All women experience pregnancy as a time full of changes. Anticipation, hope, lots of questions, uncertainty and sometimes even discomfort are all part and parcel of these weeks and months. If you have not been in Germany for long, you might find it particularly difficult to feel at ease and secure in your pregnancy.
We would like to help you during this time.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our pregnancy counsellors.
1. In the early stages of pregnancy, you should ensure that your diet is healthy and balanced. Do not drink any alcohol whatsoever and quit smoking in order to avoid any damage to your child. Before taking any kind of medication, please consult your doctor. Go to the medical check-ups offered (around 10) and the 3 ultrasound examinations. Find a midwife as soon as possible who will accompany you through your pregnancy. In most cases, this midwife will also be able to support you after your baby is born. You do not have to pay for the medical check-ups or the midwife service before and after the birth.
2. In the first few weeks of pregnancy, you may feel tired, suffer from nausea or simply feel unwell. That's because your body is adapting to the changes taking place. Talk to your midwife or doctor, they will be pleased to help you. Listen to what your body is telling you and take a break every now and then. Regular exercise is generally very good for pregnant women, especially outdoors in the fresh air, however, be careful not to lift anything that is too heavy.
3. In the first trimester, you can decide for or against antenatal medical examinations (antenatal diagnostic testing). Please find an antenatal class as soon as possible. When deciding where to deliver your baby, there are information events held by hospitals and midwives that you can attend in order to find out where you would feel most comfortable and well taken care of. You can also decide where you would like to have your baby.
4. Social services, such as additional benefits, allowances for maternity wear and baby needs, depend on your residence status. Your pregnancy counsellor can assist you in such matters. She can also provide you with information on how to apply for foundation funds, e.g. from the Federal Foundation Mother and Child. If you are employed, you are entitled to maternity protection, protection against dismissal, maternity benefits and parental leave.
5. You will need the following when your baby arrives: Useful: A baby bed with a mattress, sheets and a water-proof mattress pad, a changing pad, a nappy bin, a water bowl, wash cloths, 2 packs of nappies for newborns, a thermometer, cream (for baby's bottom, no fragrance, dye or preservatives) and a pram. Clothing: 1 to 2 wearable blankets, 1 blanket, 5 bodysuits/shirts, 5 babygros, 5 shirts or jumpers, 2 pairs of socks, 1 hat, 1 to 2 jackets, a baby overall in winter. Breastfeeding: 2 nursing bras and bra pads; if you are not breastfeeding: baby formula, 4 bottles and teats size 1, bottle brush, 1 pack of first-infant formula. Many of these items can be acquired at low cost second hand. You should wash new clothes several times before using them. If in your home country you would use other items in the first days and weeks with your baby, then talk to your midwife or other young mothers about this.
6. Think about how you want to feed your baby, i.e. whether you want to breastfeed or feed your baby formula milk. Breastfeeding is healthy and practical for both mother and baby. Mother's milk perfectly meets your baby's needs, it is always available in the right quantity and at the right temperature, it doesn't cost anything, it strengthens your baby's immune system and prevents allergies. But even if you are unable to breastfeed, there is no need to worry. High-quality baby formula is available in Germany that is made to precisely meet the needs of even the smallest baby. Please do not hesitate to discuss this with your counsellor.
7. Towards the end of your pregnancy you should look for a paediatrician's practice located near you, perhaps one where your native language is spoken, so that you can bring your baby there for its first medical check-ups (U2 when your baby is 3 to 10 days old and U3 when your baby is 4 to 5 weeks old). Your paediatrician will take care of your child's health until they have grown up.
8. Around six weeks before your due date you should pack your bag for hospital. Your pregnancy book, insurance card/cost coverage, birth certificate, marriage certificate, a change of clothes, ID card, warm socks, clothes for during birth (t-shirt or nightdress), toiletries and cosmetics. After giving birth naturally, you usually remain in hospital for three days and for five days after giving birth by caesarean section. If you can, take a camera or smartphone with you in order to take the first low-cost but very precious photos of your baby.
9. Couples who are not married should go before the baby is born to the Citizens' Registration Office or Youth Welfare Office to apply for acknowledgement of paternity.
10. Organise someone to take care of your other children while you are in hospital having your baby and make plans for getting to the hospital (taxi, bus, helper).
11. Towards the end of pregnancy, your everyday activities will often be difficult. Many pregnant women suffer from heartburn, back pain and have difficulty sleeping. But soon you will be able to hold your baby in your arms. If you experience early, regular contractions, bleeding or if your waters break, notify your doctor or midwife immediately.
You can reach the 'Pregnant Women in Distress' hotline by calling 0800 40 404 020. This service provides 24/7 free first advice for pregnant women in 17 different languages. You can request that your call be treated as anonymous and absolutely confidential.
We would like to wish you the very best for your pregnancy and the birth of your baby.