Margaret Sanger, "Review of the The Eugenic Mother and Baby," 5 Oct 1913.
Published article. Source: New York Call, Oct. 5, 1913, p. 5 , Margaret Sanger Microfilm C16:66 .
THE EUGENIC MOTHER AND BABY By Dr. W. Grant Hague. Published by the Hague Publishing Company, Inc. Price $5.00.
In "The Eugenic Mother and Baby," Dr. W. Grant Hague has endeavored in a most comprehensive style to give to a young wife a complete insight, not only into the laws regarding her health, but into laws which he claims are essential to the right kind of home building.
The book is written in a simple manner and its purpose is at once recognized: that of spreading the "eugenic idea" among women--especially wives, young wives.
He says, in part, that eugenics is the "art of being well born," and involves the consideration of every subject upon which the health of the people depends. These subjects are motherhood, marriage, heredity, environment, disease, hygiene, sanitation, vice, education and culture, and some phases of all these subjects are touched upon in the book.
Dr. Hague realizes, as all physicians do, that the great mass of young girls enter the marriage relation without any real knowledge of its meaning or of its responsibilities, that they attempt to direct the upbuilding of a home without any training for such a task; and also that they take upon themselves the cares and duties of motherhood without the knowledge of the first principles of the care of the child. But Dr. Hague writes his book with this knowledge also; that the great majority of the mothers of the world are poor, that they are uneducated and that they are inexperienced, and with these important facts in mind, he enables all classes of readers to follow him into the realms of the eugenic ideas most clearly.
He first tells the young wife of the conditions throughout the world which have brought eugenics about, and its relation to marriage, parenthood, motherhood and the husband. He tells her in a most simple and concise way the meaning of the eugenic principle, and then leads her gently to herself and shows her just how eugenics concerns her and all mothers of today. He tells her how to prepare for the coming baby, what articles to have at hand, how to calculate the date of confinement, and gives a calendar which enables one to estimate the probable date at a glance; he advises the young woman to the choice of a nurse and physician, as well as to her conduct through the entire period of pregnancy.
The chapter on the Hygiene of Pregnancy is unusually complete, for he touches upon the most trivial disturbances (trivial to the physician, but most important to the young woman with her first child), explaining their causes and unimportance, but giving to her other ailments such tender consideration as is seldom met with in books of this character.
He explains to her the different stages of her "labor," through which she must pass, the meaning of every stage up to the birth of the child, not forgetting what the mother should eat for the first breakfast, lunch and dinner after labor. He goes with her through the convalescent period, and explains why and how long she should remain in bed after a confinement, and why friends and relatives should not be allowed in the sick room; he discusses the care of a nursing mother, her diet, breasts, nipples, etc., and he gives thorough treatment to the development of the baby.
The splendid understanding of the young mother's psychology is beautifully stated by Dr. Hague when he says:
"As she rests from her weary labor during the first long days after getting out of bed, the loneliness of it all crushes her. She is weak, nervous and discouraged, and her white, [wan] face, with its tired, appealing eyes, bespeaks her anemic and hopeless condition. She is only a child herself, yet fate has crowned her with the holy diadem of motherhood."
How those words recall to all mothers that terrible first day when the nurse left her with the weight of the world crashing down upon her!
If a woman had written "The Eugenic Mother and Baby," she could not have touched the tender and hidden feelings of the young mother more truly and sympathetically than does Dr. Hague. Especially is this true of her psychic discomforts: seldom can one find such consolation as the young mother will find in its pages.
The chapter on the Hygiene and Development of the Baby will be especially appreciated by mothers of children in the second year. For here are the essential facts, plainly given of what to feed the child at this difficult age, how often, and how much food is to be given. After a glance at the diet which an infant of this age is allowed, no mother would ever again be guilty of feeding her child the convulsive diet of fried potatoes and meat.
