Finding out you’re pregnant in France

I found out I was pregnant at about 5 weeks. I took a pregnancy test around this time (and several others, of course!) that showed the positive lines… And so the journey of my pregnancy in France began.

I decided to wait to see the doctor until about 8 weeks and booked to see my médecin généraliste. I wanted to know what sort of things would be covered in this first meeting and two sites which I’ve used throughout my pregnancy so far have been Enceinte.com and Parents. I was, however, slightly put off by the mention of ‘internal examinations’, ‘smear tests’ and ‘weigh-ins’ mentioned already at this stage. On the other hand, I was prepared for the more medical approach of pregnancy in France and being my first pregnancy, I had nothing to compare it to anyway.

I needn’t have worried. My doctor congratulated me and hesitantly asked whether I was part of the social security system in France. When I replied “oui” that I was all registered in France with my Carte Vitale and so on, he happily proceeded to enter my details in the system, weigh me, and did a quick examination of my tummy. “Under no circumstances from NOW ON”, he pointed at me when I was still lying on the bed, “must you drink, take drugs or expose yourself to harmful chemicals.”

This was my first experience where a preconception of pregnancy in France was completely wrong! French women are really not downing the wine and if they are, they’ll be keeping it very much a secret from their doctors.

I was then given the name of the clinic’s midwife as “after all, it’s much nicer for you to have a woman looking after you…” and helped to make my first appointment with her.

I left this first step in the pregnancy journey feeling reassurance and (already) looked-after. Even though my French – especially medical French – is ropy, I felt understood and could understand what needed doing. I was going to be followed by a midwife, something I was worried wouldn’t be the case, and I had made the first step into the system. I’m not completely sure if the doctor’s visit was necessary, I might have been able to go straight to booking this first appointment with my midwife, but, as with everything else in a new life in France, I’d rather do it the long-winded way and get to where I need to on time than to miss something vital and be flapping!

USEFUL PHRASES

(date de) début de grossesse – date of the start of your pregnancy

(date des) dernières règles – date of your last period

Learn these phrases and your dates for your first rendez-vous as one or the other will be asked frequently throughout your check-ups.

amenorrhea – absence of menstruation

I’m not sure if this is the case in the UK, but in France semaines d’aménorrhée is mentioned a lot by midwives. It means the number of week since you’re last period. If it’s been 10 weeks since, then you’re 10 semaines d’aménorrhée and in your eighth week of pregnancy.