From pregnancy tests to birth and maternity leave, here’s a quick rundown of 5 things you need to know about having a baby in France.
For more information on each step, read our full guide to Pregnancy and Maternity Care in France.
#1 Declaring Your Pregnancy
Pregnancy tests (test de grossesse) are available in most French pharmacies. If you test positive or think that you are pregnant, you should visit a doctor or gynaecologist to have your pregnancy confirmed. After the first antenatal examination, you will need to declare your pregnancy via a document known as a declaration de grossesse.
Declaring the pregnancy to is essential in order to claim social security and health insurance coverage, and should be done before 14 weeks of your pregnancy. You should also receive three payments from the CAF, the Congé Maternité during the pregnancy, and the Congé Parental and Congé Pathologique after the birth. The prime de naissance is paid at seven months of pregnancy. Read more about the CAF and family benefits.
#2 Reserve the Hospital
Most women will choose to give birth at a maternity hospital with a midwife in France. Parents should find an appropriate hospital as soon as possible and the gynaecologist can help you reserve a place. The gynaecologist will also put you in touch with a midwife who can help you with birthing exercises and preparation for the big day. Not that if you choose a private hospital, expenses may not be covered by your mutuelle health insurance.
Your gynaecologist will also issue you with a maternity record book (Carnet de Santé Maternité) where the details of each medical examination will be recorded. It also entitles you to get reimbursements on certain expenses. If you do not want to know the sex of your baby it is recommended to say so from the beginning since it is common practice in France for the gynaecologist to reveal it during the scan.
#3 Prepare for the Birth
The hospital expenses for delivery, including epidural anaesthesia and the screening for diseases of the newborn baby, are fully covered up to the 12th day of your stay in hospital by the Casse d’Assurance Maladie. If you are discharged from hospital within five days of giving birth, you are entitled to visits from the midwife at home. On average, a hospital stay will be three days.
#4 Register the Birth
The registration of birth (Déclaration de Naissance) is compulsary and must be made within three working days of the birth. The birth is usually declared by the father, or alternatively, by the doctors, health workers or other person present at the birth. The birth notification is made at the local mairie and the birth certificate is written immediately by an official known as the officier d’état civil.
A child may acquire French nationality at birth, if at least one of its parents is French or at least one of its parents was born in France. Otherwise, a baby born in France to non-French nationals may receive nationality at 18 years of age, providing they are resident in France. Dual nationality laws vary between countries, but for example, if one or both parents are British, babies can also be registered at the consular section of the British Embassy in Paris. This form of registration is not compulsory; however it is proof of citizenship. Such registration will ensure that the birth is included among the records of the General Registry Office in the United Kingdom.
#5 Organise Your Maternity Leave & Postnatal Care
In France, you are entitled to both antenatal and postnatal maternity leave. On average, women are allowed 16 weeks’ maternity leave in France and men are given four weeks. For the third child, maternity leave is 26 weeks, while if you have twins you are entitled to 34 weeks.
To receive maternity pay you need to have been registered with social security in France, 10 months prior to the expected birth date. You will also need to prove that you have worked 200 hours in 90 days, up until antenatal leave.
Postnatal care is provided for both mother and baby in France and the Caisse d’assurance maladie entitles the mother to a postnatal examination within 8 weeks of giving birth and, if needed, sessions with a physiotherapist.
You will be issued with a health record booklet (carnet de naissance de l’enfant) by your doctor after the baby is born. From then onwards, every time you take your child to the doctors you must take the booklet so that a medical record can be kept for your child. The baby will be examined during its first week, and then regularly during its first year. The child will continue to have examinations up until the age of six years. Read more in our full guide to Children’s Healthcare in France.