Call your midwife!12 Jan 2017 – 3 minutes to read
Guest post on pregnancy and delivery and the role the midwives play in Germany by Dr. Katja Heumader. Katja is a close friend of Lisa. Her kids are the same age as ours and we spend at least one afternoon per week. The late night WhatsApp messages about the hard/stupid/crazy moments of parenting have saved the day more than once.
My Brazilian friend got pregnant in 2013. The first question she asked was: “I don’t understand this whole midwife-thing you have in Germany. What do I need a midwife for? And how do I find the right one?” In Brazil, children are born under doctoral supervision in hospital, many of them via c-section (in cities up to 90 per cent). For comparison: In Germany the share of c-sections is about 30 per cent. Of course, the absence of midwives is one of the reasons for the high share of c-sections in Brazil.
Midwives care for women during pregnancy, birth and childbed
For women from abroad the role midwives play in Germany might be stunning. They might even be puzzled about the various midwives a pregnant woman needs. Each woman has the right to get help from a midwife during pregnancy, birth and the time after (Recht auf Hebammenhilfe). Midwives attend each birth, even c-sections. They have a broad medical knowledge about all issues concerning pregnancy, birth and childbed.
What midwives in germany do in detail
Instead of seeing a doctor, a pregnant woman can get all examinations from her midwife. Apart from the medical knowledge midwives offer a different perspective from the one doctors have. They consider pregnancy and birth as something natural whereas medical staff in hospitals tends to see pathologic aspects and eventual risks in the first place. Of course, pregnant women profit from medical achievements. But quite often they are alienated instead of encouraged by gynecologists and nurses.
Midwives can be a corrective and give women the strength and help they need during that special time. A midwife might choose other means or set aside some technical devices. Women who don’t want to relinquish those modern medical methods can also choose a combination: They can see their midwife for some appointments and their gynecologists for others (for example ultrasonics).
Midwives also offer prenatal classes in which women or couples can learn everything around birth and the first time with the baby. Many women get to know the midwife who looks after her in childbed in those classes. And of course, a midwife helps the becoming mother to give birth to her child, in hospital, birthplace or at home.
During childbed midwives come to see mother and baby at home after the two have left hospital. They check if the baby is gaining weight, look after the navel and control the wound healing of the mother, look after wound nipples and after nursing in general. But most importantly they give advices for the everyday life with the baby. Everyone who has children knows: The first days with the baby are exhausting. Mothers suffer from baby blues. Babies don’t know any difference between day and night yet and keep their parents awake for hours. Sometimes babies cry a lot – without a specific reason. Parents feel helpless in those situations. A midwife can strengthen parents and the relationship to their children by giving mother and father the necessary self confidence that they do the right thing for their little child.
Midwives in germany face financial problems
Unfortunately, midwives have been facing huge problems in recent times. As courts tend to adjust big amounts of compensations to families who suffer from damages they gained during birth (which is per se a good thing), insurance fees for midwives have increased significantly. This leads to the fact, that many midwives have to resign from their job because they can’t work profitably any more. Furthermore, house birthing has become nearly extinct. Unfortunately, political solutions have had only temporal effects so far Haftpflichtversicherung für Hebammen steigt erneut .