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Early pregnancy tests
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Author:  Lizzie [ Thu Aug 16, 2007 5:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Early pregnancy tests

Does anyone with more of a medical background than me (ie anything more than GCSE biology) know how doctors were able to tell that someone was pregnant before these fancy tests were invented? Or were fancy pregnancy tests widely available in the 1930s? Apart from missed periods, and gradually growing in size, was there any way that Jem (for example) have been able to know for sure that Madge was pregnant?

Author:  Róisín [ Thu Aug 16, 2007 6:10 pm ]
Post subject: 

I don't know much about it but I'd add swollen/tender breasts to those symptoms. Also - doctors can tell after a month (?) by putting their hands on your belly and feeling the outside - I think they know where to feel for a small growth or something like that -> I had an early pregnancy test by this method once. HTH!

Author:  janem [ Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

Róisín wrote:
I don't know much about it but I'd add swollen/tender breasts to those symptoms. Also - doctors can tell after a month (?) by putting their hands on your belly and feeling the outside - I think they know where to feel for a small growth or something like that -> I had an early pregnancy test by this method once. HTH!


I did too as my doc found that method very reliable She was surprised by how big the lump was. Turned out to be two babies!

Author:  claire [ Thu Aug 16, 2007 8:54 pm ]
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After about 12 weeks you can palpate the uterus abdominally (pinard stethoscope's kick in around the 28 week mark for you to listen in)

Chadwick's sign is that your cervix becomes more blue, (8ish weeks)

Hegar's sign - the isthmus of the cervix is softer (from 6 weeks + , but 8+ weeks more realistic)

You can feel the pulsations of the vagina from 8ish weeks but I can't remember who that's named after and can't be bothered to look it up

Seriously though if you are around enough pregnant women you just sense they are pregnant - it's quite scary when you realise you have it, and you can't put your finger on why you know but you do - their skin is slightly different, they smell different (only teeny different and i've only noticed the smeel distinctly on myself), the eyes seem to soften - I've known a few times before people have announced it

Author:  tiffinata [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:44 am ]
Post subject: 

In 1903 Ludwig Fraenkel identified the connection between certain hormones and pregnancy. and named Progesterone.
In the 1920's other scientists identified the specific pregnancy hormone human chronic gonadotropin (hCG) all pregnancy tests identify this particular hormone

Quote:
A Pregnancy Test Timeline
1928 - Aschheim-Zondek: Also known as the A-Z Test, this very first scientific pregnancy test was developed in Germany. It involved several subcutaneous injections of varying amounts of a woman's urine into the backs of immature female mice weighing between five and eight grams. One hundred hours after the first injection, the mice were killed and the ovaries were examined. The A-Z test is named for German researchers Selmar Aschheim (1878-1965) and Bernhard Zondek (1891-1966). Zondek was the first person to describe the ovarian hormone and earned worldwide renown for discovering gonadotropins. He and Aschheim both worked at Charité Hospital's Women's Clinic in Berlin (now the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, CCM).

1931 - Friedman: A refined version of the Aschheim-Zondek test, the Friedman test used rabbits instead of mice. Its advantages were the availability of the animals, a reduced error rate, and the reduced time required for completion of the test. The subject's urine was injected into the ear vein of a female rabbit. The test, named for Maurice H. Friedman (1903-1991), could be read within 36 to 48 hours after injecting the urine.

1939 - Hogben (Xenopus): In the Hogben test, a female African clawed toad (Xenopus laevis) is injected with urine (or an extract) into the dorsal lymph sac. The presence of five, six, or more eggs within four to twelve hours indicates pregnancy. A similar test was done using male frogs or male toads. A woman's urine or serum is injected into the dorsal lymph sac of two male frogs (Rana pipiens) or male toads (Bufo marinus). The presence of spermatozoa in the cloacal fluid of both animals is positive; in one animal, inconclusive; in neither animal, negative. This test is named for the British biologist Lancelot Hogben (1895-1975). Although the Hogben pregnancy test had the advantage of not killing the test animals, it was replaced by immunological methods in the 1960s.

1960 - Hemagglutination inhibition test: Also known as the Wide-Gemzell test, this was the first pregnancy test that did not require an animal. It tested urine for certain reactions with purified hCG. Much faster and cheaper than previous tests, it was, however, not as accurate.

