Specific Diet to Prevent Difficult or Artificial Labor.
There are several causes of difficult labor that can be met effectively by proper diet during gestation. Where the mother is unusually small, or the pelvis is narrowed from slight deformity or undue fatness, or there exists rigidity of the muscles composing the floor of the pelvis, as in the first confinement of ladies in middle life, serious and sometimes fatal complica tions arise where the bones of the child's head are compact. In cases like the above, the following dietetic course has been tested many times under my own observation during the past twenty years, with the happiest results. I can heartily commend its adoption where difficult labor is anticipated. The %voidance of those articles of food which contain the largest amount of bone-making material is necessary during a longer or shorter period, as the conditions are more or less critical. Wheat is composed so largely of the phosphates and carbonates of lime, that its bone-making power is not equalled by any other of our foods; beans and milk coming next in order as bone factors. In cases where it is needful, these articles may be nearly excluded from the diet after the first two months; in others less urgent, as in first labors, where the mother may be thirty or forty years of age, in good health, and with ordinary pelvic capacity, the dietetic course need not commence before the fifth month. I have never seen the least harm to the child, even when the sutures were all well open, allowing a pretty fair overlapping of the cranial bones during parturition. A striking practi cal lesson came under my observation some years ago in the case of a gentleman who had a large wheat farm, and was also the owner of some very fine im ported stock. After a bountiful harvest, he conceived the idea of having his wheat floured for the market, and reserving the bran and finer residuum as food for his cows during the winter. The animals throve, were sleek and in fine condition, but not one of the mothers did well. The bony structures of the calves were excessively developed, two choice cows were lost, and every one required manual assistance.
• About this time a lady coiasulted me, who was twenty-seven years of age, below medium height, of full habit, and had a small but perfectly natural pelvis.
She had been twice delivered by artificial labor, losing her child by craniotomy, and her physician, a good surgeon, forbade the repetition of pregnancy at her peril. When I first saw her she was six weeks en ceinte, and declared herself willing to do almost anything to be the mother of a living child. I saw her several times during the following months, and she conscientiously observed directions specifically given to avoid bone-making, eating little sugar, starch, or fats, and so losing flesh slightly. She lived much each day in the open air, resting, riding, or exercising, her previous habits having led her to a sedentary life indoors. Her old physician and friend expressed grave fears for her, but was well pleased, in being called hastily to attend her in her third con finement, to find the baby had made his advent very properly, a few moments before his arrival at the bedside. Both mother and child did well, and this lady was afterwards the mother of four children, with no untoward result.
The general plan of diet was that suggested in the directions upon pages 58, 59, 60, with the omission of wheat, milk, and beans from her list of foods. Hom iny in its varieties, rice, and cornmeal, very thor oughly cooked always, with oatmeal, and occasionally buckwheat, were her bread substitutes, and no one could have been more careful in all her habits during pregnancy and afterward.
I have been often questioned in regard to those cravings so generally regarded as imperative in preg nancy. Here, as everywhere, good judgment and gen eral intelligence should be largely the guide; the desire for acids or sweets, or for some wholesome article of nutrition, often being a call for something really needed in the system, such reasonable demands should be met. If the longing comes for some injurious article, as chalk, starch, slate-pencils, alcoholic stim ulants, or crude, indigestible foods, or for some un reasonable, un-get-at-able article, it is better to dismiss the morbid craving as fully as possible, and turn the mind to channels of thought that are quite absorb ing, in other directions. In doing this, happily the mother gains for her child, as well as for herself, a valuable lesson in self-control.
No one needs to have been more thoroughly trained to conscientious self-regulation than the one who is to assume the honorable name and office of mother. I do not wish to be understood for one moment that a full and varied diet should not be given to a preg nant woman. The life-forces are exalted, the nervous system impressible, and all the energies trying to do their renewing work need sustaining by suitable nu trition, not spurring by unnatural stimulation. As the best food will not make good blood without good digestion, and fresh air and moderate exercise are essentials to active digestion, we see that these last are closely related to good blood conditions. Physical stimulants, which exalt the nervous system to an un natural level, should be avoided as far as practicable. Tea and coffee used largely, opium, alcoholic stimu lants, ale and beer, excite the powers for a time; but a' corresponding depression soon follows, and helps to cause undue excitability in mother and child, and a desire for stimulation which is an unfortunate inheri tance. I am aware that coffee, wine, and opium, in some form, are frequently prescribed for the vomiting in pregnancy. There is a simple and better way of meeting this distressing symptom. A delicate gruel, n.ade from tine oatmeal flour, or some one of the various soups, which can be prepared in every home, may be taken warm, a wineglassful at a time, every hour during the period of sickness. It should be taken a dessertspoonful at a time, and insalivated by remaining a moment in the mouth. Two drops of Ignatia may be taken immediately after the nour ishment.
If the plan given does not at first relieve the vom iting wholly, it will make it more tolerable, and the patient will get quite a little nutrition, although the food may seem to be wholly rejected. The deli cate preparation of oatmeal and broth may be taken in combination, equal parts, or separately, with the acids of fruits, which at this time are often very useful. Ignatia is not only useful in the vomiting incidental to gestation, but is of value in all the ner vous spasmodic symptoms occurring at this time. A dose of two or three drops only should be taken con tinuously every two hours. When there is persis tent debility and loss of appetite in the earlier months.
If it becomes necessary for your physician to ad minister opiates or sedatives for a little time, dis continue at the earliest hour practicable. Riding in a carriage, walking, exercising quietly, or sitting in the open air, is a most valuable tonic and sedative, and no medicine can take its place.