Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

This week I talk to Claire who is English and has 2 daughters, both of which, were born in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your daughters and where did you have them?

Hi, my name is Claire, I am currently 45 years old. I moved here with my then-boyfriend at the end of 2004 with no idea we would still be here and married in 2021! I had my children a while ago they are 9 and 11 now, but they were both quite different birth experiences that might be helpful to share. We are both English and have been living in France for 16 years now, 5 years at the time of our first child. Both of the girls were born in France and have always gone to the local school in the village so are bi-lingual.

I studied embroidery at university and create beautiful (if I say so myself) felt wall hangings. As these sadly don’t pay the bills yet I am also a chef for private clients, weddings, and large corporate events. Since last march and the ‘new-world’ we now find ourselves living in where events don’t happen I have had to get creative and diversify so I have started a sock website.

Why did you have your children abroad?

We were living here, and it never occurred to me to go ‘home’ to have them.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

I have never had children in another country, so have nothing to compare it to. After talking to friends back in the UK and their experiences I would say the postnatal care in France is better. I was surprised there were no NCT equivalent groups here, I thought this would be a sure way to meet some local people and integrate more, but all the prenatal appointments were one on one with a midwife. My postnatal care was good, there are midwives for the mothers and separate ones for the babies, you have your own room so you can recover with the ‘peace’ of just your own baby (this was not private care). I was also given a prescription for 10 sessions with a physio to re-train my pelvic muscles…so can now jump on a trampoline! The other benefit, well hopefully for them that is although they have English parents they are bi-lingual, surely that can only be a plus?

Not benefits as such but a little history… with both of my pregnancies I had gestational diabetes that I had to control with insulin, but it led to very different ends….

My first got too big so they decided to induce her 2 weeks early, this, in turn, led to an emergency cesarean. At the time they kept the emergency bit from me and in-fact I only found out 2 years later during my first appointment with my second! Perhaps they didn’t want to worry me? Apparently, she was having breathing difficulties so they wanted to get her out, I figured it was 18h and the surgeon wanted to get home for dinner, well it is France after all… Something perhaps to be aware of is fathers are not allowed into the theatre for the operation, so you are on your own. I stayed in hospital for 7 days after, and the midwives were fantastic especially in the first few days when I was struggling to walk.

With my second she was smaller, so they left her to term. She was born very quickly 20 mins after my waters broke at home in a building site with no water into the arms of my husband! The pompier eventually turned up and then the paramedics. I was sent to hospital as a precaution…thank god! My stomach was very sore and a 6 km journey took us 40 mins as they had to go so slowly. My experience with the midwives here was not so good, but I discovered my French is quite good when in pain and angry. I was told off for not having delivered the placenta already (what did I know), surely the pompier/paramedics should have done this? Luckily however that they didn’t, I was in severe pain, worse than the un-expected drug-free birth. The midwife was very un-caring telling me not to be so pathetic, anyhow digress. Long and short of it is that I had haemorrhaged internally as she came out so quickly and I had a thin layer of skin literally saving my life. I was rushed into the operating room and stayed in hospital 10 days recovering. Said midwife did apologise a few days later saying in her career of 30 years she had never seen that before, well hopefully she has passed on her newly gained knowledge/experience to others.

I guess I just wanted to share that no two births are ever the same, but it is so important that you believe in yourself and what your body is telling you and to make yourself heard even if you shout it in your own language until they understand.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was always terrified of giving birth, and I guess my main frustration was with myself not being able to communicate properly my feelings to the midwives and doctors.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

I have no experience with my own country, so can’t really comment. Only real observation was after the births, it turned out my second was blw (I had no idea what that was before her), which they just did not understand at the creche so insisted on feeding her puree that she continued to spit out.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

As I said above, listen to your body, and make yourself heard. For example, with number 2 I knew I was diabetic again but they wouldn’t listen to me before 5 months so I did the best I could to control it with diet before they would test.



Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com

Why my daughter’s photo is now online

When BiP was born it was decided that she would remain anonymous to the outside world. She was given the pseudonym of BiP (Baby in Provence) – she’s been anonymous for almost 9 years. BiP is Ziva.

For a couple of years Ziva has wanted her own YouTube channel where she wanted to do bilingual French and English toy demonstrations. It was her who wanted to be on the internet, so I said no.

