Injured by the imagination


Forget drinking in pregnancy; here’s something far more dangerous.  From the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1695:

A lady was delivered of a girl, with a wound in her breast, above 4 fingers long, extended obliquely downwards, over the whole breast.  I found not only the wound outwardly in the skin, but after a nearer examination, I perceived that it not only penetrated to the musculi intercostales, but that it was at least an inch broad, hollow under the flesh round about the wound: besides, that there was a contusion with a little swelling, red and blue as usual in contusions, at the lower part of the wound in the inside.

It would be natural to assume that this injury was sustained in childbirth; but Dr Cyprianus is adamant that the delivery was easy and quick.  The baby

got not this wound in its birth, but was occasioned by strength of imagination, about 2 months before: when the mother being gone to bed, by chance she heard a report that a man had murdered his wife, and with a knife had given her a great wound in her breast, at which relation she changed, but not excessively.  Now my opinion is, that the child at the very moment that the mother was frighted, received the wound in its mother’s body, as the wound was very sordid; and the inside as well as the outside beset with slime, proceeding from the water wherein the child is used to lie in its mother’s womb, and it was also very like an old wound.

Perhaps ‘reading the newspaper’ should join tobacco and alcohol on the list of proscribed activities during pregnancy.



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