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SIL moving to Germany...

469 Views 9 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  huggerwocky
my SIL is moving to Germany and just found out that she's having a baby
so I wanted to find out what it's like to have a baby in Germany and how they are about nursing in public...anyone had a baby recently in Germany?
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I've had two babies in Germany (one born only 3.5 months ago), and overall my experience in giving birth and the postpartum period immediately after has been great.
In general, babies are delivered by midwives and everything is covered by the state health insurance.
An expectant mother can benefit from:
-birth prep classes at the location of her choice (100% covered)
-birth at the hospital or birthing centre of her choice. Homebirths are also 100% covered, and not uncommon here.
-postpartum care from a midwife up to 6 weeks, and in extreme cases up to six months when difficulties with BFing, or the health of the mother
-8 classes of postpartum gymnastics (not always covered by private insurers)

The birthing experience varies from hospital to hospital and midwife to midwife. But in general it is naturally-oriented. The most important thing your SIL can do is to seek out a midwife (an English speaking one if she's not comfortable with the language - because when she's giving birth she's not going to want to have to worry about understanding German) and look for a birthing place that she feels comfortable with. Sometimes midwives are affiliated with a certain hospital/birthing centre or are specialized in home births. A good starting point might be to contatc the Midwives association (Hebammegemeinschaftspraxis) in the city/area your SIL will be living. She shouldn't bother with midwife/birthplace searches until after she's 12-16 weeks along. This is a cultural thing - in many continental European countries women keep a pregnancy to themselves (telling only a partner/husband and maybe a close friend or parents) until after the 1st trimester.

In terms of BFing, it is encouraged 100%, and there are numerous BFing support groups (Stillgruppen) around to help women with problems or difficulties they may have. Most midwives also help out with BFing challenges. There's no puritanical heritage here, and it's no problem to nurse anywhere, anytime. I have nursed in countless places and no one has ever even given me a second look. Discreet nursing is not required (I am not very discreet when I nurse), as most people prefer that a baby is happy and suckling than crying and making a lot of noise.
There is a lot of support given for the first 6 months of BFing, and then it abruptly drops off (I then chose to seek a LLL group (found an English speaking one - there are several in germany)). Delaying solids or extended BFing (especially past 12 months) is highly frowned upon, especially by some 'crunchy' midwives and even my homeopathic pediatrician (I'm looking for a new one).
I hope this helps. Maybe some of the other moms in Germany have different experiences?
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thanks for the multitude of info - (oh, this is Nursing_Nate, but I had to re-register due to email change/some sort of mixup...sorry for confussion...)...anyway, thanks...also, do you travel much with baby in tow? they are moving to Germany for the traveling ease so after baby is born the intend on going many places...another also, why is extended BF'ing frowned upon? it just seems wierd to be so for it as a country and then poo poo it so soon after baby is born
I second everything Holly said. I just had twins here 4 months ago and--for the most part--it was a very positive experience.

I nursed my first son for 11 months and definately had some raised eyebrows when I went past 6 months. No idea why. But overall, I received far more support here than I did stateside.

I travel alot with the two kids. Car, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus, you name it. I have a couple of different slings to carry dd#2, because sometime dd#1 likes to be in her stroller.
I'd definitely invest in an American style stroller (tiny, lightweight) if you'll be in an urban area because some of the bigger, bulkier German brand strollers don't fit in every shop, lift or even supermarket aisle. But then it might not be great for the winter (especially true if your SIL will be in the South of Germany - Baden-Wurttemberg or Bavaria).
As for why extended BFing is frowned upon....uh there are a few things here that are frowned upon (children making noise, children in restaurants in general...) that I don't understand. Extended BFing is another.
The reason why BFing is discouraged after 6 months is because it's what 'the experts' say to do. They say children SHOULD be given solids at 6 months...etc.
IMO, many people here are more concerned about the 'norm' and what 'the experts' say than about listening to their individual child and their specific needs.
My two cents.
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I agree that Germany is not always child friendly. But you do find cafés and restaurants here and there with toys and books, or even a play area for children.

ANd while extended BF may be looked down upon, I have never had a negative comment or experience with any of my 3 extended nursers. And of course nursing of infants in public is no problem at all.
I have had a fabulous birth experience her in Germany... loved it. And as much as germans are not child friendly, which is very true in many cases, they also seem to LOVE LOVE LOVE babies... my 8 month old gets fawned over just about anywhere we go... by old women, young women, old me young men etc... Its so refreshing. My dd elicits smiles from the hardest of faces... So, all that to say, even with BF'ing being frowned upon (btw, I have only been in a couple of situations where I felt I was being frowned upon.. of course I don't bf in public near as much, but even when I did, as long as I was discreet - i.e. not sitting front and center for all to gawk at - and covered up well, it seemed fine) it is refreshing to have such a positive response to having a baby around.... of course, she is a really GOOD baby and not a screamer in the least, so maybe her temperment has a lot to do with t.
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I have been in Germany for 8 months and just had my baby here. The care in the hospitals and after is excellent. As for BF in public while some people may look down on it (no problems from my end so far) there is no laws against it, and you are allowed to do so whereever and wenever you need according to the German Peds I have spoken with. So, I think your friend will have a verygood experience overall!
Mrs. Davis
I ant to go back for the soul purpose of how much I loved my whole pregno and birth experince, AMAZING!! DH wants number two and I told him the only way he is going to see that happen is if we go back. She has been blessed with this oppurtunity. Are they mil? If she is, and she is in Landstuhl PM me and I can give you more info.
She should definately find her own midwife for the prenatal care in Germany, many of them are both affiliated with a hospital AND do homebirths,too, if that's what she wants. There are some terrible hospitals, I know, I had my daughter at one
: but they can be avoided if you're smarter than me and visit them beforehand and actually make an appointment for the registration or you have your own midwife
and don't wait for the random on duty one.
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