London: Printed for J. Wyat at the Rose in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1695.
In which is contained an account of the Inconveniencies resulting to the Children themselves that are Nursed by Strangers, in respect of their Bodies, either through the Nurses want of Care, the unsuitable Nourishment, or Contagious Diseases that may be transmitted in her Milk.
§1. I Come now Secondly to represent the Mischiefs that threaten the Children themselves, which are deserted by their own Mothers to be Nursed by Strangers.
It is a pretty Observation which St. Ambrose makes on Gen. 9. 25. where Cham's Curse is expressed in his Sons name, Cursed be Canaan, viz. That it is a greater Punishment to wicked Cham to be Cursed in his Race, than in his own Person. The Wounds which tender Parents receive in the Miseries of their Children, are much more sensible than their own personal Calamities. This Consideration then in all reason should touch all Mothers in the most sensible part, and be of the greatest force with them, viz. That others Nursing of them is likely to be extreamly prejudicial to their Children, both in respect of their Bodies and their Minds.
§2. I shall in this Chapter shew how the Health of the Childs Body is endangered by putting it to a Stranger to be nursed, and that these several ways, Either by her want of Care in tending it, by yielding it unsuitable Nourishment, or by transmitting Diseases to it.
§3. A Mercenary Nurse is not likely to take so much Care of the Child as its own Mother. In our Bibles we read of Mephibosheth's Mishap received from his Nurse, who letting him fall out of her Arms as she fled, made him ever after unable to go. And who sees not how many carry about them to their death, the Marks of their Nurses Carelessness? And no wonder, for Natural Affection will make the Mother more watchful over and patient with the Frowardness of her own Babe, than she can expect an Hireling to be. The Mother is fittest to Nurse, saith Plutarch, because she will treat the Child with more Compassion and Care, as being influenced by an inward Tenderness, which bears date from its first being: Whereas the Love of a Nurse is only Subdititious, the result not of Nature but of Wages. It is reasonable to expect the Mistress of the Family more careful of her own Domestick Affairs, than any of her Mercenary Servants, since the first is obliged by a greater Interest than the latter; so that where the Mistress is Negligent, we do not ordinarily expect the Maid should be more Industrious. And where the Mothers Love can suffer a Child to be exposed, whom Nature hath interested in its Welfare, none can wonder if a Stranger neglect it. For indeed how can it be expected, that an Hireling should endure all the Tediousness and Inconveniences attending the Nursing of a little, helpless, perhaps Froward infant; when the Mother, to whom Natural Affection should have endeared the Employment, out of Softness and Luxury declines it as a Burden? Or why hath God generally inspired the Mother with a greater Tenderness toward the Child, but for this very end, That thereby she may be enabled to digest more easily the little Unhandsomenesses (as one phrases it) which others will nauseate, and submit to those Fatigues that none else will for its Preservation, whilst her Care and Patience are doubled by her Affection? There are frequent Tragical Instances of Infants Overlaid by Sleepy and Careless Nurses, which much more rarely happen, where the Mother undertakes this Province her self. Methinks then it is very reasonable thus to argue, She is fittest to Nurse the Child who loves it best; and if the Mother is not ashamed to have it said, That any Woman should love her Child better than her self, she must be concluded fittest to Nurse it; and she ought to undertake that Office which requires so much Vigilance and Patience, Care and Tenderness, as can be expected only from the greatest Love. Nothing is more common, than for Mercenaries to let the poor Babe Cry it self weary without regarding it, whilst the Mothers Ears would have so affected her Heart, as to send her in all haste to quiet it. The Mother ordinarily will spare no Pains to keep it Neat and Clean, whilst Nurses generally are no Negligent, that Nastiness oft breeds Diseases, and the keeping of the Child Dirty, is a sure Preludium of its Funeral, When Dust is laid to Dust, and Ashes to Ashes.
§ 4. And here I cannot forbear to translate a passage out of a learned Physician, Dr. Walter Harrys, in his Tract De acutis Morbis Infantum, viz. "That a worthy Divine, the Rector of Hayes, about twelve Miles from London, with great Grief told him, that his Parish (being large and populous, and scituate in a very wholsome Air) at his first coming thither was replenished with Infants sent abroad to be Nursed; yet in the compass of one Year he had buried them all except two: And that the same number of Nurseries being again twice supplied (through the Mercenary Diligence of those Women) out of London, he had again this same Year laid them all in their Graves before their time." So that by this account, the Citizens seem to put out their Children, not so properly to be Nursed as to be Murdered. And I see not how they can be thought to have a due regard of their Childrens Lives, who after such fair warning given them by a Physician that Practises among them, and seems peculiarly concern'd for the good of Infants, resolve still to run this Hazard, and prefer their own Ease before their Childrens Life.
