph-  phur  icon  orine
         ium         |        ium          orus         
Human   11.73  3.16  |  5.80  0.75  0.07   7.84  0.33  0.07  6.38
Cow's   13.70  5.34  | 12.24  1.69  0.30  15.79  0.17  0.02  8.04
Dog's    5.70  3.25  | 18.20  0.80  0.08  19.75  0.25  0.15  6.55
Swine's  9.35  6.95  | 21.35  1.20  0.25  16.20  0.30  0.25  9.15
Goat's  15.60  3.45  | 13.90  2.30  0.60  21.05  0.30  0.20 13.50
Mare's  12.05  1.60  | 14.25  1.50  0.20  15.00  0.15  0.05  3.65
Rabbit  11.40  7.75  | 33.60  1.75  0.07  22.80  0.40  0.30  7.00
Buffalo  6.60  2.88  | 15.95  1.50  0.08  16.15  1.37  ---   3.47
Camel's 10.50  2.00  | 15.48  2.70  0.12  17.20  2.05  ---   8.10


   Studying the tables it will be noticed that the protein content of the various milks varies from 1.30 to 15.50, being highest in that of the rabbit, the young of which is one of the most rapidly growing mammals. Note, also, that the milk of the rabbit contains the highest percent of fat and mineral matter. The human infant is the slowest growing animal on the earth. Note that the milk of the human mother is lowest in protein and low in mineral matters and fat. The milk of the various species is adapted to meet the particular growth needs of each species.

   Human milk resembles cow's milk but differs from it in several important particulars. It is much sweeter than cow's milk, has no odor, and varies in color from a bluish white to a rich, creamy yellow. One, however, cannot judge of the quality of milk from its appearance, for the yellowest milks owe their color to a substance called carotin which is found in certain vegetables used for food.

   The composition of human milk is very much the same throughout the whole of the nursing period. The greatest variation is in its protein content which diminishes as time passes. The composition of the milk varies from day to day and even from one feeding to the next, as well as from the beginning to the end of each nursing.

   Human milk, on an average, contains about 7 per cent milk sugar, 3 to 4 per cent fat, 1.50 per cent protein, and 0.20 per cent of salts. The percentage of whey or soluble proteins in human milk is much more easily utilized by the baby than are those of the cow's milk. Its salts are in a form much more easily utilized by the baby than are those of the cow's milk. There is sufficient of these salts for the baby's needs except that of iron. But, since, the child is born with a good supply of iron stored in the liver, it does not suffer, at least for many months, due to this deficiency. This is, indeed, a remarkable instance of the precise adaptation of the milk to the needs of the child.

   The most important differences between human milk and the milk of cows or goats are qualitative rather than quantitative. Cow's milk contains too much casein and not sufficient albumen for the human infant. It is also deficient in milk sugar. The amino-acid content of its proteins is different, also. Mother's milk is peculiarly adapted to the needs of the human infant. Cow's milk is not.

   While the human infant is normally of very slow growth, the human brain is larger at birth than that of any other animal and its rate of growth is greater. In mother's milk nature has provided for the greater demands made by the rapid growth and important size of the human brain in infancy and she has not made these provisions in the milk of any other animal. In other words, mother's milk is peculiarly fitted to nourish the brain of the infant, while that of the cow and goat are not. Not merely is human milk more digestible, but it is more complex than the substitutes. In it are found lecithin bodies in peculiar properties, which serve for the construction of the large human brain.

   The minerals of cow's milk are not readily assimilated by the human infant so that one-third of the mineral elements of cow's milk is lost in the bowel discharges. This may not be as important as it appears at first glance, as cow's milk is richer in most minerals than mother's milk.

   In view of the superior fitness of mother's milk to nourish the human brain, it comes as no surprise to learn that mentally, breast-fed children are brighter and indefinitely superior to bottle-fed children. Bottle-fed babies are more neurotic, have more of the "diseases of childhood," and a higher death-rate. It has been repeatedly shown that breast-fed babies are physically and mentally superior to bottle-fed babies. Except for height, bottle-fed babies rank lowest in all physical traits measured.

