Hiring a Doula for Childbirth

Hi Everyone,

I'm 39 weeks pregnant with my first child (yikes!) and just decided to hire a doula to help me through labor and delivery and also translation. She told me that I have to get permission from my hospital - especially since hospitals here typically only allow 1 person and they also typically misunderstand / hate doulas. Well, it's getting to be common practice in the US and I need to have both a doula and my husband with me as that's my cultural preference.

Anyone have experience getting a doula into the hospital? A friend told me there might be a law in France against limiting me to only 1 person. What if my husband faints or gets sick? What if we both forget EVERYTHING from our classes? God forbid, what if he just needs to use the toilet and I'm left alone and terrified and unable to defend myself from poking and prodding?

Can you tell that a doula would be good for me? Thanks a bunch!


So Kimarie, any news yet?

I have had 4 babies over here, the first time was awful as the doctor was useless and it finished in an emergency C-section! However, the maternity part of this hospital is now closed - no surprise there on my part! The other 3 births were also C-sections but they were all planned in advance and everything went so much better. I think in most countries you hear about horror stories, but as one of my last midwives said "Everyone always talks about the awful births, but you rarely here about the good births when everything goes right!" If ever your birth ends up like my first one did you might not be allowed to even have your husband in the room as they think yours and the babies health is the priority. From all I have heard though I would rather be pregnant and give birth in France than in England. Do be prepared to stay in hospital for longer than in England, I was lucky as they can keep C-section patients up to 9 days, I managed to convince them they would need to take me to the psychiatric ward if I stayed there that long and I managed to get out in 5 days for all of the births. I'm not telling you this to scare you, it is just things I would have liked to have known before giving birth. I really hope everything goes ok for you and your baby and if ever you have to have a C-section like I did it it is not the end of the world the most important thing is your health and that of your baby - and you might be allowed a free tummy tuck like I will soon be doing - I know, wrong on so many levels I know but I am going to do it anyway! Best of luck, if you would like to ask me any questions let me know.

Thanks Winnie! We have 2 natural birth rooms at our hospital so I'm hoping one will be free at the time. I've looked at LaFee's page and it's informative indeed! Thanks for the info :-)

Thanks Tracy. The hospital has 2 natural birthing rooms with bath, ball, ropes, and a round bed.....sounds very sensual I know lol! The trick is having one available when I go in. Homebirths are on the rise in France and perhaps having these types of room is partly a way to discourage home births. Either way, it's a good thing - and I'm seeing my OB tomorrow to get permission for my doula. If they encourage natural birth, hopefully they'll start being open to doulas too!

Thanks Suzanne. I'm going to see my OB tomorrow and will confirm the remedies. We have a natural birthing room as well - first and only in the region I think. Has a nice whirlpool bath as well so we'll see if a water birth happens! Good luck with number 3! Wow, I can't even imagine having anymore at this point as it seems I've been waiting forever just for our first!

Hi. I have also given birth to 2 children here in France. The first not at all following my birth plan (ha! they didn't even want to listen - but anyway, in the end the baby was fine, that's what counts, the rest heals) and hence for the second I chose a maison de naissance since I luckily live near Nantes - an AMAZING experience, birthing stool, natural birth etc. but not everyone has access to such a clinic. As for the doula, trying as a translator is a very good idea. I have a friend here in Sautron that has trained as a doula - look her up on facebook (LaFée Condine) as her posts are very informative and she is connected to the doula network all over France. Insist on moving around - it's your birth, not theirs! You'll be fine, bon courage and really, it's true, the language part will probably be very minor.

Thanks girls, not photos we usually "publish" so nice to know they're appreciated. Tracy - nothing unusual in what you did, I've heard so many similar stories, surely there must be a better way of doing things as everyone seems to "break the rules"!

Super photos, copaing!

You can get raspbery leaf tea in tablet form too, I used that and then arnica tablets after the birth to help the healing.

Something else I found effective was reflexology but do make sure it is someone trained in maternity reflexology.

Then after the birth (which was ventouse) we took our baby to a sacro cranial osteopath and it did help her become much calmer. We have just started a new session with an osteopath that specialises in small children and it does make a difference to her behaviour. The osteopath says it is because she had a difficult birth and her insides are still all scrunched up.

Brilliant pictures!

We too left for the hospital at 4am and when my husband came in from putting the stuff in the car, towels on the seat etc he just stared at me and said what are you doing. I had been forewarned about the non eating so was gulping down a huge bowl of cereal, despite the fact that my waters had broken and we had a half hr drive to the hospital! Damn good plan though as I didn't get anything to eat till 7 that night!

ok I'm trying to read sage-femme writing!

