Congratulations on the birth of your new baby!
Your donum vitae pregnancy counsellor will take the time to answer any questions you may have after your baby is born.
1. There are plenty of things that have to be dealt with after the birth. But first of all, it is very important for mother and baby to rest in the days following childbirth. During the recovery period after birth the new mother will experience post-birth vaginal discharge, afterpains, sometimes haemorrhoids, healing childbirth injuries, sweating and painful milk let-down. It takes many weeks to recover from the physical changes caused by pregnancy. If you are not always in a good mood and happy, that's normal. If you experience a persistent lack of energy and feel down or depressed over the course of a number of days, please contact your counsellor, doctor or midwife for help.
2. Your midwife is there to help you in the early days with your baby. She will check how well you are recovering, how well your baby is developing and she can help you with breastfeeding. You should begin breastfeeding your baby directly after birth so your baby can enjoy feeling close to you. At first your baby will only drink small but fully sufficient quantities of the valuable first breastmilk. It's normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days after birth. Regular breastfeeding helps to produce the hormones needed to produce sufficient milk.
If you are unable to breastfeed, there is no need to worry. High-quality infant formula is available in Germany that is optimally designed to meet your baby's needs so that it can develop and grow. If you have any questions or if you are experiencing difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact your midwife or breastfeeding counsellor.
3. Bring your baby to a paediatrician for its medical examinations. The U1 (first examination) takes place directly after the birth, the U2 when the baby is between 3 and 10 days old and the U3 when the baby is 4 or 5 weeks old. Your paediatrician will provide you with a yellow children's medical examination booklet in which all the examination results will be recorded. At home, please make sure that your baby sleeps on its back in a sleeping bag in its own bed without any additional covers, cuddly toys or pillows in order to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Do not allow your baby to become overheated while sleeping and if you have smokers in your home make sure that your baby is in a smoke-free environment. Breastfeeding is another factor that is effective in preventing SIDS. Thanks to these preventive measures, cases of sudden infant death in Germany have declined by almost 80% in recent years.
4. Your baby's health is important, but so too is yours! Make sure that your diet is good and varied and that you drink plenty of fluids, you should get lots of rest and ask your midwife about specific postnatal exercises. You might not want to get pregnant again so soon, if so, you and your partner should use contraceptives. The pregnancy counsellor can assist you and provide you with extensive information.
5. Breastfeeding is not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy. Especially if you gave birth by caesarean section, it is recommended that you wait for one year before becoming pregnant again. To avoid becoming pregnant again after giving birth you should always use condoms or a diaphragm. Contraceptives that contain oestrogen cannot be used while breastfeeding. Contraceptives containing progesterone, such as the mini-pill, the contraceptive coil, a hormone-releasing IUD and the DMPA injection are generally suitable. Please talk to your gynaecologist in order to find the right solution for you.
6. Your baby may be very easy to care for, however, you might find that your baby is very fussy and cries a lot in the first few days and weeks. It is good and advisable to offer your baby a lot of physical contact and to respond directly to your baby's needs. It is not possible to spoil a newborn. Through your loving care, your baby will develop complete trust in its parents and the world around them. This trust is the secure foundation for good development. If your baby cries a lot and you feel that you cannot handle the situation, please do not hesitate to ask your midwife or pregnancy counsellor for help. Feeling overwhelmed and worried can lead to helplessness and anger. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, please place your baby in a safe place (in their baby bed), leave the room, close the door and go outside for a few minutes in order to calm down. It is in situations like these that parents sometimes lose control and end up shaking their baby until it stops crying. This can cause serious, irreparable damage to a baby's sensitive brain. In Germany, we have good systems in place to help mothers and parents. These include early intervention services offered by the Youth Welfare Office, family midwives, family support groups, etc. Your pregnancy counsellor can tell you exactly who to contact. Looking for help for the sake of your family does not mean you are weak, but is in fact a sign of strength!
7. Organisational matters: After giving birth, there are a number of matters that have to be taken care of. Your baby's birth certificate can be obtained from the Citizens' Registration Office (Standesamt) and sometimes at the hospital. You will receive a letter by post containing your child's tax number (Tax ID, please store this carefully). Please register your baby's birth with the Office for Housing and Migration, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the job centre, your social services and, if you are employed, with your statutory health insurance company. Your entitlement to children's allowance, parental allowance, housing allowance, supplementary children's allowance and federal-state child-raising allowance/Bavarian State Child-raising Allowance (in Bavaria only) depends on your residence status. If you have any questions, please contact your pregnancy counsellor. If you have not done so before giving birth, you should have the father of your child (if you are not married) registered with the Citizens' Registration Office or the Youth Welfare Office. You should find out about childcare services because children often have to be signed up early.