   Human milk is peculiarly and specifically adapted to the needs of the human infant. No other milk is so adapted to the nutritive requirements of the baby. Owing to the peculiar composition of human milk, it is impossible to secure a substitute that is "just as good." It is a terrible thing for a mother to fall down on the duty of nursing her baby. Cow's milk, despite all the virtues attributed to it, is a terrible food for child as well as adult.

   Human milk is secreted for the use of the human infant and under normal conditions, in healthy mothers, will be secreted in sufficient quantity, and proper quality and over a sufficiently long period of time to supply the entire milk-needs of the infant.

   The secretion of the breasts during the first few days after birth is somewhat different to ordinary milk and is called colostrum. It is scanty in amount, thicker than milk and of a deep lemon-yellow color. Its chemical composition differs greatly from that of the later secretion. It is supposed to have a laxative effect upon the child.

   Colostrum changes gradually into true milk which is thinner and bluer. The flow of milk is usually well-established by the end of the first week while the complete change is finished by the end of the second or third week.

   As the child grows the secretion of milk gradually increases in response to his demands. Much of the milk is actually formed while the baby nurses and is secreted in proportion to the vigor, strength and persistence with which he sucks.

   Mother's milk varies with the food eaten and with the season. Her glands secrete about 2¼ to 3 pints of milk a day between the third and sixth months of lactation. This amount gradually increases up to the end of one year. If the mother's diet is rich in phosphates, or in lecithins, the milk will possess large amounts of these constituents. Her milk is also readily affected by tobacco, alcohol, coffee, teas, narcotics, and nearly all drugs. These should be avoided.

   Analyses of mother's milk to determine its quality are of no practical value unless the whole of several nursings are used. Samples taken in the evening are likely to be different from those taken in the morning. At the beginning of the nursing the fat in the milk varies from 6 to 10 per cent.

   Considerable variation in the composition of the milk of various women is found. But babies thrive well on all of these. A baby that was thriving well on its mother's milk will thrive equally as well on the milk of a wet nurse. It is also true that one baby may thrive well on milk which, for some reason, another baby failed on. A baby may even take the milk of several wet-nurses and thrive well on all of them.

   There can be no absolute standard for good milk. Unless some extreme variation exists, chemical analysis of the milk cannot determine its fitness or unfitness for the baby. Most of this laboratory monkey-work is just part of commercial medicine.

   There is only one test for the adequacy or inadequacy of milk, and this is the feeding test. If a child is growing normally and thriving on the breast milk it is receiving, it is quite evident that the supply is adequate. But if it is not growing it is possible that the supply of milk is insufficient.

   The amount of milk the baby receives may be determined by weighing it before and after nursing. Usually the baby receives one-half its meal during the first five minutes of sucking. During the second five minutes it gets an added quarter of its meal.


   The custom of not nursing their babies is growing among women. Many babies are not nursed from the start. Others are nursed but a few weeks, or at most three or four months. There is a common superstition among women, fostered by the medical profession, that it is bad for both the mother and the child for it to be nursed longer than a few months. There are women who refuse to nurse their children for fear it will ruin their figures. Most of them have no figures to ruin. Others refuse to nurse their children for the reason that it hampers their social activities, prevents their participation in bridge, or their attendance at the theatre. Many of the "emancipated" ones, that is, those who have become wage slaves and are being killed in the factories, do not nurse their babies because this would interfere with their wage slavery.

   Thousands of women protest that they want to nurse their babies but jump at every slight pretext for not doing so. Their readiness and willingness to discontinue nursing their babies upon the flimsiest excuses reveals that their protests are lies. Failure to breast-feed is, in most cases, deliberate end in many other cases the subconscious desire not to nurse prevents the secretion of adequate milk. Much "inability" to nurse the baby is due to carelessness, neglect or ignorance.

   The delactation of mothers is due to a variety of causes, some of them deliberately employed by the mothers, themselves; some employed, either deliberately or unwittingly, by physicians. Their function-depressing treatments and their wholly inadequate dietetic prescriptions prevent the production of an adequate supply of milk.

   Physical degeneration and defective functioning account for but an insignificant number of those women who bottle-feed their babies instead of supplying them with superior food from their own breasts. Lactation can be established and maintained in almost every woman. If mothers care for and feed themselves properly and give adequate attention to the essential details, the milk glands of nearly all of them can be brought into the required degree of activity. If women fully realized the value of natural feeding they would soon find the capacity for breast-feeding to be practically universal among them.

