My first interview published on expat focus

Thank you expatfocus for interviewing me. Really had a good feeling as it will help people like me. Happy to be a part of expatfocus as they do a great job for guiding people when they move to different place.

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895B53CC-94C5-405D-9CA6-9B000AB2BDA2Here is the expat focus link – https://expatfocus.com/c/aid=4700/expat-experiences/germany/rama/

 

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Pregnancy and giving birth in Germany as a non native resident

After spending my first Christmas in Germany, we planned a trip to Cologne, Germany to celebrate our New year 2014. Cologne was a beautiful city with a wonderful architecture. It was a New year’s Eve, my husband and I were standing on the bank of Rhine River in a minus degree weather, when the clock struck 12, the blaze of fireworks lighted up the night sky, it was such a delightful treat for our eyes.

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We had such a nice trip without knowing it’s going to be the last trip for us as a couple, yes we were pregnant and we found out on 6th of January, 2014. It was a mix of emotions for me as I am new to Germany and far-away from my home town. Lucky for me as my pregnancy and delivery in Germany was overwhelmingly positive. In this blog, I just want to spread the knowledge of what I know from my experience of being pregnant and giving birth in Germany.

An appointment with OB/GYN (Frauenarzt). As soon as you found out your pregnancy with the pregnancy kit (Schwangerschaftstest) which can be bought at any drugstore, make an appointment with the gynecologist (Frauenarzt). In Germany, there is a definite distinction between the gynecologist, practice on their own clinic and the gynecologist who actually delivers baby in the hospital. The gynecologist who practice in their own clinic will perform all routine medical exams and oversees the pregnancy until labor and then the hospital of choice takes over the delivery. We cannot expect the same gynecologist who performed all the tests and checkups to be a gynecologist for your delivery. Most of the Frauenarzt speak English which actually helped me a lot.

Mutterpass is a must. On the first day of the checkup, the doctor will issue a booklet called Mutterpass (mother’s pass). It is an essential thing to be carried along by every pregnant women in Germany throughout the pregnancy. The book consists of all pertinent information such as the results of all tests and examinations made during the pregnancy. It is a most important document to be carried as the doctor who performs all test will most likely, not be the one who delivers the baby, hence the person who delivers your baby needs this book for all the information. Mutterpass is also necessary after your delivery, when you plan to have a second child it provides all information about the previous delivery.

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Regular checkups. After the pregnancy confirmation there will be checkup every four weeks until week 32. After this point there will be regular two-week checkups. Basic examinations are done on every checkup like urinalysis, blood pressure check, weigh-in, blood tests, ultrasound and a talk with the gynecologist. Glucose tolerance test is done around the week of 24 to 28. At the third trimester, CTG (Electronic fetal monitor, EFM) scans will be added which takes about an hour, this EFM monitors will measure heart rate and Braxton-Hicks contractions.

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Baby’s heart rate is monitored by Electronic Fetal Monitor (EFM) in a general checkup

Bunch of ultrasound pics. This is an exciting part for me, because in Germany along with your regular examinations, there will be an ultrasound scan almost on every doctor visit. These are safe, non-invasive scans which produce image of growing fetus inside the uterus. My doctor always ended up giving many ultrasound pics in every visit, I could even make a book out of it (Ha.. Ha..).

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Touring the hospital before delivery. It is necessary to select a hospital for birth when you enter your third trimester (some people will do even before that). Couples can visit the hospital as part of a scheduled tour of the maternity unit (Kreißsaal). Here couples are allowed to visit delivery suite, nursery, midwives etc. After touring many hospitals you can choose one and register the hospital of your choice as soon as possible because you may miss a private room (if you wish to have one) and end up in shared room. While registering you will get the chance to meet your midwife and discuss the birth plan of your choice and finish the paper works before delivery. While registering its important to see whether the hospital has full pediatric care facilities, as some hospitals will have only limited pediatric care facilities, in this case, if the baby needs extra care, then the baby will be transferred to the nearest Kinderklinik and you will remain in the same hospital, therefore you will be separated from the baby.

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Kreißsaal

Hebamme (Midwife). Midwife play a major role in Germany, they are trained and licensed professionals to perform all the medical examinations. In Germany, your birth will be midwife-led. Doctor’s play a background role, they come only in a medical emergency like C-section. Midwife offer you advice on pregnancy related questions and after-care. In Germany some will hire a midwife privately for pre-birth guidance and also to accompany them in the hospital during the birth. Others might hire them only for post-delivery help. If you do not choose a Hebamme in advance, the hospital will provide one. Good thing is that there are midwives able to speak languages other than German too.

Natural medicine. The German people are so supportive of natural medicine. Homeopathic medicine are used very liberally by the hospital midwives. These medicine helps to prepare the uterus for childbirth, induce labor, dilate the cervix, start contractions, and make contractions more effective. Germans believe homeopathic medicines are completely safe for women to take during childbirth, and it will also never harm the unborn baby. They are always gentle, non-toxic and have no side effects.

C-section is the last key. In Germany, unless if there is a medical emergency, C-section delivery is not appreciated. C-sections are scheduled only when doctor knows that a vaginal birth is risky. Midwives will encourage the women to have a vaginal birth. Germany’s cesarean average is 30 percent. This is something amusing to see as an Indian because India’s C-section rate is very high when compared to Germany as some Indian women choose to have C-section and some end up in C-section due to obvious reasons.

A women, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth, as the quote says, the positive birth is a good beginning for you and your baby. I am extremely happy for having such experience in Germany. In this blog I have touched some of the important points, as it is a vast topic which cannot be written in one blog. I wanted to share my newly acquired knowledge which might help some women out there.

