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- The Prospective Mother - 20/45 -
latter period the muscle-fibers of the womb are usually irritable and therefore the rolling of a ship or the jolting of a car may set up painful contractions which in some instances expel the fetus. Generally there is the least risk of accident between the eighteenth and the thirty-second weeks, though patients should be careful even during this interval not to travel at the time when a menstrual period would ordinarily be expected.
The length of the journey and the ease with which it can be made are also important features to be considered. Obviously there will be less danger of mishap from a short trip than from a long one; if possible, therefore, long journeys by rail should be broken so as to afford opportunity for rest. Railroad trips which do not exceed two or three hours are generally not so fatiguing that they must be prohibited, provided the individual is perfectly well. Traveling by boat is less tiresome than traveling by rail and, if equally convenient, the boat should be given the preference. Long automobile tours are attended with considerable risk of miscarriage and, therefore, are forbidden.
MENTAL DIVERSION.--As a rule good health prevails throughout pregnancy; it would be enjoyed even more frequently if many prospective mothers did not think so much about the fact that they are pregnant. For this deplorable self-consciousness the spirit of the age is in part to blame; there never was a time, in all probability, when people took such a keen interest in all matters pertaining to health. It is also true, however, that fuller instruction is needed now because the temptations to depart from a regular, temperate way of living have notably increased.
At all events the point has now been reached where the average man or woman knows something of anatomy, physiology, and the laws of hygiene. Such knowledge should be helpful, and generally is, but if it causes anyone to think incessantly about the workings of the body, to that person it is detrimental. We all know such individuals. They are made miserable because they scrutinize functions, like the beating of the heart, that go on automatically and should be left unobserved, or they minutely analyze their feelings and misinterpret normal sensations as the evidence of disease.
The tendency to be introspective is especially pronounced in women who are pregnant, and this is readily explained by the reciprocal relations between the mind and the body. If the prospective mother correctly interpreted the changes which occur in her body, as well as the sensations for which these changes are responsible, she would escape the uneasiness of mind that causes many sorts of discomfort. It is unfortunately true, however, that her lack of familiarity with the facts about pregnancy and her belief in unfounded traditions frequently lead to the misinterpretation of natural conditions. An anxious frame of mind also causes real ailments to assume an importance out of all proportion to their actual significance.
Patients who have followed my advice to place themselves in the care of a physician as soon as they clearly recognize the existence of pregnancy will receive his assistance in properly estimating the significance of what they notice. This service is by no means the least the obstetrician renders his patients. His opinion should always be sought when symptoms are not understood; but it is not unusual for patients to bring to the doctor's attention many complaints that would pass unnoticed if they taught themselves to restrain the imagination, to refrain from pessimistic reflections, and to divert their thoughts from themselves to outside affairs.
Generally it is during the early months of pregnancy that patients are most likely to be self-centered, and consequently suffer from many annoyances that either proceed from or are exaggerated by this faulty frame of mind. During this period a prospective mother is not fully aware of the meaning of pregnancy. Toward the twentieth week, however, she perceives the movements of the child and her thoughts are turned to it instinctively. About this time many of the discomforts of pregnancy disappear and there ensues a period of unusually good health. Perhaps it would be going too far to give this more wholesome altruistic mental attitude the entire credit for the relatively better health of the second half of pregnancy, but without doubt it is a most important factor.
Such then is the influence of the mind over the body that anyone who wishes to cultivate good health must correct the faulty habit of always thinking of herself. The most suitable form of diversion will depend upon personal taste. Domestic duties absorb the attention of most prospective mothers, but domestic duties should not occupy them exclusively. Outdoor recreation is necessary and serves the double purpose of strengthening mind and body. Public amusements should also be patronized; no prospective mother has the right to sacrifice herself to pride. Music, the various arts, a systematic course of reading, the acquisition of a foreign language--all these are commendable forms of diversion, and others will occur to anyone. Obviously the avocation will be most happily chosen if it directs the attention into channels likely to lead to the greatest pleasure.
THE AILMENTS OF PREGNANCY
Nausea and Vomiting--Heartburn--Flatulence--Defective Teeth--Pressure Symptoms: Swelling of the Feet; Varicose Veins; Hemorrhoids; Shortness of Breath--Leucorrhea--Toxemias.
