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- The Prospective Mother - 30/45 -

awkward to do the sterilizing at home, and her nurse is unable to take charge of the matter, she may arrange with a local hospital or the nearest nurses' directory to sterilize her dressings. Yet a very little ingenuity suffices to do the work at home with perfect satisfaction. Installments of the smaller bundles may be sterilized in a galvanized bucket. To do this place an inverted bowl, with a depth of three to four inches, at the bottom, and pour in water until the bowl is almost covered. A breakfast plate rests on the bowl, and upon this the dressings are stacked; a second larger plate which fits the top of the bucket is utilized as a lid to close in the sterilizing chamber. This will not accommodate the larger packages; a more satisfactory method for all of them is to use a wash-boiler in which has been swung a muslin hammock.

To arrange the latter form of home sterilizer, cut an oblong piece of unbleached muslin large enough to sink far down into the boiler and run a drawing-string of stout cord about the edge. Cover the bottom of the boiler with several inches of water; tie the hammock in place, passing the cord beneath the handles of the boiler to hold the muslin securely. Pack in the dressings, which have been wrapped in appropriate bundles; put the lid in place, thus closing the sterilizing chamber, and leave the dressings exposed to the steam for at least half an hour. After the operation has been completed, the bundles are taken out of the boiler and allowed to dry in the air. They must not be opened until the occasion for which the supplies were prepared arrives; awaiting this event, they are laid away in a convenient closet or drawer.

A word of caution may be added concerning a method of sterilization employed at home more frequently, perhaps, than any other. According to this procedure, the supplies are wrapped in paper, thrust into a hot oven, and left there until the paper is scorched. From the standpoint of economy as well as of thoroughness, this method is likely to prove unsatisfactory. Frequently, the dressings themselves are scorched; I have known patients to ruin several installments of their supplies in this way. Moreover, dry heat is not so trustworthy as steam for sterilizing purposes.

Judicious management means the preparation of the supplies necessary for confinement before turning to the selection of the infant's outfit. Ordinarily, both these tasks should be finished by the end of the eighth month, and final arrangements for the approaching delivery will then claim attention. If the patient expects to remain at home, she must decide which is the best room to occupy; she will wonder how it ought to be equipped, and she will be anxious to learn what personal preparations are advisable at the beginning of labor.

Intelligent answers to these questions are important. A patient should request the physician to criticize her plans when he pays the preliminary visit four to five weeks prior to the expected date of confinement. If she has acted unwisely in any respect, he will point it out, and may suggest changes which will enable her to employ to the best advantage the resources at hand.

THE CHOICE AND ARRANGEMENT OF A ROOM.--An old-fashioned custom, which relegated obstetrical patients to the most secluded part of the house, with little regard for comfort and still less for hygiene, has now few, if any, adherents. There is an advantage, to be sure, in having a quiet room; but this qualification may be secured in a room well located with regard to other essentials. Selection of a suitable room is not a trivial point. In most cases, since patients ordinarily remain for convalescence in the same room in which the infant is born, the chamber must serve a two-fold purpose. A number of requirements, therefore, must be met, and they must all be kept in mind when the room is chosen.

We have seen that the act of birth, natural as it is, may have a very unnatural sequel if precautions against infection are treated lightly. It is proper, therefore, that the delivery-room should be as clean as care can make it. Such radical measures as may be employed in sterilizing the dressings are here out of the question; if possible, they would be absurd. Infection usually develops because harmful bacteria come in contact with the patient. For that reason, an infection is more likely to be communicated by the dressings than by articles about the room, which only become a source of danger when the dirt upon them is transferred by an attendant.

An acceptable delivery-room may be arranged in any home; it is by no means necessary to duplicate the equipment of a modern hospital. To choose a room convenient to the bathroom will be found advantageous not only at the time of birth but throughout the lying-in period. The furnishing should be simple and scrupulously clean; indeed, it is improbable that one of these good points can be secured without the other. Furthermore, the preparation of the room should be completed well in advance of the date of confinement.

A large collection of furniture interferes with the nursing, and also increases the difficulty of keeping the room free of dust. It is sound advice, therefore, to remove everything which will not serve some good purpose during the delivery. Should any article be wanted later, it can be brought back to its accustomed place. The furniture may be conveniently limited to a bed, a bureau, a washstand, a table, and several chairs, one of them a large, comfortable rocker, which will prove invaluable during the early part of labor.

