adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Knocked Up Abroad: The Specialists

I've told you all before how pleased we are with the level of health care we receive here in France.  They really seem to be focused on preventative treatment and finding the root of your symptoms before it becomes a serious problem that needs to be treated with drugs and interventions.  The prenatal care is no different.  I've felt very taken care of during this entire pregnancy and like all of my concerns are addressed and that my doctors are really keeping tabs on what's going on with my body and the baby, whether that be through my monthly blood tests or ultrasounds or seeking counsel from specialists.  All for free. I've had a lot of heart palpitations throughout the pregnancy, which is a really common symptom to have.  They started around the beginning of the second trimester and my doctor at the time put me on a Magnesium/B6 vitamin to see if that would help.  Almost immediately, the palpitations went away and I continued that treatment up until a few weeks ago when they returned.  I was still taking the supplements, but the palpitations came back along with the terrible heartburn I told you all about.  Dr. B  suggested I stop taking the vitamins, since Magnesium can exacerbate heartburn, and sent me to a Cardiologist to make sure nothing was seriously wrong.  I felt pretty confident that this was just par for the course (I've had some slight issue with palpitations in the past) but felt very comforted to know that everything possible as going to be done to make sure that nothing was wrong with me or the baby.  Even though by the time I headed off to my appointment, the palpitations had mostly subsided (anxiety induced maybe?) the Cardiologist, Dr. S, was very thorough.  He took my blood pressure and ran 4 different tests:  an EKG, an ultrasound of my heart, bloodwork to check my thyroid, and also hooked me up to a portable machine to record my heartbeat for 24 hours.  I told him about my experience with palpitations a few years ago and he said, "but no one has done and ultrasound of your heart before?"  I just laughed and told him that my general practitioner in SF hooked me up to an EKG machine for about 30 seconds, told me I was fine, and called it a day.  Dr. S looked confused.  Why wouldn't you just run all the standard tests to really make sure instead of waiting until there was a larger problem?  Exactly, Dr. S.  Exactly.

This is part of what I wore for 24 hours - there were wires everywhere! Michael called me a Pregnant Robot.

So!  All the tests came back fine and I'm happy to report that there are no serious issues with my heart or Bonbon's heart.  The blood test showed that I am slightly anemic which Dr. S said could be contributing to the palpitations I'm having, so I'll discuss that with Dr. B during our appointment next week. This week I also went to the Ostéopathe, Dr. T,  to try to encourage Bonbon to turn around!  I really had no idea what to expect.  I wasn't sure what he was going to do and I wasn't sure if it was going to work.  Dr. T did not speak English, but he was so nice and gentle and caring that I was immediately at ease.  I showed him all my paperwork (yes, mothers-to-be here are entrusted with carrying around their own medical records - kind of weird!) and he explained what he would be doing.  I laid on what I can only describe as a massage table, and he basically massaged my uterus from all angles to make it soft and "souple" to give her more room to turn.  He turned me on both sides while he told me when to breathe in and breathe out as he gently pressed on my uterus and tried to get her to twist a bit.  He was so nice and kept asking me if I was ok.  It did not hurt at all, but did feel a little weird at times.  I closed my eyes and tried to remain very relaxed and limp.  Finally I laid on my back and he stretched and rotated my legs from the hips (which felt SO GOOD after all the walking I've done this week) in an effort to open my pelvis a bit.  All in all, an interesting experience, which was sort of like getting a mini massage.  I asked him if there was anything else I could do to try to get her to turn and he said not really, just try to be calm and to breathe well. So, did it work?  Well, I don't think so.  Not yet anyway.  I can tell she's still head up, but she really seems to be trying to turn around!  Last night she was bumping and bouncing all over the place and seems to be turning transverse and then kicking a lot, so I don't know if she's trying to turn, but can't, or what!  I laid really still and tried to relax and breathe deeply to give her as much room as possible, but nothing really happened. I have an ultrasound on Monday with Dr. B who will tell me if she's switched positions.  If she hasn't then the next step is to take an x-ray of my pelvis to make sure that there are no issues with the alignment or size.  I've mentioned before that Dr. B is still willing to try for a vaginal birth even if Bonbon remains breech, but we need to make sure that everything else looks ok (pelvis and placement of placenta and umbilical cord) and that it can be tried safely.  In the meantime, we are not giving up hope!  She still has some time to turn (next week I'll be in my 37th week) so we are trying everything.  Michael talks to her, we shine the flashlight at the bottom of my belly, we put a bag of frozen raspberries on the top of my belly, I'm continuing my nightly inversions, etc.  Everything short of voodoo is being done up in here. To be continued, next week!

7 Responses to “Knocked Up Abroad: The Specialists”

  1. jillian says:

    So glad to hear everything is okay! Can’t wait to see you on Sunday!! xoxo

  2. Kaitlin O'Leary says:

    You are such a good writer Natalie! Miss you to pieces! Can’t wait to see pics of Bon Bon

  3. Sabbio says:

    Always so glad to read everything is fine and to discover your expat perspective on how things are handled here in France.

    Plus I’m really happy to read you have such a good doctor who still wants to help you give birth to your baby vaginally, even if in breech.

    Just read this interview from Ina May Gaskin before coming on your blog, so strange, isn’t it? ^^,8599,2062393,00.html?xid=fblike I also shared it on my fb wall. Just to say that this interview was posted on fb my a midwife friend of mine who’s now in Singapour… I can ask her what else you could do to help your sweet girl turn around.

    Still, if she moved that much after the osteopath session I guess it did something positive to her and the room she has in your uterus. Hope she turns soon! :)

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks for sending along the article! Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was the first book I read about childbirth and labor and it was SO eye opening and inspirational. I really admire her and all the work she’s done.

      • Sabbio says:

        It’s great you know and read her work! I’m glad you are in this natural birth view too, I always feel lucky to meet mamas and mamas-to-be, especially in Montpellier (vs only through blogs and facebook), who have their eyes wide open about childbirth and how natural and “obvious” it can be! When I posted this Ina May Gaskin interview I was happily surprised to read the mom of one of my son’s friends (she’s American… not a single French contact of mine reacted to this link… I guess she’s not well-known here)telling me she read this book years ago. It’s always so positive discovering “natural birth” mamas around, feels comforting.

        Now even more impatient to have a drink/lunch with you ^^ Much to share :)

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