The beginning of an exciting journey

You may be about to embark on the INSEAD MBA journey with your partner, which is already an exciting adventure, but perhaps you are also about to become parents? It could be for the first time, or for the second or third time, but it might be a first for having a baby in France!  Being in a foreign country can create some extra stress when grappling with an unfamiliar “system” during the early stages of your pregnancy, the birth, and post-natal procedures.

Indeed, many INSEAD MBA families join the programme whilst expecting, or become pregnant during their time in Fontainebleau, and give birth in France.

This was the case for MBA’21J Ali Jaber, his wife Yasmine Abou Zahr and their young son Taym, who welcomed baby Sophia just in time to attend Ali’s graduation ceremony!

Ali and Yasmine successfully navigated the French system, taking on, and overcoming, the various challenges one might expect to encounter in a foreign country, in addition to those brought on by the pandemic.

Here, they have kindly shared their insights to hopefully quell any concerns, and to help you prepare in advance the practicalities for your “French” birth!

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Of course, the INSEAD Student Life team is here to provide support if need be. There is also the possibility of connecting you with families from previous cohorts who have lived the experience first-hand.

You will find it very reassuring to know that Yasmine and Ali speak very positively of their experience. They praise the professionalism of the doctors and nurses and were impressed with the care they received at the Fontainebleau hospital.

 

Things to consider beforehand:

  • Making that first appointment can be challenging so it is advised that you do this as early as possible, either directly with the hospital, or with an obstetrician of your choice.
  • You can use Doctolib.fr, a platform that offers an online appointment booking service for patients in France. Create an account to access doctors’ schedules and book your preferred slot.
  • Once admitted to the MBA programme, you have access to the Fontainebleau Guide, a handbook with practical information to help you settle into your new home and includes a non-exhaustive list of medical professionals in the area.
  • Bring your complete medical records, including test results, scans, prescriptions … etc. This will be enormously helpful when establishing your medical file with your French medical professional. 
  • You must have proof of health insurance. For your information, INSEAD MBA students are automatically insured with AON Hewitt for the duration of the programme. It is possible to add partners and children to the coverage and we encourage MBA students to do so. You will receive more information on the health plan once you are admitted.
  • Make sure you have your passport and, if you are married, have your marriage certificate translated into French and notarised. You will need this once your baby arrives.
  • Plan to have a family member with you. The MBA student will be very busy, and having help organised beforehand will be of great comfort to both of you as the date approaches, particularly if you have young children.
  • In the case you do have young children, the podcast below is a discussion on doing the MBA while accompanied by young child(ren), with a section on childcare at minute 9.27.

It is important to note that INSEAD does not have the facilities to provide childcare and you are encouraged to find the solution which best suits you before you come.

This podcast specifically addresses how to pursue an MBA with your partner and children.  

Once you have your first appointment, you are “in the system” so to speak, and all future appointments will be planned. Things will be much easier, allowing you to relax and enjoy being in France.

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Now, we can discuss certain steps you must take once your new-born has arrived:

  • Once your baby has arrived you must register the birth. The name of this process is the déclaration de naissance. It is compulsory in France and should be done within five working days.
  • The hospital will give you a document which you take, along with your ID papers, and the translated and notarised marriage certificate, if you have one, to the local Mairie (town hall) in Fontainebleau, or that of the town you give birth in.
  • Non-French citizens should also register their baby’s birth at their home embassy after giving birth in France. Contact yours for information on the procedures to follow.

To conclude, when asked what advice Ali and Yasmin would give to expecting parents in France, other than the tips we’ve just been through, they replied cheerily

“Expect challenges, it is a foreign country, but everything will work out just fine in the end.''

With a grin and a wink, Ali added, “Be open, flexible and learn some French!”

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