   Much "inability" to nurse the baby is sheer unwillingness to do so. Many mothers can find the greatest number of flimsy excuses for not nursing their children. These must be made to see the great importance of breast-feeding babies. They must be brought to a full realization of the great advantage of breast-feeding over all other methods of feeding babies.

   Except for those "emancipated" women who prefer their club activities, the theatre, or to be exploited in factory, office and store, to caring for their children, breast-feeding is much more convenient and much less work than washing and sterilizing bottles and nipples, making up formulas and feeding baby with a bottle. Nature's plan is as simple as it is superior. Women were very foolish to permit the he-women, the physicians, dairymen and manufacturers of prepared baby-foods to induce them to abandon the natural method of infant feeding.

   Unfortunately the medical profession does not fail to identify its own best interests with the perpetuation and aggravation of our present disabilities. In accordance with its own financial interests it has neglected (and discouraged in all others) any effort to restore natural conditions in order that functions may be normal, and has employed all of its ingenuity in the task of producing an ever-increasing array of artificial "aids" to function. Under the tutelage of this profession we watch a year after year increase in the number of mothers who have recourse to the bottle instead of the breast in feeding their infants. Babies are thus fed more and more upon inferior foods.

   The first thing the physician does is to give the mother instructions for bottle-feeding her baby. She leaves the hospital with a can of powdered milk and a formula by which to feed her baby. No effort is made to induce or enable her to feed her child from the fountains of superior nutrition.


   There are only two ways of increasing the supply of milk-namely, an improved diet, and the complete emptying of the breasts at each nursing. Water drinking will not help. There are no drugs to be taken internally or applied locally and no patented foods that will stimulate milk production.


   The complete emptying of the breast at each nursing is the most effective means of increasing the production of milk. If the breasts are not emptied each time, the secretion of milk gradually decreases. Farmers and dairymen have known this fact, with relation to cows, for ages. Some women, like cows, give more milk than others, but aside from this, the amount of milk secreted depends very largely upon the demands of the baby--increasing when more is consumed and decreasing when less is taken.

   Unfortunately what farmers and dairymen know about their cows, few physicians know about women and few husbands and mothers are aware that the same principle is as true in relation to milk production in women as in cows. A dairyman who knows enough to thoroughly empty the udders of his cows at each milking will sit by and watch his wife neglect this in nursing her baby and wonder why her glands "dry up."

   I have tried to emphasize the necessity for the complete emptying of the breast each time the baby nurses. Too many mothers allow their baby to nurse one breast for a few minutes and then give it the other breast. Neither breast is ever fully emptied and they both rapidly dry up. The child should be given one breast at one feeding and the other breast at the next feeding. See that it completely empties each breast before giving it the other breast, if one breast does not supply enough milk for the feeding.

   It is highly important that the breast be completely emptied at each nursing. It seems a little strange that every farmer and dairyman knows that failure to completely empty the udder of a milk cow at each milking will cause her milk production to steadily fall off, but we fail to recognize the same fact in woman. Milk secretion is largely in response to demand.

   If the breasts are not thoroughly emptied at each nursing, the supply of milk will quickly diminish.

   Emptying the breasts at each nursing will increase the quantity of milk more certainly than anything else.


   One of the most important factors in assuring an adequate milk supply is the mother's diet. This is of prime importance in the production of milk of good quality--possessing all the required nutritive factors in adequate quantities. Dairymen who know how to feed their cows to assure quantity and quality milk-production will put their own babies on a bottle and take the word of ignorant physicians that their wives are unable to produce adequate milk for their babies. This is one of the paradoxes of our day.

   Eating large quantities of rich foods is useless. These only derange digestion and destroy the mother's appetite. The one class of foods that greatly increases milk production in animals, and there are reasons for believing they will do so in woman, are green foods. An abundance of these should be eaten.

   Prof. McCollum says: "There is good reason to believe that the common practice of confining the diet to too great an extent to bread, meat, sugar, potatoes, beans, peas and breakfast cereals (before birth and during the nursing period) is in no small measure responsible for the failure of many mothers to produce milk of satisfactory quantity and quality for the nutrition of their infants. There is no great hardship (but great benefit) in the restriction of the intake of meats, etc., and the increase of milk, fruits and green vegetables, and the mother who does so will greatly minimize the danger of a break in the healthy growth of her baby."

