Thoughts on Giving Birth in Germany

I’m back! And proud to have added a new title to my identity: Blue Cakes Blogger: wife, blogger… and mother. And, although I’m exhausted, have no idea what day it is, and still feeling like I’m a machine working on autopilot (change diaper, nurse, burp, change diaper, play, rock to sleep, repeat), I can say with all certainty that motherhood is truly a blessing. We’re head over heels with our little lady and enjoying our new life as a family of four.

In honor of our new addition, and as many have requested, I’ll naturally be spending some time on this blog discussing and reflecting on my experiences in motherhood as part of my life as an American in Germany. I’ll begin today by sharing some thoughts on giving birth in Germany. Of course, as I’ve never had a baby in the US, I can only share my experiences here in Germany.

Overall, I am satisfied with the way things were handled during our hospital experience associated with Moriah’s birth. In fact, up until things got a bit challenging during the final stages of delivery and I found myself surrounded by 2 doctors and a midwife, I could hardly even tell I was in a hospital at all. (For those wondering- Moriah was positioned in an unnatural way making for a very long and difficult second stage of labor).

It probably help that when we arrived, I was the only woman in labor in the entire hospital so things were very calm. I had a midwife with me throughout the labor and delivery pretty much at all times. The first midwife we had was just wonderful and spoke excellent English, the second midwife, who took over for the first when her shift ended, was a bit less friendly and didn’t speak English very well, but we managed fine.

I really appreciated that the midwives were so encouraging towards natural methods of childbirth. Childbirth is truly seen as a natural event in Germany, and not made into a medical procedure as it often is in the US. Even when the pain got really intense and I questioned my ability to continue, they lovingly encouraged me to continue on without an epidural (although for the record, I could have had one if I had really wanted one)- I never had one.  I did take advantage of some of the natural methods they suggested (using the birth tub during labor, soft lights, music, etc.) and found those really nice to have available.

The doctors were just as calm in their thinking and did everything in their power to keep things as natural as possible, intervening only as absolutely necessary. They were also patient with the process, which is something I am extremely grateful for. They didn’t rush me into a C-section when things got challenging and they realized that the baby was in an unnatural position. Instead, after making sure the baby was OK, they gave it time and worked together and with me to get her out. I was recently told at my follow up doctor’s appointment that I was very lucky my delivery didn’t end in a C-section, as it was very close- thank God for that!

After Moriah was born, she was immediately handed to me- she wasn’t rushed over to be weighed, measured, or bathed nor was she given goop in her eyes or shots. That was done a couple hours later (well, minus the eye good and shot- they don’t do that in Germany). The priority after she was here was bonding and nursing. Drew and I were given about 2 hours of time in the delivery room as a family to get used to each other, which was nice.

Something that wasn’t so nice was that I was unable to have a private or family room for the first night- we asked, but there weren’t any available. So, a few hours after Moriah was born, I was wheeled into a four-bed room, which at the time had two other ladies staying in it. And, as babies room in with the mothers in Germany, there were also two other newborns “sleeping” there too- plus Moriah. The room was completely open- no privacy curtains or walls at all. Drew stayed a few minutes to get me settled and then, around 3am, had to head home for the night. It was a very rough night to say the least, but we survived. We were so thankful when, the following evening, we discovered that a family room had opened up and we were able to move into that room as a family. We stayed there for 2 more nights and Drew was able join us- he had his own bed next to mine and was also given meals, which was nice.

All in all we were in the hospital for 3 nights. Moriah was born at 11:55pm on a Saturday and we came home the following Tuesday in the late afternoon after her U2 doctor’s appointment.

Looking back, it’s all still sort of a dream. If you would have asked me just a couple years ago where our first child would be born I would have probably told you Pasadena, CA, or perhaps somewhere in the UK as we had imagined moving there at once for my husband’s job. I definitely wouldn’t have guessed that I would be sitting here now blogging about having a baby in Germany! Life is crazy that way- it takes you by surprise sometime. But, that’s the the grand adventure and fun of it all. 🙂

Well, that’s all I can write for now. (It’s taken me almost a week to write this much so I better post it now that I have the chance! Newborns sure do take up your time!) Next time I write I’ll explain more about midwife and doctor’s visits for newborns here in Germany…

9 Responses to “Thoughts on Giving Birth in Germany”

  1. Zoe writes:

    Lisa!!! Congratulations!!! I’ve been checking back periodically to see when there would be something new about the baby and your experience. What a great post and what an absolutely beautiful little bundle of joy!! I am so happy for all of you. I love love love the interesting details about life in Germany and how things like childbirth differ–these are exactly the details that you don’t get to hear about otherwise. Who thinks to talk about them? We just always assume things are the same everywhere (with certain things). Anyway, congratulations again!

  2. Kym writes:

    First, congrats on your little one! Second, I was just googling for experiences of an expat giving birth in Germany, read through your entire story and then just read your profile that you live in Hannover! This is just too funny, I lived in Hannover from August 2010 to March 2011, and I am hoping to cross the pond again over to Germany this August. Anyways, I had to write and I hope that you have time to drop me a note backs. Bestwishes!

  3. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Thanks Kym, yes we live in Hannover. Are you planning on having a baby in Germany yourself? Overall I was pretty happy with my experience here- although it was my first baby so not much to compare to! 🙂

  4. Paige writes:

    Hi! I just wanted to add my voice to the others on various posts I’ve seen… I’m also expecting in Germany, and I really appreciate the effort you took to write up your experiences! I’m luck in that I’ve had enough time to learn German fairly well by this point, so I can take advantage of all the German-language pregnancy resources out there… But there is something really quite different about what a fellow American ex-pat might say about the situation in Germany! Anyway, just wanted to say thanks!

  5. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    HI Paige, Thanks so much for your comment, it means a lot to me. Best wishes with your little one! 🙂

  6. Carolina Restrepo writes:

    Lisa,
    I am very glad I just found your blog as I am also an expat, 6 months pregnant living in Celle (45 min from Hannover). I am not sure if you still live in Germany but I wanted to ask you for advice regarding the Hospital, Midwife and pediatricians in Hannover. I do not speak German language and I have found that it is very challenging to find resources in english or any other language. Looking forward to hearing from you! I hope you and your family are doing great. Best. Carolina

  7. Decor8holly writes:

    Hello! I found your blog from a google search about midwifery in Germany. Are you still in Hannover? I live here in List with my husband and I’m American. We are expecting our first baby in Jan. I am looking for a midwife who speaks English well… It’s a challenge to find someone so far. Do you happen to have any tips? Thank you so much!!!
    Holly

  8. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Hi Carolina! Congrats on your pregnancy! I’m sending you an email now with some names. Best, Lisa

  9. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Hi Holly, we actually just moved back to the USA last month. Congrats on the baby! I’m sending you an email now with more info. Best, ~Lisa

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