The Works of Aristotle - DIRECTIONS FOR NURSES IN ORDERING NEW-BORN CHILDREN.

DIRECTIONS FOR NURSES IN ORDERING NEW-BORN CHILDREN.

 

HAVING in the former chapter shown how the lying-in woman should be ordered, it is now high time to take care of the infant; to whom the first service that should be performed for it is the cutting of the navel-string, of which I have spoken at large before.

 

SECT. I. What is to be done to the new born infant after cutting the Navel-string.

WHEN the child's navel-string hath been cut according to the rules before prescribed, let the midwife presently cleanse it from the excrements and filth it brings into the world with it; of which some are within the body, as the urine in the bladder, and the excrement found in the guts; and others without, which are thick and whitish, and clammy, proceeding from the sliminess of the waters; there are children sometimes so covered all over with this that one would say they were rubbed over with soft cheese, and some women are of so easy a belief that they really think it so, because they had eaten some while they were with child. From these excrements let the child be cleansed with wine and water a little warmed, washing every part therewith, but chiefly the head, because of the hair, also the folds of the groins, armpits, and the cods or privities; which parts must be gently cleansed with a linen rag, or a soft sponge dipped in this luke-warm wine. If this clammy or viscous excrement stick so close that it will not be easily washed off from those places, it may be fetched off with oil of sweet almonds or a little fresh butter melted with wine, and afterwards well dried off; she must also make tents of fine rags, and, wetting them in this liquor, clear the ears and nostrils; but for the ears, wipe them only with a dry soft rag, not dipping it in the wine, lest it should make them smart.

The child being thus washed and cleansed from its native blood and impurities which attended it into the world, it must in the next place be searched to see whether all things be right about it, and that there is no fault or dislocation; whether its nose be straight or its tongue tied, or whether there be any bruise or tumour of the head, or whether the mold be not overshotten; also whether the scrotum (in case it be a boy) be not blown up and swelled; and, in short, whether it has suffered violence by its birth in any part of its body, and whether all the parts be well and duly shaped, that suitable remedies may be applied if any thing be not found right. Nor is it enough to see that all be right without, and that the outside of the body be cleansed, but she must chiefly observe whether it dischargeth the excrements contained within, and whether the passages he open, for some have been born without having them perforated; therefore, let her examine whether the conduits of the urine and stool be clear, for want of which some have died, not being able to void their excrements because timely care was not taken at first. As to the urine, all children as well males as females, do make water as soon as they are born if they can, especially when they feel the heat of the fire, and sometimes also the excrements, but not so soon as the urine. if the infant does not ordure the first day, then put up into its fundament a small suppository, to stir it up to be discharged, that it may not cause painful gripes by remaining so long in its belly. A sugar almond may be proper for this purpose, anointed over with a little boiled honey; or else a small piece of Castile soap rubbed over with fresh butter; she may also give the child for this purpose a little syrup of roses or violets at the mouth, mixed with some oil of sweet almonds drawn without a fire, anointing the belly also with the same oil or a little fresh butter.

The midwife having thus washed and cleansed the child, according to the before-mentioned directions, let her begin to swaddle it in swathing-cloths, and when she dresses the head, let her put small rags behind the ears to dry up the filth which usually engenders there, and so let her do also in the folds of the armpits and groins, and so swathe it, having wrapped it up warm in beds and blankets, which there is scarce any woman so foolish but knows well enough how to do, only let me give them this caution, that they swathe not the child too straight in its blankets, especially about the breast and stomach, that it may breathe the more freely, and not he forced to vomit up the milk it sucks, because the stomach cannot be sufficiently extended to contain it; therefore let its arms and legs be wrapped in its bed, stretched and straight, and swathed to keep them so, viz., the arms along the sides, and its legs equally both together, with a little of the bed between them, that they may not he galled by rubbing each other; then let the head be kept steady and straight with a stay fastened on each side the blanket, and then wrap the child up in mantles and blankets to keep it warm. Let none think this of swathing the infant is needless to set down, for it is necessary it should be thus swaddled, to give its little body a straight figure, which is most decent and proper for a man, and to accustom him to keep upon his feet, who otherwise would go upon all four, as most other animals do.

 

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