So you’ve just found out you are pregnant, you are considering where you would like to give birth, and now you are wondering who you would like to support you through your pregnancy birth and fourth trimester. Here in Germany every pregnant person is entitled to before and after care by a midwife through the German health insurance system. Like a doula, this care is not mandatory for your birth experience but it can be an incredible form of support during an important moment in your life. If you do choose to go for midwifery care, midwives cover things like prenatal care and checkups (alongside or in replacement of your OB/GYN) and postnatal care with things like checking how you are healing from birth and how baby is developing.
So here’s the catch: for an English speaking person in certain neighborhoods in Berlin, a midwife can be quite hard to find. Due to the midwife shortage and the baby boom currently happening, registering with a midwife can be a big stress for new parents so here are my list of tips to try and secure your estimated due date with a midwife of your choice.
Here are a few tips to help get you started on your search for a midwife:
- Try getting in touch with midwives as early into your pregnancy as possible because their availability to support clients gets filled up pretty quickly. Especially if you live in areas like Mitte, Kreuzberg, Nuekolln, PrenzlauerBerg, and Friedrichshain. You may still be able to find them into even into your third trimester but searching earlier on help secure you care throughout your pregnancy and peace of mind knowing you are covered.
- You can use this website to search for midwives in your area who best suit your personal needs. If you don’t pseak German, try using a website translator or your borwser to help with language. In your search you can include if you are looking for a home birth midwife (Hausgeburt), a midwife to also accompany you at the hospital (Beleggeburt), pregnancy support (Schwangerinvorsorge), Birth preparation (Geburtsvorbereitung), after birth support (Wochenbettbetreuung) and postnatal fitness class (Rückbildungskurs). You can also include the language you would like your care to be in your search. I recommend getting in contact with everyone that fits your search and keep a list of the midwives you have contacted. If there are no positive responses from your first round, reach out again a couple of months later. Sometimes schedules change for midwives who weren’t originally available.
- The next step in your search should be to write a post on the facebook group “Hebammenvermittlung Berlin”. Include in your post your estimated due date, your preferred language, and the district you live in. Continue to post in this group every month or so if your search hasn’t been successful so far. You can also ask your doula to post there for you. Sometimes midwives enjoy working alongside certain doulas and may be more open to make space for their clients. And in a last minute pinch, I would post in the group one last time just after given birth. Especially during summer or winter holiday times, many midwives go on holiday so they can’t technically be on-call for a birth. But if your baby arrives, and a midwives schedule is open she may be able to take you on as a client for postnatal care.
- Ask your friends who they had as midwives and reach out to them. Remember that not everyone’s preferences of birth support will be the same so speak to your friend and ask about what their wishes and experience were like with their midwife.
- Hire a maternity concierge and have them do the work for you to connect you with someone that fits your needs.
Some questions to consider asking when you meet with a potential midwife for the first time
- What has your experience been like as a midwife?
- Where did you receive your training?
- Where do you live, and which neighbourhoods do you service?
- How many people do you care for at any given time?
- How many other births do you have scheduled around my due date?
- What kind of services do you offer?
- Do you work at a specific hospital or birth house?
- What is your stance on breastfeeding/formula feeding?
If none of these options are successful for you, get in touch with your doula and ask about which other ways you can tighten your community, have resources in place, and prepare for your birth and fourth trimester. A doula can’t replace midwifery care but they can offer many ways to help you feel supported into your transition into parenthood.