ACTEA RACEMOSA 9ch 5 granules every hour up to accouchement

IGNATIA 15ch 5 granules every hour up to accouchement

Then at the Maternity at 3/4cm of dilation

1 dose of Gelsemium 30ch = 10 granules

Do take this into a pharmacy which advertises homeopathy and they should be able to confirm.


Hi Tracy, I knew it was risky speaking as a spectator! She sent me off to get something to eat as we'd left home at 4 in the morning when her waters broke, by early afternoon wheneverything had come to a grinding stop they (OH, midwife etc) sent me out to eat something. Simaler thing with the second, off we went mid morning with full on contractions since very early morning... yes yes things are happening and then nothing so stay in your room and wait 10am to 10pm - she sent me out with a shopping list of things to smuggle back in! see photos, food, testing the bed and my gynécologue skills!

Suzanne, can you tell me the name of the homeopathic remedies you used for labour?

Oh you must have been sooooo uncomfortable! How about your wife was so exhausted with the pain she had no option but to doze off! You're very brave helping out here, only teasing, it is good to have the male point of view (and an epidural does help a lot)

And I'd have killed my husband for nipping out for McDo - they wouldn't allow me to eat a thing, not even a sip of water! In fact, it was positively medieval whenI look back at it.

Continuity of support is totally unpredictable.

With my first born in August, it was super busy and saw no end of people throughout the day, with about 8 people in the room when I finally gave birth - dignity, what dignity? With no 2 in the same hospital 2 yrs later in November, just us, a trainee midwife and her very experienced supervisor and a totally different experience despite the fact that we had a pediatre on stand by for predicted possible complications.

I would concentrate on having the doula accepted as a translator if I were you. Good luck with persuading them you shouldn't be laying on the bed :-)

Hi Kimarie,

I had a natural birth with my first, they have birthing balls, long maternity pillows etc in our hospital and the sage-femmes were very supportive. I walked around the maternity ward for hours with my husband and wasn't stuck in the labour room. They also gave me homeopathic medicines (the little white balls you put under your tongue) to help bring along the labour which you can pick up from your pharmacy before hand. One was for the days leading up to the birth & then the others were for at the hospital during the main labour & at the end, your pharmacy can probably help with this. You can also try Raspberry leaf tea which apparently helps to shorten the second stage of labour. As you can see I tried all the natural things for No 1.

My second was a bizarre birth due to an odd pregnancy (with many premature attempts) & finally an extremely quick effect of an induction so I had an epidural for this. I had wanted No 2 to be the same as No 1 but the situation was totally different and I now know the most important thing is to do what is right for you and your baby. I felt embarrassed for having the epidural at the time but afterwards I have gotten over that.

Does your other half go to all your examens? If so, he'll soon be used to all that prodding. Its bizarre but it's one thing I found amusing about the UK check-ups - no prodding. I went back home last weekend to France and my Medecin of course wanted to do the usual check ups for 34 weeks and told me I'm 1cm but the head is high. Since then my 2 year old keeps wanting to look under my skirt for the head!

Good idea to suggest your 'friend' is the translator, I'm sure that would have worked in my hospital they were fairly relaxed.

I can't believe your hubby had to be kicked out! I heard that can happen sometimes but I can only imagine being hysterical about that and hating them for ruining our birth experience. If it's an emergency situation I can understand. Other than that, maybe if my husband feels sick or faints then out he goes! But a doula can help make sure he doesn't get to that point and he could be free to step out at anytime without feeling stressed about leaving me alone. I know him and know that he will try to stay in the room with me even if the toilet is screaming out to him lol!

Thanks Suzanne. I admit the care is better and more thorough here than in the US but even though we have private insurance, we're still limited to the public system of what's offered - and France seems to be very medicalized in the maternity area. I guess I still have my San Francisco hippy ties lingering!

I also have a private midwife but what prompted me to contact a doula is that I just found out this week that my midwife went on holiday until AFTER the baby's due and she didn't inform me or make any arrangements! She's the only English speaking private midwife here and I have 2 more individual classes with her that are going to be covered by her non-English speaking colleague...and in the middle of the day when my hubby can't help me translate! You can say I was a bit peeved and now left with absolutely no professional to contact when I go into labor, the doula was the best and most comforting option.

Thanks for the advice about the food. Yeah all they seem to have is a vending machine and a little cafe with terrible sandwiches. I thought France would be gourmet about all this lol!