Searchlights on Health/Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

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1. THE FIRST SIGN.—The first sign that leads a lady to suspect that she is pregnant is her ceasing-to-be-unwell. This, provided she has just before been in good health, is a strong symptom of pregnancy; but still there must be others to corroborate it.

2. ABNORMAL CONDITION.—Occasionally, women menstruate during the entire time of gestation. This, without doubt, is an abnormal condition, and should be remedied, as disastrous consequences may result. Also, women have been known to bear children who have never menstruated. The cases are rare of pregnancy taking place where menstruation has never occurred, yet it frequently happens that women never menstruate from one pregnancy to another. In these cases this symptom is ruled out for diagnotic purposes.

3. MAY PROCEED FROM OTHER CAUSES.—But a ceasing-to-be-unwell may proceed from other causes than that of pregnancy such as disease or disorder of the womb or of other organs of the body—especially of the lungs—it is not by itself alone entirely to be depended upon; although, as a single sign, it is, especially if the patient be healthy, one of the most reliable of all the other signs of pregnancy.

4. MORNING SICKNESS.—If this does not arise from a disordered stomach, it is a trustworthy sign of pregnancy. A lady who has once had morning-sickness can always for the future distinguish it from each and from every other sickness; it is a peculiar sickness, which no other sickness can simulate. Moreover, it is emphatically a morning-sickness—the patient being, as a rule, for the rest of the day entirely free from sickness or from the feeling of sickness.

5. A THIRD SYMPTOM.—A third symptom is shooting, throbbing and lancinating pains in, and enlargement of the breasts, with soreness of the nipples, occurring about the second month. In some instances, after the first few months, a small quantity of watery fluid or a little milk, may be squeezed out or them. This latter symptom, in a first pregnancy, is valuable, and can generally be relied on as fairly conclusive of pregnancy. Milk in the breast, however small it may be in quantity, especially in a first pregnancy, is a reliable sign, indeed, we might say, a certain sign, of pregnancy.

6. A DARK BROWN AREOLA OR MARK around the nipple is one of the distinguishing signs of pregnancy—more especially of a first pregnancy. Women who have had large families, seldom, even when they are not pregnant, lose this mark entirely; but when they are pregnant it is more intensely dark—the darkest brown—especially if they be brunettes.

7. QUICKENING.—Quickening is one of the most important signs of pregnancy, and one of the most valuable, as at the moment it occurs, as a rule, the motion of the child is first felt, whilst, at the same time, there is a sudden increase in the size of the abdomen. Quickening is a proof that nearly half the time of pregnancy has passed. If there be liability to miscarry, quickening makes matters more safe, as there is less likelihood of a miscarriage after than before it. A lady at this time frequently feels faint or actually faints away; she is often giddy, or sick, or nervous, and in some instances even hysterically; although, in rare cases, some women do not even know the precise time when they quicken.

8. INCREASED SIZE AND HARDNESS OF THE ABDOMEN.—This is very characteristic of pregnancy. When a lady is not pregnant the abdomen is soft and flaccid; when she is pregnant, and after she has quickened, the abdomen; over the region of the womb, is hard and resisting.

9. EXCITABILITY OF MIND.—Excitability of mind is very common in pregnancy, more especially if the patient be delicate; indeed, excitability is a sign of debility, and requires plenty of good nourishment, but few stimulants.

10. ERUPTIONS ON THE SKIN.—Principally on the face, neck, or throat, are tell-tales of pregnancy, and to an experienced matron, publish the fact that an acquaintance thus marked is pregnant.

11. THE FOETAL HEART.—In the fifth month there is a sign which, if detected, furnishes indubitable evidence of conception, and that is the sound of the child's heart. If the ear be placed on the abdomen, over the womb, the beating of the foetal heart can sometimes be heard quite plainly, and by the use of an instrument called the stethoscope, the sounds can be still more plainly heard. This is a very valuable sign, inasmuch as the presence of the child is not only ascertained, but also its position, and whether there are twins or more.