It was a genius idea at first, but I was always too scared to release her to the the whole social media world where she would be torn down for everything. I also never wanted to use her for my own professional gain.
Social media is a thing, how we use is it key – kids have no place really but they have eyes and ears everywhere!

Every school and after-school activity asked for permission to share her photos and I said “no”…. I never realised that she would be singled out when it came to certain group photos because I’d ticked that box that said NO to photos.

One day Ziva turned to me and said “Mummy? Do you not share my photo because I’m not beautiful?” – I died.

I’m not a crazy poster, I guess that working in social media will kill your appetite for it, but when Ziva asked for the 100th time after knowing all the implications and still be ok I had to honor her request. She’s still not allowed to have her own social media accounts but I’m going to stop telling her to turn around every time I want to share a photo with her in it.

So this now you can all see is my greatest achievement, my biggest challenge and my best teacher xx


A Unique Gift: Modern Map Art

BiP recently received a customised star map with her name, birth date, GPS coordinates of her birth place and a star map! The print is really stunning and is printed on nice thick paper! Can’t wait to get it framed! BiP was fascinated by HER star map.

Modern Map Art is a great gift idea for pretty much any occasion! On their website you can customise any aspect of the piece you want to design and you can see what the final product will look like straight away!

Check it out!
Modern Map Art’s Website
And follow them on Instagram @ModernMapArt, Facebook and Twitter


Disclaimer: I received a personalised star map in return for my review.

Confessions of first time mother: Body Image

Today – 11months post partum

Today was an event! I got back into some pre-pregnancy clothes (admittedly stretchy ones as I am still a little way off my pre-pregnancy weight)!

It made me think about how depressed I have been about by body since giving birth 11 months ago – I am by no means happy with my reflection now but I am happier than I have been.

Realising that I am not alone I thought I’d share some of my true confessions relating to body image in the first year.

40 weeks pregnant. 4 days before I had BiP (I was so tired)

1. My  bump was flattering! My bump was so huge that the rest of me looked small. I was really pleased with myself that I had only gained about 12kgs/26lbs – now I say about because in all honesty I had no idea how much I weighed when I got pregnant so I rounded up a few kilos as I was a bit over my normal weight to start with (don’t judge me) and then stopped weighing myself at around 8 months. So the exact figure is probably considerably higher.

2. Breastfeeding does not always help you lose weight! Contradictory to popular belief and propaganda available in midwives offices around the world, breastfeeding may burn 500 calories a day but if you were like me it makes you hungry and it is possible to consume that in one meal! I clung on to stories of people who’s weight melted off like the butter they enjoyed consuming during their pregnancy. I however, clung to every damn kilo – losing at the same rate as BiP gained. It was incredibly frustrating as I was yet to find a 12kg/26lb 6 month old baby anywhere on the growth charts at the pediatricians office.

3. I wish I’d bought nice “fat clothes”! As soon as BiP was born I rushed to try on some of my pre-pregnancy clothes – WHO was I kidding? I got depressed and put my maternity stuff back on. Then the weather warmed up and I had nothing appropriate for summer in my size so I went shopping. I bought myself cheap ugly clothes that were comfy because I kept telling myself “I’ll be back in my old clothes before the summer’s end” – ummm …roll on autumn and I had to go get yet another new fat wardrobe – I did the same thing again because I was convinced that by 6 months I’d have lost the weight. Reality bites! Most of the clothes ended up in the bin because I wore them so much and some I am STILL wearing. Massive fail on my part. Now I am planning to get myself some nice clothes so at least I can embrace (or at least try to) my current shape.

4. I avoided skinny mother’s but stalked them online. I made the fatal mistake of stalking facebook photo’s of friends who had babies before and after me in the hope to find a chubby mother, ANYONE who was still in the same position as me … instead I found them in bikini’s with their 3 month old babies … A BIKINI!!!! If I was to put on a bikini at 3 months post partum Greenpeace would have been alerted that there was a beached whale an hour inland.  These images made me green with envy. They clearly had surrogates I told myself.

5. I spent a fortune on make-up! Mascara and lip gloss can make you feel a lot better about yourself even if at times I felt like putting make up on was like putting lipstick on a pig. Don’t forget the concealer.