 

Fascinating things about German parenting in my view as an Indian

I delivered my baby girl 3 years ago in Germany.  The initial months of settling down and adjusting to motherhood was a big deal for me like every other new mom out there. I had a great confusion how am I going to raise my child in a different country? It’s totally different from my life back home in India. In my process of parenthood  I came through many fascinating things about German parenting. I would like share my view on those with you all.

Academics comes late. Children start their Kindergarten in 3 years and they stay there until they are 6 or 7.  German parents don’t push their kids in their academics they  think Kindergarten is a place meant to play and social learning. Teachers here don’t encourage academics until children go to primary school. No learning or writing ABC’s until primary school. I would worry sometimes whether it’s too late for my child to start her academics but still it’s so refreshing and new. I totally started embracing this unstructured play way kind as you are going to be 4, 5 or 6 only once.

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Practical moms. Leaving kids outside alone without any supervision is very common thing in many German families. German parents are concerned about safety, of course but they usually focus on where the kids play, not the abductions, as stranger abductions are very rare in Germany. I remember an incident when I was shocked to see a kid drinking water in glass cup and asked “what if the glass cup breaks?” and a German parent who was standing beside me said “not to worry , I have an excellent medicine for cut”. Parents will never fight for their kids instead they let them fight for themselves, for e.g., if one kid takes the other kid’s toys away, we consider they are not good at sharing but Germans say the kid has to stand up for him/her more, the kid needs to take her toy back or fight.

As green as possible. Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur falsche Kleidung! As the proverb says there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. I realized it when my daughter fell sick frequently during winter as I was keeping her indoors most of the time.  No matter how the weather is, parents still bundle their kids up and take them to park everyday.

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Kids on their own. German kids become independent way earlier than other country kids.  It’s a culture where responsibility is taught by allowing their kids to walk and play on their own, they trust their child is capable of doing things responsibly. German prize independence in children, which can feel a little strange to someone brought up in an Indian home like me.

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Bikes without pedals. When I first came here, I was clueless why the kids riding this kind of bike instead of pedaled ones as I never saw such bike back home. Later I understood it’s a good way to learn balancing in cycling . This push bike takes pedaling out of the picture so your child can concentrate on balancing. And when they are ready for a pedal bike, they will pick it up much faster as they are already comfortable balancing.

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Life balance. I admire this quality in Germans. Germans work a lot and they seem to be workaholic but on the other hand Germans value their time at home each day, and many women work part-time so they can spend more time with their kids. People just naturally manage to live well, with work and spending time both playing an important role for them.

As a person from a different country it is very fascinating to see the difference in the culture especially in parenting. It’s a great place with world-class culture and I am trying to incorporate the good qualities of German parenting along with my own culture. At-last it’s such a wonderful place to be a mother or a child.

 

 

Life of an Indian wife in Germany

Hi, I am Rama. I am living in beautiful country called Germany with my husband and a beautiful daughter.

It’s been 4 years almost since i came here. I just want to share my views as an Indian women ( wife & a mom) who lives far away from her hometown and juggle her life and parenthood between two rich cultures. It’s always good to know because once you know, then you automatically know what to expect and plan your path ahead.

It’s Totally different from home. This is a land of independent doers and thinkers whereas back home we have cheap labors like maids, beautician, cooks, hairstylist etc.. so, first thing i said myself that stop comparing and live life as it is. Noone is there to pamper you, you got wear your big boy/girl pants here and be self sufficient.

Language for day to day life.  Well, the language is very beautiful but it’s very much harder to learn. Wherever we go everything will be in German e.g., basic things like milk is Milch, bread is Brot, vegetables are Gemuse etc., in supermarkets and names of medicines, eventhough you know it’s the correct medicine you will always have the doubt to buy because of the weird spelling in medical shops. Especially in doctor’s clinic people in reception won’t understand English a bit. I can write a whole new blog about that (ha.. ha..) . Ya, i now can manage to speak little Deutsch (ich spreche ein bisschen deutsch und ich liebe es). Advise i can give anybody is if you want to learn a language don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Your pronunciation.. there is a big difference between Indian Deutsch (Ha.. Ha.. ) and a proper Deutsch, i mean the slang. Atlast the language is very important for day to day life.

Living on your own makes you strong. Yes life on my own made me outcome most of my fears which i had once. You have to make right decisions for your family all alone sometimes. In the beginning everything was new and fearful for me, thanks to  my lovable husband who was there for me whenever i needed. While growing up, i was a kid who was very dependent on family and friends which made me so hard to adapt here at first. It was so tough for me which later i realized that the situations are making me stronger day by day. Being away from family and friends are hard but facing life alone gives more courage in life.

You have to make the effort and do the hardwork of fitting into the mainstream. Racial differences do exist a bit but it happens everywhere out of our country. Here small talk and quick witty quips is a way of life. If you are an outgoing person, extrovert type then its great. If not, you’ve got a lot of learning to do.

Maintaining Culture is more important. Friends & family connection you won’t find that here. So, we should find a way to make those connections. You will definitely need a social support to make that possible. It will make up for the family we left behind. Connect with as much as Indians possible so, that it will become our new family here and our children  mingle with them that way our language and culture cannot be lost. I wore Indian costume and make my daughter wear traditional Indian outfits on every pooja, it cultivates our strong culture in her young mind.

Weather. Though Germany is a beautiful place in all climate. Weather here is very unpredictable, one day it will rain like cats and dogs and other day it will be sunny. This ideal to have an umbrella 365 days and a jacket with you as you doesn’t know when the weather change and become chilly. But it’s interesting and i learnt to accept it, that’s what Germany is.

It’s not all that bad, its hard but not bad, once you get over there, reality bites. This place has a lot of growth opportunity in every-way – spiritual, mental and physical. Your resilience grows but you have to be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone.

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