Shorter stays in hospital after childbirth
A combination of budget cuts and demands from mothers could see the time women spend in maternity wards cut in France.
On average, French women spend four days in hospital after giving birth, one day more than the OECD average. For those who give birth by caesarian section, the stay is usually five days.
BFM TV reported on Thursday morning that a pilot scheme, named Prado, has experimented with cutting the stay to just two days.
As part of the scheme, mothers receive two home visits from midwives, the first the day after or two days after leaving hospital.
Discussing the pilot in December, health minister Xavier Bertrand said the reduction in days was "in response to requests from mothers and families".
The scheme is now likely to be rolled out across the country in 2012.
French social security organisation CNAM said the real objective of the scheme is not to "shorten the stay in hospital but to improve the conditions for returning home," reported regional newspaper Ouest France.
Whether a woman stays two or ten days in hospital, they receive the same flat payment of €2,200 ($2,830).
"We shouldn't be naive," said Jacqueline Lavillonnière of the midwives union.
"There is an objective here to cut costs by reducing the length of the hospital stay. But as the number of early departures increases, we need to make sure there is good follow-up care," she told Le Monde newspaper.
There are currently 30,000 midwives in France, which could limit the rollout of the programme.