To approach perfect conditions, bric-a-brac, needless hangings, and everything that might collect dust should be temporarily removed. A profusion of pictures does not accord with the best sanitation of a room devoted to the treatment of obstetrical patients; those which are to be left upon the wall ought to be taken down and wiped carefully with a damp cloth. Other desirable preparations would be instinctively undertaken by the modern housekeeper, and it may seem presumption to mention that the room itself ought to be subjected to most thorough cleaning. It is well to leave the floor bare or merely covered with freshly cleaned rugs. Carpeting is difficult to protect against soiling and is not sanitary. If left down, the carpet should be covered with some suitable material, firmly stretched and tacked in place.

We know that the air in most households does not contain disease- producing bacteria; but the presence of any contagious disease materially alters the situation, and may imperil the convalescence of an obstetrical patient. Preferably, one should never select a room in which there has lately been sickness, and under no circumstances may such a room be used until carefully fumigated. The more conspicuous diseases which for at least several months absolutely disqualify an apartment for obstetrical purposes are diphtheria, pneumonia, pleurisy, erysipelas, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, tuberculosis of all varieties, and every sort of discharging sore.

When possible, two adjoining rooms should be given over to the mother and the infant; if this is impracticable, the single room should be large, easily ventilated, well lighted, and heated in such a way as to permit a change of temperature without difficulty. All these features help to make convalescence comfortable and free from petty annoyances. A room which has a southern or eastern exposure proves grateful for those who must remain indoors; frequently, this will be beyond reach, but a room getting the sun's rays directly during part of the day will always be available, and the selection should be made with that requirement in mind. At the time of birth and for the first few days which follow, a patient may not appreciate this feature; ultimately she will understand the need of sunlight better than the need for the more technical, and therefore the more impressive, preparations.

THE BED.--Now that housekeepers recognize how easily such furniture can be kept clean, few homes are without a brass or an iron bedstead; they are equally sanitary. Undoubtedly, this kind of bedstead fulfills the needs of an obstetrical patient much better than any other; and, if at hand, it should be used. The single bedstead is the most acceptable, and the mattress ought to be at least twenty inches above the floor. A low, wide bed interferes with proper management of the delivery and later handicaps the nurse in taking care of the patient. Wooden blocks may be used to raise a bed which otherwise would be too low. It is well worth while to provide them if one desires good nursing, for no attendant can do her best when she must continuously bend over a very low bed.

The location of the bed at the time of delivery is not an unimportant matter; it must always be placed so that the brightest possible light will shine over the foot. Since birth often occurs at night, one should make certain that the artificial lighting of the room is good, and place the bed most advantageously in reference to it; at the same time the necessity of a good light from the windows, when delivery occurs during the day, should not be forgotten. The head of the bed may be placed against the wall, but both sides must remain freely accessible not only at the time of delivery but also throughout the lying-in period.

A smooth, firm mattress, made in one piece, should be provided. One which has been used several years and possibly worn in a hollow will require renovation to be made comfortable. A feather bed should not be used under any circumstances. The mattress must be protected; and protection is best secured by means of a large piece of rubber sheeting. The regulation household sheet covering the rubber should be tucked well under the mattress at the ends and sides; in that way the rubber sheeting will be held firmly. Since the part of the bed where the hips rest will be most exposed to soiling, the protection of this area is usually reinforced by a "draw sheet." To arrange this, a cotton sheet is doubled so as to make a strip about one yard wide and two yards long; the smaller piece of rubber sheeting is laid between the folds. The draw sheet will reach from the middle of the back to the knees; its ends should be tucked under the sides of the mattress, to which it is fastened by means of large safety pins. After delivery, the draw sheet may be removed without disturbing the mother, who will thus be assured a clean, dry, and comfortable bed.

The bed-clothes covering the patient during labor will vary with the season of the year, but should always be light; in summer a single sheet will suffice, and in winter a blanket will likely be needed. For sanitary reasons, a freshly laundered sheet should also be placed outside the blanket until the delivery has been completed; later, it may be replaced with a light spread. Two pillows will be needed, and it is very convenient to have one of hair, the other of feathers. While there is no necessity for sterilizing the bed-clothes, it is advisable to use linen which has been recently laundered and kept well protected from dust. Among the poor, infection from soiled bed- linen is not uncommon.

THE PRELIMINARY VISIT OF THE DOCTOR.--No teaching of medical science has been given greater prominence of late than the principle of prevention. In obstetrics it finds a particularly wide field of application, and its practice is responsible for removing many of the former terrors of childbirth. We have just learned that preventive measures effectually reduce the frequency of puerperal infection, and in an earlier chapter we saw the value of routine examination of the urine as a means of anticipating other complications. Moreover, the benefit of promptly reporting to the physician anything that does not seem to be as it should has been urged constantly, for in this way is afforded the earliest opportunity to treat complications. Similarly a

The Prospective Mother - 30/45

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