Posts Tagged ‘blood test’
Today I am 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and doing my utmost to get this baby out naturally. Which is funny really when you think that I was happy to go to 42 weeks with this pregnancy and was in no particular rush for the baby to get here. However that all changed a couple of weeks ago when I started itching crazily one night, and then my blood test results showed that there was an issue with some of the levels linked to my liver. I was in and out of the hospital 3-4 times a week, seeing midwives, having blood tests and abdomen scans to check my liver, kidneys, spleen and gall bladder.
Initially they diagnosed it as being Obstetric Cholestasis which affects 1 in 140 pregnant women every year in the UK, and there is a chance of your baby being still-born if it is not managed, which means in general having an induction by 38 weeks. If you think you might have OC there is a great video about it over on Honest Mum’s blog who suffered from it during her first pregnancy, and which I found really helpful as I was getting my head round it initially.
However, having told me at 37 weeks that I was likely to be induced by 38 weeks, my levels settled down, which made them think that it probably wasn’t OC. This was naturally a huge relief, but the problem now is they don’t know why my levels went haywire, so to avoid any unnecessary risks it looks like it’ll be induction time for me this Friday when I am 39 weeks….unless I can get this baby out naturally by then.
Now I had an induction when L was born (read her birth story here) and was so hoping to avoid medical intervention and inductions this time round, so my initial reaction was shock and disappointment. Then I realised that the main thing here was the safe arrival of this baby, however that might be.
The good news is that when I saw the consultant last Tuesday she told me that I’m actually looking quite promising for an early natural labour – at 37 weeks and 4 days I was already 1-2cm dilated and my cervix was soft and looked promising. She gave me a sweep and since then I’ve been having lots of contractions and lower back pain, which haven’t led to anything but which make me hope that natural could still be on the cards.
I’ve been reading up on natural ways to kick-start labour. Again. I went through all this with L last time and none of it led to anything, but then when they induced me with her I was nowhere near ready for a natural labour, so I’m hoping that this time I might just cheat the induction….
So what are natural ways to start labour?
- Sex seems to be the biggest suggestion from everyone, which is convenient as it’s so the easiest thing to be doing when you’re the size of a house!
- Slightly easier but not everyone’s cup of tea is another suggestion that you hear more in whispers than being shouted about, and that’s oral sex. Something to do with the prostoglandins in semen working faster/better if they go into the digestive system rather than onto the cervix. Hmmmm, maybe. Sounds a bit like male propaganda to me, but who knows?!
- Pineapple. Eating it. Lots of it. The only problem being you need to eat about 7 to get the desired effect. I ate one whole one when pregnant with L and burnt my mouth something chronic. Do you know how acidic a pineapple is?!?
- Raspberry leaf tea or the tablet version. I tried taking the maximum of this from weeks 38 to 42 with L and it never did anything for me, but others swear by it. I’d say the jury is still out on it.
- When I had an antenatal check-up with my GP he suggested (along with lots of sex with hubs) that I have a couple of glasses of wine, now that was the best suggestion I’ve heard in a while. But after 9 months of sobriety, the two glasses I had in Pizza Express to celebrate the start of half term on Friday made me happily merry, which is not a bad thing. Although I’m sure I looked like the worst kind of mum, with my big bump and my glass of wine!
- Hot curries. Hubs is delighted as normally I’m all about the korma so there’s no sharing to be done in this house when it’s takeaway time. That all changed last week and he’s loving watching me sweat my way through the hot curries he loves to order.
- Walking. In the last week I have done two brisk 3 mile walks, and all they’ve done is tire me out.
- I even tried the Wii Dance with L and realised we really should get some net curtains, as I’m sure that wasn’t a pretty sight for the neighbours and passers-by!
There are many other old wives’ tales which I won’t list here, but so far nothing seems to be working here. We get the contractions. We get the back pain. We get all excited, thinking this is it. And then, nothing.
So it’s back to see the consultant tomorrow, another sweep and no doubt a date in the diary for an induction sometime before Friday. Until then you might see me pounding the streets of London, in between swigging wine and getting jiggy with it with hubs!
I am now 32 weeks pregnant and it has been such an interesting journey, comparing my pregnancy in France to my pregnancy here in the UK, so I thought I would share my comparisons of the two pregnancies.
Pregnancy N°1: The French One
When: March – December 2006
Where: St Vallier de Thiey, a village on the French Riviera, inland above Grasse and Cannes
- Permanent nausea 24/7 for the first three months.
- Permanent exhaustion 24/7 for the first three months.
- No real cravings, except wanting red wine whenever I saw a glass.
- Very low blood pressure (signed off work for this twice, in the first and last trimester.)
- Anaemic for most of the pregnancy.
- Stressful pregnancy, counting down each day.
- Horrific cankles (what are cankles?) from about month 4 until the birth.
- Weight gain of 13Kg (about 29lb) from start to finish, and a teeny tiny bump (this is me at nearly 42 weeks – excuse the highly unattractive photo!):
- A baby that I thought moved quite a lot.
- 45 minute commute door to door: driving from our home in the hills above Grasse to the office in the coastal town of Antibes.
- No ante-natal visits with midwives, all done with my gynaecologist/obstetrician.
- Virtually no ante-natal preparation/classes etc.
- Monthly appointments with my gynaecologist/obstetrician, with full weigh-in, blood pressure check and examination “down below”.
- Monthly blood tests in a separate lab for toxoplasmosis (more information about toxoplasmosis).