6. I avoided the camera for months and regret it. I have to admit that I hated having my photo taken – I didn’t want BiP to have this fat mother in her album. I was so incredibly stupid. I’ll never get those days back. Get creative with camera angles and CROP is the most important part of any photo editing software.

7. I sold (almost) all my pre-pregnancy clothes. I couldn’t take seeing the clothes that I used to fit into in a previous life, ok, I hadn’t worn them in the year before I got pregnant but still they were an evil reminder of what I once was so I sold them. I decided that, if, I ever get back to that size again they will be out of fashion – or maybe that was a bad move and they could have been considered vintage. Anyway, I hated the reminder so they’ve gone.

8. I played with the bathroom scales. I’d get on the scales and be horrified at the number that appeared so I’d shift my weight around and try again with my heels hanging off the edge. Of course, they’d rarely change and sometimes I’d just get a big E signally an error. I then would try to convince myself that because I was breastfeeding each breast weighed 5kgs (10lbs or so) … whatever!

This is not the first time I have talked about post partum body distress – here are my tips on how to handle it (even if I don’t always take my own advice!) I’ve avoided talking about diet and nutrition because everyone is different. I personally have a gluten-free diet and watch my carb intake, limit sugars etc … I know what I should be eating and my diet is pretty good considering what most people eat – it’s a whole new ball game when it comes to post partum weight loss so I’ll leave it at that.

So, there you have it – my 8 confessions relating to my body image on the day that I wore some clothes for the first time in 18 months. What are yours?

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: THAILAND

This week I talk to Francine who is Filipino and has 2 children, 1 of which, was born in Thailand as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

My name is Francine. I am from the Philippines. I came to Thailand in December 2004 – when my first child was just 10 months old – upon invitation from my aunt who is an international school teacher in Bangkok. I just graduated from college at the time and was trying to find a job back home. My aunt suggested to try my luck in Bangkok, but to come as a tourist first. If I thought it would be okay to have a job there, then I can make the decision to stay later on. I fell in love with Thailand ever since then. I have two daughters  — the first is now 13, and the younger one is 3. My first child is with my mom back home, who she grew up with. And my second was born and and being raised in Bangkok.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

I think, I didn’t really have any reason, or choice, for having my second one in Bangkok. It’s just that she came at a time when my partner and I decided that it’s actually time to have a second, and we were both in Bangkok.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

First and foremost is, that we are able to be hands-on in raising her. With my first one, I didn’t really get to have a lot of opportunities to be a parent to her. My mom filled in that role. We get to see each other on Yahoo Messenger, and then Skype when that technology came, but I didn’t get to have a first-hand experience of actually raising her. Also, raising a kid abroad means I have the chance to be multilingual to her — I speak my dialect, Tagalog, English, and Thai. When you have a kid back home, there is that complacency of not having to speak any other languages to him/her even if you do know some other languages. But here, I already foresee that she needs to be able to speak Thai in the future, so I start early with that. And she needs to be able to communicate in English when she goes to school later on. Also, since having my kid in Bangkok, I found out that processing government-related documents here are faster and more efficient. For example, securing a birth certificate for her. Even though it required three parts – translation, authentication at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and actual processing at the Philippine Embassy – it took me half the time if it was processed back home with a regular birth certificate.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

At first, I was apprehensive. Not with the language barrier, but with the whole having a kid again after 10 years! Filipinos are very superstitious. There are a lot of traditions that you need to go through during pregnancy and childbirth, and I forgot all of them! When our Filipino nanny came, she was the one who was leading us through all of them. But of course, I could have been more confident if my mom, who was a nurse, was by my side. It was a time when there was a barrage of scare news going on that I wasn’t sure which one to believe anymore. So if there was anything I read about or something that I don’t feel right about, I would call or text her and ask for her more medically-based advice.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Oh, a lot! Here, I found out that after giving birth, a mother can take a shower. Imagine my nanny’s horror when I told her that the nurse is preparing me for a shower! You see, Filipino women after they give birth, they are not allowed to take a shower — only a rub-down with a warm (emphasis on not cold), moist towel. We have the belief that childbirth is tasking on a woman’s body, that I can agree to, and the nerves will be damaged if you take a shower after. She will end up frazzled for life. Also, back home, women take it easy after childbirth — not a lot of walking around and doing heavy lifting. My nanny and my partner gave the nurse a massive side-eye when she asked me to get up from the bed and walk around, not 24 hours after I gave birth. And here, we are not supposed to buy baby clothes and items before childbirth as that is bad for the child, according to Thai superstition. But back home, having a child means one whole day of shopping spree for the baby’s clothes and stuff. When we came to the hospital on the afternoon that I gave birth, we had 1 big suitcase for the baby’s clothes and a small overnight bag for the mother.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

