PREGNANCY, med. jurisp. This is defined by medical writer; to be the state
of a female who has within her ovary or womb, a fecundated germ which
gradually becomes developed in the latter receptaale. Dunglison's Med. Diet.
If the dreamer is a woman and you dream you are pregnant then you will see a big increase in your income
2. The subject may be considered with reference to the signs of
pregnancy; its duration; and the laws relating to it.
3.-Sec. 1. The fact that women sometimes conceal their state of
pregnancy in order to avoid disgrace, and to destroy their offspring in its
mature or immature state; and that in other cases to gratify the wishes of
relations, the desire to deprive the legal successor of his just claims, to
gratify their avarice by extorting money, and to avoid or delay execution,
pregnancy is pretended, renders it necessary that an inquiry should take
place to ascertain whether a woman has or has not been pregnant.
4. There are certain signs which usually indicate this state; these
have been divided into those which affect the system generally, and those
which affect the uterus.
5.-1. The changes observed in the system from conception and
pregnancy, are principally the following; namely, increased irritability of
temper, melancholy, a languid cast of countenance, nausea, heart-burn,
loathing of food, vomiting in the morning, an increased salivary discharge,
feverish neat, with emaciation and costiveness, occasionally depravity of
appetite, a congestion in the head, which gives rise to spots on the face,
to headache, and erratic pains in the face and teeth. The pressure of
increasing pregnancy, occasions protrusion of the umbilicus, and, sometimes,
varicose tumors or anasarcous swellings of the lower extremities. The
breasts also enlarge, an areola, or brown circle is observed around the
nipples, and a secretion of lymph, composed of milk and water, takes place.
It should be remembered that these do not occur in every pregnancy, but many
of them in most cases.
6.-2. The changes which affect the uterus, are, a suppression and
cessation of the menses; an augmentation in size of the womb, which becomes
perceptible between the eighth and tenth weeks; as time progresses, the
enlargement continues about the middle of pregnancy, the woman feels the
motion of the child, and this is called quickening. (q.v.) The vagina is
also subject to alteration, as its glands throw out more mucus, and
apparently prepare the parts for the passage of the foetus. Ryan's Med. Jur.
112, 113, 1 Beck's Med. Jur. 157, 158; 2 Dunglison's Human Physiology, 361.
These are the general signs of pregnancy; it will be proper to consider them
more minutely, though briefly, in detail.
7.-1. The expansion and enlargement of the abdomen. This sign is not
visible during the early months of pregnancy, and by art in the disposition
of the dress and the use of stays, it may be concealed for a much longer
period. The corpulency of the woman or the peculiarity of her form, may also
contribute to produce the same effect. In common cases, where there is no
such obstacle, this sign is generally manifest at the end of the fourth
month, and continues till delivery. But the enlargement may originate from
disease; from suppression or retention of the menses; tympanites; dropsy; or
schirrosity of the liver and spleen. Patient and assiduous investigation and
professional skill are requisite to pronounce as to this sign, and all these
may fail. Fodere, tome i. p. 443. Cyclop. of Practical Medicinae, h.t.
Cooper's Lect. vol. ii. p. 163.
8.-2. Change in the state of the breasts. They are said to grow
larger and more firm; but this enlargement occurs in suppressed menses, and
sometimes at the period of the cessation of the menses; and sometimes they
do not enlarge till after delivery. The dark appearance of the areola is no
safe criterion; and the milky fluid may occur without pregnancy.
9.-3. The suppression of the menses. Although this usually follows
conception, yet in some cases menstruation is carried on till within a few
weeks of delivery. When the suppression takes place, it is not always the
effect of impregnation; it may, and frequently does arise, from, disease.
Some medical authors, however, deem the suppression to be a never failing
consequence of conception.
10.-4. The loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, &c. Although attendant
upon pregnancy in many cases, are very equivocal signs.
11.-5. The motion of the foetus in the mother's womb. In the early
months of pregnancy this is wanting, but afterwards it can be ascertained.
In cases of concealed pregnancy it cannot be ascertained from the
declarations of the mother, and the examiner must discover it by other
means. When the foetus is alive, the sudden application of the hand,
immediately after it has been dipped in cold water, over the regions of the
uterus, will generally produce a motion of the foetus; but this is not an
infallible test, the foetus may be dead, or there may be twins; in the first
case, then, there will be no motion and in the latter, the motion is not
felt sometimes until a late period. Vide Quickening.
12.-6. Alteration in the state of the uterus. This is ascertained by
what is technically called the touch. This is an examination, made with the
hand of the examiner, of the uterus.
