My experiences on expecting a baby in Germany

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So you are Pregnant and an English Speaker in Germany?

Are you a first time parent, second time parent or more? Being in a foreign country can offer up many of its own problems, one being the language itself, two, health care maybe and most likely is different from what you are used to if you come from the States, Canada or England. The bottom line is each country has their own procedures and protocols, as a childbirth educator, Education and Early Childhood professor; things are most definitely different here. I had my own first personal experience, when my partner's life was in the hands of a local hospital or krankenhaus.

After many years of frustration back home with our current way of treating new moms and dads and their new bundles of joy, did I know that the United States Healthcare program was not perfect, so I looked to the EU for better ways, and had an active blog and website for Health Care Reform Now, in my own little world of trying to make a difference.

And one person can make a difference, after years of hard work and determination, our voice was heard, Jeanne Prentice a Certified Nurse Midwife, won the ability and that of others to have home based births offered by a midwife. I got on the band wagon the last year of her fight and made several calls to our statesmen and such lobbying for changes, as our hospitals closed their maternity wards left and right it was a necessity. We won. But what does that mean for you?

You can have the experience that you desire here in Germany if you do research. This is one of the things that I would work with my clients on is the importance of making your voice heard, and knowing what you wanted and having the ability to seek out information that would assist you, in other words, you are having a baby. This is big more important than choosing new wallpaper, or buying a car, and yet many parents do not do the research needed to gather up the power to have the best birth experience they can have. So let me offer up some help. What to expect when you are expecting in Germany.

Procedures, Procedures, Procedures.

First of all is the way things are done. Procedure. What you are used to someplace else may not be what you will have here, for example. In the United States it is a growing trend, and note I say growing to question your Doctor on what is happening to you what will happen and how things will be done. In Germany that may not always be the case, and you will find that things you are used to receiving like dosage information, greater interchange of information and dialogue, may not be what they are used, to, a way to help with that is to express that as a non-native speaker you need more time and understanding and explanation. Often many professionals, albeit not the best thing, think that you maybe questioning their judgment. Bottom line is this. It is your body and your baby. You and your family and your baby will have to live with the choices indefinitely.

The Pharmacy or Apotheke is normally the one that explains things such as dosages, side effects, etc. But again, take sure to ask things. In the United States for example, the Surgeon General has issued statement after statement that there is no safe drug during pregnancy, this is also true during labor, and while breastfeeding.

Next, homeopathy and holistic care are a huge part of the German healthcare system. This in itself is something to cheer about. As it is still a fight in America, with many doctors still not up on nutrition or alternative treatments. Most doctors in the United States have had only a few hours of nutrition in their course of studies. We are what we eat, most especially during pregnancy as every protein, ounce of water that we take in goes to the baby first, you heard it first. So we get as mothers what is left.

You may be prescribed acupuncture, acupressure, massage and many homeopathic cures in Germany. This to me is a victory for families here and should be the norm worldwide.

Many medications for childcare however are not in liquid suspension, but will have to be given as a suppository or by tablet. Yes, this is a problem for most of us, and one that I see as advancement from overseas. But again there are plusses and minuses to every situation.

Seeing the Doctor...

Are you a shy person? In many examination rooms in Germany, you may not have the privilege of a gown. You can avoid some of the embarrassment by wearing a skirt, or long shirt etc. Doctors may come and go at any time during the exam, and you may not have a private space to change. Also many doctors allow children in the exam room, while some have play areas set aside. Be prepared for this difference, it has been long held that there are different views on nudity here in Germany then we may have overseas or elsewhere. In some ways this is good, as when you go to deliver you will find that delivery is sweaty work and that the farther labor progresses the less things you are apt to have on via your decision. Just make sure you are comfortable with what you need, for some people based on religious preferences you might then choose a female doctor, ob gyn, or midwife.

How often will you see your medical doctor or midwife? 12 exams are normally routine during your pregnancy one per month. In the thirty second week, however you can expect one every two weeks. It is important to note that Harvard Medical studies lengthened gestation times and that many doctors all over the world, still use the old method of calculation...the new calculations is 41.7 weeks or almost 42 weeks. A baby comes when it is ready, the need for invasive procedures is often not necessary. If you go past your due date, you may be required to go up to every day or every other day. Personally I think this is only a problem if other things show up on the medical exams, such as heart rate issues. Calculations may be off on due dates etc., I do not know many children that were born on their exact due date.

