Durban - When I was pregnant with my first-born, a son born in the winter of 2011, I felt hyper – wanting to keep the same pace I always had at the office – and experiencing endless heartburn. No amount of antacids helped me with this.
I thought my first pregnancy was difficult, what with the heartburn, the fatigue. the teenage-type acne and the morning sickness. But being pregnant in spring when you have chronic sinusitis is hell. That’s what happened the second time around. I had three sinus infections in three trimesters.
I landed up in hospital at the end of the crucial first trimester – on a drip and receiving 10 days of drugs. My ENT doctor called the baby a parasite.
As taking medications such as decongestants, nasal steroids and antihistamines during pregnancy is tricky, all I could do was have daily saline douches, steam inhalations and use a nasal spray for a short period of time.
My sinuses were infected – my nose was surely bigger – but not a single medical professional around me would acknowledge a condition I had found during Google searches – pregnancy rhinitis. Apparently about 30 percent of pregnant women experience it.
Not that the recognition would have mattered anyway. Giving birth is the only cure.
In Your Pregnancy Bible, Dr Anne Deans confirms that nasal stuffiness and nosebleeds are a common pregnancy complaint because of high levels of progesterone and oestrogen that increase blood flow throughout the body and cause the lining of the nasal passages to become swollen. This leads to congestion and excess mucus production.
What that means is loads of tissues, a heavy heavy head, unattractive puffy eyes (still have those) and the most annoying of all, a blocked ear.
Post nasal drip also gave me a nasty cough. Ask any pregnant woman if anything feels worse than a cough when your abdomen and rib cage are expanding.
The odd thing about the endless sinus suffering is that it doesn’t really come across as a serious ailment to anyone who has never experienced it.
It may not be a life-threatening disease but it’s certainly debilitating and when you’re pregnant it’s not entirely in your control.
For all my other problems, there were “products”.
Instead of following a proper three-step skin care routine, and not really able to afford facials with the cost of nappies and school fees on my mind, I bought one really great face cream. It had a gigantic price tag for such a small bottle but was my only hope against hereditary pigmentation during and post pregnancy. It paid off.
I used the tried and tested stretch mark creams my mother had and learnt the hard way that it isn’t just your thighs and belly that expand.
Because I went into nesting mode weeks before my second son was born, and was always on my feet, they began to swell. I had sciatica. It is literally a pain in the butt… and back and the affected leg and foot.
I saw my gynaecologist each month and more regularly towards the end of my pregnancy, each time with a long list of symptoms, only to be told that since the baby was fine, so was I.
Every woman has a different pregnancy, a different set of symptoms. So many things to complain about.
And yet eventually you forget about them enough that you are prepared to do it all over again.