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Thursday, March 22, 2012

having a baby in france


I think it is more natural here.  Maybe it was my doctor that I choose?!?  Or the fact that they have Midwives assigned to every woman rather than OB Nurses?

Little Miss's birth story...

I had Gestational Diabetes (for Little Man's Pregnancy as well).  I was controlled (i.e. no medical issues nor a big weight gain - I gained 8 pounds total for the pregnancy) but my doctor was worried Little Miss would be a large baby like Little Man (9 lbs 8oz) and we also had an abnormal result on one of the ultrasounds.  So we had an induction scheduled for a date in mid October.

My Midwife gave me some tricks that I could do induce labor naturally as I really wanted to experience a spontaneous birth (I was also induced with Little Man)...but nothing seemed to work :-(

So we went in for our scheduled induction date.  At noon I was 2 cm so they broke my water to induce labor rather than start Pitocin.  I was getting some contractions but I did not dilate any more from them.

At 1pm the Midwife started me on the Pitocin.  After 20 mins on it I started to have real contractions (mild).  She asked how I was doing and check me again...I was at 4cm.  She said if I was ok she would get lunch (30 mins max) and if I wanted to get my epidural we could start it when she returned (we discussed that I would want a light one since the doctor informed me Little Miss would be just as big as Little Man was).  I agreed but after 20 mins I was in severe pain.

The epidural was ordered and when the Midwife returned the Anesthesiologist was there to start the epidural (I was still only 4 cm).  I was only pain free for 10 mins because Little Miss was on her way and it was time to push.  My Midwife was amazed that I had progressed so fast!  I was just at 4cm - 10 mins ago, we only just started everything 2 hours and 20 mins ago and the bag of Pitocin was only 1/3 done!

She called the doctor over from the clinic across the street.  She said I could push if I needed to in the meantime.  And if he wasn't here she could do it.  I waited for the first few pushes...but once he was in the room I started to push.  He just had the time to remove his watch and wash his hands and Little Miss was on her way into this world ;-)  My husband recalls I only pushed once but I remember it very differently haha!  I do agree that it was definitely less than 10 minutes of pushing for sure.

Little Miss
The major thing like I said earlier is that it is more natural here.  My doctor preferred that I did not have an epidural...but we both agreed if I did want one that I would receive a light one to help with the labor pains but where I would still know when it was time to push.  And MAN did I ever feel the need to push.  I also did with Little Man...but this was a different feeling.  There was a burning that I had not felt with Little Man.  Also, I KNOW I had a very light epidural because afterwards I needed a local anesthesia for the sutures.

I wish I had known how fast it would have been because I probably would have skipped the epidural all together.  From the moment my water was broken till Little Miss's delivery it was only 2 hours and 40 minutes and she was ONLY 8 lbs 4oz which is NOTHING compared to 9 lbs 8oz ;-)!

Another example of it being more natural here is that my doctor assisted more manually with getting Little Miss's head out.  I felt that in the US my doctor just reached for the knife way too quickly.  I don't even think the French doctor even cut me at all!  He allowed for natural stretching and tearing.  I did have a lot of stitches but that is normal with the majority of deliveries (no more than in the US).

Here is a pic of our view from the hospital room ;-)  YES the Eiffel Tower!
The after care was basically the same.  After a few hours they moved us into our room.  The care was about the same.  They checked on the baby for the post diabetes check ups around the same times they did in the US for Little Man.  They checked my temperature, legs, wound etc...throughout our stay.  They checked the baby once a day, They gave us some basic infant care instructions, feed me and assisted with breastfeeding.

