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TellMeAStory
01-05-2018, 06:55 PM
It's 1938, and my MC, a private duty nurse, has been hired to care for baby triplets far from the city. The parents are so disengaged, they haven't provided milk for the babies' formula, so MC determines to milk the family's mother horse. MC does know how to milk a cow--though she's not expert at it.

Will she get enough milk from this horse to keep the three babies alive?

How old should the colt be? I want maximum milk with minimal harm to the colt.

What is the best way to secure the mother horse so MC won't get kicked?

What else do I need to know?

cornflake
01-05-2018, 07:05 PM
It's 1938, and my MC, a private duty nurse, has been hired to care for baby triplets far from the city. The parents are so disengaged, they haven't provided milk for the babies' formula, so MC determines to milk the family's mother horse. MC does know how to milk a cow--though she's not expert at it.

Will she get enough milk from this horse to keep the three babies alive?

How old should the colt be? I want maximum milk with minimal harm to the colt.

What is the best way to secure the mother horse so MC won't get kicked?

What else do I need to know?

I think you need to do more research. Why in the world is she milking a horse instead of hiring a wet nurse or, you know, buying formula and/or tinned milk?

taraesque
01-05-2018, 08:48 PM
Or have the family own a goat that could be milked. I think that might be more realistic than a horse.

TellMeAStory
01-05-2018, 09:02 PM
It really does need to be milking a horse.

This is a stop-gap measure until the parents return from their outing, and gas-powered transportation again becomes available--and therefore access to evaporated milk from which MC will mix up formula.

MC is not on a farm, but an "estate" that raises only horses and dogs, and MC wouldn't dream of milking a dog.

No wet nurses, no goats, and for the next few hours, no transportation to stores.

jclarkdawe
01-05-2018, 09:08 PM
Wet nurse seems a better choice. I'm not sure how well horse's milk would go with a baby. Only society that I'm aware that used mare's milk to any great extent was the Mongols and it wasn't for babies.


It's 1938, and my MC, a private duty nurse, has been hired to care for baby triplets far from the city. The parents are so disengaged, they haven't provided milk for the babies' formula, so MC determines to milk the family's mother horse. MC does know how to milk a cow--though she's not expert at it. Same process with a cow or a horse, but udder is a lot more developed in a cow, as well as the teats of milking cows.

Will she get enough milk from this horse to keep the three babies alive? I'm inclined to doubt it, but it's a guess. Milking cows are bred to produce large amounts of milk. The mare will be producing enough for its foal and that's it. How much the mare's production would increase with additional demand is something I don't know and I know of no research on the subject. Mare's can produce enough milk to support twins, but it's unusual and can be a problem.

How old should the colt be? I want maximum milk with minimal harm to the colt. Foals wean between six months and a year. If the mare is a working mare, weaning is probably going to be sooner rather then later.

What is the best way to secure the mother horse so MC won't get kicked? Well, you can try hobbling the horse, but if the mare isn't trained to hobbles, you'll have a rodeo. You'll probably have a rodeo anyway unless the mare is trained for milking. My guess is you're going to get kicked.

What else do I need to know? Milking a mare is sometimes a rodeo event. There's not a lot of information that I'm aware of for milking mares. You might look at cheese production.

Jim

cornflake
01-05-2018, 09:09 PM
It really does need to be milking a horse.

This is a stop-gap measure until the parents return from their outing, and gas-powered transportation again becomes available--and therefore access to evaporated milk from which MC will mix up formula.

MC is not on a farm, but an "estate" that raises only horses and dogs, and MC wouldn't dream of milking a dog.

No wet nurses, no goats, and for the next few hours, no transportation to stores.

Wait, it's a few hours? No one in their right mind is milking a horse over a few hours wait. Give them some water ffs.

Justobuddies
01-05-2018, 09:12 PM
I know horses can be milked because the Mongols make an alcoholic drink Kumis from fermented mare's milk. However, the nutritional value to infants/babies/children may need researched, it could make them very ill, especially unpasteurized.

A quick google search reveals a number of YouTube videos on how to actually milk a horse.

Old Hack
01-05-2018, 09:14 PM
Some notes.

Babies which are still dependent on milk get really ill when you change their milk abruptly.

If this baby is young enough to require nothing but milk and hasn't already established a happy routine of drinking horse-milk, this baby is going to get seriously ill, seriously quickly. It will get an upset stomach, probably resulting in D&V, and will be dehydrated and screaming before you know it.

