SIGNS OF PREGNANCY..
It may at the very outset be observed thin, up to the fourth month it is not possible to obtain any certain sign of pregnancy. Indeed, it may be said that the eighteenth week is about the earliest time when any really reliable evidence can be procured. It ie possible for experienced persons to be deceived even long past that period, and women who have already borne children are occasionally themselves under ' the delusion that they are with child up to a time very close on that at which confinement would be expected. At the same time there are signs present very early in the coarse of pregnancy that, in ordinary cases, are accepted as sufficiently conclusive, which, however, ought not to be taken as satisfactory evidence against a woman protesting against such a conclusion. These early signs are: stoppage of the monthly illness, morning sickness, and changes in the breasts.
Stoppage of the Monthly Illness (cessa tion of menstruation) is usually the first sign of pregnancy, for as a general rule throughout pregnancy there is no discharge whatever. There is, however, a number of cases in which the monthly illness does not cease immediately after conception, but goes on for a mouth or two thereafter, creating some doubt in the woman's mind as to the period of conception. In a smaller number of cases the illness occurs almost as usual, up to even the fifth or sixth month, and in much fewer cases seems to occur regularly throughout the pregnancy. Some doubt may be occasioned in such cases, as has been already said. It is, however, much more important to remember that the monthly illness may cease for many reasons totally unconnected with pregnancy. It is quite common for the illness to become very irregular, to recur at long intervals, or to cease altogether for many months in young persons, as an effect of a depressed general system, or of some disturb ance of health totally unconnected with the generative organs. Various disorders of the generative organs also cause interruption of the periodic illness for long periods. While, there fore, cessation of the illness in a married woman will quite properly lead one to suspect the oc currence of pregnancy and to seek for further evidence, it would be grossly improper on ac count of this alone to suspect anything of the kind in the unmarried. Unfortunately this
has too often been done most unjustly and with most unhappy results. Such a sign as this must not be interpreted by itself. For instance, it has happened that, while as regards the womb itself the illness has occurred, the discharge has not found an outlet owing to some obstruction of the passages. The dis charge has been pent up within the cavity of the womb ; and this has gone on month after month, the material accumulating within the womb and producing enlargement, and, when it has gone on long enough, the appearance of swelling of the abdomen. Such swelling, taken with no appearance of monthly illness, has seemed conclusive evidence of pregnancy, with grievous results to innocent persons. By itself, then, this suppression of monthly illness is not to be held as offering any sufficient evidence one way or another.
Morning Sickness is another common occur rence early in pregnancy, but like the former it is not constant, nor yet is it reliable. It is spe cially in the morning and early part of the day that the sickness is felt, hence the phrase "morn ing sickness," and it wears off as the day ad vances. The feeling of sickness is generally accompanied by vomiting. It is commonest in the first months of pregnancy, beginning about the fourth or fifth week, and often dis appears after the womb begins to rise up into the cavity of the belly, that is, in the course, of the fourth month ; but it occasionally lasts through the whole nine months, producing much distress and great exhaustion. After the few early months it may disappear, to return during the last months, owing probably to local irri tation of the stomach caused by the proximity of the much-enlarged womb. Many mothers hardly suffer from it at all. Others are not afflicted with sickness, but with other kinds of digestive trouble, heartburn specially, water brash, flatulence, acid indigestion, and so on. Different persons are affected in this respect in different ways, and even as regards the same person the course of one pregnancy may be very different from that of another. One curious form of digestive disturbance is the aversion that may arise for certain foods formerly enjoyed, and the craving for others of an unwholesome and, in some cases, even loathsome character.