Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 7 months ago


Pregnancy & birth

Pregnancy and childbirth in France can be quite a daunting experience, especially if it is your first child. The healthcare provided during this time is excellent and a bit different from other European countries. Your pregnancy will be followed by a gynaecologist, your first scan at 8 weeks and then pretty much every 3 – 4 weeks afterwards. The scans are very comprehensive and you will be expected to have blood tests every month. These are done at a local laboratory and the results will be in your post box the next day. A month before your due date your gynaecologist will hand you and your file over to the local hospital where you will be giving birth. It is at this time that you will arrange a meeting with the mid-wife to register you with the hospital, have a tour of the maternity unit and your last scan will be undertaken at the hospital by the in-house gynaecologist.
When you register with your hospital for the birth, you will also be given the opportunity to book a single room (providing that there is one available on the day) and to request any special dietary requirements. Unlike the UK, if you are having your first child, you are advised to stay in hospital 5 days after the baby is born, giving you and your baby time away from the daily routine, time to bond and for the mid-wives to check that you and your baby are recovering from the birth. They are very keen to encourage breast feeding and are on hand at any hour of the day or night to help you to develop a good feeding routine. The child needs to be registered with the local Marie (Mayors office) within 48 hours of the child being born.
Pain relief is available, in France the epidural is frequently requested by mothers and although gas and air is available you will need to ask for this as it is not automatically offered as the first step in pain relief. Tens machines are not widely available in the hospitals. Birthing pools are also quite rare in France, but they are slowly becoming available. Home births are also quite rare in the Vienneregion, mainly due to the distance being travelled from home to hospital, they are not widely available and hospital births are the norm here.

Antenatal classes are run with the sage femme (mid wife) and most are attached to the local hospital. There is a course of 6 or 7 classes which cover all aspects of childbirth and the initial time after the birth. Your gynaecologist will give you the name of the mid wife to contact when the time is right. After your birth you will be given a prescription for a re-education programme for your pelvic floor – this is run with the mid wife that followed your pregnancy. It is not obligatory to do, but something that is recommended, it is free and paid for by the state.

The hospitals in the Vienne are divided into high risk (grade 2 & 3) and low risk. Providing all is going smoothly during your pregnancy then you will be able to give birth at a low risk hospital. If there are any complications during the pregnancy or you are expecting twins or need a caesarean then you will need to deliver in grade 2 or 3 hospital. There are also state hospitals or private clinic, the private clinics offering a more personal service and the maternity wing is usually smaller. Private clinics will charge slightly more than the state hospitals but for the majority of cost your top up insurance will cover this.

(Rachel Roxburgh, Dec 2010)

If you live in La Vienne and have a birth and/or pregnancy experience you would like to share, please do contact us.

  • Midwife Mme Béatrice Peyrat

    Recommended by Rachel Roxburgh

    Based at the Centre Hospitalier de Montmorillon - 2 rue Henri Dunant - 86500 Montmorillon

    "There is no maternity unit at Montmorillon, delivery will either be at Le Blanc, Poitiers or Limoges. Excellent antenatal classes run, with the option of either a group class or an individual class. Little English spoken but many images and graphics to help you understand everything." (RR, Dec 2010)

  • Centre Hospitalier du Blanc

    Recommended by Rachel Roxburgh

    Seven full time midwives are on hand at the hospital, two delivery rooms and 13 beds.
    Centre Hospitalier du Blanc, 33 Rue Saint Lazare, 36300 Le Blanc.
    Tel 02 54 28 28 28


    "I gave birth to both of my children at Le Blanc. It like a small cottage hospital, very relaxed and friendly. Staff on hand all through the night to help with any worries or questions. I had a private room for both deliveries which cost a little more but our top up insurance covered the cost. My husband was allowed to sleep the night for my first delivery and my husband and daughter were welcome any time of the day with my second delivery. I could not recommend this enough. NB if there are any complications with your pregnancy then you will automatically be sent to Poitiers or Limoges as this is only a grade 1 hospital." (RR, Dec 2010)

  • Gynaecologist Gimenez André

    Recommended by Rachel Roxburgh

    2 RuenChamp de Foire 86500 MONTMORILLON. Tel 05 49 91 14 74

    "Dr Gimenez followed both my pregnancies from the first scan until 8 months. The service is very professional with the latest technology. Each visit I received pictures and a full report of the pregnancy. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks and it was dealt with in a very gently and kind manner, my second pregnancy was followed very carefully with a scan at 8 weeks to check that everything was OK, putting my mind at ease." (RR, Dec 2010)

  • Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Poitiers (CHU)

    Recommended by Rachel Roxburgh

    Centro Yoga Om, Vilanova i la Geltru Image

    2 Rue Milétrie 86000 POITIERS. Tel 05 49 44 44 44

    "A very large grade 2 / 3 hospital with a large maternity unit. Rather impersonal due to the size and not always someone available to help or answer queries or questions. If there are any complications then you will have no choice than to deliver your baby here." (RR, Dec 2010)

  • Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Limoges (CHU)

    Recommended by Rachel Roxburgh

    Centro Yoga Om, Vilanova i la Geltru Image

    Maternity hospital
    8 avenue Dominique Larrey
    87042 Limoges cedex
    Tél. 05 55 05 55 55

    Comments :
    "Large grade 2/3 hospital in Limoges. Good reputation but slightly impersonal service due to its size. If a more personal service required then see the Clinique Des Emailleurs Limoges." (RR, Dec 2010)

  • Clinique Des Emailleurs Limoges

    Recommended by Rachel Roxburgh

    Centro Yoga Om, Vilanova i la Geltru Image

    Private clinic
    1 R Victor Schoelcher - 87038 Limoges Cedex 1
    Tél : (web site available in English)

    "Private clinic so offering a more personal service, costs a little more but top up insurance should cover the majority of the cost" (RR, Dec 2010)