Another thing that I find a bit disturbing is the amount of sonograms. There is much debate out right now in the states, about the risks of too many sonograms to the developing fetus; here you may undergo at least six. Ultrasounds/Sonograms or Ultraschallaufnahmen are what they are called technically and they can come in amazing detail anymore with 3-D imaging now available.

During an exam the doctor will check your blood, blood pressure, urine and weight. These are normal in many parts of the globe as basic examination procedures, as well as some pelvic exams. The recommended weight gain per pregnancy is 10-11 kg (22-25 lbs). But if you are eating healthy and exercising you may not experience this type of gain. There are many normal numbers. Again, you are what you eat; this is a time to consider eating a rainbow. What do I mean by that? Choosing natural healthy foods from a wide spectrum of colors, leafy greens, purple or red vegetables, carrots, eggs, proteins and plenty of water, is what eating the rainbow means. The pregnant and nursing mom needs close to 1ounce per body pound of water, coffee and tea if it is black can detract from this number as caffeine is a natural diuretic. Which means it depletes the body of water; your baby lives in a water world remember that.

Near term, the baby's heart rate and any contractions are measured and this may take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, so allow extra time for these appointments. You may experience many times at the end Braxton Hicks, this is false labor, or pre labor, but all labor is good labor and your body will prepare itself for the big experience through this little beginning spasms. Consider it warm up for the big game.

The Big Choice! Who do I choose, doctor, OB/GYN (Frauenarzt) or midwife?

Your practitioner, in Germany will be held under strict separation of duties. The duties of a hospital or private practice are much different, as only in hospital, or Krakenhause obstetricians are allowed to deliver babies. So you can choose a private provider that delivers away from the hospital. Or you can choose to have a hospital delivery and work with their in house doctors. This is different for many in the states as your doctor that you work with for prenatal care is often your doctor for delivery. I prefer this method myself, as you develop a relationship with your doctor, that is important in getting the birth plan and experience you want from your labor and delivery. Also, it provides to me a deep set issue of safety, your doctor or provider should know you better than anyone after the prenatal work done with them.

If you choose an in house doctor at the Klinikum or Krankenhaus, the head doctor (Chefarzt) usually oversees the entire pediatric department at the hospital. This doctor is normally only available to patients who are privately insured and because there are so few head doctors (usually one for the pediatric department) they will most likely not be available to assist with the labor and delivery. Again this brings in the issue of relationship.

The rest of the staff however, is there to do the deliveries, and will then engage the Chefarzt frequently for information on your case. One benefit of having your regular exams performed at the hospital is that it allows you to develop a rapport with the staff and you are better able to familiarize yourself with the hospital prior to giving birth.

The next option is however to me one of the best and something that is not as widely seen in other developed countries, this is the use of the midwife or (Hebamme). You can choose a Hebamme in advance and she will work with you throughout your pregnancy and also be there to help with the delivery. Some Hebamme's are only "authorized" to work at certain hospitals, so you will want to know this when selecting a Hebamme and a hospital. If you do not choose a Hebamme in advance, the hospital provides one for you. Want the best advice on this? Ask someone that has visited the midwife or doctor, and ask serious questions, in my later article and in my classes will I talk about things to ask your medical provider.

The Mutterpass, your guidebook and source.

When your pregnancy is confirmed you will receive a very important booklet called the Mother Pass (Mutterpass). It keeps track of all pertinent information about your pregnancy. Every exam, test, and item that is pertinent to your developing baby and you will be charted in it. You will need to bring this to each examination as well as to the hospital. You can see the need for this if you change physicians’ hands during delivery. This will allow then anyone that is working with you the ability to see your progress and to note that which is being performed. But again, I cannot stress the importance of verbal communication. Sometimes things are missed, things that you stated on paper, and it is important for you and your partner to remember these things for communication. In fact Dad's this is where your job of protector really kicks in. A woman's job is to labor and deliver; you can assist her through this by being her champion, and helping her with any logistics that need to be discussed, especially if you are a native speaker, but please make sure that your significant other and you have discussed all options first.

This Concludes part one of my article in part two, I will discuss, preparation for childbirth, choosing a hospital or midwife, the care of baby, paperwork and registration.

