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Pregnant in France - any advice?

(85 Posts)
googietheegg Sun 03-Apr-11 09:58:35

Hi all, just found out I'm pregnant with DC1 (yay!!) and I live in France, in 11. Has anyone got any advice as to what I do next?! I think I'm about 3/4 weeks, so how soon do I go to my doctor? Will he think I'm a wally if I go this week or should I wait a bit longer?

Huge thanks in advance - it's all a bit daunting and I can't ask anyone.

frenchfancy Sun 03-Apr-11 13:24:30

Don't go to your GP, make an appointment to see your gynocologist.

I think my first apt was at about 6 wks, and she has her own scanning machine so she did a scan there and then.

jenpet Sun 03-Apr-11 13:39:11

Well, I'd say go to your GP! It depends if you get on with him/her of course, but mine was great, explained all my options and the system, set everything up for me as I wanted it etc.

googietheegg Sun 03-Apr-11 13:52:24

Thank you both - my GP is quite a nice fellow, and the gyne I've seen before is a miserable old bag, so maybe I'll go to the doctor's first - how long should I wait until I go?

What happens next?! Any ideas, wise people?!

jenpet Sun 03-Apr-11 13:58:24

After blood tests I imagine you will be sent to the clinique or hospital where you are likely to have the baby for a first (dating) scan and chat with the obstetrician.
DS2 is only 2.7 but it feels like so long ago! Your GP will explain everything to you I'm sure. You do need a "carnet de maternite" too...

Weta Sun 03-Apr-11 14:41:19

If you hate your gyne then you should find another one (fine to go to GP first though). You need to find someone on your wavelength for the birth ie if your gynecologist will also be the obstetrician.

Congratulations and do come back if you have any more questions! The French system is much more medicalised than the UK one, so depending where you fit on the natural/medicalised birth spectrum that may be something you have to work through...

BriocheDoree Sun 03-Apr-11 14:59:14

I was seen by my GP until 7 months! Didn't see a gyne at all...just transferred to the hospital at 7 months.

BTW received your PM but haven't replied yet as I'm trying to dig out the file. It was about 3 years ago, sorry!

SnapFrakkleAndPop Sun 03-Apr-11 15:23:42

I went to my GP who prescribed blood tests, then it was mad rush to get scans booked, saw gynae once at 20 weeks otherwise on midwife led care. But I found out later than you grin

Stuff gets done early in France - you have to send forms to the CAF and the CGSS before 14 weeks. You may also need to book into a maternité pdq so start researching and find a nice gynae!

It is by default v medicalised but it doesn't have to be. I think I'm doing remarkably well at avoiding excessive interference so far although to me it does seem a lot! Still other people seem to have more of everything!

I think you're the third recently pg in France, must be something in the water!

You can ask us.

SnapFrakkleAndPop Sun 03-Apr-11 15:27:29

Ooopd pressed post!

You can ask us. There's lots of French MNers/people who've given birth here and I think we almost universally appreciate it's not the most transparent system in the world. Better to ask and get it right than muddle through and end up in a pickle and then think to ask MN!

googietheegg Sun 03-Apr-11 16:33:44

Great - thanks for all that. I think I'll go to the GP this week then, and see what he says. Or do you think I should wait a bit?

Can you tell me what the CAF and the CGSS actually do? And what is a maternite?

Is it true that you have to book into a hospital in advance? What if it's not on time?!

TBH I'm really comfortable with a more medicalised approach - the touchy feely stuff isn't really my bag, although sometimes the French can be a little too brusque!

SnapFrakkleAndPop Sun 03-Apr-11 17:46:46

Maternité - maternity clinic or unit at the hospital. They have different levels depending on how high risk you are/medical backup you want. Yes, you do have to 'book I'm at sone if them fir around your EDD so they know how many they can cope with or you might end up being sent away like one of my ante-natal group because they had no space and she had to go 30km away!

CGSS sort out your 100% health coverage (not that you'll notice if you have a good mutuelle) from 6 months and they also pay your maternity leave pay. If you don't have that sorted you theoretically get no maternity pay, although they will rush it through if necessary, but the backlog is big!

CAF is child benefit etc. You'll need to give them a lot of information and they may or may not give you money.

The medicalisation isn't so much not being touchy-feely (you can have v touchyfeely medics!) as insisting you need 20 squillion blood tests, monthly internals etc. One clinic I went to visit said 'and when you arrive we do an internal, hook you up to an IV, give you the epidural, you lie down and you have 10 hours before we give you a syntocin drip to speed things up, you can push for 40 minutes and then we intervene...'.

The idea that I might not want an epidural seemed entirely alien. The presumption is you'll have every drug and probably every intervention going. And if you want to BF ask what their policy is on that and whether they have any lactation consultants (unlikely but possible).

SnapFrakkleAndPop Sun 03-Apr-11 17:47:41

Book in at some of them hmm

googietheegg Sun 03-Apr-11 17:51:28

Thank you snap, hugely appreciated. Do you think I should see my GP this week?

culturemulcher Sun 03-Apr-11 17:55:48

Best bit of advice I can give is to join MESSAGE straight away. It's an online group, very much like a french mumsnet, but english speaking, smaller and more active. You'll get fantastic advice on everything birth and baby related - even down to help with odd bits of vocab you may need or which brands are better.

I had two babies in france and would have found the whole thing very stressful without all the practical help and advice I got from Message. Invaluble!

