Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?
I grew up in sunny California, and now live in not so sunny France, about an hour East of Paris. My daughter is 20 months old, and I am currently expecting Baby #2 for November.
Why did you have your daughter abroad?
I had my child (and will have our future child(ren)) abroad, well, because we live here! I didn’t really have any other option to be honest. I no longer carry any insurance elsewhere, and in all honesty, I don’t know that I would have wanted to have my baby elsewhere. I like where we live, and I can’t imagine leaving to birth a baby elsewhere, unless of course it was on Ina May Gaskin’s “Farm”…
What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
Living in France, I feel lucky that all costs related to my birth were taken care of by either the social security system, or our complementary insurance. Something that can be both good and bad, depending, is the amount of time spent in the hospital after the birth. I ended up with a C-Section due to a breech baby, and stayed in the hospital for 5 days before being released! While I know that this is to make sure Mom and Baby are in top condition before leaving, it was a little too long for me personally.
Another benefit I had, was an IBCLC midwife that came to my home for several days once I was home, to help us with breastfeeding while got off to a rocky start. I don’t think that I would have nursed as long as I did without this IBCLC’s support. A ‘future’ benefit to having consequent children in France for me, is that France seems to be very VBAC friendly. When I asked my Doctor about a VBAC for this baby, he seemed sincerely surprised that I was even asking. It was obvious to him that we would be aiming for a VBAC, and a repeat C-Section if only really necessary.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
I felt spoiled! I was put on a medical leave for the last few months of my pregnancy due to a really long commute and high-ish blood pressure. There are special lines at the grocery store for expectant mothers, old ladies would put anything heavy in my cart for me, in general it was a very positive experience. I did have a few less pleasant experiences, but all in all, it was great!
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
I am not sure how a breech baby would have been ‘handled’ in the US, but I think very similarly to how it was here. As for parenting choices, the French, in general, parent quite differently then us. Their babies always wear slippers, and (way too) covered up, and are on strict feeding schedules from a very young age. I guess I could be qualified as an Attachment Parenting type. I (still) breastfeed my daughter more or less on demand. She co-slept for a long time, and still does sometimes, I don’t spank, I don’t have strict mealtimes, I don’t let my child cry it out, and I don’t read any ‘parenting’ books. I’d much rather follow my heart and my child’s lead. Parents like us in France are rare. I feel like in the US I would have been able to find a group of like minded parents with more ease.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
I think the best advice for any mom, is to follow your heart. The best ‘expert’ on your child is you. Not someone who wrote a book, not the neighbor, not even your own parents.
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So different from my experience, I’m glad to know that there are midwives in France who are positive towards breastfeeding! I struggled to get any help and spent a lot of time on the net and on youtube.
I lived in France for many years although didn’t give birth to my three children there. I heard two things frequently while living in the Alps. The first issue was that they are not keen on home births and secondly, that they were far more interventionist than in the UK for example. Is this true in your experience?
I know from what I’ve heard and seen both your observations are correct …