He does not stop here, however, but goes straight to the vital spot in sex hygiene for the boy and girl, for he says, with 10,000,000 suffering with venereal diseases in the United States, it is not sufficient to tell the youth of their dangers, but why it is to his best interest to live a clean life and thereby avoid them. The symptoms of both gonorrhea and syphilis are given and the consequences of them to the boy and girl. The evils of masturbation and the treatment for same are sympathetically covered, as is the physical development of the girl and her preparation for motherhood.
Indeed, this is but a small part of the information he gives us, compared to the last half of the book beginning with what mothers should know. Here he unstintingly opens his storehouse of knowledge and allows us a full helping, a gift seldom approved of by the medical profession. If the chapter on the Diseases of Children was well understood, the trained nurse would soon have a substantial rival in the mother, who, instead of fainting at the approach of a prominent symptom, would understand its meaning and be prepared for it.
Here a mother is made acquainted with the symptoms of the common diseases of the nose, mouth, and chest, such as cold in the head, croup, tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, nose-bleeds, thrush and adenoids, and the care and treatment so necessary to the quick recovery of the little one. Then follow the symptoms and treatment of every ailment under the sun a child is subject to, such as colic, summer diarrhea, acute intestinal indigestion, appendicitis, jaundice, worms, rupture, earache, boils, eczema, anemia, bed-wetting, thumb-sucking and biting the fingernails--to say nothing of the contagious diseases, such as measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, etc., not forgetting the care of the mother in caring for the patient, so as to prevent the spread of the disease.
It would seem there was no accident, or emergency, or disease common to either women or children about which Dr. Hague has not given his best effort to inform us, and as a nurse, I should delight in every mother, both young and old, possessing a copy and keeping it close beside her (on the parlor table if necessary, instead of the Bible). But, as a woman, I must protest against Parts V and VI, and I should like to remove these two parts from the book and add them to the rubbish heap, or tenderly place them upon the shelves of a museum, where all fossilized relics lie.
Part V is: Advice to Young Wives.
Part VI: The Home.
In both parts the writer idealizes the slave woman, fresh from the cave, who lays her freedom, personality and individuality at her lord-and-master's feet in return for a home. The husband, says he, "will be a child in your hands if you only go about it right," and going about it right means that the woman must, of necessity, have"tact"; that she must help him attain success; keep him in good health by seeing that he has the proper food and does not overeat; that he is free from worry, has enough rest and sleep, and has sufficient exercise; she must not find fault or allow the first quarrel, "no matter how acute the sense of injustice may be--silence is the only way out!" And again, "Take our advice, don't experiment with a man--deep down every man is a brute, there is a certain elemental devil in every male animal; don't rouse it. You are only a woman, don't invite a quarrel, you will get the worst of it. Keep on the peaceful side of the street. Stroke the hair of the animal the right direction, act as if you were afraid of him, don't obtrude, let him alone to think it over." Nor is that all: "Change the expression on your face, smile, even if it pains you, the moment your husband enters the house," says he, "for her world is her husband and her home." A little further on he advises her to wash "her" dishes while the husband reads the evening paper.
Keep cool, sisters of 1913, sit a little closer and let's talk a while. Evidently the doctor wants to sugar-coat our slavery by calling his own sex names. A doctor is, in many ways, a strange creature. This doctor has seen the unrest and dissatisfaction of the woman of today in the homes of the thousands. He thinks it is a disease crowding into every home in the country; he sees all the symptoms, but he's groping about in the past centuries for a cure, and hopes to find it by pushing the women of this century back to the ideals and customs of another age. But you and I know that just as we women object to being slaves ourselves, so do we refuse to make slaves of the men. We love. We despise the courtesan type, who wants the man "to eat out of her hand" and wins his love and caresses through subtle tricky means. It is self-evident from these chapters that the doctor has not his fingers on the pulse of the women's movement throughout the world, or he would see that this dissatisfaction is a historical development. For we stand erect at last, and we shall look into the eyes of our husbands only as our lover, comrade, equal. And we shall proceed with out, development in politics, science, art, literature, in whatever field our desires lead us, husband and home notwithstanding.
Aside from these two parts, the book is indeed a gem, and we hope it will find its way into many homes, where its excellent medical teachings are badly needed.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project