Pregnancy





The signs of the existence of pregnancy are of two kinds, uncertain and

certain, or maternal and foetal. Amongst the former class are

included--Cessation of menstruation (which may occur without pregnancy);

morning vomiting; salivation; enlargement of the breasts and of the

abdomen; quickening. It must be borne in mind that every woman with a

big abdomen is not necessarily pregnant. The tests which afford

conclusive evidence of the existence of a foetus in the uterus

are--Ballottement, the uterine souffle, intermittent uterine

contractions, foetal movements, and, above all, the pulsation of the

foetal heart. The uterine souffle is synchronous with the maternal

pulse; the foetal heart is not, being about 120 beats per minute.



Evidence of pregnancy may also be afforded by the discharge from the

uterus of an early ovum, of moles, hydatids, etc. Disease of the uterus

and ovarian dropsy may be mistaken for pregnancy. Careful examination is

necessary to determine the nature of the condition present. Pregnancy

may be pleaded in bar of immediate capital punishment, in which case the

woman must be shown to be 'quick with child.' A woman may also plead

pregnancy to delay her trial in Scotland, and both in England and

Scotland, in civil cases, to produce a successor to estates, to increase

damages for seduction, in compensation cases where a husband has been

killed, to obtain increased damages, etc. A woman may become pregnant

within a month of her last delivery.



In cases of rape and suspected pregnancy, it must be borne in mind that

a medical man who examines a woman under any circumstances against her

will renders himself liable to heavy damages, and that the law will not

support him in so doing. If, on being requested to permit an

examination, the woman refuse, such refusal may go against her, but of

this she is the best judge. The duty of the medical man ends on making

the suggestion.





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