My experience, as an American, having a baby in the Allgäu region of Germany.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant my husband was offered a 2.5 year work assignment in Germany.
My initial reaction: “No. N-O. No sir! I’m not having this baby in another country where I can’t understand their language.” Our parents’ reactions were about the same as mine. However, the more we discussed it, we realized a few things. It was a great opportunity for his career, an amazing experience for us as a family, and the best part – I didn’t have to work while we were in Germany. That means I get 2 years to stay at home with my little girl and watch her every milestone. Before this, I had planned to return to work after being out for 7 weeks. Looking back now at my 7 week old daughter I couldn’t have left her.
So let’s talk about some of my favorite and not so favorite things about having a baby in Germany.
1. My biggest one: being away from family and friends. It take a village to raise a child and my village was across a big pond. Thank goodness for FaceTime and social media.
2. At your OBGYN visits you get completely naked and don’t get a gown to cover up with. In my doctor’s exam room there is a small area with a curtain behind which you can undress, but then you have to walk stark naked across the room to the exam table. I still don’t understand this logic…
3. Your regular OBGYN is not the one who delivers your baby. If you plan to have a hospital birth, you will just get whomever is on call at that time. Also, the midwives are the ones who deliver the babies. A doctor is always there and will assist if needed, but they are not the main contact. This really worried me considering I didn’t speak the language, but the midwife and I were able to communicate just fine. Honestly, giving birth is just giving birth. That baby is going to come out one way or another!
4. For a standard, uncomplicated birth, you have to stay in the hospital for a minimum of 3 days and Dad can only visit from 8am-8pm. The time limitation is mostly due to you sharing a recovery room with another woman. It costs extra to have your own private room, but this gives Dad a little more flexibility with visiting hours.
1. You get an ultrasound at every OB visit! It’s always reassuring to see baby wiggling around.
2. Most Germans learn English at an earlier age and continue to learn through high school and university. This means all my doctors spoke English! Yay!
3. You get this cool thing called a “Mutterpass” which literally translates to “mother passport”. This is where your doctor documents every office visit, blood work and test results. When you are pregnant you have to have this with you at all times because you never know when you might have an accident or go into labor! I also noticed a lot of moms had fun covers for their Mutterpass.
4. German health care is very advanced like the US, but they tend to take a more holistic/homeopathic approach first. I liked this because I had planned to have a natural birth and even contemplated water birth. Funny story- the hospital had tubs in the birthing room and I ended up hating being in the water. I also ended up begging and begging the midwife for the PDA (epidural). But she kept saying “no, no, not yet” and eventually that turned into “nope! Too late! You’re 10cm now and it wouldn’t help you at this point.” I hated her at the time but now I’m glad that she forced me to stick to my birth plan.
5. Germany is very breastfeeding friendly! No awkward stares, no rude comments, no covering up (unless you feel more comfortable that way). I am so thankful for this because breastfeeding is not always easy!
All in all, Germany is a great place to give birth to and raise children!
BONUS: If you ever find yourself in Germany and giving birth here are some helpful terms.
Ärztin- female doctor
Baby- baby (hey! You know more German than you think!)
Kaiserschnitt- C-section (literally ‘king cut’)
Kreißsaal- delivery room
Muttermund- cervix (literally ‘mother mouth’)
Mutterkuchen- placenta (literally ‘mother cake’)
Nabelschnur- umbilical cord (make sure Dad gets to “schnitt” this!)
PDA (Periduralanästhesie)- epidural
Stillen- breastfeeding (literally ‘quieting’)
- Mariah is 24 years old. I call Charleston, SC home, but currently live in Kempten, Germany with my husband, Josh, daughter, Lily, and Labrador retriever, Remi.