Horses don't like being milked if they're not already used to it. Unless your MC is an incredible horsewoman as well as a nanny she's going to struggle to do this.

Colts are male baby horses, fillies are female baby horses, foals are all baby horses.

Most babies can last a few hours between feeds, especially if they're formula-fed.

Babies can catch diseases from raw milk, which is what this would be: it's really not a good idea. Better to wait for the parents to return even if they are late.

Strictly speaking, you could feed many babies from the milk from one mare if the mare were willing to be milked, which few would be if they haven't been milked before. Milk is made according to demand. So the more milk you take, the more she makes.

If the mare has only just had a foal in the last couple of days she'll only be making colostrum, not milk, which is only made in relatively small amounts and there won't necessarily be enough for more than her own foal--and it's likely that the colostrum will be even more troublesome for the babies' tummies.

An experienced nanny would probably not go near horse-milk if there was no baby milk available, because there are so many problems associated with it. Sugar water might be a better solution to hungry babies; it would be sterile and would feed their hunger even if it would also carry the risk of upset tummies later on down the road.

Twick
01-05-2018, 09:14 PM
OK, this is just a memory from my childhood, but I recall a book that mentioned a pioneer family using horse's milk to feed a baby during their journey west. It was an emergency (I think the baby had just been born and mother was ill/not producing milk), but it would technically work, I think.

According to Wikipedia:

A 1982 source reported 230,000 horses were kept in the Soviet Union (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union) specifically for producing milk to make into kumis.[8] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumis#cite_note-8) Rinchingiin Indra, writing about Mongolian dairying, says "it takes considerable skill to milk a mare" and describes the technique: the milker kneels on one knee, with a pail propped on the other, steadied by a string tied to an arm. One arm is wrapped behind the mare's rear leg and the other in front. A foal starts the milk flow and is pulled away by another person, but left touching the mare's side during the entire process.[9] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumis#cite_note-9)

taraesque
01-05-2018, 09:18 PM
How about riding one of the horses to a neighboring estate to get milk from a neighbor? Or asking one of the other employees on the estate to do the same?

Twick
01-05-2018, 09:26 PM
.

AW Admin
01-05-2018, 09:41 PM
Milking a mare is not something you do on the fly; she's not going to like it.

The older a foal is, the less milk mom will have. They don't produce (https://www.equinews.com/answer-exchange/equine-nutritionist-qa-milk-production-in-horses) a whole lot at the best of times (they only have two teats, and sometimes, only one functions).

A few hours is not reason enough to do this; it's more than likely that the baby will have digestive issues since it's a new food.

Someone would have cows milk or a neighbor would be nursing and can use a pump or breast feed the baby if necessary. Babies used to be given solid food (soft cooked eggs for instance, or pap, made with water, flour and a little sugar) at six weeks or so, earlier if the mom couldn't produce adequate milk because her own diet was poor.

ULTRAGOTHA
01-05-2018, 10:01 PM
Horses can provide sufficient nutrition for toddlers, at least. My wife was baffled by Step Daughter not eating anything but breakfast for several days in a row, until she caught step daughter nursing off the mare in the pasture she played in. Pediatrician confirmed she was healthy as, er, a horse.

Probably NOT so good for tiny babies who depend on milk exclusively.

What have they been eating up to now?

It would take a while to catch the mare, clean the teats, milk enough for three babies, bring it back to the house. Who is watching three babies while all that happens?

If the nurse decides water alone won't do until the parents get back (and there's no milk for tea or coffee in the house) why not make pap or sugar water from readily available ingredients in the kitchen? Babies for millennia have failed to thrive on pap.

ETA: or what AW Admin said.

Ari Meermans
01-05-2018, 10:17 PM
It really does need to be milking a horse.

This is a stop-gap measure until the parents return from their outing, and gas-powered transportation again becomes available--and therefore access to evaporated milk from which MC will mix up formula.

MC is not on a farm, but an "estate" that raises only horses and dogs, and MC wouldn't dream of milking a dog.

No wet nurses, no goats, and for the next few hours, no transportation to stores.

I guess I'm going to have to show my ignorance here: you say it's an estate that raises only horses and dogs. Why can't your MC use a horse for transportation to a neighbor's farm/estate if obtaining milk is so critical.


ETA: Or, yanno, what Taraesque said.

MDSchafer
01-05-2018, 10:43 PM
I want maximum milk with minimal harm to the colt.