   McCarrison says: "When, as is sometimes the case, mother's milk is itself harmful to the child, is it not largely the result of her own disordered metabolism that in many cases results from improper feeding before, during and after pregnancy? For mother's milk may, like the milk of animals, be deficient in certain respects if her food be deficient. The milk of stall-fed cows is not so rich either in vitamin A or in vitamin C as that of cows fed in green pastures."

   Speaking of the long period (two to three full years) over which the Chinese mother nurses her child, Prof. H. C. Sherman says: "It is not improbable that the free use of green vegetables with then-high calcium and vitamin content in the food of the mother may be a factor in her ability to nurse her children through such a long period.

   "This must be true because McCollum has found that the vitamins of milk are not manufactured by the cow, but are taken directly by the cow from her food."

   In treating of the causes of rickets, Dr. Eric Pritchard, of England, notes that the diet of the English is deficient in the alkaline minerals and contains an excess of acid radicals. Commenting on the effects of this upon nursing he says: "It is also worthy of note that, concurrent with the deterioration of teeth in this country (England) there is to be observed a decreasing ability on the part of mothers to suckle their infants. The production of milk entails an extraordinary drain on the calcium resources of the body; when these resources are depleted, the inability to produce milk is a natural sequence."

   Good milk, upon which the life, health and growth of the baby depends, cannot be produced out of a diet of tea and toast, coffee, vinegar, pickles, pastries, gravies, condiments, canned foods, greasy meats, white flour and sugar, fermented bread, wines and beer.

   Fruits and green foods are our richest and best sources of alkaline bases and should do for the human mother, in the matter of milk production, what they do for other mothers. Fruits and fresh raw green vegetables should form the bulk of the diet of the mother during both gestation and lactation. Aside from this the mother's diet should consist of the usual natural foods. Nursing is not a disease and does not require special diets. She should, however, especially avoid habits of eating which derange her digestion.

   Dr. Page says: "The woman who lacks a reliable appetite for any sort of plain wholesome food, is not a well woman; if she indulges in that which is unwholesome, she cannot maintain good health; if she is overfed, abnormally fat and plethoric, she is a sick woman; and such mothers cannot supply a perfect food for the nursing child." "Much sloppy food, hot drinks, profuse drinking between meals to force the milk,' are injurious to both the mother and child. Much animal food is not advisable either in winter or summer, and in the latter season especially should be avoided altogether." "Nausea, lack of appetite, fitful appetite, 'gnawing' at the stomach--the latter so generally mistaken for a demand for food--all result from excess or the use of unwholesome food or condiments."

   An excess of protein in her diet may result in an excess of protein in her milk and this is likely to cause trouble in the child. That this is true is well attested by observations upon human beings. In animals it has been tested in the laboratory. Hartwell, one scientific investigator, found that an excess of protein in the mother's diet during lactation is detrimental to the well-being of her young. L. T. Anderegg, of the Laboratory of Physiological Chemistry, Iowa State College, says: "Evidence obtained in this laboratory shows that it is a matter of considerable importance that the ratio of fat to protein be within certain limits if optimum results are expected. If the proportion of fat to protein is too high, growth may be normal in the first generation, but the animals produce few or no young. Evans and Bishop and Mathill and Stone employed diets in which the ratio of fats to protein was too high for best results, and as a consequence few or no young were produced.

   "Hartwell showed that the young were not reared when the mothers were given high protein diets at the time of lactation. The young went into spasms and examination of the alimentary tracts showed the cessation of the flow of milk. It has been observed repeatedly in this laboratory also that diets high in protein and comparatively low in fat are detrimental to the rearing of the young."

   Nervousness or lack of exercise may also result in too much protein in the milk.

   The value of a particular protein depends upon its amino-acid constituency. Since the animal body is unable to synthesize amino acids, it must receive these ready made from the vegetable kingdom. The green grasses and green herbs, eaten by the cow in the spring, when naturally this is her whole source of food, must contain all of the amino acids essential to the production of the superior protein of milk. Trypotophan, so vitally essential to the human infant, and found also in cow's milk, must be present in the grasses and weeds that she eats.