- Test for diabetes despite not being at risk.
- Scans offered at every monthly check-up if I wanted them, with 3 obligatory ones.
- Strict instructions given from the gynaecologist/obstetrician on what to avoid eating and drinking: no alcohol, no smoking, no raw meats or fish, no cheese made from unpasteurised milk, no foie gras, no shellfish, all meat to be cooked all the way through, all fruit and veg to be washed thoroughly etc.
- No mention of breast-feeding at all.
- An induced and very quick labour with epidural (more about that here) with the end result being a healthy little girl:
Pregnancy N°2: The English One
When: February – November 2012
- Very little nausea, and what I had was very easy to control.
- More tired than usual, but again it was easy to control.
- No real cravings, except wanting to eat lots of fresh fruit and having more of a sweet tooth than usual.
- Normal blood pressure.
- No problem with anaemia.
- A mostly stress-free pregnancy (except for the usual stresses and strains of daily life), with no big rush to get through it. This one has certainly whizzed by a lot faster.
- Cankles only making occasional appearances, when the UK weather is hot and when we were on holiday in sunny climes
- Weight gain of 9kg (about 20lb) so far and a much bigger bump, here I am at just 30 weeks this time round:
- A baby that doesn’t stop dancing. Ever. This is one active baby! I thought that L was a mover and shaker but this one beats her hands down.
- 45 minute commute door to door: a 7 minute walk to the tube station, an 18 minute ride on the Northern Line where I usually get given a seat, then a 7 minute walk the other side.
- All ante-natal visits carried out by different midwives at the local hospital where I will have this baby.
- Refresher NCT classes start tomorrow and I’m also doing hypnobirthing this time round. I’ll have more to report on that later…
- Fewer appointments than with L, I have been weighed once at the very start, my blood pressure is checked each time and to my amazement no one has ever examined me “down below”! This is the biggest shocker after pregnancy in France!!
- No mention of toxoplasmosis at all, except when I asked about it I was told that if I didn’t work on a farm then I shouldn’t worry about it. They did however tell me to wear gloves for gardening and for cleaning cat litter and to wash all fruit and veg thoroughly.
- No mention of a diabetes test.
- 2 scans at 12 and 20 weeks, plus an additional scan planned for 36 weeks to check the size of the baby as L was so tiny.
- A vague mention made of what to eat/avoid eating etc. Although during the first midwife appointment we did discuss alcohol and smoking.
- Breast-feeding talked about and the advantages clearly explained during a recent midwife appointment, despite me stating that I’m a huge advocate and that I breastfed L for 1 year and exclusively for 6 months, and that I fully intended to do it again.
- Hopefully a natural birth this time in a midwife-led suite in the local hospital, which I promise to report back on.
It is hard to say how much of the differences are because it is a second pregnancy, so the medical staff and B and I are more relaxed about the whole thing. Also for my pregnancy with L I had previously had a miscarriage so I’m sure that added a lot of stress as I wondered about my ability to carry a baby to term.
The biggest shocks for me are the fact that no one mentions anything about toxoplasmosis here, which is HUGE in France, both at check-ups/blood tests and when talking to other mums (I was always getting asked, “Tu as eu la toxo?” whenever discussing pregnancy with other women). The other thing that still amazes me is that no one has ever asked to look between my legs! Now I’m not a huge fan of a stranger poking and prodding about down there, but after that being such a regular occurrence at every single check-up for 9 months it France, it still astounds me that not one single person has looked down there yet! According to my UK mum friends this is common and you’ll only get looked at “down there” if you are overdue and need a sweep.
Fortunately I realised fairly quickly that no one was interested in what was going on in my knickers after my first check-up so I’ve stopped getting naked now for my appointments!
How did your pregnancies compare? Was it a boy/girl thing? A country comparison? An age comparison? I’d love to hear if you had any surprises with later pregnancies.
Apparently toxoplasmosis is a huge danger during pregnancy in France, but not in the UK.
What exactly is toxoplasmosis?
According to Wikipedia it is “a parasitic disease…the primary host is the felid (cat) family…those with a weakened immune system, such as…pregnant women, may become seriously ill, and it can occasionally be fatal.”
Interestingly most people I have discussed this with in the UK have never heard of it, and it’s certainly never discussed during antenatal appointments. On the other hand in France everyone woman who has ever been pregnant there knows all about it, and knows if they have had it or not.
Toxoplasmosis immunity works in a similar way to that of Rubella: once you’ve had the disease (or in the case of Rubella been vaccinated against it) you are immune and won’t get it again.
In France, before you get married you are obliged by law to have a whole load of blood tests, including HIV detection and for women Rubella and Toxoplasmosis immunity detection. Then if you consult a gynaecologist/obstetrician before you decide to start trying for a baby you will have these tests again. Finally when you go for your first antenatal check-up you will be sent off for these tests yet again.
If you are not immune to Toxoplasmosis (as was my case) you are then subjected to monthly blood tests to ensure you haven’t picked it up. So it is a fairly hot topic for pregnant women in France.
As this drove me crazy during my pregnancy with L I have spent the last 5 years attempting to catch the disease to avoid the monthly blood tests and stress during my second pregnancy. All that, potentially, in vain, as no one in the UK ever talks about toxo, and there’s no one here, medical or otherwise, who seems the least bit worried about the risk of me getting it during my pregnancy.
So what is that all about then? Are they over-cautious in France? Or not careful enough in the UK?