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Having a baby in France

Updated: Sep 17, 2022



This guide will cover all you need to know about having a baby in France, beginning with prenatal care and continuing through birth, aftercare, leave, and benefits.


If you are considering having your child in France, you should know that the country's healthcare system is often regarded as being among the very finest in the world. Additionally, there is a good chance that you will be qualified for childcare benefits, which may include a one-time payment of close to one thousand euros. At the age of 18, your kid has a chance of becoming eligible for French citizenship, in addition to EU citizenship.


Despite this, it is important to make certain that you are registered with a physician or midwife (sage-femme) as well as a hospital well in advance of the time that you want to give birth in France. Make sure you have a good understanding of the services and benefits that are accessible to you and your baby, such as the maternity leave that is offered in France.


It is possible that having a kid in France follows a different set of protocols than those in your native country. This guide will assist you in navigating the prenatal care, birth, and postnatal care systems in France, as well as the process of registering your child in France and obtaining paternity leave in France.


COVID-19 in France


Everyone has had a rough time during this period of the COVID-19 epidemic. A significant number of people who go abroad find themselves cut off from their friends and loved ones back in their native country. As a foreigner, it might be difficult at times to discover essential information on the prevalence of coronavirus infection, local measures and limits, and now, luckily, vaccines. Vaccinations are now available.



Go to the official Coronavirus (COVID-19) website to get information on the overall coronavirus situation in France, including vaccination regimens and the most recent restrictions.


Consult our guide on the COVID-19 pandemic in France if you would need information specifically about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts France.



Pregnancy and childbirth in France: an overview


Each year, the most fertile nation in Europe welcomes more than 700,000 new lives into the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the vast majority of women in France give birth in maternity hospitals known as maternités with the aid of a midwife (sage-femme). The vast majority of them are public institutions, and studies conducted all over the world consistently place the French national healthcare system in high regard.


In France, you also have the option of going to a private hospital, known as a clinique, which will make sure that your stay is as pleasant as possible. You have the option of staying in a private room, which may or may not include a small refrigerator and the presence of your spouse. If anything does go wrong, a private clinic may very possibly transfer you to a public hospital in an ambulance if it is unable to handle the situation on its own.


Also, do not forget to verify with your insurance provider. Private hospital treatment may cost more than €5,000 per day, which is not covered by many types of insurance, and the cost can easily surpass that amount.


Home births are not frequent in France, and those that do occur are not eligible for full reimbursement by insurance policies. It is often seen as riskier, and accompanying professionals run a larger danger of being sued for their involvement. On the other hand, if you choose to give birth at home in France, a midwife will be there to assist you throughout the process.


Insurance for maternity costs in France


If you are a resident of France and have public health insurance, the bulk of the expenditures that are related to becoming pregnant and giving birth will be reimbursed. You must first disclose your pregnancy to the Sécurité Sociale. After that point, you will be eligible for the Tiers Payant, which indicates that you will no longer be required to make an initial payment for costs associated with your pregnancy. Please take notice that the first two sonograms only represent 70% of the whole content. After the sixth month of pregnancy, however, all expenditures, regardless of whether or not they are connected to pregnancy, get full coverage. If a mother has to be hospitalised after the fourth month of pregnancy, full coverage is also provided.


Please be aware that the public health system only covers the rates that are determined by the government. Only reimbursements by this tariff will be made for doctors' fees that are higher than this range (in the free sector, they are referred to as dépassements d'honoraires).


Private health insurance is a wonderful alternative for people who want a greater level of coverage or for those who wish to avoid paying these additional expenses. The following are examples of large worldwide corporations that provide maternity coverage to expatriates living in France:


Allianz Care


Cigna Global


Accessing maternity services in France


In most cases, residents of France have the freedom to choose their primary care physician. Because licenced medical practitioners are prohibited from engaging in advertising, it is in your best interest to seek referrals from friends and relatives. You may search the website of L'Assurance Maladie to discover a doctor in France who is affiliated with the state system, or you can look in the French Yellow Pages (Pages Jaunes) to find a doctor in your area.