   Green vegetables, nuts and fruits yield these same needed amino acids to man when he eats them, as they do to the ape, squirrel or cow. The much vaunted high-grade protein of the animal, or its milk, are synthesized out of the amino acids it derives from green vegetation, fresh fruits and nuts. We must not forget that man is capable of doing the same thing. The mother's diet should contain an abundance of these foods.

   The percentage of sugar in milk cannot be increased or decreased by any means. The amount of fat cannot be increased except in mothers who are much underfed. It may be reduced, however, by cutting down the whole amount of the mother's food. There is probably great variation in the amount of salts in milk produced by diet, while it seems certain that its vitamin content must vary greatly.


   Physicians and dairymen have recognized for a number of years now, the importance of sunshine in the production of good milk by cows, but nowhere, outside of Hygienic circles, is the value of sunshine in the production of good milk by human mothers stressed. Daily sunning should be indulged by all mothers, during both pregnancy and lactation. This will mean better health for the mother and better nourishment for the baby.


   Anger, fear excitement, rage, etc., may greatly diminish or completely suspend the secretion of milk; or, these may so alter the composition of the milk that the baby will be made ill. I often wonder if some women don't fail to nurse their children due solely to their fear that they cannot and to worry over the thought that they cannot. Nervous and excitable women are liable to have too much protein in their milk, and this will derange the baby's digestion.

   It is recorded that angry mothers have killed their children by nursing them. Worry and anger may so derange the milk as to cause convulsions in the baby. Any influence that depresses, or excites, or over-stimulates the mother, will ruin her milk and make her baby sick.

   It is imperative that mothers and mothers-to-be cultivate and maintain poise. A cheerful, optimistic disposition will help to maintain normal function of her milk glands.


   Fatigue impairs the function of the milk glands. Women who are over-active in any type of activity, or who are overworked in factory, mill, store, or home will fail to nurse their children. One of the most outstanding evils of the modern industrial system is its destructive effects upon womanhood and motherhood. The exploitation of women in industry robs babies of the care and companionship of their mothers and robs them of their mother's milk so essential to normal development.

   Mothers should receive sufficient rest and sleep to maintain a state of wellbeing at all times. Night nursing, that robs them of rest and sleep, also trends to reduce the milk supply. Night life, gay parties, theatre parties, etc., rob mothers of the ability to nurse their babies. Women who do not want to be mothers in the full sense should refrain from incurring the responsibilities of motherhood. They make better mistresses.


   Mothers are often advised to drink beer, wine, ale, cocoa, chocolate and malted drinks, to increase and improve their milk supply. This advice is pernicious in the extreme. "It is a question," says Dr. Wm. J. Robinson, "if a mother partaking of considerable quantities of alcoholic beverages may not transmit the taste for alcohol to her children." Certain it is, the alcohol finds its way into her milk and is imbibed by the baby along with the milk. Mothers should be careful what they take into their stomachs while they are pregnant and nursing, even if they are unwilling to live sensibly at other times. A woman who becomes a mother assumes certain vital responsibilities to her child, even though, in modern times, this responsibility is taken lightly.


   Repeated tests have shown that nicotine is contained in the milk of smoking mothers. The amount present varies with the amount of smoking done by the woman. Since the tendency to chain smoking is great in women, most women who smoke know few limitations to their indulgence. For the sake of her baby, she should give up the filthy habit completely. Indeed, it should be discontinued as soon as she finds herself pregnant, for there is ample evidence that there is a much higher death rate among babies whose mothers smoke than among those whose mothers exercise more intelligence in their living. Woman's slavery to Lady Nicotine (one of the most powerful narcotics known ) is nothing to boast of. This kind of slavery is poor "emancipation" for the "free" woman.


   Many drugs taken by the mother are excreted in the milk. Alcohol, opium, atropin, iodid of potash, salicylate of soda, the bromids, aspirin, urotripin, and antipyrin are among the drugs which find their way into the mothers milk. Cathartics and laxatives taken by the mother are likely to produce colic and loose movements in the baby. Nicotine finds its way into the milk of mothers who smoke.

   Mothers should be careful not to take drugs and poison their babies. We are told by medical men that these drugs never occur in the milk in sufficient quantities to do harm to the baby, but this must be viewed as merely a defense of their drugging practice. Anyway, they never recognize the harm from a drug unless the drug nearly kills.