The Works of Aristotle - SECT. I. Directions for Child-bed Women after Delivery.

SECT. I. Directions for Child-bed Women after Delivery.

AFTER the birth and after-birth are brought away, if the woman's body be very weak, keep her not too hot, for extremity of heat weakens nature, and dissolves the strength; but whether she be weak or strong, let no cold air come near her, for cold gets into the spermatic parts; and if cold gets into the womb it increases the after-pains, causes swellings in the womb, and hurts the nerves. Therefore, if a woman has had very hard labour, 'tis proper after delivery to wrap her in a skin of a sheep, taken off as warm as possible, and putting the fleshy side to her reins and belly; if a sheep skin cannot well be had, the skin of a hare or rabbit, taken off as soon as it is killed, may be applied to the same parts; and by so doing the dilation made in the birth will be closed up, and the melancholy blood expelled from those parts; and these may be continued during the space of an hour or two. After which, let the woman be swathed with a fine linen cloth, about a quarter of a yard In length, chafing her belly before it be swathed with the oil of St. John's wort; afterwards raise up the matrix with a linen cloth, many times folded, then with a little pillow or quilt cover her flank, place the swathe somewhat above the haunches, winding it indifferently stiff, applying at the same time a warm cloth to the nipples. Care should be taken not to apply any remedy to keep back the milk, because those remedies which drive back the milk, being of a dissolving nature, it is improper to apply them to the breast during such a disorder, lest evil humours should be contracted in the breast thereby: and therefore twelve hours at least ought to be allowed for the circulation and settlement of the blood.

After the woman has been delivered some time you may make a restrictive of the yolks of two eggs, a quarter of a pint of white wine, oil of St. John's wort, oil of roses, plantain, and rose water of each an ounce, mix them together, fold a linen cloth and dip therein, warm it before a gentle fire and apply it to the breasts, and the pain of those parts will be greatly eased.

But be sure not to let her sleep soon after her delivery, but let her take some broth or caudle, or any other liquid matter that is nourishing, about four hours after delivery, and then she may be safely permitted to sleep, if she is so disposed, as 'tis probable she will be, being tired with the fatigue of her labour. But before this, as soon as she is laid in her bed, let her drink a draught of burnt white wine, in which melt a dram of spermaceti. Let her also avoid the light for the first three days; for labour weakens the eyesight. The herb vervain is of singular service to the sight, and may be used in any way, either boiled in her meats or drink, not having the least offensive taste, but many pleasant virtues. If she should be feverish, add the leaves or roots of plantain to it; but if her courses come not away as they ought, let the plantain alone, and instead thereof put mother of thyme. If the womb is foul, which may be known by the impurity of the blood, and its stinking and coming away in clotted lumps, or if you suspect any of the after-birth to be left behind, which may sometimes happen, though the midwife be ever so careful and skilled, then make her a drink of featherfew, pennyroyal, mother of thyme, boiled in white wine, and sweetened with sugar: panada and new laid eggs are the best meat for her at first; of which let her eat often and but a little at a time. And let her use cinnamon in all her meats and drinks, for it mightily strengthens the womb; let her stir very little for six or seven days after her delivery: and let her talk as little as may be, for that weakens her. If she goes not well to stool give her a clyster made with the decoction of mallows, and a little brown sugar. After she hath lain in a week, or something more, give her such things as close the womb; to which you may add a little polypodum, both leaves and roots bruised, which will purge gently: this is as much in cases of natural birth as needs at first be done.


SECT. II. In extremity of unnatural Labour.

LET the woman be sure to keep a temperate diet: and take care that she does by no means overcharge herself, after such an excessive evacuation, not being' ruled by or giving credit to unskilled nurses, who are apt to admonish them to feed heartily, the better to repair the loss of blood; for the blood is not for the most part pure, but such as has been detained in the vessels or membranes, and it is better voided for the health of a woman than kept, unless there happens an extraordinary flux of blood: for if her nourishment be too much, it may make her liable to a fever, and increase the milk to a superfluity, which may he of dangerous consequence. It is therefore requisite for the first five days especially, that she takes moderately panada, broth, poached eggs, jelly of chickens and of calves feet, and French barley broth, each day somewhat increasing the quantity. And if she intend to be nurse to her child, she may take a little more than ordinary to increase the milk by degrees: which must be of no continuance, but drawn off either by the child or otherwise. In that case likewise let her have coriander or fennel-seed boiled in her barley broth; and by that means, for the time before mentioned, let her abstain from meat. If no fever trouble her she may drink now and then a small quantity of white wine or claret, as also syrup of maidenhair, or any other syrup that is of an astringent quality, taking it in a little water well boiled. And after the fear of a fever or contraction of humour to the breast is over, she may then be nourished more plentifully with the broths of pullets, capons, pigeons, partridges, mutton, veal, etc., which must not be till after eight days at least from the time of the delivery; for by that time the womb will have purged itself, unless some intervening accident should hinder. It will then be expedient to give her cold meats, so it be done sparingly, the better to gather strength; and let her during the time rest quietly, and free from any disturbance, not sleeping in the day time if she can avoid it. If there happens any obstructions in the evacuation of excrements, the following clyster may be administered: Take pelitory of the wail, and of both the mallows, of each a handful, fennel and aniseed of each two ounces, boil them in the decoction of a sheep's head, and take of this three quarters, dissolving it in common honey and coarse sugar, and of new fresh butter two ounces; strain it well, and administer it clyster-wise. But it this does not operate to your mind, then you may take an ounce of catholicon.


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