What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?
Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...
I have given birth to three babies in the city of Wittenberg, just south of Berlin (1998, 2000, 2003).
The hospital here has all the modern technology and natural birth gadgets you can think of.
My first delivery was in the states and was aweful. The nurses there thought they needed to monitor everything and wouldn't allow me to walk or do anything without the monitor on all the time. One nurse wouldn't allow me out of bed during her shift. After 22 hours of that I ended up with pitossin and an oxygen mask and a big nastey perinial cut.
In comparison this hospital is awesome. It doesn't have the homey birthing rooms like in the states, but the rooms are candlit and "soft" and functional. With my first German baby, I didn't know what to expect but was plesantly surprised. I had attended the birthing classes and been on a hospital tour, but still only had my stateside experience to guide me when it came to the actual delivery day. When I arrived, the midwife looked at my papers and asked questions like what names I had picked out for the baby and if I wanted them to call the local priest. Then she said, "OK, you are a privately insured patient, so how do you want to proceed? Would you like me to call the head OBGYN?" As a private patient, she let run the show. She made me tea and talked to my husband and I through the whole delivery, just chatting and checking on the baby occassionally with a monitor and checking my vitals. I had a totally natural childbirth up until the last minute when she made a perineal cut without asking or saying anything, just "snip" and that was over. I was furious. Then she sewed me up afterwards with no anisthetic! I learned to tell them from the very beginning not to do that!
My next two deliveries were in the birthing pool. This is done completely naked, so beware. In order for a water birth, our hospital required an enema and shaving. I was offered water and tea throughout the birth. With my last baby, I had been in the delivery room for 6 hours without much progress. My water had broken, but I was not having any regular contractions. The midwife had tried massages and everything she could think of. I wasn't allowed to walk the halls like in the states. I wasn't allowed to leave the delivery area. So, with no progress, the new midwife that came in at shift change wanted to set an IV with pitossin. I asked her how they would do it, because in the states they had increased the pitossin every 20 minutes until I was almost out of my mind. I didn't want that. The midwife said, "Ya, that it pretty much how we do it here too." So, I refused. She asked me what I had against pitossin. I asked her if she had ever had it and she said, no she didn't have any children. Well, she lost all credibility in my eyes. I held my ground and she called for the doctor on duty. When the doctor arrived, the midwife announced that "Our patient here is afraid of giving birth." I was irrate. I asked the midwife to leave the room and then I talked to the doctor alone. I told her my concerns and she said we could compromise. They would set the pitossin and I could turn it up or down myself as I saw fit. The midwife was mad and didn't come back until the actual delivery. She sent another midwife instead. Once the pitossin started, so did the contractions and I never had to turn it up. Two hours later, my baby was born in the birthing pool. The midwife got her revenge though. During my last contraction, she turned the pitossin up on high. I had the worst "nachwehen" I have ever had, but my baby was safe and that was my victory!
I had all of my babies "ambulant" or as outpatient. I gave birth and as soon as they were certain that we were both well and stable, about 6 hours later, they let us go home. With my first baby, they needed the delivery room, so they moved us into a small private room for the 6 hours. With the last two we just stayed in the water birthing room. It takes about that long for them to disinfect the pool and get everything ready for it to be used again anyway.
In our city there are 3 midwives who visit all of the mothers and babies when they return home. With an out patient delivery, the midwife came once or twice a day for a week and once a day or every other day for another week and stopped in once or twice during the third week. We were well taken care of. If you have someone to help you out at home, I highly recommend it. You can sleep when you want, eat when you want, have your baby with you when you want. The two of you can bond and set your own schedule and no one is there to bother you. You don't have to share a room with any other mothers and their visitors. You don't have any drill sargeant nurses barking orders at you. And yet, help is just a phone call away. My midwife is the best!
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How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?
We came to Germany with a 2 month old son, so our pediatrician was the first doctor we sought out. We asked the neighbors about doctors and they took us to theirs. Over the next two years, we developed a good relationship, so when we were expecting our next baby, I asked her who she would recommend. The doctor she recommended was great, but I had to get past his nurses first. The first time I went to his office to make an appointment, the nurse asked me why I needed an appointment. I said because I was pregnant. She proceeded to ask me who told me I was pregnant. "uh, my body told me." Her response was, "You are not pregnant until WE tell you you are pregnant." I told her I would come back on a day when she was in a better mood and I left. A couple of days later, I walked in smiling and announced that I needed an appointment because I was pregnant and in my 3rd month. The nurse just shook her head and gave me an appointment. After that, all went well.
Your OBGYN will most likely not be in the delivery room with you. There are some doctors in Germany who are on call to attend the births of their patients. If this is what you want, you will need to ask around to find one who does this. Most hospitals have their own birthing staff consisting of a crew of midwives and a doctor on call. The midwife is in charge of the birth as long as there are no complications. If there are any comlications, the doctor takes over and the midwife is out of the picture. By my first birth here, the doctor didn't show up until after my daughter was born. For the next two births, she just sat in the corner on a stool and observed.
If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?
No. I am very satisfied with my experience here.
If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?
Be sure to find a birthing class, water aerobics and whatever else is offered for expectant mothers in your town. You will need the vocabulary learned in these classes and you will meet some great new friends that may last a lifetime.
Stand your ground for your rights without being loud. Don't allow yourself to be pushed around, but don't push back either. Just stand your ground and you will get what you need.