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.
This complaint may be caused by the long-continued pressure of the womb on the head of the child in difficult labours; or the improper application of instruments, or the injudicious meddling of the midwife in hurrying the labour or extracting the afterbirth. To these causes may be added exposure to cold, through the patient leaving her bed or going out of doors too soon after delivery.
An inflammation of the womb is sometimes perfectly distinct, but it is more frequently communicated to the peritoneum fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
It is oftener met with in women of a robust and plethoric habit, than in those of a delicate constitution, particularly where they have indulged freely in food of a heating nature, and in a use of spirituous liquors. It never prevails as an epidemic, like Puerperal Fever, for which it has probably often been mistaken.
Inflammation of the womb shows itself usually about the second or third day after delivery, with a painful sensation at the bottom of the belly, which gradually increases in violence, without any kind of intermission. On examination externally, the womb appears much increased in size, is hard to the feel, and on making pressure on it, the patient feels great soreness and pain. An increased heat over the whole body soon ensues, with pain in the head and back, extending into the groins, shiverings, considerable thirst, nausea and vomiting. The tongue is white and dry, the secretion of milk is usually much interrupted, the lochial discharge is greatly diminished, the urine is high-coloured and scanty, and, if. the inflammation has extended to the bladder, it becomes totally obstructed; the body is costive, and the pulse is full, hard and frequent.
Where the womb has been ruptured, a vomiting comes on, and the matter thrown up is of a black colour, resembling coffee grounds; the pulse sinks and becomes irregular; cold, clammy sweats break out, and frequent fainting fits ensue.
Inflammation of the womb is always attended with much danger, particularly where the symptoms are violent, and the proper means for removing them have not been early adopted. In such cases it may terminate either in suppuration, scirrhus or gangrene and mortification.
Frequent shiverings, succeeded by flushings of the face, quickness and weakness of the pulse, great depression of strength, delirium, and the sudden cessation of pain and soreness in the region of the abdomen, denote a fatal termination: on the contrary, the ensuing of a gentle diarrhoea, the lochial discharge returning in proper quantity and quality, the secretion of milk recommencing, and the womb becoming gradually softer and less tender to the touch, with an abatement of heat and thirst, prognosticate a favourable issue. Treatment. - In plethoric habits, it may be necessary to take some blood from the arm, the quantity to be regulated by the violence of the symptoms, the state of the pulse, and the age and habit of the patient. In more delicate subjects the belly may be covered with leeches, which may be repeated the following day, if necessary. After the leeches have fallen off, a large, light, soft poultice may be applied, which may be renewed as often as it gets cool; or the belly may be fomented constantly with flannels wrung out of a decoction of Poppy Heads and Chamomile Flowers; or, if these are not to be obtained, then with warm water. In using fomentations, proper care must be taken that they are not applied so wet as to run about the bed, and thereby make the patient uncomfortable.
If the bowels are not relaxed they may be kept open with injections of warm water, or warm thin gruel. Should diarrhoea arise spontaneously in the course of this disease, it ought not to be checked, unless it proceeds with such violence as to exhaust the patient's strength, when the Astringent Mixture, No. 7. may be given. Where the inflammation has extended to the bladder, and caused suppression of urine, the water must be drawn off by means of a catheter.
The patient may take the Fever Mixture recommended under Phlegmasia Dolens, with the addition of two drams of Tincture of Henbane. And she may take ten or fifteen grains of Hydrate of Chloral, night and morning.
As long as inflammation lasts, the diet must consist of oatmeal gruel, milk, sago, and things of that kind.