This week I talk to Nikki AKA “A Mother in France” who is English and has 5 children, 2 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 children andwhere did you have them?
I’m 44 and originally from Kent in England. 7 years ago I moved with my husband and 3 children (all born in the UK) to live in a watermill in South West France. I’ve had 2 further children, both born in France, and so I am now a mother of 5 (4 boys and 1 girl). Their ages are 21, 17, 9, 6 and 4.
Why did you have your children abroad? What do you feel were the benefits to having
I hadn’t actually planned on having any children in France. It was a bit of a shock when I discovered 2 weeks before we were due to move that I was pregnant with our 4th child. I had so much to think about and had such a stressful time getting to France that sorting out everything to do with pregnancies and babies just seemed another enormous hurdle to clamber over.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
It was a bit overwhelming – especially as my French wasn’t great at the time. However I think it would have been more difficult for me had it been my first.
There are lots of things are different here. For instance you see a gynaecologist once a month whereas in England you’re usually seen by a midwife and maybe see a gynaecologist once during the pregnancy. In England everything’s sorted out for you – your scans, blood tests etc, but here the Dr gives you the prescriptions and you have to book all the appointments yourself.
There is much more medical intervention here, for example, I had an internal examination every month (I never had one in England) and I was induced quite early on in my 1st labour here, which I don’t think would have been considered at that stage in the UK.
The whole birth was far more businesslike, but I did feel confident they knew what they were doing. The hospital was very clean and comfortable – private rooms or maximum of 2, the food was good – it was like staying in a hotel (very different from my experiences in the UK).
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
Epidurals are very common here (something like 80% I think), which is not the case in the UK. In the UK epidurals aren’t encourage and I was of the impression that they were really dangerous and so didn’t have one with my first 3 children. However here I decided to try as it seemed so well researched with tests and examinations well before the birth to check your suitability. I’m
glad I did – it made both of the births I had here more enjoyable.
I was very surprised to find that breastfeeding is not as common in France as it is in the UK. Many people seemed amazed to learn I was breastfeeding and when they discovered that I normally breastfed my children for the first year I think they thought I was very weird.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
If you don’t speak French well, try and find a gynaecologist that speaks good English. I had a problem when I visited my gynaecologist with my 2nd child in France. On the first visit he misunderstood when I told him I was pregnant and gave me a smear test!
If you live in a really rural area (like me) it is probably better to opt to have your baby in a bigger town or city as the facilities are far better. I had mine in Toulouse – it was an hour drive from home, but worth it!
Nikki is not only a wife and mother of 5 but also a Gite owner, Garden Centre and Landscape Gardening Business owner, Aspiring Author, Blogger and part-time taxi driver for her teenage sons. You can also follow Nikki on Twitter.
Want to share your story? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lovely to read a positive story on having a baby in France! I hope my second experience (if there is one) will be as nice as your experiences sound!
Which hospital did you give birth in?
ps. You don’t have to be followed by a Gyno for your monthly visits, you can opt to see a midwife although there are a shortage of midwifes in France so you may find it a struggle to find one that can take you on.
Thanks for the tip Sharon, I was never offered the option of a midwife, but then I was advised to go straight to the gyno. I don’t think I’ll be having another – 5 is more than enough!
I had both the children in the Clinque Ambroise Pare.
Good luck with number 2!
Great to hear about your experience of pregnancy in France Nikki! It seems that everything went smoothly, which is great.