13.-7. By the application of auscultation to the impregnated uterus,
it is said certainty can be obtained. The indications of the presence of a
living foetus in the womb, as derived from auscultation, are two: 1. The
action of the foetal heart This is marked by double pulsations; that of the
foetus generally exceeds in frequency the maternal pulse. These pulsations
may be perceived at the fifth, or between the fifth and sixth months. Their
situation varies with that of the child. 2. The other auscultatory sign to
denote the presence of the foetus has been variously denominated the
placental bellows sound, the placental sound, and the utero placental
soufflet. It is generally agreed that its seat is in the enlarged vessels of
the portion of the uterus which is immediately connected with the placenta.
According to Laennec, it is an arterial pulsation perfectly isochronous with
the pulse of the mother, and accompanied by a rushing noise, resembling the
blast of a pair of a bellows. It commonly begins to be beard with the aid of
the stethoscope, (an instrument invented by Professor Laennec of Paris, for
examining the chest) at the end of the fourth month of pregnancy. In the
case of twins, Laennec detected the pulsation of two foetal hearts before
delivery, by means of this instrument.
14.-8. Another sign of pregnancy has been discovered, which is said by
M. Jaquemin never to fail. It is the peculiar dark color which the mucous
membrane of the vagina acquires during this state. It was only after an
examination of four thousand five hundred women that M. Jacquemin came to
the conclusion which be formed of the certainty of this sign. Parent
Duchatellet, De la Prostitution dans la ville de Paris, c, 3, Sec. 5.
15. It is, always difficult though perhaps not impossible to ascertain
the presence of the foetus, and on the other band, many of the signs which
would indicate such presence, have been known to fail. 1 Beck's Med. Jur.
ch. Chit. Med. Jur. b. t.; Ryan's Med. Jur. 112, 113; Allison's Princ. of
the Cr., Law of Scotl. ch. 3, p. 153; 1 Briand, Med. Leg. c. 3.
16.- Sec. 2. The duration of human pregnancy is not certain, and
probably is not the same in every woman. It may perhaps be safely stated
that forty weeks is the ordinary duration, though much discussion has taken
place among medico-legal writers on this subject, and opinions fluctuate
largely. 1 Beck's Med. Jur. 862. This is occasioned perhaps by the
difficulty of ascertaining the time from which this period begins to run.
Chit. Med. Jur. 409; Dewees, Midwifery, 125; 1 Paris & Fonb. 218, 230, 245;
2 Dunglison's Human Physiology, 362; Ryan's Med. Jur. 121; 1 Fodere, M4d.
Leg. Sec. 407-416.
17.-Sec. 3. The laws relating to pregnancy are to be considered,
first, in reference to the fact of pregnancy; and, secondly, in relation to
18.-1. As to the fad of pregnancy. There are two cases where the fact
whether a woman is or has been pregnant is of importance; when it is
supposed she pretends pregnancy, and when she is charged with concealing it.
19.-1st. Pretended pregnancy may arise from two causes: the one when a
widow feigns herself with child, in order to produce a supposititious heir
to the estate. In this case in England the heir presumptive may have a writ
de ventre inspiciendo, to examine whether she be with child or not; and if
she be, to keep her under proper restraint until delivered; but if, upon
examination, the widow be found not pregnant, the presumptive heir shall be
admitted to the inheritance, though liable to lose it again on the birth of
a child within forty weeks from the death of the husband. 1 Bl. Com. 456;
Cro. Eliz. 566; 4 Bro. C. C. 90; 2 P. Wms. 591; Cox's C. C. 297. In the
civil law there was a similar practice. Dig. 25, 4.
20. The second cause of pretended pregnancy occurs when a woman has been
sentenced to death, for the commission of a crime. At common law, in case
this plea be made before execution, the court must direct a jury of twelve
matrons, or discreet women, to ascertain the fact, and if they bring in
their verdict quick with child, execution shall be staid generally till the
next session of the court, and so from session to session till either she be
delivered, or proves by the lapse of time, not to have been with child at
all. 4 Bl. Com. 394, 395; 1 Bay, 487. It is proper to remark that a verdict
of the matrons that the woman is pregnant is not sufficient, she must be
found to be quick with child. (q.v.)
21. Whether under the English law a woman would be hanged who could be
proved to be privement enceinte, beyond all doubt, is not certain; but in
this country, it is presumed if it could be made to appear, indubitably:
that the woman was pregnant, though not quick with child, the execution
would be respited until after delivery. Fatal errors have been made by
juries of matrons. A case occurred at Norwich in England in the month of
March, 1833, of a murderess who pleaded pregnancy. Twelve married women were
impanelled on the jury; after an hour's examination, they returned a verdict
that she was not quick with child. She was ordered for execution.
