Welcome to France... please leave your inhibitions at the door...
The French are famous for their relaxed attitude to nakedness... and anyone who has had a baby in France - or even visited the gynae - will know that it seems the French are far more willing to cast their sous-vêtements aside and bare all than we modest Brits.
I remember the first time I went to my gynae in France - he asked me to 'take off my things' in the ante-room for an examination... (I was 20 weeks pregnant with Lily). I stood in there for a while not quite knowing what to do. How much should I take off? Was there a robe to get into that I hadn't seen? In the end, I flung my knickers asunder and hoped for the best. When he returned, he didn't bat an eyelid - phew!
I was then expected to CLIMB A LITTLE STEP LADDER in order to get onto his very high stirrup couch and, once I had been stirruped, legs akimbo, he proceeded to ask me how things were going and take my blood pressure as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
I'm sorry for any nervous readers who may have been scarred for life by the image of me, elephantine (or "glowing") and approaching my third trimester lumbering up some metal steps naked from the waist down, but as the French say, c'est vrai! It's true - French it up and get with le programme.
I thought I'd had my most humiliating moment at that point (of course I hadn't given birth then), but it seems that the blasé attitude continues long after you bring life into the world. Take perennial re-education for example...
I think it's absolutely brilliant that the French prescribe physio to get you (ahem) back together down there after the birth. They also prescribe 10 sessions for the stomach - c'est bon! But tightening those crucial muscles and preventing the need for Tena Lady in the future comes at a price... your dignity.
You get a prescription for a 'vaginal probe' (I kid you not) which is a kind of electric willy on a wire, which goes where you might expect and is then attached to a little machine which stimulates your muscles and tightens everything up again, over the course of a few sessions.
To maintain my dignity, the physio left me to disrobe and cover myself in a towel and then re-entered... but then, after applying some lubricant to my friendly little probe, he stood there holding the wire as I (ahem) put it in the appropriate place.
Now I hardly flung the towel to one side and put my leg up on a chair in order to put the little bugger inside, but scrabbling around under the towel didn't seem particularly dignified either...
But it was more dignified than when, after the session (for which he left me in peace), he stood there while I removed it with a schllurrrpppp.
Oh, the shame.
Never mind, at least I haven't shared the story with anyone.
Except you, dear reader, and I know you won't tell anyone!
Pics to follow.