When you go on your first visit, be sure you bring the following things with you:


Passport or valid local identification card


Proof of address, such as a utility bill


Insurance/mutuelle card


Securité sociale or CMU attestation. Request this at your local CPAM centre or via your account on Ameli.fr if you have one.


Previous laboratory data that you may have, including summaries of ultrasounds,


Pregnancy testing in France


Home pregnancy tests, known in France as tests de grossesse (gros may also mean fat, but we are not judging), are readily available over the counter at the majority of pharmacies and supermarkets in the country for a price starting at approximately one euro more.


You should have a lab test to validate the results of a home kit since these kits have a very small margin of error (up to 2%). A doctor's order is required to do this. The findings will normally be sent to you the following day. This examination is often covered by social security.


Prenatal care in France


Antenatal appointments


After you have received the results of your tests, your primary care physician will recommend you to a gynaecologist who will serve as your primary point of contact. The gynaecologist will be able to assist you with selecting a maternity hospital as well as locating a midwife. Alternatively, the employees at the hospital that you choose should be able to provide you with the necessary contact information for their board-certified gynaecologists. Check out this list of hospitals in France, or read this article written by Expatica on how to choose a good French physician.


In France, some gynaecologists understand English, but this is not a guarantee; asking friends for suggestions might be helpful in this regard. However, although gynaecologists are often present during childbirth in France, this is not always the case. In most cases, it is handled by the staff that is currently working shifts in public hospitals.


You will get a three-page certificate confirming your pregnancy in France after you have completed your first prenatal examination (premier examen prénatal), which is required to be completed before the end of the third month (declaration de grossesse). You will need this to make a claim for social security coverage during parental leave and health insurance coverage for delivery in France. To prevent any potential loss of benefits, it is essential to submit the required paperwork to the Caisse d'Assurance Maladie (or your insurance adviser, Conseiller de l'Assurance Maladie, CAM) and the Caisse d'allocations familiales (CAF) no later than the 14th week of pregnancy.


Record books and benefits


At this point, the CPAM will have mailed you a package that contains a maternity record book known as a Carnet de Santé Maternité, information on how to open an account on the website of the national health insurance programme known as ameli.fr, as well as a calendar that details when medical checkups and maternity leave in France are scheduled to take place known as a congé maternité. These records are required for you to get paid for certain costs.


If you give birth in France, you are eligible to receive a one-time payment from the Family Allowance Fund. After delivery, you will receive two further payments.


In France, expecting women may get assistance at home after giving birth in certain conditions. This assistance is often provided if the mother is experiencing challenges of a medical, social, or economical nature. The Social Action Community Centre (CCAS) or the Services of Child Social Support are the places where individuals may submit applications for further assistance (ASE). Read the instructions provided by Expatica for information on how to be safe while giving birth in France.


A card that may be obtained from the CAF grants expectant mothers in France the ability to jump to the head of the line in some public offices or to request that passengers on public transportation give up their seats for them. This perk is considered a lifestyle benefit.


Gender information


Be informed that it is standard procedure in France to inform the parents-to-be of the gender of their unborn child when they are having a baby in the country. Make sure your gynaecologist is aware of your wishes if you do not want to be informed.


(And yes, gender reveal parties are a huge thing in France, but they are not quite as out of control as they are in the United States!)


Scans, tests, and checks


The Carnet de Santé Maternité, which is a maternity record book, will tell you how often you are required to go in for checkups while you are pregnant in France. The standard number of exams is seven, but if there are any issues, your physician may request that you come in for checkups more often.


Toxoplasmosis, an illness that is largely innocuous to adults but may cause developmental issues in children, is one of the disorders that is tested for at each visit by medical professionals. The medical professionals will also let you know which tests are required and which ones are optional. You have the right to know, therefore do not be afraid to inquire about it.


During a typical pregnancy, the expectant mother will have three ultrasounds, often known as echographies.