For them to do a lot of research. Giving birth and having kids abroad have certain nuances that you need to be aware of. Do you want home birth? A doula? Do you need an English- only facility? How much can your budget afford? What birth packages are available to you? You need to read up on them and find out as much information as you can. There are sites like thailandstartertkit.com that are excellent resources for expats. Also, you need to find a hospital and OB-GYNE doctor that you trust. Your OB, your husband, and you need to be a team when it comes to the birthing plan. You can’t have someone on your team that is not on the same page as you. And there is nothing wrong in over-preparation. You can even overdo it. And if you can, stay off of social media and questionable health news site. All the scaremongering is hindering you from enjoying this wonderful experience that lasts for only 9 months in your life.


About Francine: 

Francine is an aspiring maternity, newborn and family Photographer in Thailand – you can connect with her on Facebook.

Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

This week I talk to Jennifer who is English and has 3 children, 1 of which, was born in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

jennifer cracknell lullabebe franceBonjour! I am Jennifer and from the UK. In 2012 my husband and I decided to move to sunny Provence with our family. Since my husband’s business was in London he would commute to Provence every 1 to 2 weeks whilst I stayed in our town of Saint Remy de Provence to look after the children. The plan was to establish a business in Provence but what with his work picking up in London this did not happen in the end. My daughter now 6 and first son now 5 were born in London and my second son, aged 2, was born in Avignon, France.

The whole experience was inspiration for my new business, Lullabébé, our first product being large muslin squares, which as a mother of 3 children under the age of 4 in Provence I simply could not be without.

Why did you have your children abroad?

What with having no family around and my husband away a lot it might not have seemed the easiest of choices to some to have another child abroad when I already had a 3 and 2 year old to look after. However, we had always dreamed of a large family and I was determined not to let that dream go. I had also heard such wonderful things about the French healthcare system and this was encouraging and comforting. It didn’t disappoint!

having a baby in France Lullabebe

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Overwhelmed at times. Our living arrangements weren’t ideal whilst I was pregnant. Since we had no tax status in France when we first arrived we were very limited as to what we could rent and although our first house in France was spacious with stunning views over the Provencal countryside, the rain would seep through the windows when it rained, there were no shutters to block out the biting winter Mistral wind or hot summer sunshine. The tiny electric heaters were literally hanging off the walls and so what with no insulation we were blowing ‘smoke’ during the winter months. However, one of my favourite memories of that home was bringing my two children into bed with me during those winter nights so we could all stay cuddled and warm together.

In terms of my care whilst pregnant I could not have felt in better hands. With a dedicated midwife who was so warm, caring and friendly and with such attentive and thorough care despite it being my 3rd baby it was a dream to be pregnant in Provence.

And then there was the spotless cleanliness of the hospital, being allowed to rest for 4 days in my own private room and the yummy hospital food – truly I was a happy mummy!

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

The midwives seemed to find my natural approach to childbirth quite enlightening. With epidurals being commonplace when I simply requested gas and air at the end of my labour I believe it may not have been used for some time on that ward!

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Stay strong and reassure yourself with the fact that no two days are the same when you have children. Trust your own instincts and don’t be afraid to voice them. Be comforted by the fact that however hard things get sometimes, there are wonderful people out there who can support and guide you.

About Jennifer:

lullabebe logo

Jennifer is the founder of Lullabébé, company which creates beautiful and versatile muslins, which are inspired by life in Provence.
You can connect with Jennifer via her online store, Facebook and Instagram.



Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: USA & UK

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Katie who is British and had her first son in the USA and her second in the UK. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

Hi, I’m Katie. I’m originally from the UK although I have lived all over the place! I have been living in Marseille since September 2014 with my husband and two children. We moved here for my husband’s job – he’s an astrophysicist working at Aix-Marseille university – and are planning on settling here permanently if all goes according to plan. My older son, Jack, is 6 and a half and was born in the USA and Oliver is 1 and a half and was born in the UK.

having a baby abroad US and UK Katie PieriWhy did you have your children abroad?