Does colt still mean "Young male horse," cause, cause I think it does. So, in that case your colt will produce a white, milky substance, but I don't think there's a lot of protein in that.

autumnleaf
01-05-2018, 10:43 PM
Donkey milk was sometimes used in the past as infant nutrition, and also for invalids. It's actually closer in composition to human milk than cow's or goat's milk.

Patty
01-05-2018, 10:44 PM
Foal - baby horse
Filly - girl
Colt - boy

Semen - lots of protein.

:)

TellMeAStory
01-05-2018, 10:52 PM
Well, I thank all you helpful people for trying to re-write the story for me, but it really is as I presented it.

MC knows the babies are frail, does not know how to ride a horse, is in no position to ask other employees to run errands for her, believes that milk--of any kind--is necessary, knows there are no nearby neighbors, and has already considered a flour-syrup-water alternative, but thinks it inadvisable.

She has determined to milk the lactating horse in the belief that its milk will save those babies. It may be an unwise decision, but like any MC, she does have her limitations.

Patty
01-05-2018, 11:01 PM
i think in terms of age, you need to know not when a foal normally weans, but when the foal would be capable of eating other food (e.g. soft grain). This may be earlier than 6 months.

So, the mama makes a lot of milk for baby horse, but baby horse can be tempted away with 'Purina Foal Chow' with no bad repercussions.

Then you take the milk that mama had planned for the baby. (You probably still want the foal to have some of that milk so it isn't too stressed out.)

Google says a mare makes 3 gallons milk per day. That's plenty (baby people eat ~ 25 - 60 ounces per day depending on age.)

cornflake
01-05-2018, 11:08 PM
Well, I thank all you helpful people for trying to re-write the story for me, but it really is as I presented it.

MC knows the babies are frail, does not know how to ride a horse, is in no position to ask other employees to run errands for her, believes that milk--of any kind--is necessary, knows there are no nearby neighbors, and has already considered a flour-syrup-water alternative, but thinks it inadvisable.

She has determined to milk the lactating horse in the belief that its milk will save those babies. It may be an unwise decision, but like any MC, she does have her limitations.

We're not trying to rewrite it, but telling you that, as readers, if we come across a story in which someone tasked with looking after some babies for a few hours decides to go milk a horse, we may decide the character is too addled to have gotten successfully dressed, nevermind propelled herself to a job.

She's convinced herself that some frail babies are better off on unpasturized horse milk they've never had than water, I think she's too dumb to live (which may be the character), or it's an insertion for effect, which would put me off the whole book.

We're not saying it doesn't make sense for amusement's sake, in other words; we're saying it doesn't make sense because we're readers. If it's not supposed to make sense -- if she's a moron who sickens or kills the kids out of stupidity, then fine, but say so, you know?

AW Admin
01-05-2018, 11:22 PM
Google says a mare makes 3 gallons milk per day. That's plenty (baby people eat ~ 25 - 60 ounces per day depending on age.)

A Percheron or other heavy horse will, sure, for about the first three months. Then it starts to taper as the foal starts to be able to eat and digest vegetation/grass/hay.

Moreover, not only does the amount change, so does the composition of the milk; more water then less, until she dries off.

AW Admin
01-05-2018, 11:27 PM
Well, I thank all you helpful people for trying to re-write the story for me, but it really is as I presented it.

I understand that, but has someone who has fed babies, kept horses and actually milked a horse (for bottle feeding other horses' foals) I'd stop reading your book because it's so very very implausible.

Human babies will die in days without food. They will survive fine for a few days on water with sugar and salt and maybe some finely ground flour to thicken it. Not a diet for the long term, but just fine short term.

And a competent rider is not going to mind, for instance, a twenty five mile ride to fetch milk.

Old Hack
01-05-2018, 11:29 PM
A few hours is not reason enough to do this; it's more than likely that the baby will have digestive issues since it's a new food.

Indeed. Babies who are breastfed can and do have upsets if their mother eats something new; being given an entirely new sort of milk without any introductory period is going to cause real problems, if these babies are under about six months old. Perhaps if they're older.


Well, I thank all you helpful people for trying to re-write the story for me, but it really is as I presented it.

I'm sorry: I'm not trying to rewrite your story; I'm just presenting you with the facts that I know, in hope that they'll help you construct a new and more realistic storyline.


