History of Animals
females pass more quickly than the males through youth and maturity
and age; and this is especially true of those that bear many children,
as indeed I have already said.
When the womb has conceived the seed, straightway in the
majority of cases it closes up until seven months are fulfilled; but
in the eighth month it opens, and the embryo, if it be fertile,
descends in the eighth month. But such embryos as are not fertile
but are devoid of breath at eight months old, their mothers do not
bring into the world by parturition at eight months, neither does
the embryo descend within the womb at that period nor does the womb
open. And it is a sign that the embryo is not capable of life if it be
formed without the above-named circumstances taking place.
After conception women are prone to a feeling of heaviness in
all parts of their bodies, and for instance they experience a
sensation of darkness in front of the eyes and suffer also from
headache. These symptoms appear sooner or later, sometimes as early as
the tenth day, according as the patient be more or less burthened with
superfluous humours. Nausea also and sickness affect the most of
women, and especially such as those that we have just now mentioned,
after the menstrual discharge has ceased and before it is yet turned
in the direction of the breasts.
Moreover, some women suffer most at the beginning of their
pregnancy and some at a later period when the embryo has had time to
grow; and in some women it is a common occurrence to suffer from
strangury towards the end of their time. As a general rule women who
are pregnant of a male child escape comparatively easily and retain
a comparatively healthy look, but it is otherwise with those whose
infant is a female; for these latter look as a rule paler and suffer
more pain, and in many cases they are subject to swellings of the legs
and eruptions on the body. Nevertheless the rule is subject to
Women in pregnancy are a prey to all sorts of longings and to
rapid changes of mood, and some folks call this the 'ivy-sickness';
and with the mothers of female infants the longings are more acute,
and they are less contented when they have got what they desired.
In a certain few cases the patient feels unusually well during
pregnancy. The worst time of all is just when the child's hair is
beginning to grow.
In pregnant women their own natural hair is inclined to grow
thin and fall out, but on the other hand hair tends to grow on parts
of the body where it was not wont to be. As a general rule, a
man-child is more prone to movement within its mother's womb than a
female child, and it is usually born sooner. And labour in the case of
female children is apt to be protracted and sluggish, while in the
case of male children it is acute and by a long way more difficult.
Women who have connexion with their husbands shortly before childbirth
are delivered all the more quickly. Occasionally women seem to be in
the pains of labour though labour has not in fact commenced, what
seemed like the commencement of labour being really the result of
the foetus turning its head.
Now all other animals bring the time of pregnancy to an end in a
uniform way; in other words, one single term of pregnancy is defined
for each of them. But in the case of mankind alone of all animals
the times are diverse; for pregnancy may be of seven months' duration,
or of eight months or of nine, and still more commonly of ten
months, while some few women go even into the eleventh month.
Children that come into the world before seven months can
under no circumstances survive. The seven-months' children are the
earliest that are capable of life, and most of them are weakly-for
which reason, by the way, it is customary to swaddle them in wool,-and
many of them are born with some of the orifices of the body
imperforate, for instance the ears or the nostrils. But as they get