Personal Experiences With Homœopathy In Obstetrics
by Alfred Pulford, M.D., M.H.S., F.A.C.T.S.
Labor is a natural process, and we are thoroughly convinced, in our own simple mind, after forty years of practical experience, that the evil results, both attending and following labor, are mostly due to our carelessness or ignorance, or both. After the expenditure of the enormous sum of five hundred dollars (and we think the present day graduate who spent ten thousand dollars for a no better education has been badly buncoed), and twelve months of our valuable time, on March 25th 1885, we were turned loose on an unsuspecting public, a full fledged obstetrician. The sum total of our wide, varied and practical experience along this line consisted of a single digital examination on a woman in the first stage of labor. Our theoretical teachings consisted of minute details of accurate pelvic measurements augmented by hair-raising accounts of, and warnings against, placeta prævia, puerperal eclampsia, metritis, peritonitis, septicæmia, puerperal fever, etc., standing ready to pounce out on one on any and all occasions, to make life miserable for both the patient and the doctor. To aid us to combat all of these, we were equipped with a few stereotyped lectures on materia medica. So one cam readily see that we re thoroughly prepared and equipped to start out on our perilous voyage to engage any and all of those states singly or collectively.
We were first launched in the vast sea of obstetrics in the town of Ansonia, Connectcutt. Our first case, a negress. Our first nurse, a negress. To this nurse we owe an ever lasting debt of gratitude, for she taught us more practical knowledge, in that one case, about obstetrics, than we had received in our twelve months’ college course. Under her tutelage our case got along wonderfully and gave us great confidence in ourselves.
While waiting for the next case there marched before our vision all the horrors which our old obstetrical professor had so vividly and so indelibly burned into our brain. It started our four cylindered Ford brain to work, and for once that brain produced a really brilliant idea. We then had, and do now own, a copy of the finest and most reliable obstetrical work ever produced, from a therapeutic standpoint, the late Henry N. Guernsey’s. What was that brilliant idea evolved? It was – that obstetrics or rather labor was a natural process; that it constitutes one of the most grave and the most important parts of mechanical measures concerning the human being; that a doctor could either make a happy family or completely ruin it by his ignorance and his carelessness; that no physician should be allowed to go to the bedside and deliberately ruin a woman, and lastly, that every doctor should undergo a rigid examination to show that he had at least more that a mere speaking acquaintance with proper emergency remedies to meet all the conditions enumerated above. We therefore set about to make ourselves a proficient on those subjects as it was humanly possible for us to do, and we were amply repaid therefore.
Homœopathy never failed us. We accepted every case that came to us, without question. We have never owned nor applied a pair of either delivery or placental forceps, nor have we ever met up with any of the above enumerated horrors. While at Tiffin, Ohio, we had most of the pottery and glass worker’ wives, to deliver, and they bred like rabbits. It was at Tiffin that a German woman taught us how to deliver the placenta.
Our method of caring for obstetrical cases was as follows: We always liked to have our cases a little ahead of time in order that we might have time to study them and get them properly prepared. For this part there is no royal road. Medicines given merely to cause easy birth and given without reference to the patient’s general physical condition too often prove a curse rather than an unmixed blessing, in the end. Before labor starts we always like to get the nurse and patient together and explain just what is expected of them, Explain to them the evils of the unnecessary use of narcotics, anesthetics, twilight-sleep, etc., for if there is any time in a woman’s life that she needs her unclouded sense it is during labor. During labor, if everything is natural we never interfere. If the pains are not natural we apply the indicated remedy, not simply a remedy to ease the pains or a remedy to increase the force of the expulsive powers. We are a firm believer in hot water during labor, as hot as can possibly be borne, and above all, plenty of time, for to those two virtues we place the credit of having had very, very few tears.
