PREGNANCY. In Medical Jurisprudence.
The condition of a woman who has within her the product of a conception which has occurred within a year. Billings, Nat. Med. Dictionary.
Extra uterine or ectopic pregnancy is the development of the ovum outside of the uter ine cavity, as in the Fallopian tubes or ovary. Extra uterine pregnancy commonly terminates by rupture of the sac, profuse in ternal hemorrhage, and death if not relieved promptly by a surgical operation. Rupture usually takes place between the second and sixth month of pregnancy.
The signs of pregnancy. These acquire a great importance from their connection with the subject of concealed, and also of pretend ed, pregnancy. The first may occur in order to avoid disgrace, and to accomplish in a secret manner the destruction of offspring. The second may be attempted to gratify the wishes of a husband or relations, to deprive the legal successor of his just claims, to gratify avarice by extorting money, and to avoid or delay execution.
These signs and indications are both sub jective and objective. The chief subjective signs are: (1) cessation of menstruation, which rarely may not occur, and on the otn er hand may occur in other conditions; (2) nausea and vomiting which usually develop about the 6th week ; (3) nervous disorders, including changes in disposition ; (4) pain or discomfort in the breasts; (5) quickening or sensations due to the movements of the foetus within the uterus. These sensations are first noticed about the end of the fourth month. The movements begin much earlier but are not felt until the uterus has developed suffi ciently to come in contact with the abdomi nal walls.
The chief objective symptoms are : (1) changes in the facial expression with dark rings about the eyes and often spots of pig mentation resembling large freckles; (2) en largement of the breast, the nipple becoming prominent, and in brunettes surrounded by an aureola of pigmentation ; (3) enlargement of the abdomen, usually not evident before the third or fourth month. The prominence is pear-shaped with the small end down ward; (4) fcetal movements which can be felt through the abdominal walls as early as the end of the fifth month ; (5) the uter ine or sound heard with the ear upon the abdomen and caused by the blood cur rent in the dilated uterine veins. This
sound may be heard as early as the end of the fourth month, (6) the most important of all the signs consists of the sounds of the fcetal heart. These sounds can be heard about the beginning of the fifth month, and are of course a positive sign of pregnancy. The sounds have been aptly compared to the ticking of .a watch heard through a pillow ; (7) softening of the cervix or neck of the uterus; (8) ballottement, the impulse or wave excited by suddenly lifting the uterus with a hand in the vagina, the other hand being placed firmly upon the abdomen. A specific serum test to determine the existence of pregnancy has been devised by Abderhal dem and bears his name. Like the specific tests employed in other conditions, it de pends upon the fact that, with the growth of certain foreign cells or tissues in an animal body, certain substances are produced and cast into the circulation ; the presence of these substances in the blood can be detected by the appropriate chemical methods.
The duration of pregnancy is normally about nine calendar or ten lunar months, or about 275 days from the cessation of the last menstrual period. The possibility of pro longed pregnancy has long been a fruitful subject of discussion but "by a study of the analogy of other functions of the body, by observationg in the lower animals, and by accurate reliable data, from women in par ticular, we are forced to the conclusion that pregnancy may be and often is prolonged. . . . Gestation may be lengthened, par turition may be delayed from a few days to one or two months." The laws relating to pregnancy concern the circumstances under and the manner in which the fact is ascertained. There are two cases where the fact whether a woman Is or has been pregnant is important to as certain. The one is when it is supposed she pretends pregnancy, and the other when she is charged with concealing it.