Most of the ailments to which prospective mothers are liable are merely the natural manifestations of pregnancy, exaggerated to such an extent as to cause inconvenience and discomfort. In the early months, for example, persistent nausea and vomiting may become the source of great annoyance, and later the pressure of the womb against neighboring structures may cause a variety of symptoms. It does not follow, however, that any of these ailments will necessarily appear. On the contrary, many women are more healthy during pregnancy than at any other time.
Occasionally illness is charged to pregnancy with which in reality pregnancy has nothing to do. While awaiting the birth of a child, just as at other times, women may suffer from coughs or colds, from aches or pains, from malaria, pneumonia, typhoid fever, or in fact from any disease. It is evident that such complications are accidental; and, though pregnancy confers no immunity against them, it does not, on the other hand, render women more susceptible to all kinds of ailment.
And yet there are diseases for which pregnancy is directly responsible. These are, to a very large extent, preventable; and, though they occur rarely, precautions for their prevention should be taken in every case of pregnancy. By far the most important members of this group are the toxemias of pregnancy. These, as will be explained later, cause symptoms which the patient herself may recognize, and her physician may often detect their presence still earlier by alterations in the composition of the urine. For this reason routine examination of the urine during pregnancy is a means of prevention indispensable for safeguarding the health of the prospective mother.
A number of ailments of which prospective mothers may complain do not require treatment with medicine. This, however, will not be taken to imply that there is no need to consult a physician. On the contrary, and it cannot be emphasized too strongly, the prospective mother should _seek professional service whenever there is anything about her condition she does not understand_. Sometimes, when she thus consults the physician, he will explain to her that what she has noticed is merely one of the natural manifestations of pregnancy and that she can have no control over it; at other times he will suggest changes in her mode of life which will very likely afford her relief. The frequency with which physicians find that ailments may be corrected by the adoption of hygienic measures indicates that such ailments are more often due to ignorance or carelessness than to the existence of disease.
NAUSEA AND VOMITING.--We have already learned that nausea, especially in the morning on rising from bed, frequently corroborates the suspicion of a woman that she has become pregnant. So commonly, indeed, is this symptom expected that most women take no account of it other than as an evidence that they have conceived, and consequently do not complain of it. A few who have heard the old adage, "a sick pregnancy means a safe one," which incidentally is not correct, actually accept nausea as a favorable sign. In other cases the nausea is not to be dismissed so lightly; and a relatively small group of patients suffer from persistent vomiting. When prospective mothers are questioned systematically, it appears that at least one- half and perhaps two-thirds of them experience more or less discomfort from sick stomach. Generally this begins shortly after a menstrual period has been missed and ceases six or eight weeks later; it persists occasionally until the movements of the child have been perceived.
Nausea and vomiting are limited, in the vast majority of cases, to the early morning, but some patients are annoyed only after meals, and a few at irregular intervals during the day. The fact that the attacks do not always appear at the same time, and that they differ in severity, indicates that different causes may be concerned in their production. And it is true that there are several kinds of vomiting that occur during pregnancy, although the classification interests only physicians. The laity, however, should understand that the treatment of any given case will vary according to the class to which it belongs, and therefore the occurrence of troublesome vomiting should be promptly reported to the physician.
Most frequently it will be found that there is nothing serious the matter. The vomiting ceases or, at least, it becomes less troublesome as soon as the diet has been more carefully arranged, constipation has been corrected, or other hygienic details, such as outdoor recreation and mental diversion, have received the attention requisite for good health. In a much smaller group of cases the restoration of the womb to a proper position or the treatment of some other local condition, which can generally be remedied without difficulty, is all that is necessary. But finally, in extremely rare instances, the vomiting of pregnancy is due to a definite disease whose existence may be recognized by special methods of analyzing the urine. In any case, if the physician is given an opportunity to make the necessary observations and thus determine the variety of the vomiting, no time will be lost in beginning effective treatment. In an overwhelming majority of the cases, as I have said, nothing serious will be found; and then the control of the vomiting will lie within the power of the patient herself.
Since nausea is usually experienced in the morning on rising from the recumbent to the upright posture, measures to prevent an attack should be begun even before the patient raises her head from the pillow. In the first place something to eat should be taken as soon
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