I came across a very interesting report on tv last week about giving birth in France.
Several women were followed with cameras from the time their labor began until just after giving birth. Each woman was giving birth in a different type of location – hospital, birthing center, and at home. I caught the show towards the end and wish I could have seen it from the beginning.
When the report ended, my first thought was that it seemed like an advertisement for giving a home birth. If I remember correctly, there were two women who gave birth at the hospital, and both did not get what they wanted. They were very unhappy, and felt pushed into getting an epidural or cesarean. I was really able to relate to them!
The woman who gave birth at the birthing center already has seven children, so she went through labor quickly. In fact, as soon as she entered the labor room, she entered the bath and started to feel the urge to push immediately. She rushed out of the bath, called a midwife, and it looked like she tried to get on the bed. Before getting onto the bed, she gave birth standing. Maybe it was her intention to give birth standing, I really could not understand the French during this part. What I like about her story is that she was left in the room alone with her husband completely alone to labor.
The last story was the home birth and it was incredible. She was able to stay around her house, spent some time alone in her room to relax, and even got a mini-massage from her midwife. At the end, she was laying in bed with her baby and husband. The husband was glowing and could not stop talking about how much better this experience was than when she gave birth to their first child at the hospital. The show ended with me feeling like hospitals are bad, birthing centers are good, and home births are great.
Home births are not possible for everyone. You have to have a low-risk pregnancy, which means that it has to have gone through smoothly without any complications. You also have to live in close proximity to a hospital and a sage-femme liberale (independent midwife). I wanted to give birth at home when living in Normandy, but the closest midwife was 50 minutes away. She only took clients up to 45 minutes away. I was ready to knock on doors to see if someone 5 minutes away could rent me their home on the big day.
I am glad to see reports on giving birth in France. There are problems with it being over medicalized, as in the USA. I think that doctors will quickly decide on a cesarean because they are in complete control of the outcome. If there is one minor thing not going right for the vaginal birth, they will immediately send the woman to the operating room. I was wheeled into the operating room, and luckily wheeled back out and gave birth vaginally.
While there are women like me who did not have a good experience in the hospital, I know that there are many women who do. Also, many lives are saved by giving birth in the hospital. I just wish we can change the care so that doctors focus on giving cesareans as an emergency procedure, not as an easy way out.
Image Credit: eyeliam on flickr.fr
PigletinFrance - Sharon says
Unfortunately some mid-wifes are unable to offer home deliveries because they cannot get the appropriate insurance (or it is too expensive) and some just won’t do it.
There is currently a petition circulating to improve the situation, you may already know about it but just in case you don’t here it is: http://www.avaaz.org/fr/petition/Permettre_les_Accouchements_a_Domicile//?tta
Personally, if I ever had another child and didn’t opt for a c-section (medical reasons may mean that I have to have one) I would much prefer a home birth and really regret not having one first time round.
PigletinFrance - Sharon says
ps. Found your site via MummyinProvence.com 🙂