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Where the mother does not intend to nurse her child, a different plan of treatment must be adopted; the shoulders should be lightly covered, cold evaporating lotions applied to the breasts, and the bowels freely opened by saline laxatives, her diet must be abstemious until the fulness of the breasts subsides, and she ought not to take much fluid: where there is a disposition to febrile action, an antimonial may be advantageously combined with the salines. In most instances the milk is thus checked without any inconvenience, but every now and then much illness and suffering is produced before this can be effected. Wherever, therefore, it is possible for the patient to suckle, the practitioner should urge the importance of it in the strongest terms.

"A very serious evil from a woman neglecting this imperious duty is the probability of her becoming more frequently pregnant than the constitution of most females can sustain without permanent injury. A woman who suckles her children has generally an interval of a year and a half or two years between each confinement; but she who without an adequate cause for the omission does not nurse, must expect to bear a child every twelve months, and must reconcile her mind to a shattered constitution and early old age." (Conquest's Outlines.)

Management of the lochia. The management of the lochia constitutes also an important part of the treatment of a natural labour, for the patient's health will be materially affected by any alteration either in its quantity or quality. The lochia usually continues to be a sanguineous discharge for about three days, becoming paler, thin, watery, and of a brownish hue, and gradually disappears: a free lochial discharge for the first forty-eight hours, at least, is one of the greatest safeguards against the different forms of puerperal fever and inflammation which are so justly dreaded by the practitioner, and nothing tends to ensure this desirable object so much as the early application of the child to the breast. It may seem paradoxical to assert, that what prevents hæmorrhage after labour should promote the lochial discharge: we do not attempt to explain why such is the case, but merely mention it as a fact repeatedly observed. As the lochia is secreted from the internal surface of the uterus, it will continue to accumulate in this cavity and that of the vagina so long as the patient remains in the horizontal posture, the direction of the vagina preventing its spontaneous escape: it will, therefore, be desirable to favour its discharge by occasionally altering the position of the patient, and thus prevent its becoming offensive, which it would readily do from the temperature at which it is kept by the surrounding parts, from being in contact with the external air, and from its muco-sanguineous character. In the same way it frequently happens that small coagula of blood lodge in the uterus and rapidly grow putrid. In either case much irritation and fever are produced by their presence in the passages, and serious symptoms would soon result if they were allowed to continue there. Hence we make it a rule, that whenever the patient requires to evacuate the bladder, she should do it by kneeling: by this means the position of the vagina is altered, and the discharges and coagula readily drain away and produce the greatest relief. Wherever the patient complains of abdominal pain, and the lochia has become scanty and somewhat offensive, it will be advisable to wash out the vagina with a warm water injection: for

the farther treatment of these symptoms, we must refer the reader to the chapter on PUERPERAL FEVERS.

After-pains. When coagula have remained or formed in the uterus after labour, these irritate it by their presence, and excite it to contract: pains therefore of a crampy spasmodic character are produced, which have received the name of after-pains. Women who have already borne children are more liable to them than primiparæ. They vary considerably in degree: in some cases they are scarcely sufficient to excite attention; in others they rise to great intensity, and may even be mistaken for inflammation; indeed, they occasionally pass into this condition. During these pains the uterus is evidently in a state of contraction, for the fundus feels hard, and for the moment is more or less painful to the touch: the patient has also pain in the back like a labour pain.

After-pains do not only arise from coagula in the cavity of the uterus, irritating it to contraction, but also from little plugs of coagulated blood, which fill the sinuses opening upon the internal surface of the uterus. After awhile they excite contractions, by which they are squeezed out, and come away in the discharges; this fact was first pointed out by Dr. Burton in 1751. Having to introduce his hand into the uterus for the purpose of removing a portion of the placenta, he felt several of these little oblong fibrinous masses exuding from the orifices of the uterine sinuses, whenever he at all stretched the uterus by opening his hand; these proved to be so many fibrinous casts of the above vessels, the blood having been retained and coagulated in them, when the uterus contracted after the birth of the child. When the uterus has been slowly emptied during labour, it contracts gradually and uniformly, and forces the blood from its numerous sinuses into the rest of the circulation; but where its contents have been suddenly removed, the contraction is unequal, and a portion of the blood is retained, which coagulates as described. This fact affords an additional argument in favour of putting the child early to the breast: the active contraction of the uterus, which is thereby induced, effectually expels the coagula from its sinuses: hence we see that where a patient suckles shortly after labour, she seldom (cæteris paribus) has severe after-pains; but where this has been delayed until the second or third day, the first application of the child to the breast is sure to induce a sharp attack; the truth of the old adage, that "the child brings after-pains," is thus verified.

After-pains must be looked upon as an important agent in preventing those attacks of inflammation and fever which arise from the retention of putrid coagula and lochia: they ought not therefore to be checked, unless their severity is such as really demands it: hence the custom of giving an opiate after every labour cannot be too strongly reprobated, for by this means those uterine contractions are suspended, by which nature would have rid herself of the offending cause: nor do we consider ourselves justified in giving an opiate where after-pains are severe, until by change of posture, &c., we are satisfied that no accumulation exists in the passages. "Wherefore," says Burton, "we must not be too forward in giving strong opiates and other internal medicines, which may take them off while this grumous blood is lodged within these sinuses. I doubt not but those patients who die from the eighth to the fourteenth day, whose ute

rus has been inflamed with the symptoms above-mentioned, have been injured by the too free use of opiates." (Essay towards a complete new system of Midwifery, by J. Burton, M.D., p. 342.) We do not deny, that a mild sedative is frequently of great benefit after labour: it calms the irritability of the system and procures sleep: these effects will be much better obtained by a little extract of hyoscyamus, lettuce, or hop. Where an opiate is really necessary, twenty minims of Liq. Opii Sed. in any aromatic water will be as good a form as any.*

[* Dr. Dewees regards after-pains as an evil of magnitude, and always endeavours to prevent them as quickly as possible. For this purpose he recommends camphor or some preparation of opium. (See his System of Midwifery.) We have always adopted this practice, to the great relief of the patient, and have never had cause to regret it. Dr. Dewees' observations on this subject should be attentively perused,-ED.]