My eldest son was born in the USA because that’s where we were living at the time and the same goes for Oliver and the UK.
What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

Jack is eligible for a US passport which, having been through the process of trying to get a job in the US when not a citizen, is certainly a bonus! Other than that, I don’t think there were any ‘benefits’ to having him in the US over the UK. It was certainly a lot more expensive!!

Now that we are raising our sons in France I would say that the major benefit is that they will grow up to be bilingual. I think that this will give them great opportunities in life. The lifestyle in the South of France is much more laid back than in the UK or US as well and the weather obviously is a bonus 🙂
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was a first-time mum in the US, so language wasn’t a problem luckily. I think that the biggest thing for me, was being so far away from family. However I had friends that kind of filled that gap and helped out when I needed them.

With regards to the healthcare, it was completely doctor-led which is very different from my experience the second time around in the UK. As a first time mum I personally found this reassuring, although if I had been in the US for my second pregnancy I don’t think I would have wanted it this way. I also appreciated the 2-day stay in hospital, in my own private room, before I had to go home and face ‘reality’. Also, did I mention the cost??? Even though we had insurance we still had to pay a LOT of money!!

Second time around, although I was in the UK it was my first experience of having a baby there and things were very different. The only reason I saw a doctor was because I had a low-lying placenta, otherwise everything was handled by a midwife. I was able to give birth in a birthing centre, rather than a labour ward, and things were much more relaxed and laid-back. I was more relaxed anyway due to previous experience and laboured at home for the majority of the time but once in the birthing centre my midwife spent most of the time in the corner of the room observing and letting me do my thing! Incidentally, she was French and even offered to let me practice my French – I didn’t take her up on the offer! My son arrived at about 7.30am after a 5 hour labour and I was home by lunchtime! I can see how the speed of this discharge would daunt a first time mum but as I wanted to be home when my older son cam e home from school I loved it. Plus I could shower in my own bathroom!

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

The only main difference was the hands-on ‘medical’ treatment of the pregnancy and delivery. In the US I definitely felt like my pregnancy was treated as a medical condition whereas in the UK the attitude was quite the opposite. Otherwise attitudes towards our parenting choices are much the same in the US and the UK. I breastfed my older son for a year, which is quite a long time compared to most women in both countries, I suppose. I am still breastfeeding my second son, who is 20 months, which is definitely quite unusual for both countries and even more so now I live in France!. Information and services about breastfeeding and help with breastfeeding were much more readily available and advertised in Portsmouth, the city I lived in in the UK compared to where I was in the US. I am sure the information is available in the US too, but it wasn’t made as easily available. In Portsmouth there are free support groups every day of the week that mums can attend and peer supporters who will come to your home to help, if necessary.

Second time around we have been much more laid back but most of our parenting style is the same as when we were first-time parents. I don’t know how my ‘style’ compares to that of French mothers really, but I don’t seem to stick out like a sore thumb too much – other than the fact that I am the mum yelling in English to her kids outside school rather than French! I still carry my, admittedly rather large, toddler in a sling sometimes and he still ends up in our bed at night but they are not things that make big differences in the grand scheme of things.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I would say do lots of research, meet as many mums and expectant mums as possible and follow your gut. Listen to everyone’s advice and use all of it, some of it or none of it depending on what works for you and your family. There is no ‘right’ way to prepare for a baby or parent a child – do what feels right and always push for what you want.

Inspire your kids with these lovely DIY gift ideas

Parents love receiving handmade gifts from their children. It doesn’t matter if they have drawn a picture for you or presented you with a bunch of your prize roses from the garden – it is the thought that counts.

UntitledChildren also love to give their mom and dad gifts and they like to make things themselves. Cutting and pasting, drawing and colouring all help your children to learn, work with their hands and to be creative.

If the gift is also useful and your children will see you using their gift, then that is even better. Thinking up gifts that actually have a purpose however, can be brain-racking. So here are 6 easy and very affordable ideas that should inspire the creative streak in your children and help you out of a tight spot.

1. Creative aprons: Every mom or dad needs a handy apron for the kitchen and one that can be hand painted and personalised is a gift that will be treasured. Check out the range of affordable aprons from michaels.com and then help your child design a wonderful, creative gift as a birthday or Christmas present.

