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Pregnancy

This discussion on "Pregnancy" is in the Health Medicine and Hygiene section; My friends and I were discussing this the other day but does anyone know how ...

      
   
  1. #1
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    My friends and I were discussing this the other day but does anyone know how pregnancy was detected back then? You know, apart from missed periods and nausea.

    Who's game to give this one a shot?

  2. #2
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    Me.

    Could be some info on this site, Christa, as it has a time-line of pregancy-testing.
    http://pregnancy.about.com/od/pregnancytests/

    My old grannies, who were young women in 1912, seemed to take pregnancy for granted on a 1 - 2 yearly basis, so I doubt if anyone bothered to test for it. It was all too prevalent; large families, worn-out women etc.

    After 7 live births and 3 miscarriages, my grandparents' doctor hauled my grandfather into his surgery to inform him that one more child would kill my grandmother - leaving him to raise the children alone - and suggested he took some 'suitable contraceptive measures'. My grandfather, sadly, thought only of himself, and announced he wasn't prepared to jeopardise his own health and happiness in such a trivial cause. He was, apparently, convinced that condoms gravely restricted the blood flow etc. Faced with such disregard for her own situation, I think Granny resorted to "No!" Anyway - she outlived him by about 15 years, eventually dying at the age of 96. Who says there's no justice?

  3. #3
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    Monica - the amazing thing is that you know this!

    If my elders did the deed, I don't want to know about it. I like to think they went to church and prayed for children and some just appeared somehow.

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    Brace up, Brian! It's just life.

    My family - apart from me - are all medics. So, I suppose, that's how I know.

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    It begs the interesting question of how knowledgeable or ignorant your average young person would have been about these matters in 1912.

    The lives of Dorothy Gibson, Harriet Crosby and others make you think sex was not as taboo to them as we think.

    But then there's Edith Wharton who said it wasn't until several weeks AFTER her wedding that she finally managed to find out where babies come from.

    Or my friend's Nan, a Yorkshire country girl giving birth a few decades after Titanic. She was writhing in pain and begging the midwife to tell her "how it was going to come out". The midwife looked at her incredulously and said - in her broadest Yorkie accent - "How's it going to come out?!? Same way it bloody went in, luv!"

  6. #6
    Noel F.Jones
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    What goes up...

    I'm reminded of a convivial occasion in port in the engineer's smokeroom where the chief engineer was complaining of having had to travel in a colleague's cramped sports car "curled up like an embryo".

    "What's an embryo?" a guest member of the company asked ingenuously (he was something of a character, a Scotsman and a batchelor to boot).

    On seeing the quizzical looks directed his way he felt compelled to add "Och, well I'm no' an engineer...".

    Noel

  7. #7
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    Obviously a man who'd managed to bypass vast tracts of biological human life then, Noel. I've known a few like that. They always seem very contented indeed to me, which I suppose, ought to tell us something. Though quite what, I don't know.

    I've tried to track down how the family knew about Grandad, Brian, and it seems to stem from Granny in her late 80s, talking to a pharmacist son who had the sense to spend hours asking her about her life (so much is lost through people not doing this - in her life she went from bustles to mini-skirts, though not personally of course, and from horse-drawn carriages to Concorde).

    Anyway, it seems I was wrong, and Granny did not resort to "No!" She resorted to Rendall's tablets - a female contraceptive of doubtful efficacy. Happily, they worked for Granny though. She confided to her incredulous son the information that they were so efficient, one dud tablet was deliberately put into every tube, for fear the human population might otherwise seriously decline. Granny used to carefully examine every tablet, to try to detect the dud.

    How naive it seems to us. Yet how sensible, in those days, for someone trying desperately to fulfil her duty to her entire family, and to live to tell the tale.

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    >>She resorted to Rendall's tablets - a female contraceptive of doubtful efficacy. Happily, they worked for Granny though.<<

    That or her system reached the point where something there said "Enough is enough." Given enough wear and tear, it's entirely possible that any fertilized ova found no place to implant or were lost so early on that she had no idea that anything had happened at all beyond the obvious "Good Times."

    Just what was in Randall's Tablets anyway? I doubt that contemporary medical science had any sort of really good understanding of how hormones worked much less how to identify them.

  9. #9
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    Wife's Friend was the brand name of Mr Rendell's 'tablets', which were actually soluble pessaries made from cocoa butter with a dash of quinine. They - er - weren't designed to be taken orally. They were marketed in England from the 1880s right up until the 1940s, and apparently were not entirely ineffective.

  10. #10
    Noel F.Jones
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    Monica:

    To give him the benefit of the doubt I'd say it was more a failure of vocabulary than anatomy.

    Noel

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    >>They - er - weren't designed to be taken orally.<<

    Mmmmmm...yeah...got it.

