This list is made for newly pregnant women particularly in Germany. Germany has had a huge increase in birthrates (in some cities up to 40%). So making sure you get the support you want and need can be a hustle with limited capacities basically everywhere in the pre and post natal sector and an increasing demand. I hope that this list will help German women and women elsewhere where there might be an increase in birth rates to think about everything in time.
1. Find a midwife
If you are planning to get pregnant, look for numbers of midwives before you get pregnant. There is a search page for midwives (here), but it is not complete. Therefore, it means research, research, research. Ask friends and acquaintances if they can recommend a midwife. And as soon as you have the positive pregnancy test in front of you, you calculate online your probable date of birth (for example, here). That’s what you need, if you ask a midwife. In cities like Hamburg one can be glad to have a midwife at all. But if you have the choice, think about whether you want to have an in-patient midwife, for example. An in-patient midwife not only accompanies you after the birth, but ideally also before and during the birth itself. Some midwives also offer and kn how to laser sore nipples when your are breast feeding. Mine could not do any of this and only looked after me after birth. That was really ok, too. If you really should not get a midwife, do not panic. Look for a good network with other moms that can support.
2. Sign up for a birth preparation course
Some midwives offer birth preparation courses. There are courses that run over several weeks and there are weekend crash courses. Frankly speaking, the crash course is enough. As soon as the birth process begins, you are in modus operandi and usually well looked after by midwives and doctors in the hospital. I have had a very good experience by following my midwife instructions during the birth process. I told her exactly in advance what I wanted (for example, by no means leaving the window for an epidural anesthetic without anyone informing me) and she guided me perfectly. So I could concentrate on breathing. Believe me, you need that focus!
However, I have booked a course that went over several weeks. It did not help me much during birth, but it kind of prepared me psychologically and decreased my fear. In addition, I have met other wonderful moms, with whom I became very good friends. That alone was worth it for me.
3. Find pre-natal sport classes
For me, the pre-natal Kundalini Yoga and water aerobics were true lifesavers! I still remember the first lesson in pre-natal Yoga. I was just 3 months pregnant and thought oh my god, what a lame class. But with my second trimester the course was exactly what I needed and has actually prepared me perfectly physically and mentally for the birthing process. Midwife practices and yoga schools offer great courses here, but they are always booked up quickly. I am a member of the sports club Kaifu Lodge and in recent years the studio has become more and more specialized in classes for pregnant women and young mothers. The best part is that you can go without registration. If you are not a member, you can buy a pass for 10 visits. I think it is the best offer here in Hamburg and absolutely worth it. The disadvantage of this flexibility is that it’s not as personal. If you would like to get to know more women in similar circumstances, you probably will be better off in a regular class.
A few more words about water aerobics. I wish I had made this discovery earlier in my pregnancy, because I had a lot of water retention, which can be greatly alleviated by water aerobics. for one hour your weight is liftet off your shoulders or let me say joints, which is a great relieve particularly for your back. For mother and child a real treat. “Bäderland” is a good choice in Hamburg if you look for these classes. One course is rather short (4-6 dates), so it’s best to book 3-4 in a row. They cost usually only 25-30 euros per course. An absolutely worthwhile investment until the last day. You have to book these courses very early, because the places are rare and insanely desired.
4. Find a good birth hospital
Usually you register in the 30th week of pregnancy in the hospital of your choice. You need a referral from the gynecologist. Many hospitals offer information evenings for pregnant women only once a month. So chose these dates in time, round about the 20th week of pregnancy. In some hospitals you even had to register for the information evening. And it was quite possible that the appointments were already full. If that does not work for some reason, do not panic. You can also drive to the hospital unannounced to give birth to your child. But it is always better to sign up so that the doctors and midwives are already familiar with your pregnancy history and that the arrival at the hospital is smooth and fast.
Incidentally, it has happened that delivery rooms are too crowded and that they need to refer you to the next hospital. Unfortunately, not such a rare scenario since the birth rates shot up enormously. For me personally that would have been a horror scenario.
Oh yes, and one word more about the hospitals themselves. Many opt for hospitals that have an intensive care unit for babies. Since I had a regular smooth pregnancy, it was more important for me to go to a small family hospital with a focus on personal attention. And with this decision, I was extremely happy. All the difficult births and twin births end up in the bigger hospitals with intensive care units. So if you arrive with a very normal birth, you might simply end up not being top priority.
