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How to choose a maternity hospital in France

Did you just find out that you are pregnant? Among the many steps that await you during pregnancy, one is essential: choosing your maternity hospital. Why is this so important? What questions should you ask yourself and where can you find the answers to choose the right maternity hospital?

Choosing maternity: why is it important?

When the time to give birth draws near, many expectant moms (and dads) worry: Is the birth going to be okay? To allay these fears, it is important to know the maternity ward where you are planning to give birth. It’s a matter of trust first.

Knowing your motherhood in advance also allows you to think about a “childbirth plan” that will be respected. Choice or not of an epidural, refusal or not of an episiotomy, physiological childbirth, etc. : these choices can be considered and anticipated if we know the practices of the maternity hospital where we are going to give birth.

Choosing maternity: questions to ask yourself

To find the best maternity hospital that matches your wishes, you need to know what the right questions to ask are:

  • The maternity category: there are three levels in France depending on the degree of specialization.
    • level 1: for pregnancies assumed to be safe,
    • level 2: management of premature newborns born from 32 weeks of amenorrhea,
    • level 3: treatment of very premature babies born before 32 weeks of amenorrhea. These maternities have an intensive care unit and pediatric and maternal resuscitation, which avoids having to transfer the baby or mother to another facility in the event of a complication.
  • Practices in each maternity ward: will delivery be provided by an obstetrician-gynecologist or a midwife? Will there be an anesthetist on call to put in an epidural? On the contrary, does this maternity practice natural childbirth?
  • Accessibility: is the maternity hospital a reasonable distance from your home? Remember to take into account the trafic conditions at the expected time of delivery.
  • In which partner hospital will you be transferred in the event of a complication if care is not possible in the maternity unit you have chosen?
  • Prices: the maternity ward of a public hospital or an approved private clinic normally offers 100% social security coverage of the cost of childbirth. Remember to find out about the risks of certain specialists’ fees being exceeded and unsupported costs.

Where can I gather information?

To make sure you choose the right maternity hospital, your best bet is to visit one, if you can. Familiarize yourself with the place, discover the equipment and meet the staff who will take care of you and your baby.

You can also use our search engine dedicated to maternity hospitals in France to make a first sorting. You will find, among other things, information on the level of the maternity ward, the number of deliveries, the staff etc. The data come from the Annual Statistics of Health Establishments (SAE), which is a compulsory exhaustive administrative survey, carried out each year by the DREES with all health establishments in France.

Finally, use your network: do not hesitate to interview the women around you who, in general, readily testify about their conditions of delivery. It will help you choose a maternity hospital so that perhaps your childbirth is the best memory of your life.