Many babies are born a few days before the calculated due date. This is perfectly normal. However, if your baby was born before the 37th week of pregnancy or weighed less than 2500 grams at birth, they are considered premature. This not only changes your living situation, but also some of the key data regarding your social security. For example, to adjust your maternity leave period (Mutterschutzfrist) or maternity pay (Mutterschaftsgeld), you need a certificate. It's called a certificate of premature birth.

In the event of a premature birth, the maternity leave period is extended from eight to twelve weeks after delivery. Therefore, you should inform your superiors at work immediately about the premature birth. As proof, you present the certificate of premature birth. This enables your company to prepare for the fact that you will be absent from work for longer than expected, for example. You also need the certificate of premature birth in order to receive maternity pay earlier than planned. In addition, this document is important in order to claim other benefits. For example, if you have applied for a parental allowance (Elterngeld) or a what’s known in Germany as a ‘care allowance’ in the event your child needs particularly complex care. If you were already prohibited from working by a doctor prior to the start of the maternity leave period before the birth and therefore received a maternity protection allowance (Mutterschutzlohn), you must inform your employer that the situation has changed as a result of the premature birth. After the birth, the maternity protection allowance is cancelled because you then receive maternity pay (Mutterschaftsgeld).

You do not automatically get an extension of the maternity leave period (Mutterschutzfrist) after a premature birth. You have to apply for it with your health insurance company. If you have private health insurance, you apply to the Federal Office for Social Security (Bundesamt für soziale Sicherung). You should send the original certificate of premature birth to your health insurance company as soon as possible. You should inform your workplace if you are receiving a maternity protection allowance.