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France - Pregnancy and Childbirth

Pregnancy tests are availalble at supermarkets or in pharmacies. The test is very easy to do and you have the result in 5 or 10 minutes. A positive result will mean you better consult a gynaecologist (you can ask at the nearest hospital or clinic) or ask your primary physician. Your local pharmacist can also direct you to a gynaecologist in the area. During this consultation, he or she will arrange a blood test for confirmation to be done at a laboratory, by giving you a prescrition to take to the lab. The doctor will have a thorough check-up including blood pressure levels and measuring your height and body weight, and will enquire about medicines you are taking. Remember to mention everything, even if it is a natural remedy (like vitamins or health supplements), or if you smoke etc.

The lab test should be ready the next day and if the results are positive you will have seven medical exams. This series of tests will begin at the end of the third month of your pregnancy. The  blood tests are specifically for syphilis, rubella, toxoplasmosis and HIV.
When your pregnancy is confirmed, the doctor will give you a 'Future Maman' form, which you need to fill in and send to your Social Security office. Then you will receive a booklet called 'Carnet de Maternité' which contains information about your pregnancy, laws etc. All the costs associated with this pregancy will be reimbursed by the Social Security.

You will have also three ultrasound scans

  • At 12 weeks of your pregnancy in order to define the date of birth and to see if the embryo is in good health.
  • At 22 weeks in order to determine the baby's growth and to check if it is in good health (heart, breath…)
  • At 32 weeks, the last one: this one helps the doctor to confirm the baby's position and to determine if the delivery can be done naturally or not.

You can have also eight antenatal courses to prepare for the delivery. Go to independent midwives instead of the courses at the hospital. They take much better care of you than the hospital.

If you decide to go to a hospital, you must know that a midwife will be present to assist you during your labour and delivery. In case of complications, an obstetrician will arrive. However, at a private maternity clinic your own obstetrician will be present at the delivery, assisted by a midwife.

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