The Second Trimester: Attaque de Sinusite !

Unlike the first trimester, the second trimester opens the door to freedom from nausea. At the start of my pregnancy, I did quite a bit of online research about what to expect in the coming weeks. EVERYONE mentioned that the second trimester was the most enjoyable because the nausea disappeared and energy returned. They are right.

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Things were going so well, that is, until one Wednesday afternoon at the start of Avril…It came with clear blue skies and the (da da dum) Mistral wind.

I had no choice but to be outside during this wind-attack (seriously, the Mistral is fierce!) because I had to teach in Marseille and then visit the Consulat Général des Etats-Unis d’Amérique. On Wednesday night, the sinusite started. Normally, I take Allegra D, which helps to prevent an infection from settling in. Unfortunately, Pseudoephedrine (the ‘D’) has been shown to elevate “blood pressure or cause vasoconstriction in the uterine arteries, and potentially adversely affecting blood flow to the fetus.” This interruption in blood flow has been linked to Gastroschisis, a birth defect that involves the intestins and other organes forming outside the baby’s body. What I would later discover is that the risk for Gastroschisis is most powerful during the first trimester when the baby’s abdominal wall is still developing. Of course, after a moment of reflection following hours of research on decongestants and pregnancy, I remembered that I took Actifed D before I even knew I was pregnant. Thankfully, the baby shows up healthy and normal in ultrasounds and blood tests.

pitchoune 3

What I would also later discover is that the risk is all but minimal when taken during the second trimester. If I had known this information in advance, I would have been able to avoid this two-month long sinusite. So, while it’s good that I wanted to avoid things that may cause birth defects, I ended up feeling misérable for over 2 months. It got to the point where I had no energy (I’m a teacher – I need energy!), I was coughing until I threw up and until a blood vessel popped in my nose, my whole body was in pain, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose. I could tell that my weakened state was taking a toll on the baby, too, especially with the coughs. Coughing created contractions, which judging by Pitchoune‘s movements after a coughing spurt, startled her. Through this experience, I’ve learned that sometimes, the mom’s health outweighs the risk of certain medications on the baby. In the end, I ended up on antibiotics for 10 days, which kicked this infection in the butt; however, my ear is still popped (I blew my nose constantly for 2 months…what did I expect?). So, until my right ear returns to normal, I’ve been taking an antihistamine. Plus, I’m trying to keep from getting a second infection.

Other precautions I’ve been taking include:

  • Wearing a scarf – I pull it over my nose and mouth when it’s really windy, when the pollen count is up, or when pollution is high. I may look ridiculous, but at least I know I’m protecting myself.
  • Wearing a hat – it protects my ears from the wind.
  • Keeping water on hand – it keeps me hydrated.
  • Using a nasal spray – it’s a saline solution, so, it cleanses the nostrils and keeps them moist.
  • Using breathing treatments – I boil a bowl of water and then put 50 drops of Aromasol (essential oils) in it. Then, I cover my head with a beach towel and breathe in the oils for 10 minutes. It’s a temporary fix, but it works wonders in opening up the sinuses! The downside is that I can’t leave the appartement for an hour after doing it. But, 3 breathing treatments a day was recommended by my Dr.; however, I’m lucky if I can fit in 2 (morning and evening).

Being sick is one thing; however, being sick and pregnant is an entirely different ball game! ♦


This is part of a series on my pregnancy in France. You can follow my pregnancy and gain helpful insight on what pregnancy is like in France by reading these blogs:


For more insight on what raising a bilingual baby is like in France, check out these posts:

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