8 Things I Learned About Giving Birth in Germany

give birth in Germany

Newest Berliner BY: Erin Porter

I am 4 hours out of the hospital and already posting about giving birth in Germany. When anyone gets on the internet to write about an experience this quickly it could be because it was outrageously bad or overwhelming positive. Lucky for me (and other soon-to-be expat moms in Germany), I feel compelled to share 8 things I learned about giving birth in Germany because it was simply awesome.

I also feel a certain amount of duty as I am the recipient of some seriously good karma. No sooner had I announced I was pregnant in Germany without a clue then I started receiving advice on what to expect. People shared their experiences – the real nitty gritty – and general messages of support. When I felt truly freaked out I would go back and refer to their stories and feel stronger, knowing that people (like our German-Way team) had been here and done that. In an effort to pass it along, I am sharing a picture of my brand-new Berliner and a little bit of what I’ve learned . Continue reading

Prenatal Courses in Germany

antenatal in Berlin

Prenatal Courses in Berlin. Photo: Erin Porter

Do I look a little tired here? That’s because I am. Last week was baby week. After 35 weeks of pregnancy, we were cramming hospital registration, one of our last doctor visits (plus ultrasound) and 2 long nights of prenatal courses into just a few days.

My dad politely asked if we weren’t a bit behind as he remembered taking courses before breaching the 9 month mark. He gave me an out, saying maybe this was just a difference in countries’ standards or that they took their courses 30 years ago. Erm – nope. We were just late.

After being all gung-ho to get started on classes, find a Hebamme (midwife) and generally be prepared early in the pregnancy, life had simply caught up with us. All the decisions that come after the relatively breezy, “Sure, we are ready to have a kid!” and just after the “OMG. We are having a kid!” have been daunting. Trying not to make a false move, we now find ourselves in the position of being the typical Americans in German, half-cocked, only partially ready and surrounded by people who know better.

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Pregnancy Scans in Germany

Pregnancy in Berlin

BY: Erin Porter

I am only (only!) 7 months pregnant, but I’ve already seen my baby yawn. At this point, I’ve actually had 7 ultrasounds (Ultraschalluntersuchung) in Germany, including a feindiagnostik (fine diagnostic) 3D scan to get a peek into what is happening in my belly.

How many ultrasounds do you have in Germany?

As this is my first pregnancy, I wasn’t sure what to expect from pregnancy in Germany, the USA or anywhere else for that matter. So I was a bit surprised when I realized that this amount of scanning was unusual for my stateside pregnant mamas. In the US, it appears that a total of 3 scans is considered normal – an early scan to verify dates, nuchal screen at 12 weeks and then a 20 week anatomy scan to check for issues.

While some people are concerned about the safety of ultrasounds on their unborn fetus, my research reassured me that the German doctors knew what they were doing and I was pleased to get a glimpse of this thing changing my whole life every time I went in for a visit.

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Some R&R for German Mothers

I have a confession. This might not come as a surprise to some of you, but it’s been tough being a mother to three children under the age of five. Especially in the last few months as my baby has become more sensitive to noise and light, and as I’ve had to try to maintain perfect nap conditions for him while containing two energetic preschoolers in our one-story house, I’ve felt more like the ringmaster of a three-ring circus. In other words, I have felt like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Continue reading

The First Twelve Months

I’ve been enjoying getting to know my new baby during these first three months of his life. I organized a Mommy & Me Yoga/Baby Massage class at our local yoga studio here in San Diego to give myself that regular undistracted one-on-one time with baby Lenny. During the massage portion, I enjoy warm memories of taking a baby massage class with my first born while we were still living in southern Germany.

One of the other main benefits to taking a baby class is getting to know some of the other mothers. After each class we find ourselves at the local cafe exchanging stories about our same aged babies and getting to know each other better. This aspect of motherhood is pretty critical to my own well-being as a mother. On one of these recent occasions, I was enjoying a conversation with one of these fellow mothers and was suddenly struck with a pang of guilt as she told me about a mutual friend of ours who would be going back to work soon, three-months postpartum. It was a new feeling, a new world feeling. Continue reading

Made in America

My family and I went through yet another life changing experience four weeks ago with the birth of our third child here in San Diego, CA. Child #1 and Child #2 were born in southern Germany, both positive experiences, so it was with curiosity and trepidation that I embarked on this experience in a different country the third time around. I began chronicling this experience in a previous post. Here is the rest of the story. Continue reading

Starting them young: Germans and Nudity and PEKiP

<em>Baby Stella developing faster in the buff</em>

Baby Stella developing faster in the buff

One of the aspects of German culture which we Americans often find so shocking is the prevalent open attitude towards nudity, otherwise known as naturalism. One of my good German friends is a big sauna goer and explained once to a group of us that her whole family was into it. This raised alarm bells with the other Americans there. “Wait, even your father is naked?” “Where do you look when he’s naked?” “Don’t you feel uncomfortable at all that strangers can see you naked?”

In the spirit of exploring my new culture further, I think I have found a “naturalism for beginners” course for my baby daughter.

Many mothers and fathers throughout Germany have participated in a weekly activity for babies: the Prager-Eltern-Kind Programm or PEKiP for short. When telling my mother what my younger daughter Stella and I do every Thursday morning, I refer to PEKiP as “naked baby play group.” Basically, we meet weekly with a group of seven other mothers and their babies, born within a month of each other, with a trained instructor for 90 minutes. This group stays together from the beginning (first few months) till age one. Continue reading