Pregnant in Paris, France
It was a hot summer day in Paris when we found out that we were expecting our primier bébé (first baby)…just two months after I visited the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse. We were pleasantly surprised with this blessing, but admittedly, we were not prepared for unimaginable French procedures and paperwork that we were about to face. As if standing for three hours outside the Prefécture de Police to apply for the Titre Sejour is not enough torture!
So, if you are pregnant in France, and with limited French at that… I hope this blog post will help you. I learned everything the hard way and it is not a pretty situation to be in when your morning sickness is in full swing. I will tell you upfront that there’s a lot to do…but all of them are manageable. I have outlined them below for you in sequence, as I know a pregnant mind is totally fuzzy sometimes and you can’t even understand why…hehehe! Here goes:
1. Confirm Your Pregnancy
|So first things first…are you really pregnant?! There’s only one way to know – you must schedule a rendez-vous (appointment) with your médecin generalist (general physician). I am not sure if other generalists do it the same way as mine, but I was asked to go to the laboratory for a series of tests sanguins (blood tests) that are routinely given to pregnant women. She also scheduled me for an échographie (ultrasound) before my 3rd month. And because I have a history of thyroid problems, she also referred me to an endocrinologue (endocrinologist) so my thyroid will be monitored. So be sure to be thorough in declaring your health history to your generalist because she will be the one who’ll endorse you to a specialist if you need one.
Should you need an English-speaking médecin generalist in Paris, you may want to try Dr. Julia Bache who has a cabinet medicale (clinic) at 5 rue Léon Cogniet 75017 Paris. An appointment is necessary, so please call her secretary at 01 47 63 42 07 well in advance.
Should you need an English-speaking endocrinologue, who is also an OB gynecologist – a very good combination if you’re thyroid acts up while you’re pregnant, you may want to try Dr. Violaine Guerin who has a cabinet medicale (clinic) at 31 rue Chazelles 75017 Paris. An appointment is also necessary, so please call her secretary at 01 45 72 25 05 to secure a schedule.
2. Register Your Pregnancy
|After your médecin generalist confirms your pregnancy, you will be given a Primier Examen Médical Prénatal (First Prenatal Exam) , which you will use for your Declaration de Grossesse (Declaration of Pregnancy). You need to mail out the “pink” form to the Securite Sociale L’Assurance Maladie and the “blue” form to the Centre Allocations Familiales. It is best to make sure that you mail out these forms before your 14th week of pregnancy, as this is what they request. However, I mailed mine way after my 14th week and have not encountered any problem. Hehe!
The Security Social gives more information in this link.
3. Register in Your Preferred Hospital
|I made sure that I registered as soon as possible to my preferred hospital because I was warned by my doctor that spaces do fill up fast. So, how do you actually choose the best hospital for you? I used the maman.fr website to search for the Top des Maternités (Best/Top Maternities) in my area. A lot of moms who gave birth provided feedback in the maternity hospitals they went to, and the feedback were used to rate the maternity hospitals. It was a great resource for people like me who is new to France and would like an overall idea on how a certain maternity hospital fares as compared with the rest.
I eventually decided to register at C.A.S.H. de Nanterre – Hopital Max Fourestier and I have nothing but praises for them! Everyone in that hospital was lovely and accommodating!!! I had a great birth experience! They advocate natural child birth and supports breastfeeding. I must warn you, though, that the hospital itself doesn’t look modern, and cannot compare to the beautiful hospitals of Paris…but the service is superb! They were rated as the next best hospital to go to after the American Hospital in Paris…and that says a lot!
Should you want to read about the feedback on Hopital Max Fourestier, click this link. The reviews are in French, but I managed to understand them with the help of Google Translate…hahaha! :)
4. Obtain Your Hospital Checklist
|Usually, hospitals will give you a checklist of what you need to bring when you go in to give birth. Each hospital has a different list of requirements so make sure to ask for this list so you can prepare it well in advance.|
5. Prepare for the Birth
|It goes without saying that it is very important to show up for all your check-ups and ultrasounds throughout the whole nine months. Some would also enroll in classes especially geared for pregnant women. Too bad I wasn’t able to do this because I was sooo lazy! Hehehe! On top of these things, I highly recommend the following:|
|a. Prepare a Birth Plan
Since you’re in France and probably does not speak fluent French, you may want to prepare a birth plan in French so you and your sage-femme (midwife) will come to an understanding on what you want to happen in the birthing room. Of course, birth plans cannot be followed to the letter if there are medical emergencies, so keep an open mind all throughout your labor and delivery.
|b. Sign up for Message Paris
This was probably the best move I ever did…sign up for Message Paris! It’s an organization of English-speaking moms in Paris which provides an excellent resource in terms of pregnancy, childbirth, raising kids, marriage, and basically everything you may want to know about raising a family in Paris, France! They have a great forum and you can just ask away! They organize a lot of activities, too, for the whole family. Simply said, Message Paris is a dream organization for moms in Paris!
Whew! I hope you are not overwhelmed! It is a lot of work, really, but everything is doable! You have nine months anyway…hehehe! I hope I was able to help you easily ease through the whole brouhaha of being pregnant in Paris, France in one way or another. Should you need a sample birth plan in French, just send me a message and I’ll be glad to share mine. :)