MC knows the babies are frail, does not know how to ride a horse, is in no position to ask other employees to run errands for her, believes that milk--of any kind--is necessary, knows there are no nearby neighbors, and has already considered a flour-syrup-water alternative, but thinks it inadvisable.

She has determined to milk the lactating horse in the belief that its milk will save those babies. It may be an unwise decision, but like any MC, she does have her limitations.

If she knows the babies are frail surely she'd not give them food which is almost guaranteed to upset them? IF she's got any experience as a nurse (and having been given the job of nursing three frail babies, I'd assume she has at least some experience) she'd surely know that this is a really, really bad idea?

I'm sorry. I don't want to critique your story for you; I know this isn't the place. But I can't imagine anyone who has ever cared for a baby would think that this is even something to consider, let alone a good idea. There are so many alternatives which would offer a better outcome for the babies--sugar water, pap, mashed banana, mashed almost anything--than the milk of a horse.

ULTRAGOTHA
01-05-2018, 11:36 PM
Milking mares is hard and the mare is unlikely to cooperate in either being caught or milked. Though I suppose it could be a very tame mare who doesn't really care, but most mares with foals DO care when strangers get between them.

Is this a trained nurse? Or just some random woman?

Because if she's a trained private duty nurse professionally hired to look after these children I'd DNF a book that made her leave three babies alone for the time it took her to catch a strange mare and milk it with little prior experience when there's water (and sugar) right there in the kitchen, and she expects the parents home as soon as they're done with their outing. If the babies are so frail that waiting a few hours, or even a day, to feed them tinned milk/formula would endanger their lives, should she not be wondering how to get them to hospital, or at least get a doctor to the house, ASAP?

ETA: Also if they're rich in the 30s, they probably have a phone. Call the nearest milk man/grocer and ask for a delivery?

My wife the postpartum/pediatric nurse asks why would a trained private duty nurse think unhygenic mares milk is better than potable water and processed sugar for frail babies? Or just waiting for the parents to get home? (Nurses know babies can wait for hours to be fed. Babies have survived for days without being fed when buried in hospitals after earthquakes.) Mare's milk has so much less fat than human milk, she might as well be feeding them water anyway.

If it's some random teen that knows horses but not babies so much, I'd be far more likely to buy the premise.

cornflake
01-05-2018, 11:38 PM
In addition, just btw, many infants on an exclusive diet won't readily take something else. Heck, babies on diets of a few things can be picky about new foods, but if they're on a regular diet just giving them horse milk isn't likely to solve a problem because (aside from all the other things mentioned), they probably won't eat it.

Yes, someone hungry enough will eat almost anything, but going a few hours without food isn't close to hungry enough to overcome that, especially for a baby with something that smells or tastes markedly different, which I'm going to guess horse milk does if they've been getting evaporated milk.

Jan74
01-05-2018, 11:47 PM
I read a book by Alice Hoffman called The Red Garden where one of the characters milks a hibernating bear to keep her people alive. I loved this book and even though this scenario of a women going into a bear den to milk it is wayyyyyyy out there I never flinched reading it. I say just write it, she milks the mare and saves the babies. Make the mare a very docile mare who is currently nursing a foal and milk the mare while the foal is nursing....something like that.

Just my two cents :)

Twick
01-06-2018, 01:30 AM
Well, that's it. If it's a scene that you really want to write - hey, I'm certain it is far from the least plausible scene put on paper. Don't worry about "will people who milk horses realize MC is doing it wrong," because unless your reader is from the Asian steppes they'll never have done it themselves. Your biggest critics will be people who feed babies, and if the rest of your story is decent, most of them will likely read through, cocked eyebrow or not.

Jan74
01-06-2018, 02:17 AM
Well, that's it. If it's a scene that you really want to write - hey, I'm certain it is far from the least plausible scene put on paper. Don't worry about "will people who milk horses realize MC is doing it wrong," because unless your reader is from the Asian steppes they'll never have done it themselves. Your biggest critics will be people who feed babies, and if the rest of your story is decent, most of them will likely read through, cocked eyebrow or not.

Exactly.

taraesque
01-06-2018, 02:28 AM
I'm not trying to re-write your book for you, but I am also in the category where I need my main characters actions to be logical. If the babies are so frail that they will die without food in the next few hours, then I want her calling the doctor because those are very sick children. That hour spent trying to figure out how to corral and milk horse would leave seriously ill kids alone for a long time. And again, if there are farm hands working on an estate, I can't imagine 95% of them wouldn't drop what they were doing to get milk for sick babies, even if they didn't know the new nurse very well.