§ 5. But if the Child nursed by a Stranger be not killed by her neglect, yet secondly it may be very much injured in its Health by the unsuitable Nourishment which it derives from her Breasts. It is agreed upon by ancient and modern Physicians, that the Nourishment which Infants receive in the Womb, is of the same Nature with the Milk, which, soon after the Birth, Nature provides for it in the Breasts. And it is another approved Rule among them, that a sudden Alteration of Diet is oft Fatal, always dangerous, especially to the Infirm and such as are unable to resist any violent Impressions. If then we consider the waxen Tenderness of Infants (to use Galen's Expression as well as Argument) and the Moisture of their Constitution, which makes them very susceptible of new Impressions, we must conclude that a change of Diet immediately upon their Birth, is likely enough to have a dangerous Influence upon them. Now there is as great Variety in Constitutions as Faces, and consequently it will be as hard to find a Nurse of the same Temperament with the Mother, as endued with the same Features. So that the fatal Consequences of Strangers Nursing, may be imputed not always to their Negligence, but sometimes to the great difference in the Constitution of the Mother and the Nurse. For Galen peremptorily concludes, That the Child which draws its own Mothers Breasts, uses not only the most accustomed, but also the most proper aliment for it: And Avicenna, That this it can best digest, and therefore it is most convenient for it; so that if any Indisposition seize on it, the Mothers Breast is most conducive to its Cure. And it is moreover to be observed, That for the most part those Mothers who decline this Office, are of a delicate and finer Mold, and Mercenary Nurses are generally robust and of a courser allay: And though the latter may be the more Healthful, yet her Milk may for that reason be the less suitable to the Constitution of an Infant conceived and nourished hitherto in a Body more Fine and Tender. Brown Bread may be strong and wholsome Food, yet not fit to be prescribed on a sudden to an inform and delicate Stomach, which hath been long inured to Gruels and Pannado's. And if such unsuitable Diet oft prove Fatal to the Adult, there is more reason to fear, lest it never prove otherwise to Tender Infants.
§ 6. But the Danger is much greater, Lest Mercenary Nurses transmit some desperate Contagion into their Nurseries. The Mothers Distemper is the most plausible Pretence for her declining of this Office: And all conclude it very reasonable, that in that case she forbear to Nurse, lest her Infant Suck Death from her Breasts whose Womb gave it Life, and she propagate her Diseases to it, together with her Milk, impregnated with the vicious Qualities of her Blood. But then the Argument is as strong to oblige an Healthful Mother to Nurse, least she should commit it to a Mercenary, infected with some latent Disease. The Right Reverend Dr. Burnet Bishop of Salisbury in his Letters assures us, That one Mr. Gody Minister of St. Gervais in Geneva, had a Daughter then sixteen Years old, who having a Nurse extraordinary thick of Hearing, spake all the little words that Children do at a Year old, but was Deaf at two years old. Which he concludes was caused by some Vapor the Nurses Milk was charged with, which was propagated to the child, when she began to Suck more strongly, and to take greater quantities of that corrupted Nourishment. But this (though a very unhappy Infirmity) is very tolerable, in comparison of what other Infants have by this means been infected with. For there is a Story in Dr. Ambr. Parey, a Famous French Chyrurgion, to this purpose, so remarkable, that I cannot but judge it worthy to be transcribed.
§7. "A certain very good Citizen of this City of Paris, granted to his Wife, being a very Chast Woman, that conditionally she would Nurse her own Child (of which she was lately delivered) she should have a Nurse in the House to ease her of some part of the Labour. By ill-hap the Nurse they took was troubled with the Venereal Disease, wherewith she presently infected the Child, the Child the Mother, the Mother her Husband, and he two of his Children, who frequently accompanied him at Bed and Board, being ignorant of that Malignity wherewith he was inwardly tainted. In the mean while the Mother, when she observed that her Nurse-Child came not forward, but cried almost perpetually, she asked my Counsel to tell her the cause of the Disease; which was not hard to be done, for the whole Body thereof was replenished with Venereal Scans and Pustles, the hired Nurse and the Mothers Nipples were eaten in with virulent Ulcers: Also the Fathers and the two other Childrens Bodies (whereof the one was three and the other four Years old) were troubled with the like Pustles and Scabs. I told them that they had all the Lues Venerea, which took its Original and first Off-spring by malign Contagion from the hired Nurse. I had them in Cure, and by Gods help healed them all except the Sucking Child, which died in the Cure. But the hired Nurse was soundly lashed in the Prison, and should have been whipped through all the Streets of the City, but that the Magistrate had a Care to preserve the Credit of the Unfortunate Family."
§8. Now if it be considered how common this Disease is in our Debauched Age, we may conclude it is only to be imputed to the Secrecy of Physicians and Chyrurgions, that we have not fresher Instances of this Nature. And this will be sufficient to caution all Mothers that are Healthful, rather than run the hazard of such a Misfortune, to undergo the Fatigue of Nursing themselves. And thus you see how many ways a Mercenary Nurse endangers the Life and Health of your Children. And if it be an antedated Murder, by causing Abortion to hinder the Propagation of a Man, it cannot be a less Crime, after he is born and registred among Christians, to suffer him to die, and contribute any of these ways to his Murder.