May 31, 2015

International Birth Stories – France

Welcome back to the International Birth Stories series.  If you’re just joining us, make sure you check out the other testimonies in the series: Australia, Germany, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, England, Djibouti, Northern Ireland, Brazil. This week we have Joy, with a birth story from France.

International Birth Stories

She delivered in a small town public hospital, with a public health department obstetrician.

International Birth Stories

Intro: What brought you to France?

My husband and I were in France for language school.

1.)  What surprised you about prenatal care in France?

They did internal checks at EVERY prenatal appointment.  Also, an ultrasound in each trimester was standard.  The modesty ideals were different as well.  I was asked to take off all my clothes for each appointment and not given anything to cover up with.  I don’t remember them doing urine checks routinely, if it all. 

 2) What surprised you about giving birth in France?

I was surprised by the lack of care for personal comfort or modesty.  For instance my water had broken before I arrived at the hospital, but I had not yet gone into labor.  I was asked to sit naked on a vinyl covered hospital bed with no sheets or any kind of pad to absorb the fluid for two hours while they did the admission paperwork.   Also, they expected me to be silent while in labor and were very pushy about giving me an epidural when I was, in their opinion, being too noisy.

3) What surprised you about post-natal care in France?

I was left for observation for 2 hours after birth in the delivery room.  No one came in and checked anything. Nothing was offered to help clean me up.  After a while I finally used those brown stiff paper towels from the sink area to try and absorb some of the fluids.  It was awful… I was freezing and messy and very uncomfortable and no one was “observing” anything.  We were left alone. 

Physical therapy is recommended to get your perineal area and vaginal muscles tightened back up after delivery.  You are expected to do all the baby care right from the beginning.  I don’t remember there even being a nursery.  The morning after giving birth at midnight, still very weak, I was woken up at 5 or 6 to go bathe my baby.  A long hospital stay is normal…up to a week. I had to fight to be released after 2 days.

4) Overall impression of pregnancy/birth culture

This was my fourth child and people here found that very odd.  I was offered an abortion several times throughout my pregnancy because they just could not seem to grasp that I actually wanted a fourth child.  The mother’s life was always considered more important than the child’s.  So for any sickness or pregnancy difficulty… an abortion was offered.  This really shocked me. 
 International Birth Stories

Stay tuned for another international birth story next week!

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Iulia is a former educator turned stay-at-home mama of a spunky toddler and a squishy infant. With a touch of sass and a good dose of self-deprecating humor, she has an ever-expanding repertoire of bloopers, insights, stories, and impassioned opinions to share. Iulia likes to think she has this parenting gig figured out, but her littles remind her daily just how far from the truth that is.

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    Reply Emily May 31, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Oh…not cool. Offered an abortion because it was her fourth child? I would call that fourth child a blessing…not something to get rid of.

    And skimping on the gowns, expecting her to be silent during labor, not cleaning her up? I have much to be thankful for with my birthing experiences!!
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    Reply bernadette June 1, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Not cool indeed. Can i know where it was? I’m curious about the experiences of my sisters in law. I am french living in the US, and i am wondering if they had similar experience, if we can generalize…

    Reply Steph June 1, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I so enjoy reading the differen experiences there are regarding child-birth around the world. This is not one I can say I would want for my own, though!
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    Reply Terri Presser June 2, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Sounds like we shouldn’t go to France to have our babies. Amazing to be offered abortions like that, and left alone without any way of cleaning up. Thanks for sharing this very insightful post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings
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    Reply Maria June 3, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Wow, this is indeed very shocking. Being offered an abortion because it is your fourth child is not something you’d expect from prenatal visits, neither is being left alone in hospital rooms and delivery rooms with no sign of care or monitoring. That’s both insensitive and extremely careless, if you ask me. I wonder if the experience is different in a private hospital (is there even such a thing in France?) or could it be that this is the norm France in general.
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    Reply Alyssa Thys June 3, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    That does not sound like a pleasant experience at all! So sorry 🙁
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    Reply Stephanie June 11, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Wow. I don’t even know how I would react to all that. Interesting to see how things can be so drastically different.
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    Reply Daffny June 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Wow. This one shocked me. I wonder if a bigger (or even different) city or a private hospital would have offered more personal care.

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