1970 - Wampole test: This was a two-hour test kit available to physicians. It still required test tubes, syringes, and other items making it unsuitable for home use.

1976 - ACU, Answer, e.p.t. and Predictor: These home pregnancy test kits received FDA approval in 1976. Warner-Chilcott's e.p.t. test would be the first on the market at the end of 1977. It sold for about $10, but still required two hours for results. It was more accurate for positive results than negative. Current versions are more reliable.

1990s - Enzyme testing: Continuing research leads to better accuracy and improved methods. A large variety of home tests exist today, all based on an increase in urinary levels of hCG after fertilization. But no animals are harmed any longer—neither rabbits nor toads


Interestingly a slang term for being pregnant was 'the rabbit's dead'
It is also thought that the decline of frogs (particularly in Australia) is due to a bug in the toads that were used for pregnancy tests.

Author:  jennifer [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:56 am ]
Post subject: 

So it would probably be a missed period, followed by a visit to the doctor and a check for physical signs. I don't see the local GP injecting mice as a standard test.

Author:  claire [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:56 am ]
Post subject: 

a missed period and they'd be told to come back after they missed a second.

Author:  Lizzie [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 11:13 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks everyone! I had no idea about the rabbits and mice, although I suppose I did realise it was always going to have been more complicated than it is these days.

Good to have my background research a little more detailed!

Author:  Katherine [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:14 pm ]
Post subject: 

Wow, the stuff about rabbits and mice is amazing.

Slightly before CS time, but I read a book about Mary I of England a few years back. She was desperate for a child so that she would have a Catholic heir, otherwise the crown would pass to her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth (Elizabeth I in the end). Anyway, from what I can remember she had this growth in her abdomenon and convinced herself she was pregnant but of course the child never arrived. Just made me think about how little people must have known about what was going on inside them; we have so many tests and things these days though I suppose people still have phantom pregnancies.

Author:  Alison H [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

It's now thought that Mary I had a pituitary (sp?) tumour, which produces symptoms similar to pregnancy, and possibly stomach cancer as well. (Like Sunita in Coronation Street a few years ago!) The poor woman went 9 months waiting for a baby to arrive, then another month thinking that she must've got her dates wrong originally, and then no baby at the end of it.

Author:  Róisín [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

I read that too! In a Phillippa Gregory book, although I can't remember which one. Poor woman :(

Author:  LizB [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

It's in The Queen's Fool, which I'm partway through. I think I've previously read it in a Jean Plaidy book and possibly other places as well.

Author:  Mrs Redboots [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 4:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

What I am not sure was when it was known how to calculate exactly the EDD, rather than just guess vaguely around 9 months' time.

Mind you EBD probably didn't know, since Sybil seems to have been remarkably well-grown for an allegedly premature baby - and she wasn't a first baby, either (they were often "premature", only of course, they weren't at all, just Mum was already in pig when she went up the aisle!).

Author:  claire [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 4:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

that said mrs redboots my husband was a 7lb + 34 weeker (and everyone knew his mother was pregnant before the marriage - the dates were definately right and he had the associated problems with a baby at that stage) just he would have been a huge baby had he gone to term

Author:  Caroline OSullivan [ Fri Aug 17, 2007 6:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

Another early sympton may be morning sickness and going off certain foods/having cravings.

When I was pregnant with Helen I started morning sickness with three days of conception :shock: and went off coffee.

Author:  jennifer [ Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:55 am ]
Post subject: 

I would also guess that many women didn't go to the doctor for a pregnancy confirmation. They would know the signs, and only go to the doctor if something were wrong.

There would be no ultra sound, no treatment for gestational diabetes (would there even be a test?) - how much more could the doctor do than say "yep, you're pregnant" and tell you to eat mild foods? Plus the dangers of smoking/drinking/sushi/cat litter boxes/unpasturised cheese/medications while pregnant weren't known.

I would guess that most premature babies died, unless they were fairly close to term and relatively healthy, and that in multiple births it was more common for one of the babies to die.

Author:  tiffinata [ Sat Aug 18, 2007 5:26 am ]
Post subject: 

I guess that many single women at that time would not know the signs and sympoms. Maybe just a feeling that something was wrong when a period was missed.
No sex ed then- just mum telling the daughter when she is about to be married about 'marital duties'. Or, if you were lucky, 'don't go too far with a boy' as she became a woman.