Except for the injectable influenza vaccine, the majority of France's medical community thinks that vaccinations should be given both before and after pregnancy whenever it is safe to do so. In contrast, the combined DTP or TDAP vaccinations, which protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, are often administered to pregnant women in other countries. This is because these vaccines cover all three diseases simultaneously. However, the postnatal vaccination schedule in France is rather rigorous, so if you have any concerns, you should address them with your doctor. Look here for more details on vaccinations in France.


Antenatal courses


A prenatal interview will also be provided to both you and your spouse to assist you in getting ready for the birth of your child in France. During the pregnancy, a set of up to seven additional subsidised sessions may be made available. During these sessions, knowledgeable midwives will provide birthing training and answer any questions regarding topics ranging from breastfeeding techniques to pregnancy-related haemorrhoids.


Depending on where you are living in France, you may or may not be able to take English-speaking prenatal courses offered by university hospitals. Inquire more with your primary care physician. In addition to this, it is important to double verify the coverage with your insurance provider.


Abortion in France


Up to the 12th week of pregnancy, a woman has the option to terminate the pregnancy. A portion of the charge is paid for by the social security system. It is required by law that there be a week's worth of time between the time the request is made and the time the operation is carried out. This gives anybody who may have second thoughts the opportunity to reconsider their decision.


Teenagers under the age of 18 and those who are not in relationships are also required to participate in therapy. It is essential to keep in mind that medical professionals have the right to decline to do the surgery; nonetheless, if they do so, they are obligated to find you another physician who can assist you.


It is possible to get the morning-after pill via family planning facilities, pharmacies, and even school infirmaries if you are a minor. The website for French family planning has more resources and information accessible (in French).


Giving birth in France


If you do not want to risk not having a spot at the maternity hospital of your choice, you should sign up as soon as possible after making your decision.


However, there is no need to be quite so dramatic since your gynaecologist will be able to assist you. Some French women even walk to the hospital of their choice as soon as they obtain the results of their lab tests. It is important to keep in mind that your gynaecologist is an excellent resource when you are having a baby in France.


The delivery


Immediately after giving birth in France, the newborn is subjected to a thorough examination that consists of weighing, measuring, and screening for any potential birth abnormalities. Using the Apgar scale, which examines the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscular tone, and reaction to a stimulus, a doctor may determine whether or not the infant is healthy. After that, the measurements as well as the Apgar score are recorded on the first page of the medical record.


The score may vary from 0 to 10, with 10 indicating that the infant is in excellent health. A baby is considered to be healthy if they have a score of 7 or above on this scale. A lower score does not always indicate a problem; it may just be that some infants require more time to get used to life outside the womb. The physician and the midwife will do a comprehensive examination, after which they will discuss any concerns they may have with you.


The infant is required to get a checkup with a physician before being released from the hospital. The outcomes of this are recorded in the medical history of the infant.


Beginning in the sixth month of pregnancy and continuing until the 12th day of your hospital stay, the costs of all medical care, including mandatory prenatal testing, delivery, epidurals, and screening for disorders of infants, are covered by your health insurance in France. On the other hand, the typical length of a hospital stay in France after giving birth is around three days. You have the option to request home visits from the midwife if you leave the hospital in France during the first five days after giving birth and are recovering at home.


Residents of France who are also citizens of another European country have the option of giving birth in their own country instead. The French national health insurance programme or the European Health Insurance Card held by the expecting parents may be used by the government to pay medical costs (EHIC).


Home births in France


While giving birth at home is not frequent in France, it is possible to make the necessary arrangements if you so want. Before making a definitive choice on whether you will give birth at home or in a hospital while living in France, you must discuss your options with your health insurance provider. Home births are not completely covered by state insurance.


Postnatal care in France


A health record book is given to the kid when they register for the programme. This document includes all of the medical information about your kid's health – including immunizations – up to the time that your child reaches the age of 16 and includes this information. It is a very essential document that helps facilitate communication between your family and the medical experts who are caring for you.


Regular checkups with a physician are required of all employees in this company. In France, the first one takes place during the first week after the baby is born, the second one occurs in the ninth or 10th month, and the third and final one takes place in the 24th or 25th month.