Fortunately three of the principal surgeons in the place, fearing some
error, waited upon the convict and examined her; they found her not only
pregnant, but quick with child. The matter was represented to the judge, who
respited the execution, and on the 11th day of July she was safely delivered
of a living child. London Medical Gazette, vol. xii. p. 24, 585.
22. In New York it is provided by legislative enactment, (2 Rev. Stat.
658,) that "if a female convict, sentenced to the punishment of death, be
pregnant, the sheriff shall summon a jury of six physicians, and shall give
notice to the district attorney, who shall have power to subpoena witnesses.
If, on such inquisition, it shall appear that the female is quick with
child, the sheriff shall suspend the execution, and transmit the inquisition
to the governor. Whenever the governor shall be satisfied that she is no
longer quick with child, he shall issue his warrant for execution, or
commute it, by imprisonment for life in the state prison."
23. By the laws of. Franco, "if a woman condemned to death declares
herself to be pregnant, and it is verified that she is pregnant, she shall
not suffer her punishment till after her delivery. Code Penal, art. 27.
24.-2d. Concealed pregnancy seldom takes place except for the criminal
purpose of destroying the life of the foetus in utero, or of the child
immediately after its birth. The extreme facility of extinguishing the
infant life, at the time, or shortly after birth,, and the experienced
difficulty of proving this unnatural crime, has induced the passage of laws,
in perhaps all the states, as well as in England and other countries,
calculated to facilitate the proof, land also to punish the very act of
concealment of pregnancy and death of the child, when, if born alive, it
would have been a bastard. The English statute of 21 Jac. 1, c. 27,
required that any mother of such child who had endeavored to conceal its
birth, should prove, by one witness at least, that the child was actually
born dead; and for want of such proof it arrived at the forced conclusion
that the mother murdered it. But it was considered a blot upon even the
English code, and it was therefore repealed by 43 Geo. III. c. 58, s. 3. An
act of assembly of Pennsylvania, of the 31st May, 1781, made the
concealment of the death of a bastard child conclusive evidence to convict
the mother of murder; which was repealed by the act of 5th of April, 1790,
s. 6, which declared that the constrained presumption that the child whose
death is concealed, was therefore murdered by the mother, shall not be
sufficient to convict the party indicted, without probable presumptive proof
is given that the child was born alive. The law was further modified by the
act of 22d of April, 1794, s. 18, which declares that the concealment of the
death of any such child shall not be conclusive evidence to convict the
party indicted of the murder of her child, unless the circumstances
attending it be such as shall satisfy the mind of the jury, that she did
willfully and maliciously troy take away the life of such a child. The last
mentioned act, section 17, punishes the concealment of the death of a
bastard child by fine and imprisonment. See, for the law of Connecticut on
the subject, 2 Swift's Digest, 296. See Alison's Principles of the Criminal
Law of Scotland, ch. 3.
26.-2. As to the duration of pregnancy. Lord Coke lays down the
peremptory rule that forty weeks is the longest time allowed by law for
gestation. Co. Litt. 123. There does not, however, appear to be any time
fixed by the law as to the duration of pregnancy. Note by Hargr. & Butler,
to 1 Inst. 123, b: 1 Rolle's Ab. 356, 1. 10; Cro. Jac. 541; Palm. 9.
27. The civil code of Louisiana provides that the child capable of
living, which is born before the one hundred and eightieth day after the
marriage, is not presumed to be the child of the husband; every child born
alive more than six months after conception, is presumed to be capable of
living. Art. 205. The same rule applies with respect to the child born three
hundred days after the dissolution of the marriage, or after sentence of
separation e and board. Art. 206. The Code Civil of France contains the
following provision. The child conceived during the marriage, has the
husband for its father. Nevertheless the husband may disavow the child, if
he can prove that during the time that has elapsed between the three
hundredth and the one hundred and eightieth before its birth he was
prevented either by absence, or in consequence of some accident, or on
account of some physical impossibility, from cohabiting with his wife. Art.
312. A child born before the one hundred and eightieth day after the
marriage cannot be disavowed by the husband in the following cases: 1. When
he had knowledge of the pregnancy before the marriage; 2. When he has
assisted in writing the act of birth, [a certificate stating the birth and
sex of the child, the time when born, &c. required by law to be filed with a
proper officer and recorded,] and when that act has been signed by him, or
when it contains his declaration that he cannot sign;
3. When the child is not declared capable of living. Art. 314. And the
legitimacy of a child born three hundred days after the dissolution of the
marriage may be contested. Art. 315.
, but if you are unwed and sad you will experience losses
. For a man to dream that he is the father of the child he is warned about indiscriminate sexual relations and one night stands
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