Jan74
01-06-2018, 02:37 AM
I'm not trying to re-write your book for you, but I am also in the category where I need my main characters actions to be logical. If the babies are so frail that they will die without food in the next few hours, then I want her calling the doctor because those are very sick children. That hour spent trying to figure out how to corral and milk horse would leave seriously ill kids alone for a long time. And again, if there are farm hands working on an estate, I can't imagine 95% of them wouldn't drop what they were doing to get milk for sick babies, even if they didn't know the new nurse very well.

Yes for sure, the author really runs the risk of losing the audience if we are talking about newborn babies...triplets...surviving in 1938 on horse milk. I'm a mother to twins who were born premature, most likely in 1938 triplets who are frail would not survive. It would be very hard for me to suspend my own personal belief in this novel. With the bear being milked it just fit the story and we weren't talking about high risk babies, it was a group of people who left an area and settled in a new area. If she had tried to say the bears milk saved a failing baby the nurse in my would have scoffed and I probably would've stopped reading.

Write what you want...just realize that if its so far fetched and out of the norm you may lose the reader.

Cath
01-06-2018, 04:08 AM
Reminder - this is not a brainstorming forum. Please don't assume you need to advise the OP what does or doesn't work for the story.

If in doubt read the Forum Guidelines (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?248198-Forum-Guidelines-Please-read-before-posting).

Matchu
01-09-2018, 01:41 AM
Take the babies to the horse. See if they find the teat.

TellMeAStory
01-17-2018, 11:02 PM
Thank you everybody for your help on this.

Lily, whose only assignment was to transport those triplets from the big city hospital to the estate, has received help from the man who cares for the horses here.

He thinks mare's milk ideal, drinks it every day, has raised his sons on mare's milk, and sets Lily up with the most agreeable of his horses. She does the actual milking, pasteurizes the milk, adds syrup--but not water, as the milk looks plenty water-y to her, further prepares as with any formula, then feeds her triplets. They are whisked off to Europe thereafter, and she never sees or hears of them again.

But she'll have this story to tell for years.

Roxxsmom
01-17-2018, 11:23 PM
There are records of Triplets surviving in the early 20th century (The Del Rubio triplets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Del_Rubio_Triplets) were born in the 20s in Panama), though of course prior to modern techniques for assisting premature newborns triplet mortality rates (and maternal morbidity and mortality) would be much higher overall than for singletons, or even for twins (also high-risk births).

Works of fiction often focus on unusual or extraordinary situations. As long as the unusualness of the situation is acknowledged in some way (maybe by having other characters expressing amazement or disbelief when told the story), it's not necessarily a problem, imo.

Another thing to remember is that most readers don't come to a book as willing to pick at the suspension of disbelief as are folks on writing forums. That's not an excuse for failing to research or to not do one's homework (and it drives me nuts when blatant mistakes or misinformation make it through the editing process and are presented as narrative truths and not opinions of a character), but again, stories often center around exceptional circumstances.

jclarkdawe
01-17-2018, 11:48 PM
Thank you everybody for your help on this.

Lily, whose only assignment was to transport those triplets from the big city hospital to the estate, has received help from the man who cares for the horses here.

He thinks mare's milk ideal, drinks it every day, has raised his sons on mare's milk, and sets Lily up with the most agreeable of his horses. She does the actual milking, pasteurizes the milk, adds syrup--but not water, as the milk looks plenty water-y to her, further prepares as with any formula, then feeds her triplets. They are whisked off to Europe thereafter, and she never sees or hears of them again.

But she'll have this story to tell for years.

Plausible. Written right I'd buy into it.

Jim Clark-Dawe

ULTRAGOTHA
01-18-2018, 03:54 AM
Thank you everybody for your help on this.
>snip<
But she'll have this story to tell for years.

Bravx! What a great way to incorporate all the advice. I bow my keyboard to you.

BellaRush
01-22-2018, 07:13 PM
If you just want the logistics of milking a mare - google it and look for videos. :-) She should sterilize the udder and of course her hands (we use sterile gloves). There is a method using a syringe as well, but it's with a plastic syringe, which I don't think they had in the 30s. I think the digestive challenges would come from a different bacterial flora, but if it's pasteurized, I'd probably buy in. :-D

Google the composition of mare's milk vs. human. It's apparently more similar in composition than cow's milk.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0958694602001206 "Mare's milk shows some structural and functional peculiarities that make it more suitable for human nourishment than cow's milk."