If so, given that Madge had been orphaned at an early age, it would be expected that Jem would have had to fill that role and explained how to and diagnosed her pregnancy. Hopefully Madge fulfilled the mother role to Joey in the marital duties talk.

Later in the series we see the Swiss San as more a general hospital. Surely they would have had small labs? Maybe they had research mice to use for pregnancy tests.
But this would only have been available to the rich as well.

Author:  Lottie [ Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:45 am ]
Post subject: 

tiffinata wrote:
If so, given that Madge had been orphaned at an early age, it would be expected that Jem would have had to fill that role and explained how to and diagnosed her pregnancy.

Maybe Frau Marani or Frau Mensch took Madge aside for a few quiet words in the run-up to her wedding.

Author:  Mrs Redboots [ Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:59 am ]
Post subject: 

tiffinata wrote:
No sex ed then- just mum telling the daughter when she is about to be married about 'marital duties'. Or, if you were lucky, 'don't go too far with a boy' as she became a woman

Well my mother, who is a little younger than Joey, says it's actually a myth that they didn't know anything. They did, I think, learn at school, possibly only vaguely, from one another. But she certainly said once, "Well, what do you think we got up to in parked cars?!"

Author:  keren [ Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:17 am ]
Post subject: 

LizB wrote:
It's in The Queen's Fool, which I'm partway through. I think I've previously read it in a Jean Plaidy book and possibly other places as well.



arent they the same person (philipa gregory and jean plaidy)

Author:  Mona [ Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:23 am ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
arent they the same person (philipa gregory and jean plaidy)
Very much not!
Jean Plaidy was one of the pseudonyms used by Eleanor Hibbert (aka Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Ellalice Tate, Anna Percival, Victoria Holt, and Philippa Carr). She died in 1993.
Phillipa Gregory is still very much alive and producing new work.

Both of them write/wrote about the Tudor period in their novels, including Queen Mary's reign and her 'phantom' pregnancies.

Author:  Holly [ Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:16 am ]
Post subject: 

keren wrote:
LizB wrote:
It's in The Queen's Fool, which I'm partway through. I think I've previously read it in a Jean Plaidy book and possibly other places as well.



arent they the same person (philipa gregory and jean plaidy)


I've read both their work, and I find Jean Plaidy to be far superior as a historical author - Philippa Gregory is certainly the more sensational author and I think she gives a better sense of the atmosphere of court life. As a rule, Plaidy is much more balanced and fair to all historical figures concerned while Gregory definitely plays favourites and tends to whitewash the ones she likes and to be pretty merciless to the ones she doesn't like, amplifying their faults and, in Anne Boleyn's case in particular, showing her committing murder and incest - I'm dreading to see what the movie for "The Other Boleyn Girl" is going to be like.

Author:  Lyanne [ Sun Oct 07, 2007 7:52 am ]
Post subject: 

Mrs Redboots wrote:
tiffinata wrote:
No sex ed then- just mum telling the daughter when she is about to be married about 'marital duties'. Or, if you were lucky, 'don't go too far with a boy' as she became a woman

Well my mother, who is a little younger than Joey, says it's actually a myth that they didn't know anything. They did, I think, learn at school, possibly only vaguely, from one another. But she certainly said once, "Well, what do you think we got up to in parked cars?!"


My mother in law, born in 1951, so a LOT younger than Joey, was told nothing at school or by her mum. It was left to her dad to explain to her why she was bleeding and what to do about it.

Author:  Lexi [ Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

Holly wrote:
I'm dreading to see what the movie for "The Other Boleyn Girl" is going to be like.


Ugh, me too. It was filmed at Haddon Hall though and I love it there so I'll probably just watch it for the scenery :D

Author:  Mrs Redboots [ Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

Lyanne wrote:

My mother in law, born in 1951, so a LOT younger than Joey, was told nothing at school or by her mum. It was left to her dad to explain to her why she was bleeding and what to do about it.


All too common, I'm afraid. I was born in 1953, and didn't really know anything until I went to boarding-school, when most of us were sent with the necessary supplies "just in case". We also had a couple of ghastly sessions called "Design for Living" or something which were compulsory - goodness, I'd forgotten about them until this minute - with a black-and-white film Explaining Things.....

But even in 1991, when my daughter went to secondary school, the headmistress felt it necessary to remind parents of future first-years to ensure their daughters knew about periods - and even then, obviously not trusting us, the girls were taught about it during their first year!

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