I never planned or had the desire to write up my pregnancy in France explaining how things are different or not different here. And this being my fourth pregnancy, I’ll surely leave out the interesting bits as they are not so interesting the fourth time around. There are women who love being pregnant; I am not one of them. I do love my children and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to make my own people. So when it gets to the last couple of gestate-able weeks (as it now has emerged), I’d like to get on with it and start the three months of zombiedom while the cross-eyed little eating sleeping machine gets to know his or her body outside the womb. But since sitting is what I should try to find time to do, here are a few interesting things I’ve learned while being pregnant in France.
The Fat Test: When you think you might be pregnant and go looking for a stick to pee on, you’ll quickly find “le test de grossesse.” Yet in your condition, your weak grasp on French vocabulary and despite the other clues (ovulation tests, baby bottles) you leave the store empty handed thinking how weird it is that French woman have a test to see if you’re fat.
Toxo: Every month blood is taken and tested for toxoplasmosis. They do this once in America right at the beginning of prenatal care. Here in France, they are hardcore. Every time I visit the OB/GYN, he sends me to get a blood draw. In America, instead of a blood draw, I’d pee in a cup. America was much more focused on gestational diabetes. France does glucose tests occasionally with two fasting-drink-yucky-sugar-wait tests.
Weight Gain: meh. Same recommendation really (around 25 pounds or so). In the first trimester I gained weight rapidly so the doctor told me to stop eating sugar. Which worked like a charm. If my doctors had told me that with my previous three pregnancies, I may have gained less weight. As it went along in America, my weight gain was never mentioned because my blood sugar tests were normal to low. With this baby, my weight gain has been dramatically lower than with the other three pregnancies. The baby, however, is growing about the same, which gives me this basketball under the shirt look I’ve not seen on myself before.
What Not To Eat: Over the last eight years, the diet restrictions for pregnant ladies has grown. The list I received in America for what fish not to eat was so long and confusing that most pregnant ladies don’t eat any fish. And all French food is totally out. With its soft cheeses and fancy deli meat. So what do the French doctors tell the French pregnant ladies? No salad. No cigarettes. No wine (alcohol). So this baby got soft cheeses, dried deli meat (without nitrates) and a lot of foie gras. As an interesting side note, since I didn’t eat much sugar (this includes rice and pasta as they truly are sugars) I skipped a common pregnancy issue of bleeding gums.
Everything else during my pregnancy has been great and very similar to the American prenatal regime. I’ve met with the anesthesiologist and I’m already checked into the hospital. I feel very well looked after. I’ll do a pregnancy part two to see how the end game compares to America. France’s healthcare system is fantastic, so it’ll be interesting to contrast any differences.
… I’m totally up for questions! If there’s anything you’re curious about.