Now that my sister-in-law is pregnant again, it has brought back memories of how the French deal with pregnancy that I found amusing and interesting but not all of them were good.
Yep, a rare photo of the Baby Bun bump at six months I think…. and it got BIGGER.
PREGNANT WOMEN GET PRIORITY DESIGNATED LINES
I am in no way saying that people in line DO NOT give priority to pregnant women in North America but there were some special checkout lanes with symbols specifically meant for them in France which I found unusual.
If you’re pregnant you can go into the express line meant for pregnant women and old people.
My partner and I were standing in the line once at a grocery store in La Défense, while I happened to be 5 weeks pregnant but not quite showing yet.
A woman who was a little farther along, came up, tapped my partner on the shoulder and gestured to the sign that it was only for pregnant women (she thought we were tourists who didn’t know better), and tried to say in broken English that we weren’t allowed there.
He said back to her in perfect Parisian French that “Oui”, he knew, and he pointed to my belly.
She turned pink and became so flustered that they went to stand in another line.
You also get seats on the train like in North America, which is nice.
PUBLIC BATHROOMS ARE A RARITY
The only bad part about being pregnant there is if you have to constantly pee, you’re going to have to stick close to shopping places or know where you can go for free or end up having to fork over a Euro or two each time just to use a bathroom (you can buy an espresso and gain access).
My partner drank A LOT of espressos that trip, I’ll tell you what.
Even in stores where WE KNEW they had employee bathrooms, they wouldn’t let me go and pee in there while pregnant unlike in North America because they are French and didn’t want to set a precedent to allow everyone to think they were public restrooms. *eyeroll*
They just lied to us and said: “Non, il n’y en a pas.”
Grrrrr. In North America they are far more accommodating and kind about the plight of a little munchkin inside of you, dancing on your bladder, or a large toddler doing the potty dance with tears and a desperate look on his face.
THEY ARE VIGILANT ABOUT THE WEIGHT
Every single French relative, without exception repeated to me that it was not worth it to eat like a whale and have to work at getting the pounds off.
They said it wasn’t for two, but just you and a little bit more. Ça suffit! (Translation: that’s enough!)
They all had slim, flat bellies and were as skinny as toothpicks after having two or three kids each.
Heck, I felt fat standing next to them and I’m a US 4!!!
It doesn’t help your self-esteem, living in France, depending on your family members….
My own pregnant sister-in-law snapped photos of herself SIX WEEKS AFTER BIRTH, wearing a bikini poolside, as if nothing had ever happened or changed and she didn’t carry a new life for 9 months into the world.
I still looked like Shamu the Killer Whale even 7 months after birth, so .. yeah.. that was not cool.
Of course not ALL Frenchwomen are stick thin after kids, but I’ll be damned if they weren’t the majority in my family.
THEY ALL HAVE 3 KIDS EACH
The magic number for maximum government benefits? 3.
Most French families aim for and have 3 kids each to get the most out of the government.
My partner snorts when he says that having kids is a source of income for many families but he isn’t really joking.
Many families have multiple kids to eke out a living, although I’m not sure it is worth the stress of so many crumb crunchers.
Why at least 3?
Because it replaces you, your spouse and adds one more to the population instead of having to rely on immigrants to help boost population numbers to keep a critical mass of tax-paying citizens going and growing to support an aging population and pay for all the services.
PREGNANT WOMEN ARE LESS CAUTIOUS
They drink alcohol (“my doctor said only one glass of red wine a day”), drink coffee, and they eat raw fish.
They don’t really have many restrictions on what pregnant women can eat and drink which is in direct contrast against how North Americans tend to view pregnancy — as a special, fragile, 100% baby-centric purpose where you play Mozart on headphones and put them around your belly to give your child a start in math in utero.
Generally speaking, those are some differences I remember noting while pregnant in France.
Aside from that, once the kid is out, the daycare is free and very good, with the food being provided to children being on the level of a very good restaurant with real plates, cutlery, glasses, napkins and a 3-course affair.