This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
You must now pay attention to the exhausted but joyous mother, rejoiced that she has passed such an agony of pain as you can form no conception of, such that you have never felt and never can feel, unless you have been or will be a mother, and yet she will now greet you with a sweet, smiling countenance. Her anxiety, however, is not over until she is relieved of the after-birth. By the time that you have got through with your duty to the baby, you will probably find the after-birth expelled into the vagina, by the after-pains. If such is the case, take the cord and pull gently downwards and a little upwards, but by no means pull so hard as to tear the cord, or invert the womb. If it will not come, wait, and in a short time try again, and you will most probably find it to come away readily. If you should find her flooding, take a rag, saturate it with vinegar, or take a lemon, divest it of its rind, and then pass it into the womb and squeeze it. This causes contraction of the organ, and stops the hemorrhage. You may also apply ice to the spine for this purpose, and if you have ergot in the house, give a pretty large dose of that. After delivery of the after-birth, take a towel, and pass it around the pelvis of the mother, and bind it pretty tightly; cover her up warmly, and allow her to sleep, and so recover strength, as you may suppose that she is very much exhausted by this time.
The baby has to be washed. This is a tedious job, unless you know how to proceed. All babies are covered with more or less unctuous matter, and this should be removed, or else it is liable to get a skin disease. After you have got your rag (a soft woollen one is the best) and some pretty warm water, smear the child over with pure lard or sweet oil, and then use castile soap and water, and you will soon have it clean. Be careful, however, not to get soap into its eyes, or else you will have to treat it in a few days after for sore eyes. Now you have got it clean, but you must not put on its clothes, until you have dressed the navel, and put on its belly-band. To dress the navel, take a well-worn cotton rag, cut it into patches of about four inches in diameter, take three or four of these and put a hole through the middle of them. Cut also a little bandage, half an inch wide, and wrap it round the navel string, then slip it through the patches, and lay the string pointing towards the left shoulder. Now, put on the woollen belly-band, moderately tight, and secure it with needle and thread, not with pins. You may think this caution unnecessary, but if you had seen as many torn limbs and deep scratches in infants as I have you would not think so. After this you can put on its whole toilet, and lay it in its proper warm nest--its mother's arms.
But you may think the baby is hungry, and that it needs some physic; so you give it some gruel, and follow this up either with castor oil and sugar, molasses, or butter and sugar made into a paste, and force them down the little victims throat. I say victim, because you could not easily do more harm, and yet this abomination is done every day. If the mother has milk, put it at the breast as soon as you can; if not, let it wait until she has, -- it won't starve. It needs no purgative, for the colostrum or first of the milk is by nature designed as a laxative, and if it gets that, it will soon have the black stools, or discharge of meconium, as doctors call it. By no means give it soothing syrups nor spirits, nor put a cap on it, or wash it with spirits. If you take my advice in this matter, the baby will be the better for it, and there will not be a necessity, which is so often the case, of the early exchange of its little dresses for a tiny shroud.
In about twelve hours after delivery the mother may be cleansed, and her bed changed, and light food given to her. She should remain in bed for at least ten days, after which, if she feels strong, she may sit up, but should avoid exertion. If she has insufficient milk, follow advice given on page 328.