Tag Archives: childbirth in France

Happy 2nd Birthday!

BiP just celebrated her 2nd birthday.

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since she arrived and changed our lives forever.

To celebrate I’ve decided to write her a letter, daddy did it last year!

In a few years she’ll be able to read it for herself.

To my darling BiP! 

Happy 2nd birthday darling!  

I had no idea you’d change my life so much. You are my shining light. You are truly my proudest achievement! 

You are a little girl now. No longer a baby. 

And what a character you have! You are really cheeky monkey. You are fearless and agile, you clearly get that from your Daddy

You speak more now, mostly in French which means I have to get up to speed with my own French. You understand both English and French perfectly which is astounding how you are bilingual already! 

Your smile is infectious – your chipped front tooth horrified me at first, but now it suits you. In a few years it will fall out and I hope you take better care of your new tooth 🙂

You still have barely any hair – it looks like it will be really curly. I blame myself because I saw a 2 year old with the same amount of hair when I was pregnant with you and commented that it was a bit odd. LOL! 

Over the last few months you decided you no longer wanted to wear diapers – I guess all the Elimination Communication paid off as you made the decision to only wear “pantpies”.

You are a serious foodie like your parents – perhaps it’s thanks to Baby-Led Weaning. The more spiced up the better for you even if you demand “burger’ and ‘baby-pasta” all the time.

To the horror of a few you are still breastfeeding. You decided on your 2nd birthday that you prefered a book over a cuddle and feed with Mummy. That’s ok, you are growing up. I am delighted that a year on that we can still say that we will wean when WE want to. Although I think you will probably decide before I’m ready. When that day comes I am ready.

Happy 2nd Birthday BiP!

We love you more than words can ever describe.

Mummy xxx 

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

This week I talk to singer/songwriter Milja who is Finnish and had her baby daughter in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about having a “platinum baby” in Paris and bitchy nurses. Here is her story:


Milja KaunistoTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her? I’m a Finnish singer-songwriter and pianist, mommy of one magnificent daughter… and not so long ago, a performer in a chic Paris piano-bar located somewhere between the Ritz and the old Opèra. As my 8-month pregnant belly no longer fit behind the bar’s grand piano, and my squeezed lungs became unable to yell ‘Proud Mary’ at 4 A.M. without me passing out on the keys, I gave up my night job and retreated to my horrid apartment.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?
My musician husband and me had started regretting our decision to have our child in Paris when it had occurred to us that our apartment wasn’t suitable for a child, or any human being at that. It wasn’t the mice, or that I got an electric chock every time I touched the stove, or that I had to wear a wool sweater night and day just to keep warm, or even that I had to heat my bathing water in a pot because there was no hot water available. It was that there was, in fact, no running water whatsoever, and that carrying 20-liter water containers twice a day couldn’t be done while pregnant.

I started to long for Finland’s clean, functional houses, almost all equipped with a personal sauna. But returning to Finland was no option. We hadn’t suffered the Parisians for six years, painstakingly building a network necessary for any musician to make a living, just to run back to Finnish schlager-style variety music. So we moved to a great deal more expensive apartment, one with running water… and two weeks later, out came Lydia, now two and half years old. Milja Kaunisto

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Finland is a large country with a small population, meaning that hospitals are scarce and thus full. I had heard less pleasant birthing stories from my Finn-friends – the famed Finnish equality between sexes can also mean no pain killer unless there is a ‘real need’, such as c-section. They just tell you to shut up and push, ‘this is the way our foremothers did it and so should you’. The wimpy person that I am, I was relieved to see that the little public-healthcare clinic that was to be my birthing stall offered a wide variety of pain relief. And they had obstetricians specializing in acupuncture, massages or homeopathy, all included in the public healthcare system!

They had helped me tremendously with my pre-birthing hormonal madness, my elephant ankles and my fiery heartburn, so when my waters broke, I felt confident. The waiting room was full of women of all colors and languages. It was fascinating to see the cultural differences of these women when it came to pain. Some talked vividly in their cell phones all through contractions, some screamed theatrically along with the mother and the mother-in-law by the bedside, some demanded more painkillers in an animated french. As it turned out, my baby didn’t come out but 32 hours later, so I had plenty of time to observe everything around me. But after 30 hours, I went into shock and was being prepared for a c-section with the utmost care. I felt so grateful. My Algerian gynecologist surgeon did such a wonderful job, and just a few minutes later, I saw my little blonde Lydia come out, cool and relaxed, practically yawning. This was the very first platinum blonde Nordic baby the gynecologist and his staff had ever seen, and they couldn’t stop staring at her, all smiles.

