The French Postpartum Exercise Routine (reéducation)

The French are darn good at having kids, and they have a lot of them. I asked a coworker why every woman I met seemed to have at least 3 or 4 kids and she winked and giggled, saying that “the French like romanticism.” Did I mention these women all look fantastic? Seriously the pounds […]

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Pregnancy Survival Guide: Tips to feel your best each trimester

Pregnancy Survival Tips: Basic strategies to improve your mood, energy, and well-being during pregnancy Pregnancy is one of life’s blessings, but let’s be honest and admit that growing that little miracle can be a difficult and frustrating experience for your body. Two pregnancies and two continents later, I want to share the tips I have learned […]

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Newborn Necessities, Extras, and Secrets to Save Money

NEWBORN MUSTHAVES 101: What you really need to have on hand when your little bundle of joy arrives Being pregnant can be terrifying. You want to do the best for the baby who has not come yet and you want to be prepared, but have no idea what you actually need. There is plenty of […]

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French Advice for Eating Well During Pregnancy, and Common Myths Explored

Moving to France I heard a variety of bizarre claims about how French women don’t follow the basic dietary laws of pregnancy known to all Anglophone women: “French pregnant women have a glass of red wine each day!” “French women drink loads of coffee” “French women keep eating unpasteurized cheeses throughout pregnancy” “French women barely […]

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Recommended Weight Gain during Pregnancy: Comparing the American and French Guidelines

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy to maximize your and your baby’s health? Weight gain guidelines during pregnancy can be frustratingly nonspecific, and there is conflicting advice everywhere. Many doctors don’t even counsel patients on safe prenatal weight gain! Nine months is a long time, and if you’re like me and can easily […]

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The difference between your FRENCH and AMERICAN pregnancy due dates (Why have one when you can have two??)

One of the first things I learned when I moved here is that the French do not readily accept the ways of English-speaking peoples. They turn their noses up at mayonnaise (quelle horreur), wonderbread (who needs wonderbread when you have baguette), and show a general disregard for the English language. Even those American traditions that have […]

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Prenatal Exercise Advice from French Doctors, & the Surprising Exercise You Should NOT Do While Pregnant!

Common prenatal exercise advice from medical practitioners in the United States is that you may continue whatever preconception exercise you did. Don’t increase your workout intensity, but maintain whatever routine you had. That’s why I was shocked to discuss prenatal exercise with my French obstetrician. Once my morning sickness finally started to wear off I […]

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Rampant Vampirism in the French Medical System

I might be a doctor, but I hate getting my blood drawn. As I would come to discover, France has a love affair with blood tests. After my initial consultation with my obstetrician, in which she could scarcely hide her incredulousness at my maternal neglect of having had no prenatal blood tests by 9 weeks […]

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Finding your friendly neighborhood (English-speaking) French doctor

We moved to France when I was eight weeks pregnant, and hadn’t had a single prenatal visit. When we first arrived in France the first week of our lives was sucked away into the black hole of baby jet lag, culture shock, and the general panic of how we were going to survive in this […]

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The joy! Bringing new life to the world. Nine months of pure happiness, right? Somehow everyone who told you about how wonderful pregnancy and parenting are forgot to mention the nine plus months of constant doctors appointments, of being poked and prodded like a prime piece of meat, of never-ending morning sickness, of constantly watching your diet and depriving yourself of almost anything appetizing, and hours of excruciating pain at the end.  Pregnancy is indeed a miraculous blessing, but it is not easy.

Now this is the second time I’m doing this, so these facts of pregnancy life are no longer a surprise for me. But my environment has changed. For my first pregnancy and delivery I was living in New York City. I saw my local obstetrician and delivered at a nearby large academic hospital. As a doctor, and a neurotic first time parturient, I wanted the full scope of medical care, and the immediate availability of intensive care for the baby or myself in case anything went freakishly wrong. I followed all medical advice.  Like the majority of local women, I had an epidural, labored and delivered in the hospital, and left within 48 hours afterward. Nothing unusual.

Now I am in Paris. From the start of my medical care to the end, I will be here. How will this experience differ from my American experience? Does pregnancy always make you feel like a bloated enormous cow? Do French women have any secrets or tricks? Are unpasteurized cheeses really off limits??

I have two goals in this section. The first is to describe my medical experiences here, for anyone who is interested in how other countries handle maternity care, or anyone interested in what happens when a clueless foreigner seeks medical care in another system and language. The second goal is to offer survival tips and recommendations from two continents that I hope will help with your pregnancy!