What manner of Woman, a Midwife ought to be.
MAny things are requisite, and needefull in a Midwife, but they are all referred to her per∣son,* to her Manners, and to her mind: First, concer∣ning her person: she must bee of an indifferent age, neither too yong, nor too olde: well composed of body: not being subiect to any diseases, nor misha∣pen, or deformed in any part therof, neat in her ap∣parell, and person: especially hauing little hands & not thicke: cleane, and her nailes pared very neere, and euen; neither must shee weare rings vppon her fingers, nor bracelets vpon her armes, when shee is about her businesse. She must bee pleasant, merry, of good discourse, strong, painfull, and accustomed to labour, that shee may bee able (if neede bee) to watch two or three nights by the woman.*
Concerning her behauiour, she must bee mild, gentle, courteous, patient, sober, chast, not quarrel∣some; nor chollericke, neither proud or couetous, nor a blabber, or reporter of any thing she shall ei∣ther heare or see in secret, in the house or person of Page 85 her she hath deliuered. For as Terence saith,*It is not fit to commit her into the hands of a drunken, or rash woman, that is in trauaile of her first child.
As for her mind, she must bee wise, discreet,* and witty, able to make vse sometime of faire and flat∣tering speeches: as Plato reporteth Midwiues were wont to doe in times past: which was done to no o∣ther end but onely to busie and beguile the poore apprehensiue women. And it is a commendable deceipt, allowed also in a Chirurgion when it is done for the patients good. For as the same Terence saith. Deceipt doth serue oftentimes for a good medi∣cine in extreame diseases.
Now aboue all things the said Midwife ought to know that nature, the handmaid of this great God, hath giuen to euery thing a beginning, increase, state, perfection, & declining, which he doth mani∣festly,* and chiefely shew (saith Galen) in the birth of a child, when the mother brings him into the world. For Nature surpasseth all▪ and in that she doth, is wiser then either Art, or the Midwife, whosoeuer shee bee, yea, then the best or most cunning workeman that may bee found,* as Ga∣len witnesseth. For it is she, that hath set downe the day of the childs conformation, and the houre of his birth. And certainly it is a thing worthy of con∣sideration, to see how in a little space,* yea euen in the twinckling of an eye, the necke of the wombe, which all the time of the nine moneths was so per∣fectly and exactly closed and shut, that the point of a needle could not enter therin: how (I say) in an in∣stant Page 86 it is dilated and inlarged, to giue passage, and way for the child; the which cannot bee compre∣hended (as the same Galen saith) but only wondred at, and admired. The same Author in his fifteenth booke de vsu partium, desirous to shew the proui∣dence of Nature saith, that the faults of Nature are very rare, and that she worketh alwaies, and in such order, and measure, that of a thousand births, there is scarce one found that is amisse.
Wherefore neither the Midwife nor any of the Womans kinsfolkes, or assistants, ought to doe any thing rashly, but suffer nature to worke; helping her notwithstanding in that which shall bee need∣full, as heereafter shall be declared: deuiding the worke of their deliuery into three seueral times and seasons.