Lydia and Milja

Lydia and Milja


Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices? What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I had been given a choice of a joint room or a single room, and since I do not watch TV and hate its sound, I had chosen a single room. As it happened, I was tangled in wired and hoses after the surgery, and could not do a thing without calling for help. Somehow they knew I was a singer, and at night as I pressed the help-button to go to the bathroom, I heard the nurses mumbling in the hallway. ‘Oh, it’s her again.’ ‘Who does she think she is, calling for us all the time?’ ‘Did you know that she’s a singer?’ ‘Oh, that’s why, then! She thinks of herself as a superstar!’ At this point the nurse stomped in and barked: ‘What now?’ In my hormonal state, I started crying, and pointed towards the bathroom. The next day when I had to call for help again, I heard: ‘Oh, come on, not again! Someone call her husband to come and give the diva some applause!’ Do they really think a piano-bar singer is the same as Beyoncé, I thought. But then, I heard these nurses whined about almost every patient – this one smelled, this one snored, this one was too fat. I decided to let the supervisor know about this, and what a change it made! Nothing but smiles and helpfulness after that!

In France, I’ve noticed, standing up for yourself risking a few moments of shame makes everything work. Mummies – defend your ground!

After a week at the clinic, I was let out with my baby. Not long after that, our landlord started busting in our new apartment with his own set of keys! We decided it was time to leave Paris.

We now live in a tiny medieval village in the southern France’s Aveyron. Instead of piano bars and concerts, we have a small music school and a studio, and a house five times the size for half the rent. I would not go back to Paris now that I’ve tasted the delights of the French countryside. The kind people, the fresh produce, the cheap living. And my little daughter ,that will go to a French school next year (that, I’m sure will make another weird chapter to write about) makes it all worth the while.

Milja Kaunisto is a singer-songwriter, mummy of one fantastic daughter, lover of great food, amateur writer and world-saver, traveling woman and part-time nut.

You can follow Milja on Twitter, Wix, My Space and you have to check out her Blog.


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

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

PigletinFrance and Baby PigletThis week I talk to Sharon who is British and had her baby daughter in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about the importance of family values in France, the challenges of breastfeeding past 3 months (it’s not really “done” in France and following your heart. Here is her story:


Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?
I’m a 30 year old British expat living in the North Isere, France with my French husband, my daughter and my two cats. I moved to France from the UK aged 16 as I was an Ice Dancer and Lyons had the best training facilities in Europe. It was daunting arriving in a foreign country alone so young, especially as I didn’t speak any French. However, I soon picked up the language skills and France became my home.

My daughter was born in Valence, France in April 2011. I was living in Lyon and had planned to give birth in the Croix Rousse Hospital in Lyon as it had an excellent reputation and many of my friends had given birth there. Unfortunately due to my Husband and I moving area and a delay in our house purchase, I was unable to give birth where I had planned and ended up having a very difficult birth and after birth in Valence’s public hospital which left me in bed for a month post partum.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?
I didn’t specifically choose to have my daughter abroad. Living in France happened naturally for me and it seemed logical to have my baby here. My Husband and I had spent a few years in the UK together long before we decided to have children and we had both said at the time that if we do have children one day we would like to raise them in France.

France places much more value on Family Values in my opinion than the UK does. I love how meal times are family affairs here and how frequently families get together and make efforts to stay in touch. My Husband and I are as close to some of his French family members as we are to our friends and we want that for our children as well. I know that parents influence the education of their children but I also believe culture does too and I really respect the French culture for the importance they place on family.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
Having moved to France at such a young age I consider that I already know some of the benefits as I’d experienced growing up in a foreign country myself. Access to a second language and different cultures for a child is fantastic and part of their life education. Aside from the benefits for my baby I don’t think there was really any benefit to me but that is probably because I had a very difficult birth experience and often when things go wrong you want to be in your own country.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Initially, I was quite blasé about the whole thing and felt that the French placed a lot of drama around such a natural experience. Everything in France is very medicalised and I can remember being told off as I hadn’t had any check ups before my 12 week scan. I had opted not to have any early check ups as I had miscarried the year before and had been through a circus of check ups that led to nothing but stress. Some women find the constant check ups re-assuring but I chose to let nature decide what to do and was at peace with my decision but the Drs didn’t understand.
I also chose to be followed solely by a midwife rather than an Obstetrician which is rare in France and my French friends and family thought I was mad. Despite the difficulties I encountered with the birth and after birth (which were largely due to the medical incompetence of the Obstetrician) I am still happy with how I managed my pregnancy and would opt to be followed by a midwife again. I would even consider having a home birth which is quite rare in France.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
Aside from my choice of not wishing to have my pregnancy over medicalised, I haven’t encountered too many differences as yet as my daughter is still very young. A lot of my friends and French family seem surprised that I am still breastfeeding my daughter (she is 3 months old). It seems as if it is automatically assumed that she would be on formula by this age.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Thankfully I am fluent in French so I was able to make my wishes understood but even then (especially after the birth whilst I was in dreadful pain) I sometimes wished I could explain how I felt and ask my questions in English, just for re-assurance that I was being understood. If you’re not fluent in the local language I would definitely recommend either finding a Dr that speaks your language or finding someone to help with translation.