When you check out of the hospital, the staff will give you the contact information for the nursery nurse that works in your neighbourhood. If you have any questions or concerns, you should address them with her since she will be an essential resource.


After giving birth in France, mothers and their children are eligible for mother and baby care at local maternity and child health clinics (MCH). This kind of treatment is referred to as Protection Maternelle et Infantile or PMI. Postnatal exams, dietary counselling, and immunizations are just some of the services that are offered there by knowledgeable staff. Inquire with your primary care provider or midwife about the advantages of mother and baby postnatal care to learn more about the potential benefits of this assistance. They will also be able to provide you with further information and guidance on how to sign up for the service in a more in-depth manner.


Vaccines for children in France


Except for injectable influenza inoculation, pregnant women in France do not get vaccinations as a general rule. Because of this, paediatricians will need to provide vaccinations to babies and toddlers by a timetable that has been established in advance.


As of 2018, parents in France are required to vaccinate their children against 11 different diseases. They are administered to them according to a regimen consisting of ten injections spread out over two years. For children born on or after January 1, 2018, educational institutions and community recreation facilities check to see whether these vaccinations have been given to the students.


It is against the rules for children to access community centres if they are not up to date on all of their vaccines. Provisional admission into schools and nurseries is an option for these children for three months, during which time the kid may obtain vaccines. If the kid continues to refuse, the headteacher has the authority to expel them.


France's Nurseries & Childcare Facilities


When a pregnant woman is in her second or third trimester, it is a good idea to pre-register with nurseries so that they may prepare for the arrival of their child. This requires contacting numerous nurseries and sending in a registration form, which may be obtained from the local government or the nursery, so you should get started on this process well in advance of delivering a baby in France. Nevertheless, one registration might cover many nurseries at the same time.


After the birth of the kid, nurseries will normally require the child's birth certificate and may also request further papers. It is recommended that a choice be made and registration be completed with a nursery before giving birth in France since there are occasions when there are long wait periods for available spots. Learn more about France's childcare and daycare options by doing some research on the topic.


Breastfeeding in France


According to research that was done in 2015 with 18,000 different moms, the typical amount of time that a French woman breastfeeds her child is just approximately 17 weeks. A lack of understanding regarding breastfeeding is a contributing factor to this problem. However, in recent years there have been several new mother support groups established. A few examples of associations are:


La Leche League


Solidarilait


This organisation is known as the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.


Information For Breastfeeding


There are other facilities known as lactariums that are dedicated to collecting, storing, and providing breast milk to infants who need it. Donations are the primary source of funding for their operations.


Registering your baby in France


In France, it is required that the birth of a child be registered. The procedure must be completed by the parents within three full days of work at the town hall or mairie in their community. The procedure is referred to as a declaration of birth. If a child's birth is not recorded, the youngster may have trouble receiving necessary medical care or attending school, and the child's parents run the possibility of receiving a jail term of six months and a fine of €3,750.


This statement is often submitted by the father, although in France, the birth of a child may also be registered by the attending physician, midwife, or any other qualified medical expert. A civil registrar may make rounds at some hospitals to record births of newborn babies.


Whoever registers the birth is required to have the birth certificate from the attending physician or nurse-midwife, a declaration of name choice (if they have made this), proof of the act of recognition (if it was made before the birth in France or if the parents are unmarried), and either the parents' identification cards or passports.


The registrar, also known as an official of the state or civil status, will next prepare a birth certificate, also known as an extract of the act of birth, for your child. Every birth that occurs in France is automatically registered at no cost. On the website of the French public service, you can also submit a request for a copy of the birth certificate to be sent to you.


After giving birth in France, parents who are not French nationals are required to additionally register the birth of their child at the consulate of their home country. There is also the option for nationals of the United Kingdom to register the birth at the British Embassy. Doing so will result in the birth being documented at the General Registry Office in the United Kingdom.


Non-residents, tourists, and visitors giving birth in France


Visitors visiting France on vacation are required to carry medical insurance that covers them in the case of any unexpected health problems. Check with your insurance provider if you are pregnant and believe there is a possibility that you may need to give birth while you are on vacation.