    >>They were marketed in England from the 1880s right up until the 1940s, and apparently were not entirely ineffective.<<

    As a contraceptive, I would think not. The quinine would have been useful for dealing with malaria, but not if used in the manner prescribed by the maker.

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    Sometimes Grannie knows best, Mike. Mr Rendell was on the right track, even if he didn't have the resources to arrive at the ideal formulation. Modern research has led to the production of spermicidal creams based on vegetable oils and quinine hydrochloride that are regarded as not only safer but also often more effective than the synthetic and hormone-based products of the more recent past.

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    Re therapeutics, Granny also used to say "If it hurts, it's doing you good." I'm not altogether sure she was right about that, though.... I'm glad that my parents rejected the idea of a mustard poultice for my chest in favour of antibiotics when I was 4. But, of course, there were no antibiotics when she was raising her 7.

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    And of course "the worse the taste, the more good it will do ya". In a Great War documentary on TV last week, an old soldier remarked that the castor oil supplied for engine lubrication was great for dealing with cases of constipation, on those rare occasions when the prospect of 'going over the top' didn't get the job done. Forty years later we were still suffering the same treatment, though our supply came in a bottle from the pharmacy rather than from a 2-gallon can of Castrol.
    .

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    Another fine motto to live by, Bob. He must have been a very old soldier indeed - not that extraordinary 108-year old, by any chance, who looks and sounds like a sprightly 80-year old? I saw him last week on TV, and instantly felt about 109 myself. If indeed, "the worse the taste, the more good it will do ya", then I suppose a diet of whisky and Fishermen's Friends should see me into a fine old age.

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    Yes, the old bloke was well over 100, but looked no older than I do (ie about 95). Here's what was needed in the well-stocked family medicine cabinet in 1839. No Trades Description Act in those days, so they could get away with advertising 'Tasteless Castor Oil'. And bad copywriting - Grannie would want to read that the stuff tasted bleedin' awful. Their leeches were good value at two bob a dozen, but sixpence a pint for Black Draught was daylight robbery, when any pub would serve you a pint of Guinness for twopence.



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    How did you keep the leeches alive with tails wagging, and able to do the business?
    Am slightly worried about the sweet spirits of nitre... not to mention the laudanum. It was fairly exciting stuff in the medicine cabinet in those days. Mine seems very boring by comparison.

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    I don't need to remind you that attitudes to big families were different then. I have a rather poignant letter from my gr-grandmother to my grandmother which says "Be kind to your children dear and if they live, they will look after you when you get old". They were seen as an insurance against destitution in old age.

  19. #19
    Noel F.Jones
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    "They - er - weren't designed to be taken orally. They were marketed in England from the 1880s right up until the 1940s, and apparently were not entirely ineffective."

    Surely they would be entirely effective if clasped between the knees at the appropriate time?

    I'm out of here.....

  20. #20
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    I told my sons today about the insurance against destitution in old age idea, Ernie. They smiled.... and asked for some sums to be deposited in their bank accounts. Better off, maybe, having girls? My 93-year old father certainly thinks so, and so does my 97-year old mother.

    Rendell's were marketed beyond the 1940s - no matter what anyone says. I'm sure I remember selling them in my father's pharmacy into the early 1960s, and I was only a gawky kid at the time. People wrestled with the notion of buying such things off a (just) teenager, or leaving on a Friday evening without their requisites....

    Noel, you might just be right.

  21. #21
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    What we need to get back to, Mon, is the Victorian tradition of obtaining support from our children at the first opportunity, rather than waiting for old age to creep up upon us. It's much easier to exploit the little beggars when we're still bigger than them. Are there no pit ponies down your way? No match factories? No chimneys?

    I was of the opinion in the '60s that there should have been a law against employing young women behind the counters of chemist's shops. Gawd knows how many toothbrushes and bottles of Lucozade I ended up with on Friday nights.
    .

  22. #22
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    Mon, your memories are sound. J W Rendell Ltd were still in business in the 60's and even today they are marketing the same type of product. I don't know when (or if) they switched to the more synthetic alternative formulations, or perhaps remained true to their traditions and continually developed the natural product which has now (in principle at least) been vindicated.

  23. #23
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    Hi Monica

    That Bob's a hard man. I feed our four grandchildren with copious amounts of pocket money and tell them in about ten years we may have to reverse the process.

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    Make sure you've got that in writing, Ernie!

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    Oh, i've got no real expectation, Bob. Probably in ten years time they will be at University, hard up and happy.

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    Wow! I turn around for two seconds I come back to find it's taken off without me!

    Thanks for the link, Monica but I couldn't find a timeline. Do you have any further directions for it?