Also, go with your heart. Just because something is the “done thing” in the country you’re giving birth in doesn’t mean to say it is the right or best thing for your baby. I do a lot based on instinct and will continue to do this as I have a contented baby so must be doing something right!


Connect with Sharon on Twitter and on facebook also check out her blog for, often hilarious, stories about living in France

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


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

Having a baby abroad franceI am back in France, once again as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. This week I talk to Ashely who had her daughter in France and is expecting her 2nd baby in November.  Here is here story on becoming a mother away from her home country of the US and being spoled by the French medical system

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.

Ashley and Miss L

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. Having a baby abroad 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.

Connect with Ashley on Twitter and on her blog



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


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making we are back in France to hear about MLMom’s experience of having a baby in the South of France.   She takes us through her experience of avoiding stinky gooey cheese, the perils of trying to understand why pregnancy is counted as 41weeks in France and missing family. Here is her story.

 Having a baby abroadTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

Well, I grew up in Mexico and the United States, but have lived in France for over 8 years. I met my husband here and we have a daughter, LilO, who will be one year old in July. We lived in Paris for a couple of years, but the weather and the high prices made us move to the south, where our daughter was born.

I finished my law studies in France last year and I am currently looking for a job. I have been lucky to spend all this time with my daughter since she was born and now I want to find a job that will allow me to enjoy my family life. The minimum of 5 weeks legal paid vacations in France is a good start, but I’m hoping to find something interesting by this coming fall.

I also just started writing a blog, Multilingual Mom (MLMom) where I hope I’ll get the opportunity to talk about my experience living here, raising LilO in France and all the ins-and-outs of the cultural differences I enjoy pointing out so much 🙂

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

We live in France and it was naturally here that we decided to have our daughter. Though I have been living here for 8 years, I still consider myself to be living “abroad”. I still wonder how long that will last!


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

I love the fact that our daughter lives in another country, and will be raised in a multicultural environment. I also enjoy knowing that we have so many countries close to us and we can travel easily and learn so much.

As a non-benefit (even if I was not asked!) I would definitely list having my family so far away. We don’t get to see my family as often as we can, and that I do dislike and can get to me at times.


As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I can still remember the day I found out I was pregnant I started jumping up and down and couldn’t stop for over ten minutes. Then I decided I’d slow down because I didn’t want my baby to get motion sickness. I was scared, happy, overwhelmed, everything at once!

I am very thankful for the excellent care I had throughout my pregnancy. Although the situations can be different from person to person, even the minimum French prenatal care is excellent. I was able to have a sonogram when I was just 6 weeks along, and I had one every month at least to check on the baby and to calm down any nervous future mom nerves I might have.

When I was 24 weeks along, a member of my family passed away and I was heartbroken. I had such a hard time being so far away from the rest of my family. I felt so alone. I realize it’s still difficult to write about it. Three weeks later I had my scheduled sonogram and we found that the baby’s abdominal circumference was not as it should be — in other words, our baby was “skinny”. My OB sent me to get different tests immediately and sonograms done over the next few weeks followed and it turns out everything was just fine… but I really needed to take my stress level down for a while, since it might have been what had affected me and the baby. Hard to do, but the baby got back on track very quick.

I was also very happy to have found a good OB right before getting pregnant. He recommended a great midwife, with whom I had 10 sessions and was able to learn about the baby, getting physically and mentally ready, exercises, breastfeeding techniques, breasfeeding support group if I wanted… I really felt pampered and I loved it.

I learned that if I wished, I could have a midwife come to my house as many times as I would need her to after the baby was born if I needed any help with breastfeeding. That really boosted my confidence and helped me though the first 7 days (yes, I counted them!) which were VERY difficult for me.


