We are moving to France (Haute Vienne) next week and I am suddenly feeling somewhat freaked out!
I keep reading horror stories about lack of birth choices, apalling breastfeeding rates, and super conservative parenting styles :?
Help! I am worried I am going to be some kind of social outcast for nursing my toddler and not sending my three year old to school. And we are hoping for another pregnancy next year - it seems like my chances of having a homebirth in a rural area and after two previous complicated births, is pretty much nil.
Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!
Mama to my beautiful boys (July 07, Jan 10, May 12)
Dont freak out it really isnt that bad, in my experience people love to chalk it up about how awful it is because they like to point out how advanced their country is. I gave birth to my first baby here in hospital, I tried to find a sage femme liberal to have a home birth but I couldnt find one, it turns out there are actually a few.
The birth went so well, I had my own ensuite room where my husband could stay the whole time, he even had breakfast in bed every morning with us. It was a completely natural vaginal birth, no pain relief, IV, oxitocin, absolutely nothing, and I ate and drank all I wanted, they told me I couldnt when I visited and that I would have to have an IV but I just ate and drank in my room and I just refused the IV. They arent going to hold you down!! We waited for the cord blood to stop flowing before cutting which my husband did. I ended up having a severe postpartum hemorrhage and they took great care of me, so I was glad that I didnt have a home birth in the end. After wards we got some awful advice about breastfeeding, but you arent a first time mum like I was. This was in a very rural hospital in Villefranche de Rouergue in Aveyron. It doesnt have amis de bebe status. The hospital nearest to me was a bit of a factory so I chose not to birth there, we had to travel an hour or so to the other. I think that if you are having your third child it would be so much easier to have the birth you want than it was for me, although I dont know what sort of complications you had of course.
There are choices for birthing they just arent posted on the internet or your obstetricians office either, your best bet is to join a lll group (I know plenty of mammas nursing their toddlers there) and ask about home birth. The french love to say words like obligatoire when it isnt actually at all obligatory, I think a lot of expats hear someone in authority saying you cant do this or that and think it is definitive, but people bend the rules here a lot! You will meet your fair share of narrow minded people here, as anywhere, so you will have to find your "village" which as a family is quite easy to do. Our way of parenting isnt the norm here by any stretch of the imagination, but those who do parent as we do stick together, which is great for someone just moving here, you will make friends through that.
For example all over the internet on expat forums you will read it is obligatory to vaccinate your child, not true, it is obligatory that they are vaccinated to go into school or creche ect. My daughter has only had the DTP vaccination (which people will also tell you is not possible to get hold of) because she isnt going to creche and I plan to homeschool so I didnt even have to give her that.
France is a great place to raise a family, there is lots of space and it is comparably very safe just because the majority of people do it one way doesnt mean you need to. Also dont worry about what you read on the internet, not many people think oh, I'm so happy here I'm going to post it on the internet, they usually want to get something off their chest.
Wow this is so long! Ok keep calm mamma, it is normal to have a few panic attacks but I know of many French families who breastfeed until their kids self ween, homebirth, co sleep ect.
I hope the move goes well!
I've had two babies in France - see my diary of DD #2 : http://having-a-baby-in-france.blogspot.com/
I found an English speaking LLL lady near me - gave me lots of local tips too - including an English speaking mid wife who specialised in home births... (I've had 2 c-sections... thru complications..)
3 year olds going to school = it's not 'proper school per se' - it's just like kindergarten - it's not obligatory, you can just do the 4 mornings a week if you want (that's what I do) and they love it...
I have to say particularly my area of France near Montpellier is absolutely excellent for babies and kids ...
Thank you thank you for your kind replies :D
I am feeling a little better about things today - looked up LLL and there is one in Limoges which I could go to, and a couple more in Dordogne.
I really should remember that google is not your friend when you are worrying about something late at night :lol:
We are unsure what we will do about education for DS1 who will be 4 in July - he will likely be homeschooled, but if the local ecole maternelle is flexible enough on times, then I would like him to go part time. Wendy - I see your DD only goes in the mornings. Is it common that they allow that, or is that only for the littler ones?
And llinos - have you had many problems with your decision to homeschool? How old are your kids?
Thanks again ladies!
Mama to my beautiful boys (July 07, Jan 10, May 12)
My DD is only 9 months old!! I dont know yet what problems I will encounter or that I wont change my mind even, but I am pretty adamant that it is the best for our family, unless my daughter really wants to go to school of course. I know 10 other french families who homeschool in my departement which is one of the most sparsely inhabited departements in france, so it is quite a lot of people really. There are only two families who knew they wanted to homeschool from the start, all the others have pulled their kids out of school for one reason or another. They are inspected once a year from the when the child is 6, which they say is more annoying than anything, homeschooling is getting more popular over here but it is still very uncommon.
Thats great that there is a LLL you can go to, they are really supportive and they will put you in the know, as will the other mums who frequent them.
You have plenty of time to figure out schooling in my opinion, it will all fall into place I imagine.
have a look at this site for home/un schooling www.lesenfantsdabord.org/ - it's full of great information and although Paris based there are lots of things you can find out - log on and go into the forum if you want to - I'm sure you won't feel so 'alone', sometimes we just need a little time to find our feet, and if you are ever in and around Paris - you are more than welcome to come to our LLL meetings in english! Good luck and i'm sure you'll love it!
He's 9 years old and I rarely get comments now, presumably because it's too late for the poor kid, he didn't get into the French system when he should have--plus we moved to Switzerland and apparently the school system is so different here it wouldn't help! My MIL has lobbied for CNED though and it makes her crazy that we're not using it. I've tried to tell her about what we are using but if it's not CNED it isn't any good.
Back to BFing...
We went on a homeschool group fieldtrip yesterday, the majority being French homeschoolers. There was a mom nursing a 2 year-old and another mom who, at another outing awhile back, had nursed her 4 year-old (who's now 6). It's not common but fortunately it's not unheard of.