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Having a Baby in Germany
If you or your spouse have state-funded German health insurance, most costs for caring for the baby during and after pregnancy are covered by the insurance company. If you have private health insurance in Germany, you should check with your insurer for further details about medical care for mother and baby.
Having a Baby in Germany: Pregnancy
In Germany, you can buy a pregnancy test (Schwangerschaftstest) at every drugstore or pharmacy. Once you get a positive result, you should make an appointment with your gynecologist (Frauenarzt). As soon as you’ve decided to have the baby, pre-natal care (Vorsorgeuntersuchungen) will begin. Like all other forms of healthcare in Germany, the medical standards of caring for mother and baby are usually quite high. Your individual experience depends on your gynecologist, obstetrician (Geburtshelfer), midwife (Hebamme) and nurses, though.
Having a Baby in Germany: Who to Turn To
Speaking of ob/gyns and midwives: In Germany, there is a definite distinction between a gynecologist (with their own practice), an obstetrician (who actually delivers babies in hospital), and a midwife (who may work at a hospital, a birthing clinic, or supervise homebirths). Usually, your gynecologist is in charge of pre-natal exams; but they won’t be present for the birth unless they happen to belong to the resident staff of your chosen hospital as well.
A midwife is allowed to do pre-natal checkups (except for ultrasounds), offer you advice on pregnancy-related questions or aftercare, and assist you in a routine delivery without complications. If you are looking for a midwife, you should check Hebammensuche. The German-language website is a search engine for officially registered midwives which allows you to search for various parameters (such as “homebirth” or “yoga”) and midwives able to speak languages other than German.
Having a Baby in Germany: Pre-Natal Care
At your first pre-natal checkup, you will be handed a little booklet called Mutterpass (literally: mother’s passport). It serves as a medical confirmation of your pregnancy, a record of your medical history (both general and pregnancy-related), and an official document for administrative purposes. You need to bring it along to every pre-natal, so that your ob/gyn or midwife can record the latest exam results.
Routine pre-natal care in Germany usually includes
- monitoring the pregnant woman’s blood pressure and weight
- taking blood and urine samples on a regular basis
- monitoring the fetal heartbeat
- regular pelvic exams
In the course of your pregnancy, you may attend up to ten or twelve of these examinations. In the third, sixth and eighth month of your pregnancy, your gynecologist will also perform an ultrasound exam (Ultraschalluntersuchung). Some ob/gyns may even offer you an ultrasound every time you come to see them.
As already stated above, your health insurance provider normally covers all these costs. Regardless of your insurance status, your employer also has to give you some time off for such mandatory medical appointments, and all employed women with state-funded health insurance then go on maternity leave (Mutterschutz) six weeks before the due date. However, when you are pregnant, you should also take care to tell your employer as soon as possible.
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