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

Let’s see… YES!!!! Definitely. First of all, the French pregnancy lasts 41 weeks, not 40 like in most countries of the world. I kept saying 40 weeks to my OB in hopes he’d change his way of thinking.  I didn’t think that would really matter except when it came to me being overdue until I went OVER those 41 weeks! My baby was born 41w5d. Thankfully, haha.

Another thing was: “do you have the toxo“? Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can harm the foetus if you contract it duringpregnancy. Men don’t care if they have it or not. But as a woman, if you have it before you don’t need to worry about it either.  If you don’t, then you have to be careful so you don’t get it during pregnancy and they monitor this so they can react with proper treatment if you do.

My friends abroad were never tested for this and here I was getting blood drawn every month to check I did not suddenly have the parasite!!! I guess after 7 years of living in France and no parasite (since according to Wikipedia 88% of the French have it but it’s not as common in the US) I should have just kept my old habits, but here I was desperately trying to eat strawberries (the baby wanted them!) and I had bought my special fruit brush where I would brush each strawberry and wash them for over 20 minutes so I could eat them in less than 20 seconds.

The list of what you can and can’t eat was different than that of my American friends. They were told to avoid lunchmeat and soft cheeses, I was told to avoid raw ham and stinky gooey raw milk farm cheese.

The see differences continue to happen even once the baby is here. I have had an excellent experience with breastfeeding, finding everyone around me very supportive, except for my dentist who had suggested I weaned my baby so he could replace a filling. After that (last) appointment with him was over, I looked for another competent doctor and I was good to go.

LilO’s pediatrician is great and supports our cultural differences. Maybe because I gave him a weird look when he was surprised my baby had avocados as one of her first foods and he almost fell off his chair. An “exotic” fruit?! Goodness!

One thing I can also be very thankful about was the hospital care. I had someone on the phone 24/7 if I had questions about the baby, movement, first time mom panic.. anything. I went to the hospital three times for different reasons (feelings, pains, etc) and they welcomed me every single time with a huge smile, telling me I had made the right decision coming in if I had any doubts. I was also monitored every 48 hours after  week 40 since I had some swelling and they wanted to make sure everything was ok.

I was very greatful to have a pediatrician 24/7 as well during those first few weeks where even a lack of poop worries this mom. Even today I know that I can have a doctor come in the middle of the night if something is wrong, everything covered by our health insurance, and I think it has given me peace of mind even if (thankfully) we have never had to ask a doctor to come and see LilO.


What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Enjoy every minute and follow your instincts. Nobody knows your body or your baby better than you, and nobody is there with your baby during the night BUT you. Research and ask all the questions you can. And if you don’t get the answers or you feel ignored, change your healthcare provider if possible. It can make a world of a difference.

And no matter how often people tell you over and over again to “enjoy it because time goes by so fast”.. well… it really does.

Connect with MLMom on Twitter and Facebook as well as Multilingual Mom (MLMom)


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



Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

sophie le brozec having baby franceNext up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making we are back in France to hear about how Sophie Le Brozec dealt with living dangerously by requesting a natural birth, breastfeeding beyond 3 months and not sterilising everything in sight!

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

My name is Sophie, I’m English and married to a Frenchman. At the time of having my daughter I had been living in France for 8 years. My daughter is now 4 years old and I had her in Cagnes sur mer (just outside of Nice), France.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

I had my daughter abroad as I was living in France at the time with my French husband.

What do you feel were the benefits to having a baby abroad?

Excellent hotel-like accommodation for 5 days after having my daughter – a room shared with one other mum (who I’d previously met through ante-natal classes), with an en-suite bathroom, pretty good food and babies taken away from us if we needed to rest and sleep.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Fine as I am bilingual and I was used to living in France so I was not worried about the cultural differences. I think I felt pretty much the same as if I’d had the baby in the UK. However I did get a bit fed up with the non-stop tests – monthly blood tests for toxoplasmosis etc

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

They were shocked that I wanted a natural birth and not a completely medicalised one, that I wanted to breast feed and then that I wanted to breast feed past 3 months, that I wanted to do BLW (obviously I was trying to kill my child!), that I wanted to use washable nappies, that I didn’t ever sterilise anything – with a dog and a cat at home my daughter was ill for the very first time when she was 11 months old and is rarely ill now, so that non-sterilising thing was obviously a killer! I think they thought I was a freak on most accounts!

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Follow your own gut feeling and use common sense. Stand up for yourself and be prepared to fight for what matters – wherever possible try and get your partner on side!!

Connect with Sophie on Facebook,  Twitter and check out her blog www.FranglaiseMummy.com


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