Having a baby in a german hospital - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 09-21-2010, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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so, my husband (who is german,) two daughters, and i moved from america to germany over a year ago and i am now pregnant with my third child. my first dd was a c/s because of positioning, my second was a HVBAC, and I plan for another HVBAC.

I choose my dr. b/c she was the only one recommended to me and b/c her secretary said that she spoke english very well. Well, her english turns out to be as bad or worse than my german, but b/c she is so nice and b/c she assured me that one of the midwives that she works with speaks better english, i decided to stay with her. but... i have since found out that neither she or the midwife (who understands everything in english, but doesn't speak a word,) will be at the hospital for the birth- that you just use who ever is on call at the hospital.

I didn't even think to ask about this up front b/c i have never heard of such a crazy system! But, now i am finding that it is not uncommon. I have heard that another hospital in the area does allow you to bring your own midwife, but it is a pretty inconvenient drive away from us.

I am thinking of trying to find an english speaking doula (i guess just a midwife who doesn't help with the actual birth??) who is familiar with the hospital come for translation help, should i need it. i understand/speak pretty well and my husband is fluent in both languages, but i want his focus to be me and i don't know how well he could translate medical terms- i feel nervous that something that i don't understand could spiral things in the wrong direction.

Does anyone have experience with this type of hospital set up/ or delivering in a german hospital in general? Or know of of other problems that i might not even think of running into/ special things i should be prepared for? i was under the impression that the hospitals were much more mother/baby friendly- am i missing something big? any thoughts or input would be appreciated! thanks!

two girls and another on the way in feburary!
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#2 of 11 Old 09-22-2010, 05:24 AM
 
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I had two homebirths in Germany but the midwives I used also did hospital deliveries. Have you tried contacting the independent Hebammenpraxis in your area? You might be able to find a midwife that does the prenatal care as well as birth at the hospital of your choice and post-partum.

Otherwise, is there a birth Center (Geburtshaus) near you?

In general German hospitals are very baby and mother friendly, and encourage natural birth and breastfeeding etc.
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#3 of 11 Old 09-22-2010, 08:24 AM
 
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What you want is a 'Beleghebamma', someone who will accompany you to the hospital and be present at the birth. A lot of times, these midwives are connected to a hospital/birthing house.
It would be good for you to contact the local Hebammepraxis, and you can ask them if they kniow of any 'Beleghebammen' around.

If you are in Stuttgart, I can highly recommend mine, but chances are you are elsewhere.

Even though I spoke/speak fluent German, when having both children in Germany, I knew that during birth I wouldn't want to speak any other language but my mother tongue.
So, my criterea was to find someone who spoke very good English, but also respected my birthing plan and wish not to be medicated (ha...though in the end both times I ended up having an epidural...my choice...). I ended up having two wonderful birthing experiences, and my midwife is still a good friend, even after my move across the Atlantic to Canada.

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#4 of 11 Old 09-22-2010, 09:47 AM
 
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I had my first child in Germany. My prenatal doctor was amazing and spoke excellent english. I went and toured the hospital before the birth to see how many of the staff spoke english. Of the 4 doctors and 10 hebamma, all but 2 spoke english. Of course, I managed to end up with the one doctor and hebamma at the hospital who spoke no english. We did charades to explain c-section. We had only lived there for 3 months and our German was awful. I got really lucky and got a British anesthesiologist and he explained what was happening during the surgery.

It sounds like you're in a much better position than we were. Giving birth is always an adventure and I still think the birth of my first baby was one of my greatest adventures. Good luck with yours!

mama to   broc1.gif DS 6/06 and banana.gif DS 4/08
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#5 of 11 Old 09-28-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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It is one of the quirks of the German health care system that inpatient and outpatient care is almost completely separated. Not sure why, I'm sure there are complicated historical reasons, but it does not make that much sense to me either. It will be hard to find a Beleghebamme or Belegarzt (independent midwife or doctor to come to the hospital with you) for that reason, and also because the fees are rather high (they have to be on 24 h call for weeks and weeks, after all) and not completely covered by insurance. It will also be hard to find a doula as they are simply extremely uncommon in Germany, probably because most women just rely on the midwives on call for their care during labour, which are usually excellent.

This being the upside of labouring in a German hospital - if there are no complications, after being admitted you'll see the doctor again only once the baby is born, to check the placenta, check for PPH, care for any tears etc. I imagine it will be different with a VBAC, but still you will be mostly attended by a midwife as long as everything is going well. Germany is in general very VBAC-friendly - your particular hospital's mileage may vary.
I urge you to make an appointment at the hospital, speak to the doctors and midwives, like a PP recommended find out who speaks English well and who doesn't. You can ask if they were prepared to have a midwife attend who chosen by you as an interpreter. I'm sure they won't let her make medical decisions, just translate. Not sure whether you'll find one who does that and you may have to pay for her out-of-pocket. It can't hurt to shop around. Your obgyn, even though she wants you with that other midwife who does not speak a word, should have the list of all midwives in the area, and of course they're in the phone book!

