The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 33 of 76

Take mallows and marshmallows, cut and shred, of each one ounce; of linseed, one ounce; let them be boiled from twenty ounces of water to ten; then let her take three ounces of the boiled broth, of oil of almonds and oil of flower-de-luce, of each one ounce; of deer's suet, three ounces. Let her bathe with this, and anoint herself with it, warm.

If for fourteen days before the birth, she do every morning and evening bathe and moisten her belly with muscadine and lavender water, the child will be much strengthened thereby. And if every day she eat toasted bread, it will hinder anything from growing to the child. Her privy parts must be gently stroked down with this fomentation.

"Take three ounces of linseed, and one handful each of mallows and marshmallows sliced, then let them be put into a bag and immediately boiled." Let the woman with child, every morning and evening, take the vapour of this decoction in a hollow stool, taking great heed that no wind or air come to her in-parts, and then let her wipe the part so anointed with a linen cloth, and she may anoint the belly and groins as at first.

When she has come so near to her time, as to be ten or fourteen days thereof, if she begins to feel any more than ordinary pain let her use every day the following:—"Take mallows and marshmallows, of each a handful; camomiles, hard mercury, maidenhair, of each a handful; of linseed, four ounces; let them be boiled in a sufficient quantity of water as to make a bath therewith." But let her not sit too hot upon the seat, nor higher than a little above her navel; nor let her sit upon it longer than about half an hour, lest her strength languish and decay, for it is better to use it often than to stay too long in it.

And thus have I shown how a child-bearing woman ought to govern herself each month during her pregnancy. How she must order herself at her delivery, shall be shown in another chapter, after I have first shown the intended midwife how the child is first formed in the womb, and the manner of its decumbiture there.


Of the Parts proper to a Child in the womb; How it is formed there, and the manner of its Situation therein.

In the last chapter I treated of conception, showed what it was, how accomplished and its signs, and how she who has conceived ought to order herself during the time of her pregnancy. Now, before I come to speak of her delivery, it is necessary that the midwife be first made acquainted with the parts proper to a child in the womb, and also that she be shown how it is formed, and the manner of its situation and decumbiture there; which are so necessary to her, that without the knowledge thereof, no one can tell how to deliver a woman as she ought. This, therefore, shall be the work of this chapter. I shall begin with the first of these.

SECTION I.—Of the Parts proper to a Child in the Womb.

In this section, I must first tell you what I mean by the parts proper to a child in the womb; and they are only those that either help or nourish it; and whilst it is lodged in that dark repository of nature, and that help to clothe and defend it there and are cast away, as of no more use, after it is born, and these are two, viz., the umbilicars, or navel vessels, and the secundinum. By the first it is nourished, and by the second clothed and defended from wrong. Of each of these I shall speak distinctly; and first,

Of the Umbilicars, or Navel Vessels.

These are four in number, viz.:—one vein, two arteries, and the vessel which is called the urachos.

(1) The vein is that on which the infant is nourished, from the time of its conception till the time of its delivery; till being brought into the light of the world, it has the same way of concocting the food we have. This vein ariseth from the liver of the child, and is divided into two parts when it has passed the navel; and these two are divided and subdivided, the branches being upheld by the skin called chorion (of which I speak by and by), and are joined to the veins of the mother's womb, from whence they have their blood for the nourishment of the child.

(2) The arteries are two on each side which proceed from the back branches of the great artery of the mother, and the vital blood is carried by those to the child being ready concocted by the mother.

(3) A nervous or sinewy production is led from the bottom of the bladder of the infant to the navel, and this is called urachos, and its use is, to convey the urine of the infant from the bladder to the alantois. Anatomists do very much vary in their opinion concerning this, some denying any such thing to be in the delivery of the woman, and others on the contrary affirming it; but experience has testified there is such a thing, for Bartholomew Carbrolius, the ordinary doctor of anatomy to the College of Physicians at Montpellier in France, records the history of a maid, whose water being a long time stopped, at last issued out through the navel. And Johannes Fernelius speaks of the same thing that happened to a man of thirty years of age, who having a stoppage at the neck of the bladder, his urine issued out of his navel for many months together, and that without any prejudice at all to his health, which he ascribes to the ill lying of his navel, whereby the urachos was not well dried. And Volchier Coitas quotes such another instance in a maid of thirty-four at Nuremburg in Germany. These instances, though they happen but seldom, are sufficient to prove that there is such a thing as anurachos in men.

These four vessels before mentioned, viz., one vein, two arteries and the urachos, join near the navel, and are united by a skin which they have from the chorion and so become like a gut or rope, and are altogether void of sensibility, and this is that which women call the navel-string. The vessels are thus joined together, that so they may neither be broken, severed nor entangled; and when the infant is born are of no use save only to make up the ligament which stops the hole of the navel and for some other physical use, etc.

Of the Secundine or After-birth.

Setting aside the name given to this by the Greeks and Latins, it is called in English by the name of secundine, after-birth or after-burden; which are held to be four in number.

(1) The first is called placenta, because it resembles the form of a cake, and is knit both to the navel and chorion, and makes up the greatest part of the secundine or after-birth. The flesh of it is like that of the melt or spleen, soft, red and tending something to blackness, and hath many small veins and arteries in it: and certainly the chief use of it is, for containing the child in the womb.

(2) The second is the chorion. This skin and that called the amnios, involve the child round, both above and underneath, and on both sides, which the alantois does not. This skin is that which is most commonly called the secundine, as it is thick and white garnished with many small veins and arteries, ending in the placenta before named, being very light and slippery. Its use is, not only to cover the child round about, but also to receive, and safely bind up the roots of the veins and arteries or navel vessels before described.

(3) The third thing which makes up the secundine in the alantois, of which there is a great dispute amongst anatomists. Some say there is such a thing, and others that there is not. Those who will have it to be a membrane, say it is white, soft and exceedingly thin, and just under the placenta, where it is knit to the urachos, from which it receives the urine; and its office is to keep it separate from the sweat, that the saltness of it may not offend the tender skin of the child.

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