The Birth

Know the options available to you when the time comes for the birth of your baby…

Generally, the birth takes place in a hospital with a maternity ward or private clinic and usually by mid-wife (sage femme) or gynaecologist. Parents should find and reserve a place in a hospital or clinic of their choice long in advance. If a private hospital or clinic is chosen, there may not be full reimbursement by state health insurance. Parents may request that the birth is performed by the gynaecologist - this will affect where the birth may take place. Generally, a hospital stay lasts three days following a natural birth, and five days or more after a caesarean. Epidurals (une péridurale) are happily given.

If you give birth in a public hospital, you don’t have to pay the forfait journalier (the minimum amount that any inpatient pays for any hospital stay exceeding 24 hours). However, if you give birth in a private clinic, you will have to pay this daily amount, which since 1 January 2018 is 20 euros. This may be reimbursed by your mutuelle, as well as any additional fees incurred at a clinic. It is advisable to contact your mutuelle as soon as you are pregnant to find which costs are reimbursed if you are planning to use a private doctor and clinic. If you give birth in a hospital, the costs are reimbursed at 100%. 

Home births

Home and natural births are not common in France. While they can be arranged, it may be difficult due to various administrative and insurance reasons: the health and security of the baby and mother are of primary importance, and even though statistics show that there is little difference in the mortality rate between home and hospital births, there is the chance of prosecution for those in attendance if something goes wrong in a home birth. This is under the legal responsibility of non-assistance à une personne en danger meaning that someone not helping a person in danger will face prosecution - this is a serious offence in France. Even so, home births are becoming more sought after, so things could change in the future and the gynaecologist may be able to advise. A home birth is reimbursed by social security, but not at the rate of 100 percent as in a hospital or clinic birth. 

Birthing centres in France

Since 2015, birthing centres (maisons de naissance) are authorised in France. These provide a more personal, and less medicalised approach to giving birth and are generally run by midwives. There are only a handful of these centres, which have been authorised to run for five years – if they prove to be a success, more centres will open in the future.

Doulas de France is a French association of Doulas (birthing assistants, or partners). The website has an English section which explains the association and the role of the birthing partner providing support to the woman in labour and the attending mid-wife.

La Leche League is an international mother support organisation which promotes breastfeeding and provides guidance and support. La Leche League France (LLLF) has English-speaking leaders in France; a full list and contact details can be found on the LLLF website.

EU nationals

Legislation allows that an EU citizen resident in France with French medical insurance may have the delivery in their home country. Expenses are reimbursed, but certain conditions apply.