Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our French Hospital Stay - Why 5 Days???

In France, the hospital stay is a bit longer than in the US.  If you do not have a C-Section you typically stay around 4 days and if you do they usually keep you a full 5 days.  To be honest, I have NO idea how I would have been able to go home after my C-Section the day after or even 2 days after she was born.  I will do a post about my recovery another time, but honestly I needed the full 5 days!
At our hospital, each baby has their own little bassinet on wheels and the baby is required to "room in" with you. There is no glass window where families can gaze into a sea of precious newborns in a nursery... the babies belong in your room at all times. We wouldn't have had it any other way! Also check out the view from our hospital room- that gorgeous building is our Prefecture. (Where all the Visa stuff goes down!) 
Another reason they keep you so long is because they give you hands on "training." For example, you are not allowed to change diapers in your room- you are required to push the bassinet to the common nursery area to change them.  (No carrying your baby to the nursery either... you always had to wheel them across the hall.) There was always at least one midwife in the nursery working to either demonstrate, help, monitor, or just be there in case you had questions.  THIS is where we learned the proper way to change Stella's diapers, the products to use to clean her face & eyes, the vitamins to give her and HOW to give them, how to care for the umbilical cord and then of course bath time. (In France they do not do sponge baths, it is fully submerged from the get go!)  Each baby had their own station and after you were finished you had to wipe it down with disinfectant. This was also the area where Stella was measured and weighed.

Logan was able to room in with me on a pull out bed the entire stay although they only brought meals for me. The food was actually pretty yummy and I never had the same thing twice!  Honestly I loved our hospital experience- the midwives came by to check on us all the time...including making sure we were up and FEEDING every 3 hours! I have the midwives to thank for the hands-on teaching with breastfeeding.  There was one lady that came every 3 hours during her shift to help me nurse and pump at the same time.  All modesty flies out the window at that point!  Because of this we got to know them very well and they all became smitten and attached to little Estelle.  They all call her "Petite Estelle" because "Estelle" is a beautiful French name although my grandmother couldn't be further from French :) And can we talk about how all the doctors were concerned about HUGE she was going to be and yet she came out a long, skinny little thing WAY UNDER her predicted birth weight of over 8 pounds? :) I just think it's funny! Our girl is still to this day long and lean.  Silly French doctors and their American baby stereotypes ha! 
When we left the hospital we were more excited than nervous because we felt prepared and we'd had lots of practice all week! I am not sure I would have wanted longer than 5 days. For us, it was the perfect amount of time for me to heal and for us to learn all the basics.  It will be interesting to see how this compares to having kids in the states. I'm sure there are pros and cons in every experience but we were very impressed by our care in France.  I am happy we took the leap of faith in starting our family abroad. Little Miss Frenchy is more than a nickname for little Stella... she will most likely be our only French born baby! In fact, she is still only French and won't be American for a few more weeks until we can get her to the US consulate in Bordeaux. :) 


  1. how enchanted is my life, that, i got to be there!

  2. Let me know when you come to Bordeaux...would be great to see you again & would love to meet Little Miss Frenchy!

    1. Our appointment is Wednesday, February 27th at the consulate... let us know if you will be around!

  3. It sounds like a really great experience Abby - glad it went well. How was it with the language barrier? I know down the road we'll be debating whether to go to the American or British-Franco or just a French hospital in Paris and of course everyone has a million different opinions but there is something about getting the true French perspective and experience that is intriguing. BTW, you look fantastic and so happy :)

    1. Honestly the language barrier was NOT an issue.. during labor or during my recovery. Most of it was just observing and then mimicking. GRANTED, I did have a French husband who could translate when the big decisions happened (Ex: When Stella went into distress and we needed a C-Section) - BUT everyone seriously made an effort in English and knew basic words and between my basic French and their basic English and sometimes a game of charades - we were able to communicate and get by! I was really proud of myself! If you have any other specific questions let me know :) I would think if I can do the language barrier in tiny town Central France you would definitely be able to get by in big city Paris! :)

  4. Primary care physicians will be in the best position to be your point person particularly if there'll be a lot of experts as well as professionals working on your diagnosis and recovery.

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