Most pregnant people in Germany decide to give birth in hospitals. However, you are essentially free to choose whether you want to give birth in a clinic, a birth centre, or at home. Which birthplace is right for you depends mainly on where you feel safest and most comfortable. A delivery in a birth centre or at home is mainly an option if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy with low risks. You should also think about how much support you want in the days after the birth. Depending on the type of care, you may incur additional costs. Anis possible with hospitals as well as with the birth centres. In this case, you can go home a few hours after the delivery. Ask your gynaecologist or midwife what they would recommend.
Many hospitals offer information events and consultation hours for pregnant people and couples. That way you see if you like the atmosphere there. And you'll also get answers to your questions about childbirth. You will find out, for example, whether your midwife is approved as an ‘accompanying midwife’ at the hospital and whether you’ll be able to be cared for by her throughout. You can find out what medical equipment is there and what pain treatments are available. You might be interested to know what equipment the maternity ward has. Is there a bathtub for relaxation or for a water birth? What alternatives to the birthing bed are available, such as birthing chairs, ropes, or sitting balls? Can the baby stay in the same room with you or is there a family room? You can also clarify which visiting hours are possible for your relatives and which costs you have to cover yourself. It is good to know if the ward has obstetricians, paediatricians and anaesthetists present in the clinic around the clock. In this context, you can ask whether these doctors also sleep in the hospital and are available in case of emergency, or whether they have to be called from home to the workplace first. Some hospitals also have a midwife delivery room, where you are cared for by midwives and doctors are only consulted in case of medical complications. In most hospitals you can stay a few days after the birth.
Birth centers are run independently by midwives. There you will be looked after mainly by midwives. Some people find the atmosphere in the birth centre particularly pleasant and personal. As a rule, you will be looked after there during the entire birth by the midwife who has already accompanied you throughout your pregnancy. Many birth centres offer bothand extended stays. Some birthing centres even have doctors on site. It is good to know that births of certain high-risk pregnancies are excluded from birth centers. Birth centres usually use fewer painkillers than hospitals and use alternative methods to relieve pain. If you are interested in a birth centre, you should find out how the midwives there deal with complications and how quickly doctors or a paediatric clinic can be reached in an emergency. Many birth centres are located near hospitals and work closely with them. Sometimes it is even possible that, in the event of a transfer to hospital, you will be accompanied by the midwife who has been looking after you up to now. If that's important to you, you should definitely work it out in advance. The direct costs for giving birth in a birth centre are covered by your health insurance.
A home birth is when you have your baby at home. However, this option is only available if you are not expecting twins or multiples, if your baby is not in shoulder presentation or breech, and if pregnancy-related illnesses have been ruled out. If you are interested in having a home birth, it is best to contact a midwife who attends home births. They can tell you exactly how a home birth works and what to look out for. The midwife and your gynaecologist must decide whether a home birth is suitable for you. That being said, it may also be helpful for you to check into a hospital that is located nearby. This way, the hospital already has your data at hand in case you should change your mind short notice or in case of complications. You should check with your midwife in advance about whether a home birth is possible in your home and whether you might need to make any special preparations for this. You and the midwife should also discuss how long she will stay with you after the birth ahead of time. If you already have children, it's important to clarify who will care for them after you give birth. Even with a home birth, your baby’s first check-up is taken care of. This is done by the midwife. If you decide to have a home birth with a midwife who has a health insurance contract, your health insurance will cover the costs. Unlike a birth in a hospital or birth centre, you have to register your child at the registration office (Standesamt) yourself after a home birth. This must be done within a week.
If you decide to have your baby in a hospital, it is sufficient to register there between the 32nd and 36th week of pregnancy. At the birth centre you should do this a little earlier, about three months before the planned delivery. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it's also good to sign up a little early. But in an emergency, you can go to any clinic that's nearby. After all, it may happen, for example, that you are out and about when the contractions begin. You won't be turned away.