2. Personalised coffee mugs: This idea is so easy, because all you need to do is buy some white mugs from the dollar store and some ceramic paints. Then let your child create a beautiful design on the mug for mom, dad, grandparents or siblings as a gift.

3. Key chains: Pop into your local craft shop and you will find all of the ingredients to make simple, beaded keychains that are useful and fun. Your kids will love making them and will feel a little buzz every time they see their keychains being used.

4. Handmade coasters: Buy some plain white ceramic tiles, a piece of felt, glue and chalk paint. Paint the tiles with the chalk paint, then glue the felt to the backs for protection, add some pretty buttons or sparkles to the corners and then let your children write a message on the front – your kids will have great fun with these gifts.

5. Message pillowcases: Purchase a plain cotton pillowcase and slide a piece of cardboard inside so your children can easily write on the pillow case. Then using a pencil your child can write a lovely heart-warming message, which you can trace over with a felt marker. They can also add little hearts or other decorative elements to the design. Set the marker (read the instructions with the marker pen), then wash and iron your child’s gift.

6. Flower crowns: You and your kids will need floral wire, floral tape, and flowers which you can pick in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, you can also buy bouquets from supermarkets or order flowers from online florists like Fresh Flowers. Guide your kids to form the floral wire in to a circular shape to make a loose crown around the head and then cover the wire with several layers of floral tape. Cover the wire by taping pretty leaves and stems, this will act as the base of the crown. Next, attach your selected flowers (with long enough stems) by taping them to the base. Let your kids add flowers to as much or as little of the rest of the crown as they like.

There is nothing better than receiving a handmade gift from your children and these 6 ideas are all very affordable and easy to make.


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Asha who is British and had her daughter in France. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

having a baby abroad asha bhatiaHi, my name is Asha, I am a mother of nearly 2 and have just started my online baby shop, Bebe-Monde. I currently live in Marseille near the Vieux Port. I moved to France from London 3 years ago with my husband who is French.

I was born in England and of Indian origin. I have a baby girl called Kiara and we had her in Aix-en-Provence, she is 17 months old and I am expecting our second child in mid-July 🙂

Why did you have your children abroad?

I moved to France with my husband a few years ago, we were both working in long, stressful jobs in London and one day decided that we wanted a different lifestyle. We wanted to set up our own businesses and live in the sun. As my husband was originally from Aix-en-Provence, this seemed to be the perfect choice. even though I did not speak a word of French!! We then decided to start a family and Kiara was born and now we are waiting for our second child.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

I found that I had more confidence in the French health system compared to my experience of my friends in England. It is also quite common to stay in the hospital 4-5 days after you have had your baby which I found quite convenient as I had time to recover and support with our new baby unlike in England where it is usually 2-3 days.

Also if you have a good mutual even your private maternity care can be covered whilst in the UK usually going private is quite expensive.

However for me the most important benefit has been that we can bring up our children as bilingual. I have struggled so much to try and learn French and I am still not there but our children have a wonderful opportunity to speak 2 languages fluently, It is also the best age to learn a language when you are a baby and far easier than when you are an adult:)

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I tried to be as relaxed as possible but it was not easy as French is not my first language and every time I had to get my tests done or visit the gynacologist I was frustrated that I couldn’t express myself in my own language and had to rely on my husband to make the appointments and to be with me to translate what was going on. I also found the French public and admin side so confusing!! too much paper work and everyone telling you different things. Luckily I found (with a lot of difficulty) a mid-wife who spoke a bit of English and I felt more comfortable at this stage. There is not much of a support network for english expectant mothers , or if there is, it is very difficult to find.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

There are a few things I experienced which were quite different to the culture I am used to. When it comes to pregnancy and parenting most people anywhere you live have always got an opinion. One thing that struck me most and until today I struggle with the choice that we as parents made was not to use a “dummy” for our child. Although there are some people who decide not to give the dummy, there is a large marjority who choose to give one to their child. We decided to try without one and as Kiara didn’t have the dummy, naturally she started sucking her thumb:) and till this day I always get comments that I should give her the dummy and that she will be sucking her thumb till she is 18 years old or even worse I once was told that eventually Kiara’s thumb may have to get amputated!

