How Parisians Do Pregnancy: An Unscientific Guide, As Observed By A Canadian Expat


Wine, coffee, food, fashion, dating, family life, humour; as a Canadian expat living in Paris, I’ve realised there’s an idiosyncratically French way of approaching nearly everything in life. So, when I became pregnant with my first child earlier this year – well, let’s just say I was ready for some controversy.

I’ve gone into the whole pregnancy thing pretty much blind, without so much as a self-help book for consultation (unless you count Emily Oster’s gloriously un-cutesy, data-driven Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know). When I found out I was pregnant I began visiting a young, hip, Isabel Marant-clad ob gyn, who has schooled me in the ways of French pregnancy. And six months in, one thing is clear: unsurprisingly, Parisians have their own approach to childbearing and it revolves around a mantra of “live and let live”.

Of course, French women are just as invested in being good mothers as women anywhere else in the world. But, in contrast to some cultures, the women around me all seem to firmly believe that it is possible to have a child without making any drastic or defining changes to one’s life philosophy. Indeed, anything akin to a pregnant and/or parenting-motivated personality transplant is viewed with deep suspicion. The idea of investigating and selecting parenting methods via searching questions such as “Will you be a permissive or authoritative parent?” and “What is your stance on attachment parenting?”, is entirely foreign. As is the concept of sleeping with one’s newborn in one’s room (one custom I’ll be contesting for at least a couple months, for the record).

So, as I have come to discover, there are exceptions to the “live and let live” philosophy. Here’s an entirely unscientific, wholly anecdotal guide to where pregnant French women stand on everything from clothes to cheese.