During the pains we have the patient bear down, only them and then not too powerfully, but steadily and firmly, not in a sudden, superhuman burst of effort, for it is through this latter effort that all the tears take place, and under narcotics, etc., the victim is unconscious of what is going on, therefore does not realize the damage being done. When each pain ceases we have the patient rest all she possibly can, even sleep if possible. The hot cloths are not only relaxing but they greatly ease down the pains. During the pains we always keep our finger in close touch with the os that we may govern the amount of pressure allowed, the more the os is dilated the more pressure is admissible without fear of tearing the parts. After the head is born we always make a point to look after the cord to see that nothing interfered with it or that it did not interfere with the normal delivery.
After the child is born, all other things being normal, we always allowed our patient, especially if rather exhausted, to rest awhile before proceeding to deliver the placenta. This allows the uterus to recover from the shock and the strain and gives the placenta a chance to thoroughly loosen. When ready to deliver the placenta we make gentle but firm traction on the cord and at the same time have the patient put the back of her hand tightly against her lips and have her blow hard against it, gently bearing down at the same time. As far as our own experience goes this method has never failed to bring the placenta away. After everything has come away, always provided no other remedy is indicated, we invariably gave a single dose of Arnica as both a preventive of septic conditions arising and to prevent any excessive soreness that might arise from pressure and the more or less mechanical abrasion of the mucous surfaces during the passage of the child. After three days, again always provided no other remedy is indicated, wee gave a single dose of Nux vomica to right the irregularities arising from the disturbed functions. Very, very few of our patients had to have further measures and all made record recoveries.
Either fortunately or unfortunately we never had a case of placenta prævia, so that we do not know what we should have done in such a case, but we should not have refused it had it come to us. When it comes to obstetrics give me homœopathy and you may have all the rest.
We were almost stumped on three cases: The first was the largest baby delivered at the Pittsburg Hospital while interne there, but by the aid of plenty of hot water and Gelsemium we got through without a sign of a tear of any evil after effects. John McClellan who had charge of the department was amazed that it could be done. The second case was that of a woman who had had four children and not a single natural birth, had never known what a natural labor pain was. The parts seemed dead, each child having had to be taken away with instruments and every placenta taken away mechanically. We took that case without a thought of how we wer4 coming out. What if homœopathy should fail; what would we expect to accomplish with only our ten digits? We had not the least fear of homœopathy’s failing, and it did not fail. Kali phosphoricum. Came to the rescue and brought on normal labor pains, and plenty of hot water did the rest. We had a normal birth, a normal baby, a normal placenta delivery and the first and finest return to normal the lady had ever known. The third of these cases taught us thee most valuable lesson in homœopathy we ever had or learned in our life. The late Dr. W. H. Stover, then a member of the I.H.A., was the teacher.
We had previously attended this patient and she was so pleased that she sent for us again, and almost had excellent reason to regret it. We were with that patient three days and three nights. Had she not known of our previous work in that line she would not have stood for it. On that eventful morning we looked up and to our great joy we spied Dr. W.H. Stover. We called him in and told him of our predicament. He examined the woman, turned to me and said: ‘There is nothing wrong, what are the symptoms?’ We replied that the pains were coming on very frequently but instead of accomplishing anything were passing off in a desire for stool and urinating? ‘Well’, said the doctor, ‘what remedy covers that?” To which we promptly replied Nux vomica. “Well, why in Hades don’t you give it?” When we replied that we had never thought of it in those cases he indignantly replied: “Does not your materia medica tell you to give it whenever indicated irrespective of the name of the disease or existing condition?” We had non with us. He had. He gave a dose and in just 30 minutes we had a fine seven-pound baby, and in another half hour we were both on our respective ways home with our fees in our pockets.
The last labor case that we saw was that of a very delicate sensitive girl. Her mother-in-law, a nurse, insisted that she could never go through the ordeal without wither anesthetics or twilight sleep, and insisted that she have it. We said no! We explained everything to the lady. She consented to try our plan. The time arrived, the husband, the father and mother, the mother-in-law and the doctor stood about the bed expecting to hear Rome howl. The pains had located in the back and did little good. A single dose of Kali carbonica soon set matters right. The lady followed our advice. Not a soul knew when the head was born. Everything went off like clockwork and without a sign of tear either vaginal or cervical for the two doctors and the nurse examined the patient very closely.
Homœopathy is woman’s choicest gift from heaven.
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