*Please note that this article doesn’t cover blood tests, scans and various prescriptions you may be given by your healthcare provider.
Being pregnant with the prospect of giving birth in a foreign country can be daunting. But please don’t worry, help is at hand. This article will guide you through the administrative procedures relating to pregnancy and birth in France. By following this advice, you should be able to access all the benefits you're eligible for.
So, you’ve found out that you’re pregnant. Congratulations! The very first step is to find a healthcare professional to follow you throughout your pregnancy. In France, you can choose to book an appointment with an independent midwife (to find one, have a look on the Doctolib app), the maternity ward at the hospital or your gynecologist. If you’re unsure where to start, your GP will refer you to the right person.
Declaring Your Pregnancy - Having a Baby in France
After your first trimester scan, your healthcare provider will give you a form called the “Déclaration de grossesse” to send to CPAM (the French health care organisation) and to the CAF (which takes care of family benefits/allowances).
Declaring your pregnancy to the French health authorities is imperative as it will allow you to access maternity leave rights and give you free health cover during the last three months of pregnancy.
Declaring your pregnancy to CAF will give you rights to access family benefits. CAF will make financial contributions towards things like parental leave, childcare, family allowances.
Top Tip: Make sure you complete this paperwork as soon as possible, as both CAF and CPAM are notorious for having long delays.
Applying For Childcare
Once your pregnancy is declared (after the 1st trimester), you should start looking into childcare options. In the first few years of your child’s life, before they start attending school (in the year they turn 3), there are two main childcare options : “crèche” and “assistantes maternelles” (aka “Nounous” / Nannies).
Crèche / Nursery
Overall the most affordable option.
The price varies between €100 and €600 per month with an average of €400 per month, depending on income, hours, family setup etc. You can estimate the cost on mon-enfant.fr.
Assistantes Maternelles / Subsidised Nannies
Prices vary depending on your location.
Usually more expensive than crèche.
You can apply for the “Complément de libre choix de mode de Garde” (CmG) with CAF – an additional financial help for those opting for nounous.
Although we can’t advise on exact costs, from personal experience with two children, one in crèche and the other with an assistante maternelle the price difference was around 100€ per month after claiming the CmG each month.
If you’re struggling to choose between crèche and a nounou, you should consider: cost, social aspects, hours, sick children and meals.
Here’s an article in French, explaining the differences (Google Translate will help if your French isn’t up to it).
Maternity, Parental & Paternity Leave
As soon as your maternity leave starts, 6 weeks before your due date for your first child, check with CAF and CPAM that you're correctly registered as an expectant mother. This will save you paperwork when you have a newborn to care for.
CPAM will be paying your maternity leave. Maternity leave is paid every 15 days so if you’re not being paid, CPAM could be missing some vital information and you should give them a call.
CAF will be paying your parental leave, your “Prime à la naissance” (a one-off payment of €947 at the time of writing) and your family allowances. These payments start the second month following your child’s birth.
Recognition - Before Birth For Unmarried Parents Only
This step is for the father to acknowledge that the child is his before the birth. To do this you should make an appointment at your local Mairie (but any Mairie can help with this administrative step). The act of acknowledgement will be edited during the meeting. Don’t forget to bring this act of acknowledgement, with your blood test results to the hospital when your baby is on its way.
Declaring The Birth Of The Child At The Mairie
you're required to declare your child’s birth within 5 days of their arrival, at the nearest Mairie to their place of birth. If the 5th day is a Saturday, Sunday or a bank holiday, you have 6 days to declare your child’s birth.
Registering your child’s birth is mandatory. If you cannot make this meeting you'll have to go to court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) to do this which is a lengthy procedure that can take a few months during which you won’t receive any family benefits.
Please note: when declaring your child’s birth, you'll be expected to have chosen your child’s name.
CPAM & CAF
Once done, CPAM will continue paying the maternity leave you're due and the CAF will unblock the birth allowances.
CPAM maternity leave usually ends 10 weeks after your due date for the first child. After this date, CAF will then be the entity providing you with family allowances throughout the child’s life.
If you need help registering with CAF, claiming maternity leave or just checking you’re up to date with the various administration elements of having a baby in France, get in touch today.