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    Here you are Christa. It doesn't say much but it implies that there were no tests for pregnancy until the late 1920s, and that involved killing fluffy bunnies. That'd cause an uproar today.

    http://pregnancy.about.com/cs/pregna...rabbitdied.htm

  28. #28
    Alyson Jones
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    Hi Monica,you mention this in one of the early post about condoms.
    Were condoms around in 1900?Is that what you are saying,i'm really shock here.I never of thought condoms were invented back then!

  29. #29
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    >>Were condoms around in 1900?<<

    These things have been around in one form or another since the time of Ancient Egypt. You might find http://www.avert.org/condoms.htm to be useful. Since the Egyptian contrivances were made of linen, I doubt they were really all that effective, even as a disease preventative.

  30. #30
    Alyson Jones
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    I just read it and i'm so amazed.
    So that means that Titanic officer's had condoms in there pockets?
    I really thought condoms were invented during ww2! Maybe they wern't that old fashion back in those days!

  31. #31
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    >>So that means that Titanic officer's had condoms in there pockets?<<

    Don't know. As punishing as their watchkeeping schedules were, sheer exhaustion would be quite the libido killer. That doesn't mean that they might not have had a "Girl in Every Port" but if they did, they were very discreet about it.

    >>Maybe they wern't that old fashion back in those days!<<

    Oh the prudishness was real enough allright, which only meant that the....errrrrr...fun and games went on out of sight and out of mind.

  32. #32
    Alyson Jones
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    So basically they are like men of today but they don't show off!

  33. #33
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    >>So basically they are like men of today but they don't show off!<<

    Not where "Polite Society" could see it. What guys (And girls!) bragged about with close friends was always another matter.

  34. #34
    Alyson Jones
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    I actually had Edwardian guys all wrong.
    In those days (1912)Did men use women for?

  35. #35
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    Alyson,
    I do wonder why you are asking these questions. It's not that I mind answering, and I don't suppose others do either. But don't rely totally on us - as in the first place, we're probably not experts. In the second place, we merely post from our own (and relatives' experience) which is not necessarily historically accurate, no matter how honestly we try to reply.

    I don't suppose for one minute that Edwardian men 'used' women for any different purposes that contemporary men might like to. However, today, it might be a little bit more difficult for men to command, given the more powerful role of women in society today. So, possibly, the roles have reversed - or, at any rate, equalled out a bit.

    I think people just generally do what they can, given their circumstances. You can rail against it and say it is terrible, or you can accept it and try to prevent it happening again. You're young (it seems) - so it's your choice. What are you going to do about it?

  36. #36
    Alyson Jones
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    Monica,
    Too me you guys a experts,and i love talking to people with the same interests as i do.I don't mind that you're only 95% right,you'e more right than i can ever get.
    I'm not actually an reasearcher i'm just here cause i love talking Titanic and History so it does'nt matter if you give me the wrong answers.
    See you're answer sounds very expert to me,so in you're rights you are an expert!
    It seems that way does'nt the women rule the men now lol.
    Yes i am a youngen but probelry not as young as you think i am but yes i am young.

    (What are you going to do about it)-Me,don't get one.or just stay away from them.

  37. #37
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    >>(What are you going to do about it)-Me,don't get one.or just stay away from them.<<

    I wouldn't take it to quite that extreme. Especially if at some point in your life you decide you want children. (Which is of course, your business alone.)

    Not every male is a predator, sexual or otherwise. Some are, but hardly all. Just be careful about whom it is you hook up with and don't rush into things.

  38. #38
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    Well, I didn't actually mean that. My fault for not being explicit, I expect. I merely meant that people have to live in the times in which they are powerful / meaningful. Most people 'inherit' the Earth in their 40s /50s (just ask Obama) but before and after that, they may well be unable to influence policy. I asked you what you would do, not because I expected an answer about sex, but because I was interested in how you see life panning out over the next 30 years since you seem to be in your 20s.

  39. #39
    Alyson Jones
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    I can think like that some times about men.Ok Michael i'll keep that in mind.I can get paroniod sometimes!

    Monica,Sorry know i understand you.Well in 30 years i would be 57 years old, so hopfully i would be loving my job by then hopfully be nearly a grand ma, but can't see that happening.Maybe in 2 weeks i wil find out for sure.
    Off topic again OOPS!

  40. #40
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    >>hopfully be nearly a grand ma<<

    That's the point where you can get your revenge on your kids by spoiling their kids. The dream of most every parent short of giving Jane and Junior the Help Wanted ads for a graduation present.

  41. #41
    Alyson Jones
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    You're sneaking Michael but it sounds like a great way to get you're children back.

  42. #42
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    >>You're sneaking Michael but it sounds like a great way to get you're children back.<<

    Just remember: Youth and energy shall not overcome age and treachery!

  43. #43
    Alyson Jones
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    I always bow down to mature adults,I agree.

 

 

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