It’s difficult to describe the third trimester because it’s so…bizarre. One minute, there are bouts of nausée … the same type that I experienced during the first trimester (hey, I thought that was left in the past…SURPRISE, it returns!). The next minute, I’m full of énergie – ready to take on the world! Five seconds later, I need a 2 hour nap and I’m having a vertigo spell. It’s really, well, ANNOYING…and, not to mention, unpredictable! The other day, I realized that I can’t go for a tranquille walk in the centre-ville, faire du shopping, and eat la glace, or ice-cream without dreading the walk back home & feeling like I need that 2 hour nap toute de suite! There’s so much I want to do before Pitchoune arrives, but I’m forced to take it slow, which is not usually my kind of thing.
Last week-end, we went shopping for wood and accessories to make two drawers to stock Pitchoune‘s towels. We also stopped by Babou to do some early (ok, really early) Christmas shopping as it’s Les Soldes (the big sale time) right now. I thought I could handle shopping around several stores – something I enjoyed doing before the pregnancy, but I was wrong. Once we started picking out stuff for my nièce, the fatigue hit me. I fought it, though, because I was not going to have to return to this store when we were already there. It turns out that after a stop at Subway (yes, mon chéri and I ate at Subway…in France), I was back to my ‘somewhat old self’ with more énergie to hit up one last store, Darty. Sometimes, all you need is to eat something full of nutritious vitamins and minerals as well as protein; other times, it’s rest.
5 unpleasant things that are ‘normal’ to experience during pregnancy (though, not everyone experiences all of these):
- Nosebleeds – this started during the second trimester. Before my pregnancy, I rarely got nosebleeds. Now, I get them a few times a month. After seeing a Dr., I discovered that nose bleeds are common during pregnancy because the 40-50% increase in blood flow puts more pressure on your blood vessels thus making it easier for the thin blood vessels in your nose to pop. Also, because of this blood flow increase, the blood pressure tends to fluctuate more often. I make sure to keep my nose moist, but even this doesn’t always work. An interesting fact: it’s always my left nostril that bleeds. Apparently, my nose will return to ‘normal’ once the baby’s born. I can’t wait! Until then, I’ve been carrying around Kleenex everywhere I go just in case… because, one time, I was in the Métro and I didn’t have a lot of Kleenex on me. So, what happened? I had a nose bleed that took over 20 minutes to stop. The employees called the ambulance. Of course, the ambulance arrived after it stopped bleeding. They wanted to take me to the hôpital, but after consulting a Dr., they informed me that “nose bleeds are normal during pregnancy” and that if I had no other symptoms (such as dizziness), I could go to work. I was told to “take it slow” and to go immediately to the hôpital if another one occurred later on in the day.
- Swollen/’squishy’ feet – this started at 34 weeks. I’ve never had swollen feet before. Now, I’ll never be able to say that again. 😦 According to my OB-GYN, this is common in pregnancy because the 40-50% increase in blood flow + the extra weight gain puts pressure on your feet thus causing fluid to be retained in the feet. Apparently, swollen legs and hands are also common during pregnancy, though, thankfully, I haven’t yet experienced these symptoms. Since I returned to France, it’s been scorching hot in the south of France, so, that has added to the swelling of my feet. The swelling is a strange feeling. Today, it’s cool out (finally!), so, I have no swelling; however, when my feet were swollen, they were squishy to the touch. It was weird.
- Vertigo – this started at 31 weeks. I had 1 minor episode: I entered my mom’s room to look at something. All of a sudden the room started moving around as I walked up to her. I drank some water and then sat down. This seemed to work. At 33 weeks, I had another episode: I was at mon chéri‘s grandparents house. One minute, I sat down to eat lunch; the next, his mom asked if I was OK. Apparently, my face had gone pale. There was a taste of iron/métal in my mouth and I thought I was going to pass out. So, I ended up laying down for 2 hours and during this time, it passed. But, it scared mon chéri and I, so, I brought this up at my OB-GYN appointment. My OB-GYN prescribed iron pills to take. Since then, I haven’t had any more episodes…and I hope it stays this way!
- Backaches – I don’t remember when this started; however, it makes sense that this would be a ‘normal’ pregnancy experience. The added weight (I’ve gained about 8kg/17lbs), the relaxing of the joints (making it easier for the baby to leave the body), and just hormonal changes in general puts more pressure on the back and on the feet. I feel the pain in my upper back after doing laundry, walking for about 25 minutes straight, cutting vegetables… etc. It’s very annoying to have to ‘take it slow’ with even the simplest things. For example, before my pregnancy, I never had a sore back after cutting vegetables. Sometimes, the pain is in my lower back; however, this is due to Pitchoune‘s position. Normally, I can combat this pain by positioning myself into the yoga Child’s pose or the Cat pose and then let gravity do the rest. She moves around thus relieving the pain in my lower back.
- Heartburn – this started at the end of the second trimester-beginning of the third trimester. It’s awful! I’ve since discovered that eating smaller portions throughout the day as well as saving bigger meals for the middle of the day significantly reduce the amount of heartburn I have. I’ve read that limiting spicy foods and carbonated beverages also helps prevent heartburn. I don’t drink a lot of carbonated beverages, but when I was in the U.S., I loaded up on BBQ and Mexican food, so, heartburn was at its peak during those 3 weeks. Since my return to France, heartburn has been much more bearable.
Of course, these 5 negative experiences are not the only type of ‘normal’ negative things to expect during pregnancy. For example, I know several friends who experienced terrible, throbbing migraines. Thankfully, I haven’t had this problem. Other friends and family experienced high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or gestational or pregnancy diabetes. I haven’t been diagnosed with either of these things, either. There are many more negative aspects (advanced hair growth…EVERYWHERE…what purpose does this serve?); however, thankfully, pregnancy is not only composed of these negative aspects. If this were the case, the human race would’ve become extinct a long time ago! Thankfully, there are several perks to pregnancy, too (see my list of pregnancy perks in THIS blog post)!
One major factor in easing some of the downsides to pregnancy is the partner pre-natal/birth preparation courses. In France, these classes are 100% covered under the Sécu (the French health care – I have (and I’m happy with) MGEN). Mon chéri and I have been attending yoga-inspired birth preparation courses. Through these classes, I’ve learned several breathing techniques and postures that can help ease the pain of contractions. I try to practice them every day…some days are better than others. I’ve also learned exactly what goes on in the birthing room. I guess it’s good to get the fear of an emergency C-section out now rather than at the time of the birth. Also, there’s another Américaine attending the classes! The rest of the women are Françaises except for 1 Spanish woman (all of the partners are Français). All-in-all it’s been a great experience – even language-wise! Thankfully, mon chéri is there to answer any of my “huh? X word means what?” questions. Also, he’s learned a lot, too. His main question/fear was how to keep me calm through the contraction/birth pain. He’s very concerned about the fact that he can’t share some of the burden, so, he wants to make sure he says and does the right things in order to help ease the pain. Thankfully, this course has given him a number of techniques to try once the contractions start. I know he’s still a little worried, though, about having to watch me suffer. But, we’ll get through it together. ♦
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:
- Bienvenue…it’s a girl!
- The First Trimester: Où sont les toilettes ?
- The Second Trimester: Attaque de Sinusite !
- The Third Trimester: Pas assez d’énergie !
- Pointing out the Perks of Pregnancy
- Traveling While Pregnant: Une Bonne Idée?
- Declaring La Grossesse (pregnancy) en France
For more insight on what raising a bilingual baby is like in France, check out these posts: