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Midwife, OBGYN, Doula – How Does Prenatal and Postnatal Care Work in Germany?

By Lisa H

Last updated on 8 April 2024

The way that prenatal and postnatal care is offered can vary greatly from country to country. So as you're entering this exciting journey, you may be wondering how things work for pregnant people and new parents in Germany.

In this article, we will explain who will take care of you during your pregnancy.

You may also like to check out the following articles that give you an overview of what to expect:

Midwife vs. OBGYN vs. Doula

In Germany, midwives (called Hebammen) and OBGYNs (called Frauenärzte/Gynäkologen) are the main medical professionals taking care of you during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

In the beginning of your pregnancy, you will have appointments roughly every 4 weeks. Starting in week 32, you will have appointments every 2 weeks.

For most of the appointments, it is your decision if you want to take these appointments with your OBGYN or your midwife or alternate between the two.

One exception are the three ultrasounds (roughly weeks 9-12, 17-20 and 29-32), which only your OBGYN (Frauenarzt in German) can perform. The same goes for any special appointments such as for fine diagnostics or amniocentesis.

Your main appointments at the OBGYN and with your midwife are covered by your health insurance.

As opposed to midwifes and OBGYNs, a doula is not a medical professional but a professional that provides emotional and physical support during the pre- and post-natal period and/or childbirth. In most instances, you will pay privately for doula care. Learn more about how doulas work.

How to decide who to see?

A bit simplified, your OBGYN takes a scientific approach and uses high tech tools to keep track of all the important milestones during pregnancy. As mentioned above, they are the only ones that can perform ultrasounds during your pregnancy. They will also answer any questions you may have during pregnancy though the appointments may be shorter than with a midwife. About six to eight weeks after giving birth, you will have your postpartum checkup with your OBGYN.

Midwifes care for the mother and baby holistically. Appointments are often more of a conversation that could also address topics such as your mental health, niggles and pains, or tackling any fears surrounding pregnancy and birth.

After the birth, midwifes make regular house visits to care for both the mother and baby. They can answer a multitude of questions around baby sleep, skin issues, breast feeding as well as the mother’s recovery, when and how to start exercising, etc.

Personally, I alternated between midwife and OBGYN appointments. My midwife was my confidant and person of trust both before and after giving birth. My OBGYN was great in providing detailed insights into the baby’s development and clearing certain decisions in late pregnancy.

However you decide, make sure you have the right “team” for you, to support you on this special journey in your life!

If you'd like more information on how the German care system works in pregnancy and postpartum, check out our partners Gravidamiga, who run a regular online workshop called "Pregnancy, Birth & Early Motherhood - the German Way". Their co-founder, Dr. Christine, also offers 1-on-1 online sessions on this topic.

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