The differences were:
  • They did not allow me to bathe the baby or myself for 24 hours!  GROSS...they just wanted us to relax and rest.  I see the reason but I did not want Little Man to see us with blood all over ourselves.
  • They did not have a Breastfeeding Consultant on staff.  It was just the nurses who could give you tips but not someone dedicated to it.
  • We had to pay extra for a single room (which is the same in the US) BUT there were a few differences in types of rooms (we do have a secondary insurance who paid for a portion approximately 40%).  Some of the singles did not have pull out couches for the fathers (if we opted for the smaller rooms the our secondary might have paid the entire cost).  We opted for the more expensive one with the bed.  It was 300 euros per day (day not night)!  Needless to say we did not stay long (2 nights/3 days) CAN stay up to 6 but we did not need it nor wanted to waste the money.  When we could do just fine at home in our own bed.
  • The cost of delivering a baby.  In the US I did not pay a dime because I had great insurance.  But the insurance's total cost in the US for the hospital and all doctors involved was $28,000 (more than my college eduction by the way!).  Here the total paid to everyone was 3500 euros!  I am not sure if the hospital received more money via their bills directly to the gov't but I believe this is everything they get.  So the hospital received 900 euros (3 days x 300 euros), OB/Midwife 1900+ euros, Pediatrician 53 euros x 2 visits and Anesthesiologist 500+ euros!  I will go into greater detail on how the French Health Care system works in another post.
That's about it!

I loved my experience and would do it again (IF we were planning on having another...which we are NOT! ;-)

What was your birth experience like?  Did you have a child in France (if so share your story about France being more natural or not...I'm curious if it was just the doc I choose)?  If you had a second child, did you find the labor/delivery to go by faster/smoother? What was the approximate costs for having a baby in your area?  Any questions feel free to ask...



  1. Is breastfeeding more common there? Maybe they don't have dedicated lactation because most nurses have common knowledge about it?

    Also, both my births in the US involved the doctor stretching and massaging the assist in getting baby's head out. For my first, my female doc just pushed the skin like you would push your cuticles back. With my second, my male doc pushed his fingers between my tissue and the baby's head to and it felt like he was much rougher. Then again, my 2nd delivery, I had a LOT of breakthrough pain so maybe it was the same but I just couldn't feel it the 1st time.

    Great story! Very interesting to hear what it's like abroad :)

  2. Carly,

    Yes BF is common here. It's possible about that nurses can help. They did in the US as well. They do have consultants but mostly through La Leche League and organizations like that.

    For my first I also had an epidural but they gave me a strong one. My doctor here on our first appointment said that they don't do Epidurals systematically. Some docs I guess I'm glad he gave me a light one...I think it made pushing a lot faster and the delivery progressed faster. But every baby's delivery is different. Little Miss was smaller and seemed to want to come right out vs. Little Man was huge and it took him an hour of pushing!

  3. Hi TN,
    My neighbour recommended us her OB/Gyne. She is really expensive, always late (waiting an hour or more for each appointment) and in a rush. But we stayed with her because I wanted a female OB and I love her midwife. Our midwife just worked with this OB.
    After our first child, we sweared we would never go back to this OB. But I got pregnant 10months later and since we love Adela our midwife, we went back to our old OB. We brought lots of reading materials and joked around in her waiting room.
    For the first child, my birth plan did not go as planned. I did not even do a my birth plan for the second one. Adela knew that I wanted to avoid C-sect at all cost and also be epidural free. I nearly had C-sect for the first child. OB insisted. Lack of patience? Adela asked for 15 extra mins and A1 came out with forceps. His head was too big for me.
    For the second child, Adela and I worked towards my goal. I reached the clinic at 4.30am and A2 came out at 5.15am. No epidural and I enjoyed it. OB reached at 5.05am and it was Adela who did most of the work. OB got 2000€ and Adela 700€. I wish Adela got paid more. Many months ago, midwives were protesting in the streets and I totally empathised with them.
    When I had my first child, I told hubby, no more kids. After the second child, I don't mind doing it again. But like you, we are stopping at two. :D

  4. For Little Man we used the Vacuum Extractor (not forceps but similar). It was that or a C-Section...we went with the lesser evil ;-) Then with Little Miss it was a breeze. It didn't feel like it at the time but 2h 40m is nothing in the scheme of things. And yes no more I'm closed ;-)

  5. Wonderful story....
    Since we did the natural way over here I did a lot of research and I found that most European countries have a much more natural approach and some countries UK included really encourage home birth.
    Interesting the differences....
    My midwife did massage etc and she said the only reason I tore was because LA tried to be born with her hand on her face and she had to adjust that so her arm wasn't broken on delivery OR I wasn't torn badly... otherwise I'd have had nothing.

    So glad it went so well!