If you want more information or seek classes you can contact me at 04202-9528992, here or through email at blackhillsbabies@gmail.com

I currently reside in Achim and work and teach classes between Bremen and Achim, at the Helen Doron Schools for English in Schwachhausen, Findorff and Achim. I currently have classes upcoming in November and December. A starter prenatal class will look into the intial needs of the new parents and seeking out care in Germany. The series of 12 classes that come after will focus on nutrition, exercises, birth plans, care of the couple, upcoming baby care, and creating the birth experience that you desire. Prenatal yoga classes are also available.

Lynnea A. Bouhenguel, M.S., Ed Specializing in Montessori

Assistant Professor, Childbirth, Parenting and Helen Doron English Teacher

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Posted

I actually had my pre-natal obstetrician in-charge of my son's birth, and in doing so, had to deliver at the klinic to which she is affiliated. My midwife was only on-hand for the pre-natal and post-natal care.

Also, there may be no causal link between the ultrasound examination frequency and fetal development, but I was asked by my own mother (retired NHS consultant) whether my having one every two weeks in the 3rd trimester was normal in Germany. This seeming odd to her due to the ongoing discussion in medical circles as mentioned by OP.

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The OP "teaches childbirth education". Her profile said so. :D

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Imagine she tought how to live your live and raise your child in harmony with GOD. You can't be too picky.

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Hey, her post could be copy pasted to pregnancy wiki or something, not that ignorant me have checked before whether there is already one.

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While I appreciate your response to the article, might I point out that I am writing this article in two parts, and will also provide more in depth coverage in classes. This is not meant to be the be all end all in childbirth know how, that would require several books or perhaps a library in which there are many available.

I also stated that there were private practices that you could deliver your baby in, and yes you are correct the geburtshaus, is one of those options. I would also, like to give you a source of articles that point out some of the harzards of sonograms.

http://www.naturalnews.com/028853_ultrasound_fetus.html

(NaturalNews) Ultrasound is extremely damaging to the health of any unborn child (fetus). The natural health community has been warning about ultrasound for years, but mainstream medicine, which consistently fails to recognize the harm it causes, insists ultrasound is perfectly safe and can't possibly harm the health of a fetus.

Now, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding a project that aims to temporarily sterilize men by blasting their scrotums with ultrasound. The burst of ultrasound energy, it turns out, disrupts the normal biological function of the testes, making the man infertile for six months.

Ultrasound, in other words, contains enough energy to temporarily deaden the testes and basically destroy sperm function for half a year. So why is it considered "safe" to blast an unborn baby with the same frequencies?

I would also like to point out that the beginning of life for the developing fetus is not any less fragile then the aformentioned sperm. We know that all things are made up of frequencies and are disturbed or elevated by this process, this has been shown, many times in studies on sound waves to living cells and inamiate matter.

I point these things out as for years before teaching college, did I serve in some of the most poverty stricken areas in America, and saw so many of my young students coming in with health effects that were obtained via the prenatal experience or through the tramautic and often invasive procedures of childbirth as practiced in the state. Our children and parents of poverty are often the victems of the most invasive and over used procedures. This was one of the reasons that promoted me and propelled me into childbirth education. I got tired of taking care of the issues after and wanted to affect change, before there was a need to do cleanup procedures. Children live with the choices that we make for them, for a lifetime.

Also, there are many in the middle of the road viewpoints on ultrasounds and I will include these as well.

http://www.isrrt.org/images/isrrt/11H00%20OLSSON%20MR%2021%20SATURDAY%20SESSION%202.pdf

AIUM STATEMENT

REVISITED

There are no known major adverse

effects to date associated with the

medical use of ultrasound, but caution

is advised!

These are just a few of many, but the issue that is more important in this, is awareness. For example, just because it was ok, at one point, to wrap young girls feet in China in order to make them more attractive, does not medically or morally make it right. So then you could extrapolate, that just because a medical procedure is commanplace, does not make it 100% effective or 100% safe, but what I think this debate, currently detracts from is the use of the above article.

On a personal note:(And I do have the right to use the word Professor because I earned it. I taught for four years at a Nationally accredidated college and had one of the first birth to eight years fully certified and accredited programs in the state of South Dakota. 100,000 miles of rubber were lost on the hectic and desolate highways to reach the college centers, and my students.)