Their book - I think it's called the ABC of motherhood in France - (or something!) is really worth having too as it explains all the different systems you'll come across with sage femmes, gynos, hospitals, clinics, pmi-s, etc.

BizzeeBee Sun 03-Apr-11 18:04:29


I am currently pregnant in France. I went to see my GP when we were TTC and she said to call up and get a prescription for a blood test when I had missed a period. I did that and then went back to see the GP after I had deciphered that the blood test result was positive. At that appointment the GP then gave me a prescription to get the first set of blood tests done where they test for everything.

After that I went to see a mid-wife. I just called her up and arranged to see her, and was seeing her about once a month. The hospital where I am giving birth have taken over the mid-wife care from the seventh month.

I called my chosen hospital relatively early to find out how soon I needed to get booked in to reserve a place. I think I was able to reserve after my 12th week. Don't delay calling - if you are too early they will let you know when to call.

When I saw the mid-wife for the first time at about 7 weeks she gave me the paperwork for the CAF and CPAM.

The CAF might give you money so it is in your interest to do the paperwork. It's been a bit of pain because they want to know lots of stuff on your income. I've even had to send copies of mine and DH's employment contracts. They also called me to find out if I was properly employed on a French contract or if I was just on secondment from a British company.

The CPAM (is that what I call CGSS? it is where I took the other bit of the form) want the form so they can put on your profile that you are pregnant. Remember to go to a pharmacy or similar to update your carte vitale at some point. Then the card knows you are pregnant so everything is fully reimbursed after the 6th (?) month.

Hope this helps a bit!

culturemulcher Sun 03-Apr-11 18:04:34

Don't forget if you have a good mutuelle you can sign yourself up with the best OB around... I found the pregnancy care in France was amazing, and was shocked when I heard friends' experiences in the UK. The French birth experience was much as SnapFrakkleandPop described.

SnapFrakkleAndPop Sun 03-Apr-11 18:11:02

One more random handy tip - the French count pregnancy as 41 weeks. It took me a while to figure out why I have 2 EDDs and I'm confusing my ante-natal thread about when baby is due because I work by the French EDD but am currently 38 weeks, so everyone else feels a week closer! I'm still not entirely sure which to believe myself...kinda hoping it'll be next weekish but realistically 1st babies are late so officially the French are more likely to be right!

culturemulcher Sun 03-Apr-11 18:15:34

Snap the 41 week thing confused me too, but if it helps, my two DCs were both a week 'early' by the French system.

SnapFrakkleAndPop Sun 03-Apr-11 18:22:58

<grabs lifeline, clings>

I'm a teensy bit fed up with being pregnant, but DH has to get home first. It's just so flipping HOT (am in a DOM) and uncomfortable.

Still pessimistically going for their date though.

But yes, googie, don't be confused, you are not mad!

bunnyfrance Mon 04-Apr-11 07:21:07

Congratulations on your pregnancy, googie! There are a number of us in France either expecting or who have had children here. I'm expecting my second in August, DS born in France in 2009.

It'll be a fun ride grin, try not to read too much about what care you get in the UK, as it's totally different here and best not to compare. You'll be well looked after!

googietheegg Mon 04-Apr-11 13:52:06

Thank you all so much for this - I don't feel quite so alone!

Is message just for people in Paris? I'm in 11, so miles away, but it sounds really helpful.

Yes, I have a mutuelle, but I think it's a pretty basic cover, so what do you think that means?

And bizzee when you say you just called up your midwife, how did you know who to call?! Are they just in the phone book or does your GP tell you?

And how/when did you all tell your families? They won't guess as they won't be here, although various people are visiting in June, so we'll have to time it right so no one gets offended that we told someone else first! Aaaah, the family soap opera of living in another country just got even harder didn't it!?!

SnapFrakkleAndPop Mon 04-Apr-11 13:58:26

We told our parents when we saw them very soon after finding out.

I would upgrade your mutuelle if you can afford it but check what cover you have at the moment. We had quite a basic level (both fit and healthy) and whacked it up to cover a sage-femme liberale if we wanted and making sure baby was covered during/from birth.

Your GP will probably give you a list but you can find SF liberales in the phone book. I called a couple but didn't really get on with them and then my hospital MW was really nice anyway! Ask if they do a suivi globale/integrale at the hospital - then you see the same person/2 people all the way through, they do your ante-natal class and hopefully one will be on duty when you're in labour.

LillianGish Mon 04-Apr-11 14:03:05

I had both my dcs in Paris. Went to see GP who was mystified as to why we'd bothered - he told us the check straight in to our hospital of choice which was easier said than done as all the best ones were booked up - Parisians appear to check in as soon as they are a day late and then cancel if it comes to nothing!

Re the different dates, I find the French system much more logical. Basically if you haven't given birth by their date they will induce you.

I must say I loved giving birth in France and had an absolutely fabulous experience on both occasions. My advice would be to go to the ante-natal classes at the hospital where you plan to give birth and go with the flow. The French have a much more medicalised approach to pregnancy and birth than the British which is not what I would have chosen, but which turned out to be rather fabulous.

BriocheDoree Mon 04-Apr-11 14:53:47

Message is nominally for people in Ile-de-France - i.e. most of the toddler groups, etc and activites are based in Ile-de-France, but there are plenty of members who aren't in or around Paris.

googietheegg Mon 04-Apr-11 14:59:42

I've just ordered the ABC book from message, and then looked at joining and didn't realise the cost includes the book. Duurh!

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