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An Expat Talks about What is Was Like Having a Baby in La Rochelle, France

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

La Rochelle

How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?

2007

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...

I had all three of my children in France between 1997 and 2007, the first two with a saddle block and the last by natural birthing methods. The last experience was by far the best. While I would now say that the French tend to be overly medical and scientific about it all, on the other hand this is an excellent country to have children. The entire system is very smooth, fully paid for by French social security, and you can get all of the preparation you want with a private midwife, and/or through birthing classes. The overly medical aspect tends to make birthing seem like something incredibly risky and difficult, they sometimes are so busy warning you about possible dangers they forget to tell you the vast majority of births go just fine. But when they don't, you can be sure everybody is fully prepared to face emergencies. As someone else metioned, you are mostly assisted by highly experienced midwives during labor, with an occasional helping hand by the OB/GYN. I had prepared with natural methods and homeopathy for my last baby, and was alone to give birth in the maternity ward with two midwives at hand! No pain relievers, I had chosen to bear it out, and it was painful for a while, but then delivery began and it was such a wonderful experience to feel the contractions and push just like mother nature planned. There is no comparison with delivering with a saddle block, where you need to be coached into the pushing. Anyway, for those who are considering having a baby in France, fear not and do so. They usually keep you 4 or 5 days for the first child, and you can go home after 3 days for the others. When baby is born, you get plenty of help and advice on baby care and breast feeding, they really walk you through the entire process.

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How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

My gynecologist took care of me for the first 3 months, then referred me to an OB/GYN at the public hospital for the rest of the pregnancy. I originally chose my gynecologist through word of mouth.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

See above. Natural birthing, traditional preparation, ranging from breathing and posture exercises to preparation of the perineum (massaging with oils), to homeopathy or other plants in the last month of pregnancy to make delivery more effective. As mentioned, I tried a full range of natural methods during the last month and delivered in just four hours, whereas my first two both took nearly 48 hours to pop out with the saddle block and required an episiotomy to boot. As I said, no comparison.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Do take advantage of the full range of preparation options offered by French social security. Do have the monthly visits and ultrasounds, do check into your chosen hospital starting on the 4th month. Make sure you get your paperwork with social security in order. Do trust the midwives - they definitely know their stuff. Don't get hung up on the possible dangers and the guilt laid on you for gaining too much weight (in my case, 50 lbs. + for each baby, but I lost all of it afterwards and still fit into my "before kids" jeans at age 45!).

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Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in France from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
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If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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