This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
It sometimes happens that a retroversion of the womb takes place, in which case it becomes misplaced downwards and backwards.
The only period of pregnancy at which this mischance is apt to arise is between the end of the third and the fourth months; for in the early months of pregnancy, the womb in length is not so great as to fill the space between the sacrum and the neck of the bladder. This applies to all situations of the womb in unimpreg-nated women, and women who are with child, till the close of the fourth month of pregnancy; after which the womb cannot be made to go down into the pelvis. When the womb has once fairly ascended into the abdomen, it is impossible for it to return into the pelvis until its size has been diminished by delivery or abortion.
In this case it is necessary, as the woman cannot make water, that it should be drawn off twice a day, and this must be continued till such time as the womb having risen above the pelvis, the pressure is taken off the neck of the bladder.
When a severe itching about the parts of generation attends on pregnancy, the bowels should be kept open with some gentle laxative, and the parts should be washed three or four times a day, with Goulard Water, with a little Laudanum added, or with the mixture of Calomel and Lime Water known as Black Wash. If much inflammation accompanies the itching, two or three leeches may be applied.
The swellings of the feet, ankles and private parts, which arise in the last stage of pregnancy, are occasioned by the pressure made by the womb, which now prevents the free return of the blood from the lower extremities. Gravid women are usually free from these complaints in the morning, but towards night they frequently suffer much from them. Slight scarifications with the edge of a lancet, to discharge the stagnated fluid, with the after application of flannels wrung out in warm water, or a warm decoction of Poppy Heads, or Chamomile Flowers will be of service.
In general, however, it will be sufficient for the patient, when sitting down, to rest her feet and legs on a cushion or chair, and not to allow them to hang down.
Cramp. Cramps of the legs and thighs may be relieved by rubbing the parts with some warm liniment: Nos. 27, 28, or 29 will answer. The patient should wear stockings in bed. At an advanced period of pregnancy they are only to be relieved by delivery removing the cause. Where the stomach is affected with spasms, a mustard poultice may be applied; and the patient may take the following:
Aromatic Spirit of Ammonia..........One Ounce.
Tincture of Castor........................Half an Ounce.
Water sufficient to make.................Half a Pint.
A tablespoonful every two or three hours, till the spasms subside.
In such cases, the patient must carefully avoid every kind of food that is apt to prove flatulent or hard of digestion (particularly hard beef steaks and hard or fat pork), and she must keep her bowels perfectly open.
Inquietude and inability to sleep prove troublesome complaints towards the latter end of pregnancy. The patient rising frequently during the night, in order to expose herself to the influence of cool air. Ten or fifteen grains of Bromide of Potash or the same quantity of Hydrate of Choral taken just before bedtime might be of service.
The veins of the legs, thighs and belly often become varicose in the last stage of pregnancy, and sometimes put on an alarming appearance, from their great enlargement and distension. No bad consequences, have, however, been observed to attend such a condition. Should the veins of any particular part become so distended as to become troublesome, it may be advisable to apply a bandage, so as to give the part a little support.
In some instances the woman is affected with a pain in her side, and excessive sickness at the stomach, and retchings, the skin assuming a deep yellow colour. A few leeches, followed by fomentations, may be applied to the seat of pain; followed by doses of Opium or Laudanum, or Bromide of Potash'. The bowels may be kept open by means of injections of warm water.
Jaundice, or any other bilious affection prevailing during a stale of pregnancy, from the pressure of the womb on the gall-bladder or ducts, is to be obviated by keeping the bowels open with some gentle laxative.
This is a very disagreeable complaint, as it keeps the patient constantly in an uncomfortable state. It is only to be removed by delivery, but may be moderated by a frequent horizontal posture. Its bad effects may be prevented by a scrupulous attention to cleanliness, and the use of a thick compress of linen, or a sponge of considerable size, properly fastened.
In the latter months of pregnancy the skin of the abdomen will sometimes become cracked and sore, the skin seeming to suffer from over-distension. In this case nothing is so effectual and soothing as rubbing the skin gently with Olive Oil, of a comfortable warmth.
Pains, somewhat resembling those of labour, and known by the name of false pains, are apt to come on at an advanced stage of pregnancy, and often to occasion unnecessary alarm. I have myself been sent for three times, at weekly intervals, and it was not until the messenger arrived for the fourth time, that the patient was confined. A dose of Laudanum will generally be sufficient to put an end to the trouble, and allow the patient to go her full time.