So you’re going to have a baby in Germany!
While pregnancy can be an incredibly exciting time, it can also scare the pants off of you if you’ve just moved, or will be moving, to a foreign country. You’ve probably got tons of questions: Who should I see for my checkups? Where do I deliver? How much will this cost?
Not to worry: We’ve got answers to all the questions on your mind—and maybe some you hadn’t even thought of.
Read on to get the lowdown on everything that comes along with giving birth in Germany as a foreigner.
- Health services for pregnant women
- Where can you give birth in Germany?
- How much does it cost to deliver a baby in Germany?
- Parental leave
- Birth registration
Health services for pregnant women
You should get the ball rolling by making an appointment with an OB/GYN (Frauenarzt). You’ll start having regular visits with this doctor starting at about eight weeks gestation until around 32 weeks.
You’ll receive a document called a Mutterpass, (a “mother’s passport”) around the time of your first doctor’s visit. Your Mutterpass contains all of your important medical info, such as test results. You need to make sure to bring it to every appointment and to the facility where you’re giving birth.
Your prenatal care will also include ultrasounds (Ultraschall). It’s common to have an ultrasound at every prenatal visit. Many women also get a 3D anatomy ultrasound (Feindiagnostik) around the 25-week mark so the doctor can check the baby’s anatomy and spot serious medical issues.
Every pregnant mother is legally entitled to a midwife (Hebamme) in Germany. Toward the end of your pregnancy, you’ll connect with a midwife who will usually do home visits, monitor your health, help you prepare and answer questions you may have.
After your baby is born, the midwife will come to your home with the results of your baby’s postnatal health tests. She’ll also help you with the initial care of your baby.
If you live in a larger city, you should be able to find an English-speaking midwife. You can check out a site like Hebammensuche.de, or access directories at hospitals and birthing centers.
Where can you give birth in Germany?
Wondering where you’ll be giving birth in Germany as a foreigner? Well, you have the same options as everyone else: in a hospital, in a birthing center or at home.
Option number one for giving birth is, unsurprisingly, the hospital (Krankenhausgeburt). To choose the right one, you can attend hospital info sessions (Info-Abend). You’ll be able to get some information and tour the facilities. Once you’ve chosen, it’s a good idea to pre-register.
Giving birth in a hospital means you’ll have access to an epidural for pain management (no gas though—it’s against national policy!) and emergency services like c-sections.
New mothers typically stay in the hospital for a minimum of three nights for a standard delivery and around five nights for a c-section.
One more thing: In German hospitals, your baby will be delivered by a midwife, not your OB/GYN. The only exception is if an emergency arises.
2. Birthing center
For a more natural childbirth experience, check out a birthing center (Geburtshaus). These relaxed facilities are basically maternity wards but with no emergency services, so they’re geared toward low-risk pregnancies.
Birthing centers commonly have amenities like a birthing pool, birthing balls, wall bars, music and more.
Want to give birth in the comfort of your own home (Hausgeburt)? That’s a viable choice too! For the home option, a midwife will attend the birth and deliver your baby. But if you have an emergency, you’ll need to be transferred to the hospital.
All three options we discussed are covered by German public insurance.
How much does it cost to deliver a baby in Germany?
Regardless of whether or not you have health insurance, giving birth in Germany won’t break the bank.
Statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV)
If you’re covered by statutory health insurance (German state healthcare), giving birth could cost you nothing. At most, you might have to pay a few hundred euros if you’ve had to get any extra services.
Any employed person who makes less than €64,350 will automatically be registered for statutory health insurance. Unemployed people may still be covered under certain conditions, like if you’re married to someone who’s covered.
Private insurance (private Krankenversicherung or PVK)
If you earn more than €64,350 per year, you might choose to be insured under PVK. Private insurance varies depending on the company, so you’ll have to check with your provider to see what’s covered.
In the case that you’re uninsured—if you’re only visiting Germany, for instance—giving birth could cost you between €1,500 and €8,000. This depends on certain factors like whether you had a natural birth or a c-section.
One of the benefits of giving birth in Germany is parental leave. The country has a pretty good setup when it comes to taking leave both before and after childbirth.
Women who work in Germany and pay into social security can claim maternity leave (Mutterschutz) benefits. This comprises 14 weeks of paid leave: six weeks before giving birth, and eight weeks afterward.
During maternity leave, 100% of your salary is covered: It’s partially paid by the government, and the remainder is paid by your employer.
The government-paid parental allowance, known as Elterngeld, is good for up to 12 months for one parent or 14 months if both parents take time off. The parental allowance covers 67% of parents’ salaries, up to a maximum of 1,800 euros per month.
After you give birth, you’re legally required to name your child, register them and apply for their birth certificate within one week of their birth. You can do this at the registry office (Standesamt) in the city where you gave birth.
To register your child, you’ll need to submit certain documents, such as a notification of birth (Geburtsmeldung). You can get all the details here.
Children aged one and up are legally entitled to a spot at a daycare (Kindertagesbetreuung). Daycare usually costs about €70 to €150 per month. Lower-income families can apply for subsidies. It’s best to apply early, as it can be hard to secure a spot.
Families can get a monthly child benefit called Kindergeld. You can get €219 for your first and second children, €225 for the third child and €250 for every additional child younger than 18 years old.
Here’s the clincher: Between 18 and 23, the child will have to decide if they want to keep German citizenship or claim that of their parents.
Get ready for your special delivery
Getting ready to have a baby in a foreign country can feel like a daunting task.
We hope the information we’ve discussed above has taken some of the mystery out of giving birth in Germany so that you can move ahead with excitement and confidence!
Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and son, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.