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.
Three different stages exist during a state of pregnancy, each of which has a distinct set of symptoms.
The first stage of pregnancy is usually accompanied with a stoppage of the usual monthly discharge, together with frequent nausea and vomiting, particularly in the morning, heartburn, indigestion, peculiar longings, headache, giddiness, toothache, and sometimes a slight cough; the breasts become enlarged, shooting pains extend through them, and the circle round the nipple alters to a dark brown colour. There often occurs likewise a feverish disposition, with debility, emaciation, irritability, and peevishness of temper, and total alteration of the countenance, every feature of which becomes much sharpened. Some women breed so easily as to experience hardly any kind of inconvenience whatever: whilst others, again, are perfectly incapable of retaining the least thing on their stomachs, and are in consequence reduced to a state of great weakness.
With some women the vomiting will continue during the whole or greater part of the second stage of pregnancy, as well as the first: but this does not usually happen. Partial suppressions of urine, with a frequent inclination to void it; itching about the external parts of generation, costiveness with straining and pain at stool, and the piles, are the principal trouble during this period. Most women quicken about the sixteenth week after conception, at which time the mother becomes sensible of the slightest movement of the child; and besides the complaints just enumerated, she will then be liable to sudden faintings, and slight hysteric affections.
According to the commonly received opinion, quickening, so termed, has been generally understood to commence at the time when particular sensations are felt by the mother, supposed to be occasioned by the first motion of the child: at this period the womb, filling up the pelvis, slips out, and rises above the rim; and from that sudden transition, women of a delicate constitution and irritable fibre, are apt to faint, more particularly so if in an erect position.
During the last three months, or third stage of pregnancy, general uneasiness, restlessness, (particularly at night), costiveness, swellings of the feet, ankles, and private parts, cramps in the legs and thighs, difficulty in retaining the urine for any length of time, varicose swellings of the veins of the belly and lower extremities, and the piles, are the disorders which usually prove most troublesome. In weak, delicate women, of an irritable habit, convulsive fits sometimes arise, which are always to be considered as in some degree dangerous.
Nausea and vomiting. As these most frequently occur immediately upon getting out of bed in the morning, the patient should be careful under such circumstances, never to rise until she has taken either a cup of tea, coffee, or whatever else she has usually accustomed herself to for breakfast. If the vomiting should become at any time so severe as to threaten the bringing on a miscarriage from the violence of straining, the patient may take small effervescing draughts, with a few drops of Laudanum occasionally, .till the stomach becomes settled. The following will answer:
Tartaric Acid...................................Eight Grains.
To be taken while effervescing.
Sometimes the application of a mustard poultice over the region of the stomach will have a good effect.
When either headache, drowsiness, or a sense of fulness in the blood-vessels of the head proves troublesome, a gentle aperient may be taken; a dose of Castor Oil or a Seidlitz Powder, and the feet and legs may be placed in hot water every night before going to bed; taking care either to put on a pair of woollen stockings afterwards, or to wrap the feet and legs up in warm flannel. This may be repeated in the daytime also, if found necessary. If these means do not prove sufficient to remove the headache, a few leeches may be applied to the temples or the back of the neck.
This being generally of a nervous character, a dose or two of Bromide of Ammonia, ten or fifteen grains for a dose, will generally remove it.
If the patient is troubled with heartburn (which usually proceeds from acidity in the stomach) she may take twenty or thirty grains of Carbonate of Magnesia, morning and evening; or she may take thirty or forty drops of Aromatic Spirit of Ammonia, commonly called spirit of Sal Volatile.
When peculiar longings arise in a state of pregnancy they should always be gratified, if possible, as women are apt to miscarry from the anxiety these occasion when not indulged in them; but that the child in the womb, which was before perfect, can be marked by any depraved appetite of the mother, or be mutilated by any disagreeable object being presented to her, cannot be admitted.
Should any hysterical affection, or sudden fainting arise, little more will be necessary than to expose the patient to a free, open air; to place her in a horizontal position, and to give her a few drops of Spt. Sal Volatile in a little water, or a glass of wine. If she is subject to Hysterics, she may take thirty or forty drops of the Ammoniated Tincture of Valerian, in a little water, three or four times a day.
Costiveness, partial suppression of urine and piles, which attend on the second stage of pregnancy, arc occasioned by the great pressure of the womb on the lower bowel and the bladder. The first and last of these symptoms are to be obviated by the daily use of a gentle laxative. A teaspoonful of milk of Sulphur taken every morning before breakfast in a cup of milk: or she may take the Milk of Sulphur mixed with a little Lenitive Electuary; or the bowels may be emptied daily by an injection of warm water. Strong purgatives, particularly such as contain Aloes, are very improper for pregnant women. The bladder difficulty can only be removed by delivery; but should it prove troublesome, the water should be drawn off with a Catheter once or twice a day.