Yesterday I went to my complimentary cours de préparation à la naissance (birth preparation class). It was a one-on-one hour session with a midwife to discuss any concerns that I may have and provide her with my birth plan. This session and the remaining 6 courses are completely free – they are covered by the French Social Security. Of the remaining 6 courses, 2 of those are optional.
I was not prepared for this inital cours de préparation à la naissance because I thought it was a chance for the midwife to tell me what I should expect on the day of delivery. Even though I was not prepared, I think I made my wishes clear for my birth plan – but I left a few things out by accident. I will update it when I return for my next monthly visit. I also got many questions answered about what to expect on the day of delivery, plus the four days I will spend at the hospital afterward.
Here is what I would have done differently if I had known what to expect for my first cours de préparation à la naissance:
- Prepare my birth plan and provide it to her in French. Even though my husband was there acting as my translator, I would have felt better to know some specific words to make sure the midwife understood my wishes.
- Research what to expect when giving birth in France so that I had a basic understanding on hospital procedures. For instance, I did not know that they give oxytocin routinely after birth as a preventative to hemorrhaging.
- Create a list of questions to ask the midwife based on my research and reading testimonials from other woman who gave birth in France. What is normal in one country may not be normal in another – I would have liked to know more about the differences experienced by other expats.
After the appointment, you can schedule your six remaining cours de préparation à la naissance – comparable to lamaze in the USA. I actually registered for these classes a couple weeks ago, but it really should have been done at this time.
The midwife said that these are group sessions, so this will be interesting! There was an option to have the four required courses with a midwife at the local pool or at your home, which sounded wonderful! The only reason I did not sign up for the pool is because it was 90 euros (I would have to register for a year membership to the pool). There is a closer pool to our house, I know I would not have used the pool more than those 4 sessions. I was starting to reconsider, but now my doctor has forbidden me from doing physical activity – so I would not have been able to do this anyways.
I decided against having the sessions privately at my home because I prefer to get to know the midwives more that will be with me when I go into labor. I get very nervous at hospitals, so the more I go there before the big deal the more comfortable I am starting feel. I really want to be as relaxed as possible and get to know the staff more beforehand.
I read that some hospitals do not allow husbands/significant others to attend, however, this hospital does not have such a policy. Even though I have a good understanding of French and I am quickly learning technical terms for pregnancy and delivery, I feel much better having him near me to translate anything that I do not understand. Also we were both looking forward to doing these courses together – men need prepping too!
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