CHAPTER III.

MECHANISM OF PARTURITION.

CRANIAL PRESENTATIONS.-FIRST AND SECOND POSITIONS.-FACE PRESENTATIONS.FIRST AND SECOND POSITIONS.NATES PRESENTATIONS.

If we were asked to point out the basis on which the principles of practical midwifery should be founded, we would answer, on an accurate knowledge of the manner in which the child presents, and passes through the pélvis and soft parts during labour. In confirmation of this remark, we may observe, that almost every great improvement in midwifery practice which has taken place during the last century, has resulted from farther investigation into this difficult field of inquiry, and from the gradual addition of new facts to our knowledge respecting this interesting process. Unless a practitioner be thoroughly acquainted with every step in the mechanism of a natural labour, how can he be expected to understand and detect with certainty any deviation from its usual course, still less make use of those means which may be required under the particular circumstances of the case; and yet, strange to say, there are few subjects which, generally speaking, have excited so little attention, and upon which such incorrect opinions have prevailed even up to the present time. The investigation is confessedly one of considerable difficulty, and as it was more easy to calculate how the head ought to pass in this or that position through the pelvis, than to ascertain how it really did pass, ingenuity has been taxed, and theories have been invented, and positions of the child without number have been described, which have never existed in nature, and which have only added to the difficulty and perplexity of the subject.

We consider that to form an accurate diagnosis in these cases, requires the highest perfection of the tactus eruditus, which can only be acquired by long practice and patient observation: and it is chiefly from this circumstance that we can explain why such gross errors and vague notions should have existed about a process of every day occurrence, and why, with but few exceptions, they should have been transmitted from one author to another even up to the present time. In the last century, when it was so much the fashion to resolve every physiological process into a mathematical problem, it was scarcely deemed necessary to spend much time in actual observation and examination; the proportions between the head and pelvis were ascertained, their angles were measured, and their curves determined, and from these data it was inferred what must be the course which nature would follow; few attempted the slow but surer method of ascertaining by patient research the real facts connected with the process of parturition.

[graphic]

uterus, the child (provided the passages are normal) can be born in that
When the long axis of the child's body corresponds with that of the
position: it matters little, as far as the labour is concerned, which extre-
mity of the child presents, so long as this is the case; but where the long
axis of its body does not correspond with that of the uterus, the child
must evidently lie more or less across, and will present with the arm or
shoulder, a position in which it cannot be born. In stating this, we wish
it to be understood, that we merely refer to the full-grown living fœtus,
and not to one which is premature, or which has been some time dead in
the uterus, as these follow no rule whatever; hence the positions of the
child at the commencement of labour resolve themselves into two divisions,
viz. where the median line of the child's body is parallel with that of the
uterus, and where it is not; the first we shall call natural, the second faulty,
presentations of the child. A description of the natural presentations will
form the contents of the present chapter.

The reader will almost anticipate us when we state, that the natural
presentations consist of two classes, those where the cephalic, and those
where the pelvic end of the child presents; in the first case, it will be a
presentation of the cranium or of the face; in the second, of the nates,
knees, or feet.es

Cranial presentations. The presentation of the cranium, (or vertex,
as it has been improperly called,) is of by far the most frequent occurrence;
thus, for instance, of 4042 children which were born in the lying-in hos-
pital at Heidelberg, 3834 presented with the head; of these the 3795
with the cranium, and 39 with the face: in either case, whether it be a
presentation of the cranium or of the face, it will be either with the right
or the left side more or less foremost; the former, from its greater frequency,
has been called the first position of the cranium or face, the latter the second
position.

First cranial position. It will be recollected we have stated, that the
os uteri at the end of pregnancy is turned obliquely backwards, corre-
sponding to the upper part of the hollow of the sacrum. If we examine
during the first stage of labour, when it is just dilated sufficiently to allow
the finger to pass, we shall feel the sagittal suture of the head running
across it, dividing it into two unequal portions, the os uteri itself corre-
sponding nearly to the middle of this suture. If the os uteri be sufficient-
ly dilated to let us trace its course, we shall find that it corresponds more
or less to the direction of the right oblique diameter, viz. that it runs
from the right and backwards, obliquely forwards, and to the left.
we follow it with our finger in this last-mentioned direction, we come to a
spot where it divides into or meets two other sutures; these are the right
and left lambdoidal sutures, and beyond them is the hard convex occiput,
the point where they meet being the posterior or occipital fontanelle. If
we trace our finger along the suture in the other direction, viz. backwards
and to the right, we shall come to a four cornered space, where four
sutures meet at right angles to each other; these are the sagittal, the fron-
If
tal, and right and left coronal sutures; the open space itself is the great
or anterior fontanelle.

See observations on MALPOSITION OF THE CHILD.

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