Other mother-and-baby friendly practices as I have experienced them which may reassure you to hear about: No hospital gowns, you labour in whatever old t-shirt you come in on. You get to keep the baby at all times, as soon as the APGAR thingy is taken care of (provided it's healthy of course), the baby won't be given a bath, you get a baby bed in your room, you get breastfeeding support of, um, varying quality but at least everyone tries and they try to provide all that after a c-section as well, should you need that.

I did find the constant change of attendants due to the shifts stressful, but I don't think there is a way around that.

Good luck! And don't worry - I understand why you'd want the focus on yourself, but your husband will be there!

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#6 of 11 Old 09-28-2010, 06:59 PM
 
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I was on the German public healthcare system, and my Beleghebamma, and everything (pre-natal, post-natal, gymnastics....) was paid for by the insurance.
So I don't know where you got that Beleghebammen wouldn't be covered...but if you're US military and are on Tri-care, now that's a different story....

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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#7 of 11 Old 09-29-2010, 05:26 AM
 
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Beleghebammen are covered by standard German health insurance, but the additional fee (most midwives demand 250 euros just to be on call) usually isn't. That's why I put "not completely", which wasn't quite clear I suppose.. If the OP can find one with good English, it's probably worth it!

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#8 of 11 Old 10-02-2010, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks everyone! i guess i can only blame pregnancy brain on having forgotten, for a bit, that i wrote this! i am happy that i remembered this morning.

since then i have learned alot- it looks like i should be able, through the hospital, to find a beleghebammen (though i didn't know the name before- thanks) to come with us. i think that the extra cost would be worth the peace of mind.
i also learned that i can meet with a hebammen from the hospital beforehand and write up a sort of "birth plan" that will be shared with everyone when i arrive. that gives some relief too- that everything is written down and doesn't need to be explained in the moment. and, that the hospital encourages it!

it looks like the statistics (for c/s ect..) are pretty average at our hospital, but i havn't seen any for vbacs. my dr. has said though, that it isn't such a big deal.
our hospital is famous for other reasons right now- for the crazy woman on a shooting spree last week- if you are in germany, you probably heard about that. in lorrach.

thanks tigerle for all of the other assurances too- it feels good to have more of an idea of what to expect. no birth gowns! horrah!

plaid leopard- i did look at a geburtshaus, but can't use it b/c of the previous c/s. home birth is on my wish list for another life...

atobols- i guess that was an adventure! it is funny how often and easily people say that everyone in germany (especially those with a higher education) can speak english. i think that most people know some, but as for "speaking" it is really not (in my experience) true!

two girls and another on the way in feburary!
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#9 of 11 Old 10-03-2010, 04:25 AM
 
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Where are you? I am in the Kaiserslautern Area. I had my first here and it was AMAZING. I am also a doula if you need to talk. Hope you get what you want here it is amazing!

Living DAIRY AND GLUTEN FREE for my SPD and Aspergers Little Man.
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#10 of 11 Old 11-11-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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I gave birth in Hamburg in May, and at least here beleghebammen are tough to get later in pregnancy!  (And by 'later', I mean after 10 weeks.)

 

I thought I'd want to use English during the birth too, but it was just fine for me in German (yeah, surprises me too).  We looked at a couple of hospitals, and one was a super university hospital with a newly renovated maternity ward.  They talked about how amazing their technology is.  The next one also had a NICU, but presented the birth experience rather than the tech side.  We went there, of course.  (Both assured me that they have at least one English-speaking midwife per shift.)

 

I'd prepared myself for birth by watching "The Business of Being Born".  While informative, it has nothing to do with the German system as I experienced it!  For example, my daughter came quickly but got stuck on her way out.  We didn't know it at the time, but her umbilical cord was over the top of her head (not dangerous) acting like a bungee cord.  Every time I pushed, it would pull her back in.  After 2 hours of pushing, the midwife had to call a doctor.  The doc said that usually they don't allow labor to go past 2 hrs at that point, but since there were no signs of fetal distress, they'd let me go a little longer.  Think that would ever happen in a US hospital?!  Lene eventually found her way out with the help of a strong doc (he used his forearm to push down and hold her in place until the next contraction and push could move her further down) and no other interventions.

 

I'm so glad I gave birth here!

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#11 of 11 Old 11-15-2010, 02:01 AM - Thread Starter
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namaste platypus- i am outside of lorrach- maybe about 2 or 3 hours from you? thanks so much for the offer to talk! we have visited the hospital, and i feel so much better about everything. it seems like a great place to have a baby- i am not even thinking of trying to hire someone to go with me anymore. i feel like it will all work out ok. 

 

bethhh- you are giving me hope in all of the threads i started- thanks!


two girls and another on the way in feburary!
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