A midwife is there for you starting from the beginning of your pregnancy. As your personal contact person, they will advise and support you during this time. They can provide help with pregnancy-related difficulties and can also take care of many of your pregnancy check-ups. Midwives support you during birth and are also there for you and your baby during the postpartum period. Some work freelance, while others are employed in hospitals or at midwifery practices. Only a few men are employed in this profession. They are called ‘maternity nurses’ in German. The services of midwives or maternity nurses are paid by health insurance as part of the statutory care for pregnant people as midwifery assistance. Please note that midwives usually do not offer all services. A midwife who carries out preventive examinations or postpartum care does not necessarily offer birth support.
A midwife can guide you from the beginning. They will answer your questions about pregnancy or childbirth, and will be there to help if you are struggling with problems relating to your pregnancy. However, your midwife can also give you more comprehensive care. A midwife can perform most preventive examinations instead of a doctor. An exception to this is ultrasound examinations, which are carried out in a doctor's office. Some midwives come to expectant parents' homes, others receive them in a midwifery office or hospital.
The entire birth is attended to by one or more midwives. They will help you deal with the contractions and make sure you get extra medical help if you need it. The midwife also examines the newborn baby and assists you with the first feeding. If you give birth in a hospital, you will normally be accompanied by the midwives who are employed there. If a birth takes longer, the midwives take turns because their working hours are regulated. If it is very important for you to have a particular midwife looking after you, you should contact the hospital where you want to give birth early on. You need to clarify whether you can bring your midwives to the hospital. Some midwives have special contracts with hospitals in which they are also allowed to accompany the pregnant people they care for during childbirth. Not all clinics work with these so-called ‘accompanying midwives’. Please note that you will probably have to pay the costs for the on-call service of such a midwife who accompanies you to the hospital.
If you want to deliver your baby at home, you should look for a midwife early on to support you. After all, there are not many midwives who also attend home births. You should also arrange to give birth in a birth centre run by midwives as early as possible, as the appointments there are quickly filled. In principle, midwives can lead the birth alone. They then also carry out the first your child’s first examination, the so-called ‘U1 Check-up’. The costs of home birth and delivery in a birth centre are covered by your health insurance. However, you will usually have to pay for the costs of having a midwife on call before the home birth. Ask your health insurer and your midwife or the birth centre about this.
Even after the birth, a midwife is there for you and the baby. Your midwife takes care of possible problems, supports you if you have difficulties with breastfeeding, and is also available for advice and support in other ways. The midwife can visit you and your child every day for the first ten days after birth, or even twice a day in special cases. Up to the twelfth week of your child's life, you can then make use of your midwife's help up to 16 times more. If you need additional support, you can get a prescription from your doctor. Health insurance will then cover the costs of a further eight visits or consultations. You have this option for as long as you breastfeed your child. If you give your baby a bottle, this rule applies until the end of the child's ninth month of life.
If you feel that you can't manage everyday life with your baby, you can get help from what’s known in Germany as a ‘family midwife’. She is usually part of the Early Help Network (Netzwerk Frühe Hilfen) and can support you as you find your footing in your new role as a parent. She can also accompany you to authorities and doctor's appointments and help you to cope with difficult life situations.
Many midwives have additional training and can therefore offer special services. Some run childbirth preparation courses which you can attend alone or with your partner. Some help pregnant people with alternative healing methods. You can also do yourself some good with yoga or swimming lessons for pregnant people. Many midwives also offer infant classes, baby massages, and postnatal classes. Check with your health insurance company to see what they will cover. Birth preparation and postnatal classes are usually paid for by the insurance company.