Photo by Isaiah Bekkers
Birth in France: The Maisons de Naissance Experimental Project and the Horizon of Homebirth
The “alternative” movement around birthing options is beginning to blossom in France—more rapidly in the last few years. Although birth centers were nonexistent before, a few mothers seeking natural births have managed to have them at home with sage femmes (literally, wise women) who support non-medicalized births. However, this option is being threatened as fewer sage femmes are willing to attend homebirths due to the obstacles found in their practice. Only recently have birth centers or birth homes become a new option for mothers. This is a good alternative for women who can’t find an active homebirth midwife in their area, or who don’t want to birth at home or in a highly medicalized environment—which is the case for the great majority of hospitals in France. In 2016, nine maisons de naissance received a green light to function on an “experimental title.” At the same time, the unavailability of homebirth midwives has propelled some couples to plan unassisted births.