The preparation of the expectant mother.
JANET D. QUINN, M.D., NEWPORT, KY.
This is an interesting subject, and we are finding better methods of taking care of the woman during this expectant period. If it were possible, we should begin educating the young girl from the age of fourteen, in the right manner of living so that she may fulfill the greatest task given to women. As this is one of the much discussed questions of the day, it may be a possibility in the future. As it is, we can only do our duty to the expectant mothers who apply to us for advice.
A normal woman may have very little disturbance and does not come under the physician's care until the end of pregnancy. As for conditions arising during this period that need medication there is not one of you that is unable to cope with them—Study your cases. I am taking a case that applies to you, regarding what they should do to have a healthy baby, as that is the one thing desired.
1. Congenial surroundings, both for health of mother and child are essential. Wealth and luxury are not needful, but comfort and agreeable companionship are desirable, with freedom from excessive physical burdens.
Women to-day are suffering from lack of vitality, caused by overwork of their mothers during gestation. The woman who indulges in excessive gaieties of fashionable life, deprives her child of vitality, as well as the overworked woman.
2. Proper Dressing.—Clothing worn loosely, so there will be no restriction to respiration, no interference with digestion, no obstruction to circulation; during this period there should be no hinderance to the development and elevation of the uterus.
3. Exercise.—Motion is the law of nature, without exercise food can not be assimilated, muscles lose tone and power, nerves become prostrated.
Exercise should not be carried to actual fatigue. Housekeeping interests a woman, and she will have plenty of exercise attending to her home, avoiding the laborious parts.
Walking is one of the best exercises, as it keeps her in open air—deep breathing to oxygenate the blood, expand chest walls and strengthens abdominal muscles. Going up and down stairs, inhale a good deep breath, fill the lungs with fresh air, keep mouth closed, hold the breath until top of stairs is reached then expel slowly. This is important, as many women are careful not to use their lungs—teach them to breathe.
4. Proper food during pregnancy is not more necessary for health and strength of mother than to give normal development to the child, and has much to do with ease or severity of labor.
Her food should consist of articles that are nutritious, but not stimulating, regular time for meals, food to be thoroughly masticated.
Plenty of fluids, milk, butter milk, water between meals and see to it that they attend to the fluids.
Use very little meat—vegetable and fruit diet—especially acid fruits.
This diet will decrease the hardness of bony structure of child and renders labor much easier.
5. Baths.—The processes of nutrition and waste, are more active in the pregnant woman. The sponge bath taken in the morning, three times a week, is stimulating. It should be taken immediately on arising, while the body temperature is warm enough to insure thorough reaction. The colder one can use the water more sure is the reaction. Begin bathing the upper part of the body only, and in a short time you will be able to bathe the entire body, this is to be followed by friction with a Turkish towel. Then take deep inspirations of fresh air for five minutes. This bath has a tonic effect on the body and ten minutes is the time required for it.
Sits Bath.—During the last three months of pregnancy this is most desirable, to be taken just before retiring. Begin using water at a temperature of 90° F., gradually decrease the temperature to 60° F.—remain in this bath for from five to eight minutes, let the water come up well over the hips and abdomen—then use a rough towel and hand friction and your patient will not be troubled with insomnia. If no proper bath tub is at hand use an ordinary wash tub raised on one side on a stick of wood.
And during this last three months, do not neglect the preparation of the breasts. I have had many cases follow these directions and in nearly all of them good results followed.