There is also one thing about French people and food. They have a very set structure for food which structures the whole day, at first I found this a bit rigid for example, you wouldn’t see anyone in the restaurant before 12.30pm and at 12.30pm you get a huge rush of people all wanting to eat their lunch at the same time. Also most restaurants would close after 2.30pm.
However when I had Kiara, I found this structure to be very advantageous as it gave Kiara a good eating habit. The food habit also helped her in the rhythm of the day, for example the nap was always coming after the lunch, the bath after dinner and sleep after bath. In England you don’t have this strong structure for food and snacking is very usual which can interfere in eating, sleeping and general habits.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I was very scared about being pregnant and thats why I did a lot of researching and reading about other people’s experiences (this is not a technique for everyone) but I felt more prepared and relaxed when I knew what could happen in different situations.

In fact on the day of my contractions I shocked myself at how calm I was. I remember the night very clearly where I wanted to make sure the christmas tree was decorated before I gave birth and I started having contractions regularly but not very strong. I sent my husband and his mother to bed and I stayed in the living room. By early morning my contractions were every 5 minutes and I was still calm but wondering if anyone was going to wake up:) My husband woke up in a panic saying he was only supposed to sleep for a couple of hours:) thats when I said ok I think it is time so we called the hospital – they told us to leave straight away as there was going to be a big lorry strike starting in 30 minutes on the road we needed to take. I was so calm, in fact, that I told my husband I really needed to go to IKEA to return something! he just looked at me with his mouth open, then he laughed 🙂

So my advice stay as relaxed and prepared mentally as much as you can. When it comes to fear and pain, breathe in and out calmly all along your pregnancy, it will eventually help you on the day of the birth. It is good to talk to people, get people’s advice but remember that everyone’s birth is different. And at last, when it comes to the baby, you are the mother, not the doctors nor your friends or relatives. Nobody can force you to do something you don’t want for your baby. It is your choice and the fathers on how to bring up your baby.

So now I have to start all this preparation again:) good luck to me 🙂

About Asha and Bebe-Monde

Asha bhatia bebe monde (2)Asha is the founder of Bebe-Monde where you can find gorgeous, great quality and original clothing and accessories for babies between 0-4 years. Check out the new organic baby clothing range on Bebe-Monde.

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Mother’s Day Around My World

Mother’s day is always a challenge for me! Which one do I celebrate?

A few years ago I posted a letter from her to me – an amusing projection from my side – but you can read it here!

My Mummy is Egyptian, I was born in Dubai, I am half English, living in France, and I have my gorgeous Mamas all over the world!

Celebrate them all I guess!

mothers-209x300Mother’s day has a few different dates and traditions across the world.

Here are a three that I mess up all the time!:

1. France: Mother’s Day/Fête des Mères

Napoleon tried to make Mother’s Day a national holiday at the turn of the 19th century but it didn’t happen!  More than a century later, Lyon had its own Mother’s Day celebration to honor women who had lost their sons to the First World War but it was not until May 24, 1950 that the Fête des Mères became an officially decreed holiday. The Fête des Mères is the last Sunday in May but if that Sunday is also the Pentecost, then Mother’s Day is pushed to the first Sunday in June.

2. Middle East: Mother’s Day/Vernal  Equinox

Apparently it’s the story of an Egyptian journalist called Mustafa Amin who introduced the concept of a Mother’s Day to Egypt after retelling a story about a widow who was ignored by her son. Amin and his brother Ali then proposed a day in Egypt to honor all mothers, and it quickly spread throughout much of the region. The story spread and they decided the first day of spring, March 21, was most appropriate day of the year to celebrate Mothers.
Mother’s day was first celebrated in Egypt in 1956, and is still observed throughout the Middle East.

3. United Kingdom – Mothering Sunday

Did you know that it was the Church of England that created Mothering Sunday to honor the mothers of England?
A few hundreds of years ago, Christians were were meant to go to their church each year to give respect to the woman who gave them life.
The 4th Sunday of Lent was the go-to day and it’s become the holiday to celebrate Mummies today!

Those are the 3 countries that most relate to me as far as mother’s day is concerned! !

When I was little I would always ask to get my mummy Thorntons chocolate and candles that smelled yummy!

In France it’s more flowers and but chocolates are always appreciated! I have had gorgeous drawings and cute little craft projects from BiP for Mother’s Day, but nothing beats a hug!

What do you do for mother’s day?