To Prevent Miscarriage.— The life must be free from all excitement, and must be as quiet as possible without becoming monotonous; especial care must be exercised at the return of the dates for the menstrual periods.
The symptoms of miscarriage are a show of blood, more or less profuse, with intense abdominal pain; on the slightest show of blood the patient should go to bed at once and the physician should be sent for.
Preparation for the Confinement; Signs of Approaching Labor; Symptoms of Actual Labor; the Confinement-bed; the Process of Labor.
“To my conception one generation of educated mothers would do more for the regeneration of the race than all other human agencies combined; and it is an instruction of the head they need, and not of the heart. The doctrine of responsibility has been ground into Christian mothers above what they are able to bear.”
—Isabelle Beecher Hooker.
Preparations for the Confinement.— The right time to engage the physician who is to take charge of the woman at her confinement is just so soon as the woman knows that she is pregnant. It used to be argued that, since giving birth to children was a physiologic process, there was no necessity for the woman to consult the physician until he was sent for when the labor pains began. Take the case of the woman who is for the first time pregnant; she is absolutely at sea; she has not the least idea how she ought to feel, what she ought to do or to leave undone; the result is that she often has a miscarriage which is the source of the greatest disappointment to her husband and herself, or she suffers very unnecessarily throughout the entire pregnancy, has a difficult labor, and perhaps gives birth to a sickly child.
The educated physician will explain to her what symptoms are normal and what are pathologic, and often he will be able to entirely cure the latter. It is now a well-established fact that the most serious complications of the pregnancy, and of the labor itself are caused by severe congestion or disease of the kidneys. The condition of the kidneys can only be determined by frequent examinations of the urine; during the early months of pregnancy these examinations are made once a month, and during the last month they are made every week. The amount of urine passed in the normal condition is three pints a day.
Nowhere, perhaps, is the constant vigilance of the physician so well rewarded as in the careful oversight of the pregnant woman. She goes through her entire pregnancy feeling well, and often the greatest discomfort that she suffers is due to her size; her labor and her lying-in are normal, and she gives birth to a healthy child.
Engagement of the Nurse.— This is generally left to the physician in charge of the case, since he is responsible for the safe delivery of the woman; but if the patient has any decided choice in the matter, it is acceded to unless there should be some very valid objections, and the physician always sends the nurse in view for that case to see the patient in order to ascertain if she is personally agreeable to the patient.