In France, everyone is obliged to have a carte de sécurité sociale, the social security card. This card gives almost free medical access to its holder, and a reimbursement of up to 100% of medication. You can also pay for a supplementary insurance card, called the mutuelle. Depending on which plan you pick, even private hospitals may be free.
I chose a semi-private hospital to give birth at called Insitute Mutualiste Montsouris. Frankly, it was a pretty good experience. Well, I can't exactly compare it to any other, since it was my first and only time. But I must admit, looking back, giving birth was not that bad at all! I know I know, everyone tells me that women secrete a hormone after giving birth to help forget about the pain, but that aside, I wouldn't mind doing it all over again.
Unlike Malaysia, I didn't see my doctor even once the day I gave birth (she did visit me the day after though). Here, midwives handle all normal deliveries, and I had at least 5 (midwives). This is because my labor lasted about 23 hours, and as the midwives changed shifts, the person who took care of me changed too. The only person that I recognized through the 23 hours was the anesthetist! I wanted to give chocolates to the whole team who helped me, but I didn't even remember their names so J just left a box of chocolates at the nursing station.
Also unlike Malaysia and the US, a normal delivery requires the mother to stay in the hospital at least 3 nights. This is to assure that mommy and baby are healthy, that the mother is not in depression and ready for motherhood, etc etc. We learned in 4 days how to give a bath, feed, change, dress, everything baby. 6 weeks after delivery, I was required to do 10 sessions of réeducation de perinée, reeducation of the perineum. It is not obligatory, but HIGHLY recommended by EVERYONE. We must make sure that Monsieur remains happy! No really. That IS one of the reasons why it is highly recommended.
A week or so after the delivery, a puericultrice, a nurse specialized in babies, is sent to your home to check on how the baby is doing. She also checks her bedroom, to make sure that nothing in the baby's cot can strangle her. I kid you not. We also talked about breastfeeding, sleeping times, and baby behavior with the puericultrice. A puericultrice can also come to your house everyday for a week to help you out with the baby if needed.
All this, for free! With a good mutuelle in hand, we didn't have to pay a single cent. Without a social security card however, hospitalization and medication in France remains very very expensive, so when traveling make sure you have a good insurance that cover everything that happens during your trip. A hospital bill is on average €1,500 per day depending on the gravity of the situation, so stay out of trouble while in France!!
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