A Pregnant American in Germany, Part 7: More Differences.

As our little one’s due date approaches quickly, I thought I’d take a moment to address a few of the other differences between the US and Germany that we have discovered in preparing to welcome our little girl…

In the Nursery / Baby Gear:

-Changing tables in Europe are square, as opposed to the rectangle ones you find in the US.

-Just like adult beds, crib frames, mattresses, and bedding in Europe come in different (slightly smaller) sizes than you find in the US.

-Where hanging a mobile above the crib is typical in the US, hanging a canopy or “heaven” is more common in Germany. Drew and I opted for neither and put up a name banner instead.

-Strollers here are intense! Not only are they much much more expensive here than they are in the US (a mid-range stroller will set you back about 400-600 Euros!), they are also much larger and in general much more durable. I believe this is because of the fact that many people (us included) do without cars here, so a nicer quality stroller is necessary as it is the baby’s only wheeled transportation option.

-Germans believe that babies should lie flat in their stroller until they are 6 months old. Thus, most strollers comes with bassinet / pram attachments for newborn use rather than just a car seat. Car seats will also attach to a stroller frame, but are generally only used for the car.

-Baby Clothes in Germany are MUCH more expensive than they are in the US. Luckily for us, we figured this out early and have been able to have Drew purchase newborn clothing while in the US on work trips.

Labor and Delivery:

-The main difference here is that the women’s OB/GYN does not deliver the baby- babies delivered in the hospital are delivered by midwives. The midwife we will get will depend on whoever is working when I go into labor. (We are praying that this person speaks English- as we learned during our last stay, some do and others don’t). There is also a good chance we will have more than one midwife helping us with the delivery as the midwives typically work in 8-hour shifts. So that should be interesting!

-Although pain medication is available here, a much more natural approach is taken to childbirth in Germany. Alternative / homeopathic treatments such as a birthing tub, birthing ball, etc. are encouraged before pain meds are given out. (For the record, this mind-set goes along with my train of thinking anyways, so I have no problems with this and actually think this is a huge benefit of giving birth in Germany)

-It is typical to allow a women to go 2 weeks over her due date before inducing labor here. Even then, a more homeopathic induction (I’m told by a friend you must drink a seaweed-like drink) is tried first, before drugs are used to get things going. Really hoping this baby doesn’t stay in there long enough to get to experience this! 🙂

Hospital Stay:

-A typical hospital stay for a normal vaginal birth in Germany is 3 days. A stay after a C-section is at least 5 days.

-It is standard for women to share a postpartum hospital room with 1-3 other new mothers and their babies. Based on availability, you are also able to pay a per night fee to have a private or a family room, which allows the new Dad to stay the night. Drew and I are hoping there is a family room available for us to pay to have, otherwise we will deal with the situation as it unfolds itself.

-Rooming in is standard practice here. (Which is good but can be a challenge at night when there are 2-4 babies and mothers in the same room!) Babies only visit the nursery if there is a problem, or for brief periods of time if the mom needs to shower, and other family isn’t there to care for the baby, etc.

-There are no official visiting hours. Visitors are able to show up as invited by the family. In my opinion, this can be both good and bad.

-There is no wheel chair to the curb service or mandatory car seat checks required by the hospital. When they say you can go home- you walk yourself and baby out!

Aftercare:

-Women with the standard German health insurance are entitled to midwife services free of charge after they come home from the hospital. The midwife will visit the new mom and baby at home to check on things / answer any questions / weigh the baby. Usually there are about 10 of these visits in the first month or so after the birth. As great as this sounds, unfortunately Drew and I are not eligible for this service, as our private insurance for guest scientists and their families will not cover it. (Well, I should rephrase that to say that if we want this service, we can have it, but must pay out of pocket for it and it isn’t cheap).

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I’m sure there are many more differences that could be discussed, but that’s all I can think of for now! 🙂

2 Responses to “A Pregnant American in Germany, Part 7: More Differences.”

  1. Diana Ou writes:

    I had a couple of midwives during my birth because of the 8 hour shift but having someone close during your stay helps because the midwives may not be there the entire time.

    Yay for natural birth! Squatting and moving around in the birthing room helped a lot. And so did back massages. I don’t know if it will be cold there but stay warm! Blessings to you and the family!

    <3 Diana and Baby Jayda

  2. Sarah writes:

    Lisa, this series on the differences is so fun to read! I didn’t know, for example, that they check the car seat when you’re leaving the hospital.
    If you can afford the aftercare, do it! I thought I knew a lot about babies, but the Hebamme gave really useful tips and tricks. Plus, the first visit to the doctor is much later here than in the US, so I was glad to have someone checking his weight, etc.
    And, a great place to get clothes is the children’s Flohmarkt. In this area (Stuttgart), they happen in Sept./Oct. and March/April, mostly in kindergartens and churches. You can get great like-new clothes for really good prices.
    All the best to you!

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