Pregnancy Misc, French Admin Version

The heat finally broke this week. Hurray! I’m now feeling pretty confident I’ll be able to keep working till October 8th so I called my doc Monday for an extension to push back my leave.

There are a couple of maternity leave related things people have told me over the past few weeks in conversation that appear to not be true:

  1. the congé parental pays well*
  2. you can get extra maternity leave for breast-feeding

It’s nice the dreams people feel like selling you on when they aren’t up to date on any current info. But I’ve been doing so much reading about this stuff over the past few months that as soon as they said these things I was pretty sure they weren’t true. Like the things people say to expats, be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true!

(*Congé parental or parental leave is something you can take after your maternity leave, or the dad can take it, but you aren’t paid a salary, just an “indemnity” of a few hundred euros a month. Needless to say that is NOT enough for us to live on.)

It’s been interesting realizing how fast pregnancy and leave laws change in France. Even as recently as two years ago, parents got a “prime de naissance” from the governement during the 7th month of pregnancy (or before an adoption) to help defray the costs of preparing for the baby’s arrival. Guess when it arrives now? Two months AFTER the birth. So… who exactly does that help? Only people who have the money in the first place. (Though I certainly won’t be complaining when it finally arrives.)

Then there are the people who ask questions that I have trouble making sense of. Like J’s mom, who as recently as last weekend asked me if I’d looked into the allocations. Umm, yes? I did that about seven months ago and there was no real reason to because for your first child you get a grand total of 2€50 per month. Woohoo.

At the beginning of the pregnancy I felt like I was totally uninformed about paperwork and health-related things, and as time has gone on I’ve realized that I (and probably all other pregnant women) am actually way more informed than all the non-pregnant people I talk to. Which, I guess… duh.

What IS interesting to talk to people about is the more human side of things, like other women’s experiences with pregnancy (no labor stories kthx), or things they remember from when their babies were very little. But the admin stuff is just sort of a waste of time, unless they had a baby in the past year or are actually a midwife or doctor.

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4 thoughts on “Pregnancy Misc, French Admin Version

  1. All the “you get loads of help from the state when you have a baby” comments have been driving me nuts! As you say, things have changed very recently and most people don’t realise quite how much. I have a couple of friends who’ve had children on each side of the 2015 divide and they confirm that it really is different compared to a couple of years ago. I still think the maternity and parental leave conditions are good in France and I appreciate what we do have (more the employment rights than the money). It’s just annoying when people think you’re getting all these handouts and you can’t contradict them for fear of sounding like a wannabe scrounger!

    • People do seem to be under the impression that the aid is endless. I think it’s really quite reasonable—I’m VERY grateful to be having a baby here rather than in the US. But yeah the help isn’t quite as generous as people think. I was actually quite shocked when we realized that J had to schedule his paternity leave a month ahead of time and it couldn’t be changed if the baby arrives early (and the chances of that are … HIGH). But apparently paternity leave didn’t even exist as recently as five years ago so again, I won’t complain too much.

  2. When I first had my baby I don’t remember much about the administrative papers to do. I just remember that doctor filled me a form for la CPAM and for some reason, the CAF money arrived rather quickly. I got an password from la CAF, filled out the form online (déclaration de revenus), and the money came in without expectation. I made a declaration online that baby was born, that’s it. It’s been almost 2 years since I had my daughter, so maybe things have changed since. Good luck with all this.

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