Abortion, or miscarriage, is, in modern times, justly considered as a misfortune; though the detestable and unnatural vice of procuring it by art, was connived at by the ancient Romans; whose disgraceful fall, as a nation, may in a great measure be attributed to their luxurious manners, and immoral habits.
As the history of this subject is rather disgusting than instructive, we shall proceed to state matters of a more useful tendency: we may, however, previously observe, that those enemies of human nature, who attempt to procure artificial abortion, generally experience either the punishment due to this outrage, by the fatal consequences which often destroy both mother and child, or not less frequently all the powers of art prove ineffectual, and the abandoned creature is tormented only with bitter remorse.
Weakly and irritable, hysterical, passionate, and especially voluptuous women of a plethoric habit, are most liable to miscarriage; though it may also happen from a general defective constitution, or rather from a mal-conformation of the sexual organs. The most frequent causes of abortion, however, are, the depressing passions, such as grief and fear; debility of the mother, especially if occasioned by great loss of blood; violent exercise of every kind, but particularly sudden stooping, and lifting weights; all diseases which agitate the whole frame, as fevers, convulsive fits, and coughing; as well as falls and blows on the abdomen ; an indolent and irregular mode of living, whether too high, or on too poor sustenance; and sometimes even offensive smells.
The symptoms indicating abortion are, cold shiverings of short duration; nausea seldom accompa-nied with vomiting; pain about the loins, but more frequently in the abdomen, below the navel, and in the thighs; depression and softness of the breasts; palpitation of the limbs, and more especially of the heart; sinking of the lower belly; and a discharge, of various appear-ance, from the uterus.
One of the most generai expedients adopted to prevent a miscarriage, has been periodical blood-letting, either from the arm or foot; which, in plethoric constitutions, has sometimes been carried to such excess, as to be repeated every month, during pregnancy. This practice, however, so prevalent in France and Germany, is hazardous, and liable to many strong objections; for, as abordons most generally oc-cur in debilitated and nervous women, such losses of the vital fluid cannot but be attended with detrimental effects. According to the opinion of experienced practitioners, bleeding is advisable only in cases where particular circumstances concur to render such a diminution necessary, and even then, two small venaesections, from four to rive ounces each, within the space of four or six days, are generally sufficient to obviate the most urgent symptoms.
The most effectual method of preventing such accidents, consists in a regular mode of life previous to pregnancy, occasionally aided by bracing remedies, such as the cold bath, moderate exercise on horseback or on foot, the use of mineral waters; in short, ail those means which tend to counteract nervous and hysteric debility, or, in other words, which are proper for irritable habits. Yet the strictest observance of dietetic rules will not be attended with the desired effect, unless the person who is desirous of becoming a mother, have sufficient resolution to abstain from an immoderate indulgence in sensual pleasures. These, indeed, cannot be too much guarded against in a married state; as the contrary practice seldom fails to be attended with the most melancholy consequences. Hence we find, that, in certain families where temperance and prudence are strictly observed, a miscarriage is a rare event.
There are, however, cases in which mothers are constitutionally liable to abortion, and where the combined efforts of art and nature cannot prevent a misfortune, which not only in a remarkable degree debilitates the constitution, but has also a tendency to return on a future occasion. The most critical periods at which abortion may occur, are those of the third, fourth, and fifth months of pregnancy; though it may happen sooner or later. If, therefore, a woman be affected with a violent shooting pain in the back, extending to the uterus, together with the symptoms already described, it will be necessary, either to bleed her, if she be of a full and vigorous habit, or to adopt such a treatment as may be best calculated to obviate the portending danger. This consists in a very moderate, and chiefly liquid, nourishment, excluding whatever may rouse and irritate the system; and a calm and composed state of body and mind ; so that to prevent a relapse of painful symptoms, she must sometimes keep her bed for several weeks or months together. Cataplasms applied to the pit of the stomach, and opiates, may occasionally become necessary; but the latter ought never to be resorted to, without proper medical advice ; for there can be no doubt, that tampering with laudanum, or similar medicines, has often been productive of irreparable mischief. According to the uniform experience of professional men, however, the last-mentioned remedy may with more safety, and greater advantage, be employed in the form of clysters. Thus, we may confidently say, that an injection composed of six ounces, or a tea-cup full of cold chamomile-tea, and fifty drops of laudanum, every other night, or, according to circumstances, more or less frequently, has been attended with the happiest effects, especially if, in the intermediate days, when necessary, an emollient clyster were administered, with a view to relieve costiveness. We cannot, at the same time, too seriously deprecate the custom of tampering with laxatives taken by the mouth; a custom very prevalent among the vulgar, who are not aware of the injury thereby inflicted upon their disordered constitutions.
With respect to the concomitant affections of pregnancy, we must be very concise.—The pain in the head, and tooth-ach, may, in general, be relieved by a cool regimen; an emollient diet, chiefly consisting of mucilaginous and subacid vegetables, such as fruit boiled in milk, artichokes, asparagus, parsnips, spi-nage, etc. aided by diluent drinks made of rice, barley, sago, the arrow-root, and similar vegetables; keeping the legs and feet sufficiently warm, and occasionally soaking them in tepid water; shaving the head, and washing it with diluted vinegar. If these simple means do not prove successful, bleeding with B 3 leeches bet on the temples, or even times become necessary, especially in plethoric and bilioius females. Beside these remedies, a blister applied to the neck behind the ears, or to the part most sensibly affected, is often of great service; though, in urgent cases, this application sh. cover the whole head. In full and robust habits, issues are eminently useful, while the bowels should be regularly opened by the mildest purgatives. Sometimes: :however, the simple external application of a few drops of cajeput, . or any other essential oil, a like a charm, in removing cither the tooth-ach, or violent pains of the head. In all the. complaints of pregnant women, arising from too prevailing an acidity, such as heart-burn, vomiting, cough upon taking food, and that feverish, restless state, so common in the latter period of pregnancy, Dr. John Sims directs two or three spoonfuls of the folio mixture to be taken, either occasionally, or, when the symptoms are continual, after every meal: viz. one drachm of calcined magnesia, five ounces and a half of pure water, three drachms of the spirit of cinnamon, and one drachm of the water of pure ammonia. Magnesia has long been a celebrated re. for these complaints ; but the most efficacious ingredient in the prescription, is the pure ammonia, as the effect will be nearly the same with the omission of the magnesia, which, without the ammonia, is of inferior y. This judicious physician farther remarks, that the vomiting, which occurs in early pregnancy, seldom arises from, or is connected with, acidity ; and that the remedy before specified is, in that case, not adapted to the purpose. When such vomiting is moderate, and confined to the early part of the day, it appears to be useful ; but if it incessantly continue for many d. together, accompanied with great loss of strength, thirst, and an utter in lity of retaining any thing on the in this slat.-. Dr. Sims. serts, that the most effectual remedy is the application of leeches to the pit of the stomach ; and a constant attention to diet, that the patient may swallow nothing which has a tendency to irritate or stimulate the organs of digestion. He has also d it of the greatest service to allow 110 other drink than ass's milk, and by single spoonfuls only. The use of leeches, applied to the pit of the stomach, for the relief of vomiting, is by no means confined to the state of pregnancy ; but when this symptom occurs in fevers, or is produced in consequence of taking any acrid or indigestible l< substance, he has repeatedly experienced tha their application in those cases is of equal utility.