Delivery, * child-birth, med. jur. The act of a woman giving birth to her offspring.

2. It is frequently of great importance to ascertain whether or not a delivery has taken place, and the time when it took place. Delivery may be considered with regard, 1. To pretended delivery. 2. To concealed delivery and, 3. To the usual signs of delivery.

3. - 1. In pretended delivery, the female declares herself to be a mother, without being so in reality; an act always prompted by folly or fraud.

4. Pretended delivery may present itself in three points of view, 1. When the female who feigns has never been pregnant. When thoroughly investigated, this may always be detected. There are signs which must be present, and cannot be feigned. An enlargement of the orifice of the uterus, and a tumefaction of the organs of generation, should always be present, and if absent, are conclusive against the' fact. Annales d'Hygiene, tome ii. p. 227. 2. When the pretended pregnancy and delivery have been preceded by one or more deliveries. In this case, attention should be given to the following circumstances: the mystery, if any, which has been affected with regard to the situation of the female; her age; that of her hushand and particularly whether aged or decrepid. 3. When the woman has been actually delivered, and substitutes a living for a dead child. But little evidence can be obtained on this subject from a physical examination.

5. - 2. Concealed delivery generally takes place when the woman either has destroyed her offspring, or it was born dead. In suspected cases, the following circumstances should be attended to: 1. The proofs of pregnancy which arise in consequence of the examination of the mother. When she has been pregnant, and has been delivered, the usual signs of delivery, mentioned below, will be present. A careful investigation as to the woman's appearance, before and since the delivery, will have some weight, though such evidence is not always to be relied upon, as such appearances are not unfrequently deceptive. 2. The proofs of recent delivery. 3. The connexion between the supposed state of parturition, and the state of the child that is found; for if the age of the child do not correspond to that time, it will be a strong circumstance in favor of the mother's innocence. A redness of the shin and an attachment of the umbilical cord to the navel, indicate a recent birth. Whether the child was living at its birth, belongs to the subject of infanticide. (q. v.)

6. - 3. The usual signs of delivery are very well collected in Beck's excellent treatise on Medical Jurisprudence, and are here extracted: If the female be examined within three or four days after the occurrence of delivery, the following circumstances will generally be observed: greater or less weakness, a slight paleness of the face, the eye a little sunken, and surrounded by a purplish or dark brown colored ring, and a whiteness of the skin, like a person convalescing from disease. The belly is soft, the skin of the abdomen is lax, lies in folds, and is traversed in various directions by shining reddish and whitish lines, which especially extend from the groins and pubis to the naval. These lines have sometimes been termed linecae albicantes, and are particularly observed near the umbilical region, where the abdomen has experienced the greatest distention. The breasts become tumid and hard, and on pressure emit a fluid, which at first is serous, and afterwards gradually becomes whiter; and the presence of this secretion is generally accompanied with a full pulse and soft skin, covered with a moisture of a peculiar and somewhat acid odor. The areolae round the nipples are dark colored. The external genital organs and vagina are dilated and tumefied throughout the whole of their extent, from the pressure of the foetus. The uterus may be felt through the abdominal parietes, voluminous, firm, and globular, and rising nearly as high as the umbilicus. Its orifice is soft and tumid, and dilated so as to admit two or more fingers. The fourchette; or anterior margin of the perinaeum, is sometimes torn, or it is lax, and appears to have suffered considerable distention. A discharge (termed the lochial) commences from the uterus, which is distinguished from the menses by its pale color, its peculiar and well-known smell, and its duration. The lochia are at first of a red color, and gradually become lighter until they cease.

7. These signs may generally be relied upon as indicating the state of pregnancy, yet it requires much experience in order not to be deceived by appearances.

8. - 1. The lochial discharge might be mistaken for menstruation, or fluor albus, were it not for its peculiar smell; and this it has been found impossible, by any artifice, to destroy.

9. - 2. Relaxation of the soft parts arises as frequently from menstruation as from delivery; but in these cases the os uteri and vagina are not so much tumefied, nor is there that tenderness and swelling. The parts are found pale and flabby, when all signs of contusion disappear, after delivery; and this circumstance does not follow menstruation.

10. - 3. The presence of milk, though a usual sign of delivery, is not always to be relied upon, for this secretion may take place independent of pregnancy.

11.-4. The wrinkles and relaxations of the abdomen which follow delivery, may be the consequence of dropsy, or of lankness following great obesity. This state of the parts is also seldom striking after the birth of the first child, as they shortly resume their natural state. Vide, generally, 1 Beck's Med. Jur. c. 7, p. 206; 1 Chit. Med. Jur. 411; Ryan's Med. Jur. ch. 10, p. 133; 1 Briand, Med. Leg. lere partie, c. 5.

* From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition. Please see Bouvier's Legal Abbreviations & Abbreviated References for help with obscure nomenclature & references.

« Definitions Deh to Dep

« Legal Dictionary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H
I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P
Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y