5. Look for day cares (Kitas)
It’s best to start around your 6th month of pregnancy. Yes pregnancy. Believe me. Even if you are looking for a place more than 1,5 years from then. Some day cares offer only monthly options for visits and these appointments are quickly taken. Make a list of day cares in your area and mark your favorites. But do not make the mistake to only endeavour into your favourite day cares. Make sure you sign up for as many waiting lists as you can. I know – this system is really stupid, but you can not change that. And if you have a handful of favorites, be persistent. This means call regularly, check with them personally, send a birth card, as soon as your baby has arrived etc. It may feel tedious and annoying but believe me, it is necessary. The staff in the day cares are often way too busy to actually follow up with any waiting lists. So should there be a free place suddenly, its good to be remembered. This is exactly how we got our place in our favourite day care. So do not rest on the waiting list. But foremost do not wait until the child is born before you start looking for day cares.
According to various studies acupuncture is the one thing that has proven to shorten the birthing process. I don”t know how you feel, but I would have tried almost everything that promises an easier birth. Therefore, it was clear to me that I would be spiked with needles. And by the way that sounds a lot worse than it really is. You hardly notice the needles. There is the so-called birth preparation acupuncture, which should start about 4 weeks prior to birth (not earlier, because it initiates the birth). However, I started using acupuncture a little earlier to alleviate my back pain and water retention. That worked out wonderfully. Some midwives and gynecologist offer acupuncture.
7. Post-Natal Workout
The quality of the high demanded courses is very different. For my part, I prefer going to sports facilities rather than midwives. There is an excellent program especially for the pelvic floor: Cantienica. Have a look if there are any Cantienica classes close to where you live. you start by locating the pelvic floor, which this is not so easy. But once you know how, the exercises work extremely well, without interfering the rectosdiastase. I have already signed up for these kind of classes in the 8th month of my pregnancy and got Anne of the last available place. So start a little earlier than me.
The post-natal classes 1-3 in my gym Kaifu Lodge are also highly recommended. And as mentioned, they work without having to sign in. You just go when you are ready. The absolute great thing about it is that you can bring your babies ! So you don’t need to worry about finding a Babysitter.
If you feel like meeting up with other mothers while being looked after by a great child developmental psychologist who teaches age-appropriate development games and advises on all baby related topics, then you definitely need to go to a Pekip course. Pekip stands for Prague Parent-Child Program (PEKiP). The Babies are supposed to be naked in these classes. Why naked you may ask? That’s exactly what I asked, too. In fact, Babies can develop much better physically if they are not restricted by the thick diaper.
A life with a Baby without a Pekip class … hardly conceivable for me anymore. Nowhere did I learn so much about the development of my baby and could ask 1001 questions like in this class. The Babies love it and you make friends for life. The course starts at three months and ends shortly before their first birthday. Our course ended recently. And I not only miss meeting up with other moms but also the experts advice on my Baby development. But as I said, unfortunately there are no Pekip classes after the first birthday. So enjoy it while you can.
9. Making music, baby swimming, crawling etc.
Of course you should not overload the little ones and yourself too much. But I’ve found that it’s good to have some activity planned for once or twice a week while you are at home with your Baby. So you have a reason to get out of the house and meet up with other mothers and Babies. It also promotes the development of your Baby when you meet other children at an early age. During my year at home I visited baby swimming, baby music garden and toddler groups. Unfortunately, all courses are always high in demand, so I advise you to pick a few classes shortly before your Baby is born.
10. Find a good pediatrician
Last but not least, please find a pediatrician, which is ideally within walking distance. With the baby boom also came namely the alarming shortage of pediatrician. Many paediatricians no longer take on new patience. A day home from the hospital we had to check on the jaundice of our three-day-old baby. We called about 10 paediatricians and nobody could or wanted to take us on. We were desperate! You have this tiny crying yellowish Baby in your arms, are still exhausted from birth and your are not able to find someone that checks on your Baby. So we decided to go back to our hospital and tearfully begged for help. Normally you would have to go to the emergency room but we lucky that the nurse still remembered us and, without making any fuss about it, examined our little Charly. Luckily the yellow indicator was almost back to normal so we could go back home. But overall it was a very stressfull experience.
With a lot of persistence we finally found a paediatrician for the U2 examination and are happy with our doctor.
Well, I hope I could help you a little with my experiences and tips. Write me your feedback or suggestions. I am happy to hear from you!