What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?
Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...
France uses a more "medicalised" approach to birth than the UK or the US. Up-sides to this were:
- I had regular scans, and the very latest technology was made available to me.
- I was monitored closely, given monthly blood tests to check for infection; Group B Strep was thus detected before birth.
- When my baby contracted an infection, he was immediately placed under treatment before he even fell noticeably ill.
Down-sides to this approach were:
- I was given hormones to speed-up labour.
- I was talked into having an epidural.
- I had an "invasive" exam each month of my antenatal care (although this wasn't really a big deal).
Because of my baby's infection, I spent 10 days in the hospital, rooming in with him. Normally, a French stay is about 5 days for a normal birth and 8 after a C-section. I had a private ensuite room and the midwives were very kind.
However, babies are not treated as individuals in France: they are expected to feed once every 4 hours, no more, no less. When he dropped too much weight, I had to fight to prevent them from "supplementing" him with formula.
I didn't share the French ideology about birthing, routines and feeding, but when my baby's weight went up again and his infection began clearing, they left me to do as I pleased. I did feel that they always had mine and my son's medical interests at heart.
Follow-up care was excellent. There is quite a long hospital stay during which I was well cared-for. You are also entitled to physio sessions for your pelvic floor, and you can attend a drop-in clinic (PMI) to monitor your baby's weight, growth, and see a doctor, free of charge.
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How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?
You need to register your pregnancy before 14 weeks. Then you go to the local hospital, where you are assigned a mid-wife. She or he then sees you once a month until birth, and then for follow-up appointments afterward.
If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?
I felt very happy with care before and after birth. The only thing I would do differently is stand my ground about having hormones and an epidural.
If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?
To take advantage of the high quality care, the single rooms, the number of midwives available, but to ignore all advice about feeding schedules, sleeping routines etc. I also threw away the vitamin K and flouride supplements once we got home.