And I've had to wean foals at 3 months. At this age the foal was already eating hard feed (grain) on his own, and did just fine (though normally I wouldn't wean till 5 months). Honestly, a well-handled mare will let herself be milked. You're probably going to be a lot kinder than her foal! :-D

(my qualifications: broodmare manager for TB racehorses, and BSc in Food Science. Disclaimer - I know nothing about human kids!)

snafu1056
01-23-2018, 01:20 AM
There are records of Triplets surviving in the early 20th century (The Del Rubio triplets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Del_Rubio_Triplets) were born in the 20s in Panama), though of course prior to modern techniques for assisting premature newborns triplet mortality rates (and maternal morbidity and mortality) would be much higher overall than for singletons, or even for twins (also high-risk births).


The Del Rubio triplets sounds like a hot date for Fonzie. Hehe, I'm old.

Patty
01-23-2018, 07:15 PM
I'd also buy into the story as presented.

(Incidentally was just mentioning Fonzie to hubby this morning wondering if it was short for Alphonse (my MC) then recalled no, Fonzie is Arthur Fonzerelli. But for a brief shining moment my MC was the Fonz.)

We now take you back to your regularly scheduled program, Milking Mares.

Kitsune
01-31-2018, 06:04 PM
Aside from what other people mentioned already about nutrition, viability, ease, etc. I have one other thing to add. On such an estate the horses are probably going to be Hunter types and therefore very very expensive considering the times and who would be buying them. Even if they were draft animals it would be super expensive to buy. Have you thought about how if the foal were to die from lack of nutrition or milk it could have some serious repercussions for your MC. An estate that breeds horses would rely on their ability to produce quality animals and improve their own bloodlines. Even one foal, could have years of investment in lineage, money, time. They may have had to pay someone else a stud fee to keep inbreeding at bay and you can't just breed back a mare whose just foaled. So there's lost time and money there. Not to mention the loss of potential. I know from family journals that detail the gossip of the time among other things that costing someone their future bloodlines of their estate of that relies on breeding could mean anything from expulsion from the family service (good luck getting another job because it wasn't just a matter of keeping it off your resume. Gossip travels, particularly among those with the money to afford servants), to jail and/or a fine levied against you. It could also mean death depending on the status of the individual, time period, place. Not just directly but indirectly. A mark like that against you -nobody- will hire you in their home, especially those who aren't well off, if you don't have a job you don't have money for food or a home...

Honestly, even if the MC is in no position to give orders to anyone, other servants on the household will help if only to avoid their employers wrath. Because if the employer comes home to find someone tampered with their animals you can bet everyone will receive some measure of displeasure.

A good horse (and if they have an estate and breeding them) could easily go for the entire year's wages of a hardworking family. Not to mention if the mare panics or gets mad, kicks out, and damages herself. Especially if it's the legs they damage. That would be the death of mare and foal and perhaps generations (horse not human generations) of breeding, if it killed even part of a bloodline then I can almost guarantee that your MC will have a very short life expectancy. A lot of people relied on their animals for survival. Even a hunter estate would be crippled by the loss of even a few mares, perhaps even to the point permanent damage.

Twick
02-01-2018, 09:10 PM
There are records of Triplets surviving in the early 20th century (The Del Rubio triplets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Del_Rubio_Triplets) were born in the 20s in Panama), though of course prior to modern techniques for assisting premature newborns triplet mortality rates (and maternal morbidity and mortality) would be much higher overall than for singletons, or even for twins (also high-risk births).

Works of fiction often focus on unusual or extraordinary situations. As long as the unusualness of the situation is acknowledged in some way (maybe by having other characters expressing amazement or disbelief when told the story), it's not necessarily a problem, imo.

Another thing to remember is that most readers don't come to a book as willing to pick at the suspension of disbelief as are folks on writing forums. That's not an excuse for failing to research or to not do one's homework (and it drives me nuts when blatant mistakes or misinformation make it through the editing process and are presented as narrative truths and not opinions of a character), but again, stories often center around exceptional circumstances.

I recall in my youth reading something in L.M. Montgomery's opus of a girl saying "Did you know twins don't often grow up, and triplets hardly ever?" So it sounds like it would be viewed as rare, but not impossible, for triplets (especially upper class ones) to survive.