The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 45 of 76

But from what cause so ever this curding of the milk proceeds, the most certain remedy is, to draw the breasts until it is emitted and dried. But in regard that the infant by reason of weakness, cannot draw strength enough, the woman being hard marked when her milk is curded, it will be most proper to get another woman to draw her breasts until the milk comes freely, and then she may give her child suck. And that she may not afterwards be troubled with a surplus of milk, she must eat such diet as give but little nourishment, and keep her body open.

But if the case be such that the woman neither can nor will be a nurse, it is necessary to apply other remedies for the curing of this distemper; for then it will be best not to draw the breasts, for that will be the way to bring more milk into them. For which purpose it will be necessary to empty the body by bleeding the arms, besides which, let the humours be drawn down by strong clysters and bleeding at the foot; nor will it be amiss to purge gently, and to digest, dissolve and dissipate the curded milk, four brans dissolved in a decoction of sage, milk, smallage and fennel, mixing with it oil of camomile, with which oil let the breasts be well anointed. The following liniment is also good to scatter and dissipate the milk.

A Liniment to Scatter and Dissipate the Milk.

That the milk flowing back to the breast may without offence be dissipated, you must use this ointment:—"Take pure wax, two ounces, linseed, half a pound; when the wax is melted, let the liniment be made, wherein linen cloths must be clipped, and, according to their largeness, be laid upon the breasts; and when it shall be dispersed, and pains no more, let other linen cloths be laid in the distilled water of acorns, and put upon them.

Note.—That the cloths dipped into distilled water of acorns must be used only by those who cannot nurse their own children; but if a swelling in the breast of her who gives such do arise, from abundance of milk, threatens an inflammation, let her use the former ointment, but abstain from using the distilled water of acorns.


Directions for the Nurses, in ordering Newly-born Children.

When the child's navel-string hath been cut according to the rules 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 excrements found in the guts; and the others without, which are thick, whitish and clammy, proceeding from the sliminess of the waters. There are sometimes children covered all over with this, that one would think they were rubbed over with soft cheese, and some women are of so easy a belief, that they really think it so, because they have 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 groin, and the cods or privities; which parts must be gently cleansed with a linen rag, or a soft sponge dipped in lukewarm wine. If this clammy or viscous excrement stick so close that it will not easily be washed off from those places, it may be fetched off with oil of sweet almond, or a little fresh butter melted with wine, and afterwards well dried off; also make tents of fine rags, and wetting them in this liquor, clear the ears and nostrils; but for the eyes, wipe them only with a dry, soft rag, not dipping it in the wine, lest it should make them smart.

The child being washed, and cleansed from the native blood and impurities which attend 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 nor 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 over shot; also whether the scrotum (if it be a male) be not blown up and swelled, and, in short, whether it has suffered any 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 anything be found not right. Nor is it enough to see that all be right without, and that the outside of the body be cleansed, but she must also observe whether it dischargeth the excrements contained within, and whether the passage be open; for some have been born without having been 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 if they feel the heat of the fire, and also sometimes void the excrements, but not so soon as the urine. If the infant does not ordure the first day, then put 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 the belly. A sugar almond may be proper for this purpose, anointed all over with a little boiled honey; or else a small piece of castile-soap rubbed over with fresh butter; 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 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 clothes, 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; then wrap it up warm in a bed with blankets, which there is scarcely any woman so ignorant but knows well enough how to do; only let me give them this caution, that they swathe not the child too tightly in its blankets, especially about the breast and stomach, that it may breathe the more freely, and not be forced to vomit up the milk it sucks, because the stomach cannot be sufficiently distended 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 its sides, and its legs equally both together with a little of the bed between them, that they may not be galled by rubbing each other; then let the head be kept steady and straight, with a stay fastened each side of the blanket, and then wrap the child up in a mantle and blankets to keep it warm. Let none think this swathing of 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 proper and decent for a man, and to accustom him to keep upon his feet, who otherwise would go upon all fours, as most animals do.


SECTION I.—Of Gripes and Pains in the, Bellies of Young Children.

This I mention first, as it is often the first and most common distemper which happens to little infants, after their birth; many children being so troubled therewith, that it causes them to cry day and night and at last die of it. The cause of it for the most part comes from the sudden change of nourishment, for having always received it from the umbilical vessel whilst in the mother's womb, they come on a sudden not only to change the manner of receiving it, but the nature and quality of what they received, as soon as they are born; for instead of purified blood only, which was conveyed to them by means of the umbilical vein, they are now obliged to be nourished by their mother's milk, which they suck with their mouths, and from which are engendered many excrements, causing gripes and pains; and not only because it is not so pure as the blood with which it was nourished in the womb, but because the stomach and the intestines cannot make a good digestion, being unaccustomed to it. It is sometimes caused also by a rough phlegm, and sometimes by worms; for physicians affirm that worms have been bred in children even in their mother's belly.

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