The Good Old Days - Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the condition of a female between the periods of conception and delivery.

The state is to be considered both as regards the symptoms which usually indicate its existence, and also with respect to the bodily disorders which are the most commonly associated with it; some of the symptoms, moreover, are also disorders.

The suppression of menstruation, also, is regarded as one of the most unequivocal proofs of pregnancy, but it is not by any means invariable.

The swelling of the breasts, another sign of pregnancy, does not always occur, in a marked manner, if menstruation goes on, and may also be excited sympathetically by the presence of tumours, or by other causes of irritation connected with the womb.

For the first few weeks of pregnancy the abdomen is flatter than usual, that is, before it starts to enlarge. The countenance undergoes an alteration, better known than to be described; the features look sharper and the eyes larger than heretofore; these appearances, however, are more strongly manifested in some women than in others. Among the earliest and best known of the symptomatic disorders of pregnancy is nausea, with sickness. This is sometimes developed very early in the condition, occasionally within the first few days, but more generally not for two or three weeks; it is more usual in the morning on the female first rising, but in some cases, is almost constant, and is then very distressing. Toothache is not an unfrequent attendant on pregnancy in all its stages. Salivation, that is, a constant flow of saliva into the mouth, causing constant spitting, is another though not very common symptom. Irritability of the bladder is common. Heartburn is most general in the later stages of pregnancy, but may be suffered from in all. In many, there is no very definite symptom, but a general feeling of unrest, with irritability of temper, etc.

From A Dictionary of Domestic Medicine and Household Surgery, by Spencer Thomson MD LRCS and J C Steele MD, published in 1882 by Charles Griffin and Company, London.

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