Those who are residents of Europe and are having a baby in France while they are on vacation may make use of the reciprocal benefits that are granted by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).


Does my child get French citizenship?


One of the kid's parents must be a citizen of France for the child to be granted automatic citizenship in that country. By another provision of the legislation, a person who was born in France to parents who were not French may apply for French citizenship when they become 18 as long as they continue to live in France. Have a look at our detailed information on how to become a French citizen.


Maternity leave and paternity leave in France


In France, women are required to take a maternity leave of at least eight weeks before returning to work. Women are eligible for up to sixteen weeks of maternity leave (congé maternité), often beginning six weeks before the due date of their child and continuing for ten weeks after. If a woman is expecting her third child, she may need to stay in the hospital for up to 26 weeks. When you are expecting twins, the period lasts for 34 weeks; when you are expecting triplets, it lasts for 46 weeks. There is also a leave of absence for adoptive parents that lasts for ten weeks.


When you are on maternity leave, you have some leeway in terms of scheduling. In France, new mothers space out their leave so that they have more time available after giving birth. In the case that medical complications arise during pregnancy, a pregnant employee may be eligible for further leave.


You are allowed to go back to work sooner, but you are required to take a minimum of eight weeks off, including six weeks following the delivery, to be eligible for the allowances that are rightfully yours.


During the time that you are on maternity leave in France, your employer is prohibited from under any circumstances terminating your employment contract.


Parental leave in France


The duration of paternity leave in France ranges from 11 to 18 consecutive days, with the latter number increasing in the event of multiple deliveries.


In France, new parents who are on parental leave get a daily benefit that is equivalent to their average pay for the three months preceding the birth in France, up to the quarterly social security maximum of €9,933. This benefit is provided to both mothers and dads. In France, a fixed rate of 21% is deducted for taxes and social contributions to the state from parental leave compensation. As of the first of the year 2016, the daily payment that is given to persons who are on parental leave in France cannot be lower than €9.26 or greater than €83.58 per day. Payments are typically made every two weeks and cover at least eight weeks. These prices are subject to revision on an annual basis. It is possible to file a claim for maternity leave in France even if you are currently without a job; but, if you do so, you will not be eligible for maternity leave benefits until you have terminated your unemployment benefits.


To be eligible for parental leave in France, you need to have worked a minimum of 150 hours for three months, or 600 hours during 12 months if you work part-time or irregular hours. There are more methods to qualify, but in most cases, you will not have to take any action to get your benefit. Your health insurance will determine whether or not you are eligible and will provide your employer with a paid certificate that outlines the benefits you will receive.


Your health insurer in France should be your first point of contact if you need guidance on whether provisions are relevant to your specific circumstances. You may also estimate the length of your parental leave in France using this calculator, which is written in French.


Child benefits in France


Citizens and permanent residents of France are eligible for family allowances if they are responsible for at least one kid who is not their biological child and is either adopted or hosted. Depending on one's income level, one may be eligible for certain allowances.


A variety of early childhood benefits are available, including a variable supplement to pay for a micro-crèche or other assistant until the child reaches the age of six (Prestation d'accueil du jeune enfant or Paje; €927.71 as of 2018), a basic allowance (between €92 and €185 per month), a shared education allowance (from €146.94 for working parents), and a basic allowance (between €92 and €185 per month).


In addition, children who are impaired and who are returning to school are eligible for a special allowance of €130.51 per month, and there is additional funding available for family housing. The website of the National Solidarity Fund has more information that may be accessed there.


The age restriction for collecting these allowances is established at 20 years old for all children who do not work or whose monthly income does not exceed €918.35. These limitations apply to children whose remuneration does not exceed these amounts. Housing assistance and additions to family income remain until the kid reaches the age of 21.


On the website of the family allowance office in France, you may find further details on the advantages offered for child care.


Useful resources


● Fund for Social Security and Public Health Insurance (Sécurité Sociale).

● Caisse d'Allocations Familiales, often known as the Family Allowance Fund

● Membership in the National Association of Midwives

● Doulas in France Have Their Association


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