What to do When You Find out You’re Pregnant in Germany

PHOTO: Erin Porter

Pregnancy Test Vending Machine

When I first found out I was pregnant in Germany, I freaked out. I was married and happy, we were kinda trying but I was still terrified. I suspect I would have been apprehensive no matter where I was, but there were so many questions about how this would go in Germany.

I dug into the German-Way archives and their experience calmed me. I had seen the mobs of hip, strollered woman parading around Prenzlauer Berg. I could do this. I did do this. And you can, too. Here are the first few steps of what to do when you find out you’re pregnant in Germany.

Pregnancy Tests in Germany
The usual symptoms alerted me that I might be in need of a pregnancy test, but first I had to figure out exactly what that was called. While I practiced the mouth cocktail that is the German word for preganant, Schwanger (try saying it, “shh-vong-er”), I seriously stumbled on Schwangerschaftstest (pregnancy test).

First step – check.

Next on my list was where I could buy said pregnancy test. Unlike the USA where there are a plethora of over-the-counter drugs at most grocery stores and pharmacies, Germans keep a tight leash on their pharmaceuticals big and small. A talk with your friendly Apotheke is required for everything from a head cold to an upset stomach. I was fretting about having to discuss the most delicate of matters with the kind – but brusque – German ladies who run our local shop. Luckily, I remembered seeing and photographing for comedic proof the “Maybe Baby” pregnancy test vending machines on the S-Bahn platforms (as seen above). Has there ever been a better product name? This surely meant pregnancy tests were readily available so I headed to the nearest DM.

My hypothesis proved correct and soon I was standing in my very own bathroom, trying to decipher the German directions. My German-speaking husband and years of television dramas guided me through the process. Abject terror, hope and absolute uncertainty were all emotions at the forefront. I didn’t need to be fluent in German to understand that the strong blue line meant that we were having a German.

Second step (gulp!) – check.

Meeting With Your Doctor
Our next stop was at my Frauenarzt (gynecologist) to confirm the findings. We were there initially to consult on an insurance claim (ugh – private insurance), but Herr Doktor calmly answered our apprehensive questions before asking if I’d like to hop on the table and take a look by Ultraschall (ultrasound). We blinked. Already?…see the baby? He had estimated that the fetus was about 7 weeks along and the American pregnancy sites I had been reading said nothing about such an early check. But we only hesitated for a moment before we said, “YES! Yes, please show us this tiny thing that it upending our entire life”.

With the flick of his wand, a small blurb appeared on the screen within my uterus. No idea what we should be looking for, we held our breath and looked to the doc to fill us in. He informed us that it had made it to the right place (no ectopic pregnancy) and everything was in ordnung. (What pleasure it must give a German doctor to utter those words.)

PHOTO: Erin Porter

Pregnancy in Berlin

Third step – check.

From the doctor I picked up my first prenatal vitamins, the very common Femibion brand in Germany, so I could start observing some folic acid and then I had to just wait. As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the first three months are the most uncertain whether you are in Germany the USA or Namibia. This is a golden time where you will look for all the small signs that your body is growing a human being (exhaustion, nausea, a glowing sense that you are incredible).

And about 100 steps later I can tell you that I did it! I had a baby in Germany and learned so much along the way. If someone as clueless about all things baby as me can do it, so can you.

For the complete guide to pregnancy abroad, refer to our Guide on Having a Baby in Germany: Prenatal Care and Having a Baby in Germany: Giving Birth.

This edited GW Expat Blog post was originally published on May 26th, 2014.

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