So what are the things you need to consider and even better, not to forget, while you are pregnant in France.
To start with, you need to be registered with the French healthcare and find out your hospital of delivery as I described HERE.
Another very important step is to declare your pregnancy to the Sécurité Sociale, before the end of the 14th week, no later than that! Why is it so important? Because, thanks to this, most of the costs related to the pregnancy and childbirth will be covered. The cool thing is that once you declare your pregnancy, you will benefit from the Tiers Payant, meaning you won’t have to pay pregnancy-related fees upfront anymore. Another interesting thing, you want to know is that, first two ultrasounds are only partly covered (70%). After the sixth month of pregnancy, however, all costs are fully covered, whether or not they are pregnancy related, or after the fourth month if a mother has to be hospitalized.
So how does it happen? After the prenatal examination (premier examen prénatal), so the first serious and complex ultrasound and the time when you should see sage femme or doctor, you will be provided with a document consisting of 3 pages (declaration de grossesse). This is a very important document needed to claim social security and health insurance coverage.
Those forms are to be filled out and sent as follows:
- The pink sheet to your nearest Family Allowance Fund [Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF)]
- Both blue sheets to the Health insurance fund [Casse d’Assurance Maladie (CAM)].
By this point, the end of the first trimester, the CPAM will send you details on how to open an account on the national health insurance website (ameli.fr), and a calendar of medical check-ups and maternity leave in France (congé maternité). You’ll need these records to be reimbursed for some expenses. That is very useful and so helpful as it tells you what and when you should do! I didn’t have to worry about missing anything. But this is not all, there are still very many important points about the pregnancy in France like:
- Monthly meetings with your doctor or sage femme. There are seven examinations which are the routine, but your doctor may ask you to come in more often in case of complications.
- What tests you can expect to do. Well, many and different ones in each month. You can see the whole list in this useful document here. Again, do not worry as this is the sage femme or a doctor who will prescribe the appropriate test at the relevant time. Also, what is useful, is that the medical staff should inform you which tests are compulsory and which are merely recommended. Important: there are three ultrasounds (échographies) during pregnancy. I was disappointed as I wanted to see my baby more often however I understood the reasons behind this process. Basically, if everything is OK with the pregnancy, there is no need to disturb the little baby. And on the contrary, the doctor may decide to prescribe you more ultrasounds, in case there is a little danger to the pregnancy.
- Interesting facts about the vaccines. In France, they think that the vaccines should be done before and after pregnancy as far as possible, except for the injectable influenza vaccine. This is in contrast with other countries, where most vaccines are often prescribed during pregnancy. France, however, have an aggressive post-natal vaccine schedule.
- Prenatal classes for free! You and your partner will be offered a prenatal interview with the independent sage femme to prepare for the birth of your child in France. This is really cool, you can find an independent sage femme which is located next to your place. I used this type simply FB groups and website research to find reliable sage femme near my place but you can easily depend on doctorlib.com. Call for the first appointment and then a set of up to seven more subsidized sessions may be offered over the pregnancy period.
- The delivery. Most deliveries are taking place in the hospitals. Home births in France, are uncommon but can be arranged however, you need to remember, they aren’t fully covered by state insurance.
Following the birth in France, the baby is being weighed, measured and checked for possible defects. The healthiness of the baby is assessed against the Apgar scale, which checks heart rate, breathing, muscle tone and responsiveness to stimulation. The measurements and Apgar score are then noted on the first page of the health record. I think this is a standard in most countries. Before being discharged, the baby will also have a compulsory check from a pediatrician. The results of this are recorded on the baby’s health records.
Generally, once the woman gives birth without any complications, she can leave the hospital on average around three days after giving birth in France. If she leaves the hospital within five days of having a baby in France, she will also be entitled to receive home visits from the midwife.
And about the postnatal care I will write in the next post. I hope you still find it useful either if you are expecting a baby or not. Because it is very interesting to understand the French approach towards the pregnancy and all the processes around it.