(I am a mother of four, with one more on the way, and have taught many courses of childbirth education, and have trained for that ability to do that. I read constantly on the subject, and am always watching for new and current news in the area, which is part of being an informed consumer and a teacher. I thank you for your time to reply. And I appreciated the opportunity to show that which I have found, but in the end what I teach my students is to do the research, as my article states.)

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I found it so interesting that there was such a debate about the use of the word professor, which was my last level of teaching. And so I submitted this:

What amazes me most is that instead of focusing on the article whose sole purpose was to help a woman have some information on informed childbirth decisions did it in turn become a discussion about my credentials as a woman. So, I will leave you with this. You can decide for yourselves, and know that mine was an American title given by an American college.

A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of high rank.[1] In much of the world, including most Commonwealth nations (such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand) and northern Europe professor is reserved only for the most senior academics at a university, typically a department chair, or an awarded chair specifically bestowed recognizing an individual at a university or similar institution. A professor is a highly accomplished and recognized academic, and the title is awarded only after decades of scholarly work and/or practise. In the United States and Canada the title of professor is granted to most scholars with Doctorate degrees (typically Ph.D.s) who teach in two- and four-year colleges and universities, and is used in the titles assistant professor and associate professor, which are not considered professor-level positions elsewhere, as well as for full professors.

In countries on the northern European mainland, such as The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, usage of professor as a legal title is limited much the same way as in most Commonwealth countries, that is, it is reserved for someone who holds a chair. In the United States, "professor" as a proper noun generally implies a person with a Ph.D. who holds permanent position at the college or university level, regardless of rank.

In Portugal, France, Romania and Latin America (Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking), the term professor (profesor / professor / professeur / profesor) is used for anyone teaching at a school, institute, technical school, vocational school, college, or university, regardless of the level of the subject matter taught or the level or ages of students. This includes instructors at the grade/elementary school, middle school, and high school levels. However, when the professor teaches at a university, they are specifically called a "university professor"; if holding a chair, then catedrático is used in Spanish. It is common to call university professors just "profesor" (Spanish) or "professor" (Portuguese).

In Italy, primary school teachers are called "maestro"(m) or "maestra"(f). Teachers in secondary schools scuole secondarie are called "professore"(m) or "professoressa"(f); the same title is used for university professors.

In Spain, the term professor (Basque, Galician and Spanish: (m) profesor, (f) profesora; Aranese and Catalan: (m) professor, (f) professora) is used for higher-level teachers at the secondary education level (high school, lyceum, institute, etc.) and above (i.e. institute, technical school, vocational school, college, or university). Instructors at the primary or elementary school level are called teachers (Aranese: (m) mèstre, (f) mèstra; Basque: (m) maisu, (f) maistra; Catalan and Galician: (m) mestre, (f) mestra; Spanish: (m) maestro, (f) maestra). When the professor teaches at a university, they are specifically called a "university professor"; if holding a chair, then chair (Aranese: catedratic; Basque: katedraduna; Catalan: catedràtic; Galician and Spanish: catedrático) is used. In Spain, it is not common to call university professors just "professor".

In Poland, the term profesor means professor extraordinarius and professor ordinarius at colleges and universities. Traditionally it has been applied to anyone who teaches at a (Polish) high school (grades 10-12).

source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor

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By the way, I think it'll make for a really stressful birthing experience if you teach mothers to question everything their German OB/Gyns and midwifes might advise.

Exactly. Rather than giving a neutral view of what to expect and how things work in Germany, the author obviously has some kind of an agenda.

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I found it so interesting that there was such a debate about the use of the word professor, which was my last level of teaching.

For a scholar, you have missed the very obvious point. You are not currently an "Assistant Professor" so you cannot claim to be one.

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I found it so interesting that there was such a debate about the use of the word professor, which was my last level of teaching. And so I submitted this:

What amazes me most is that instead of focusing on the article whose sole purpose was to help a woman have some information on informed childbirth decisions did it in turn become a discussion about my credentials as a woman. So, I will leave you with this. You can decide for yourselves, and know that mine was an American title given by an American college.

That's the right attitude to have when the police comes. Make sure to tell'em, specially the last part!

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As a German, I'm again deeply indebted to you for coming all the way over here to teach us and the lost expats here.

Just one small thing: You might hear ever now and then a term you possibly don't know yet. So inform yourself in order to better understand when people say to you "Sendungsbewußtsein ". Google gives the answer.

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