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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Hello new moms! Squash your worries and grab some happiness!!

Let me tell a short story of mine. When I had my daughter 3 years ago, I thought my life has flipped upside down. I struggled from everything like mood swings, depression, loneliness, breastfeeding, cooking with baby, sleepless nights, felt useless and constant disagreement with partner. Totally unmotivated mom I could say. I felt heavy due to the demands placed on my shoulders each and every day. Even though, my husband helped me a lot in household chores, I felt some burden in me. I wanted someone to motivate me. Major stress built around me. The feelings I experienced was overwhelming and new, as I live away from family and friends it became more stressful.

As a new mom, I was constantly seeking answers in google. I googled the most ridiculous things. If people judge my parenting I started responding and felt guilt about my parenting. It continued for a year and finally my mind started changing when I started discussing with fellow moms through mommy groups and forums and read blogs about the struggles of other new moms and how they overcome it (in-between my ridiculous search in google, I even searched something good 😁).

I saw my child and hubby less happier with me. Then I realised something is wrong with me and not with them. I was constantly searching for happiness in life, whereas I totally forgot that I am not giving happiness. Happiness comes only when you share it with others. Happy mom makes happy family. I understood that and I started focus on building optimism, self-motivation and happiness which spread to my family. My daughter become more happier when she saw me happy. I saw my body in a more positive way. I realised how strong I am to do things that might have been daunting before. I would like to give some tips on how I made myself and my family happy.

Be real and not dramatic. Being grown in Indian household I was always taught that kids, husband and the house should be the first priority which I followed spiritually and ended up in stress.

  • Stop focusing on being a good mom or wife and focus on you (yes I mean your soul), being good only to others won’t make you good internally, it means you are cheating yourself.
  • If you expect your house to be always clean and your kids to always well behaved then you going to face stress and unhappiness.
  • Be realistic both doesn’t gonna be perfect. Sacrificing doesn’t going to work. At least for me. I know some may disagree with me.

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Give your precious time. The true happiness comes when you give time both for your kids and for yourself. It’s ok to take time for yourself to enjoy your interests. Enjoying doesn’t mean partying or clubbing in midnight. The tiny things in life will give more happiness if you do it whole heartedly. Say it from painting your nails, pedicure, makeup, reading a book, cook your favourite, peaceful work, a new haircut etc.. these things refreshes you and that will make you a better mom for real.

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Make a happylist. I know as a new mom, you have a huge list of things be done. But let the to do list turn to would like to do list. Make your work fun.

E.g., To do list

  •  Clean the kitchen
  • Do exercise
  • Cook lunch
  • Clean bathroom

Would like to do

  • Clean the kitchen and get some cuddle with my baby
  • Dance in your kitchen
  • Cook lunch and take a pic and post in instagram.
  • Clean bathroom and do pedicure.

Embrace your post-baby body. Try not to compare your post-baby body to others. Comparing yourself to others will lead to negative thoughts. Focus instead on your body needs. Wear outfits that are comfortable and also make you feel confident. Use positive affirmations like “I love my body”, “I accept the way my body looks”, “ I am grateful for allowing my body to grow and give birth to my child”.

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Do easy exercises at home. Doing exercise is the best thing to make you feel better and improve your body image. As a busy new mom you may not find time to workout for hours or go to gym. Instead, try fitting in quick and easy exercises at home while baby is napping. Even a little time spent in excercise will make you feel more positive about your body. You will definitely feel more energy and happiness.

Pat on your back. Self-confidence is really important for new moms. Boost your self confidence regularly by appreciating each and every work you do such as mothering skills you learn everyday or your ability to simply get through the day with a new born. Give yourself a pat on your back when you accomplish some work as a new parent, this can help to increase your confidence level. Acknowledge yourself for your hard work raising a child.

Appreciate others. Appreciate others will make you feel good internally and also gives priority to you and others. Appreciate wholeheartedly every little thing which makes you happy. When you begin to appreciate it keep you away from dwelling on the negative. This attitude in you will definitely instill in your kids with a way of seeing the world that appreciate the good things. Your kids will carry this throughout their life.

Be thankful. If you believe in God then thank him for the precious blessing! Thank God for our mind to help mold, our body to nurture and our spirit to enrich. Be thankful for your body, try to see your body as better, not worse.

If you follow these things then for sure you doesn’t need any external factor to motivate you. Happiness is within you. Happiness is something you create and are uniquely responsible for. Search happiness in you, it will reward you with priority as I did. Believe you are beautiful and hold your head high.

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Our Best family trip to wildlife – Tripsdrill

In Summer (2017), we took a trip to Tripsdrill which has a Wildparadies (wild life park) and a Erlebnispark (theme park). It is located an hour from the large city of Stuttgart. It includes lots of family attractions.

We have been to many places in Europe but this place really was special for me, my daughter and my husband as we felt really happy and relaxed. Nature always gives an immense joy for every individual, as we moved bit far from it to live lives. As I really had a good time there, which made me to write about it. When my husband booked in Tripsdrill, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We packed a little since, we were only going on a twoday trip. As soon as we reached there, the first thing attracted me is the nature. It was green everywhere. We were excited to stay in the Shepherds Wagon (shepherds hut). The beauty of the location was a delight to our eyes. The Shepherds Wagon was situated among the real sheep herds and a wild life place very near which brought a real feel of camping. For people who wants to go camping and need the ease and comfort, it’s the right place. There is no tent, no sleeping bags but just comfortable beds, electricity and even a tiny TV. My daughter was so happy staying in a very new atmosphere (even I am). We literally felt like sleeping inside a forest hearing sheep, wolves and other animals at night.

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Shepherds Wagon

The Shepherds Wagon was build totally unique and bespoke. Interiors are made of natural materials like wooden hangers for clothes, wooden pen etc., which are so beautiful and unique. There were even name boards for each Wagon. A small wooden table and bench were placed before each hut so, that people can hang out there for sometime.

There were even bathroom facilities, it was a shared bathrooms which were located across a small street. The toilets and bathroom decor had it’s unique touch of nature. They were spotlessly clean, modern and well-appointed.

On the same day we got to visit the wild park. Deer’s were the first animals we saw, they were roaming free without harming or getting scared of people. The areas where they aren’t free there were cages which are less restricted. Unlike zoo, it was a forest trip but more secured. The chance to interact with wild animals was special for the kids. My daughter was so happy as she got to feed the animals and touch the animals as she never got the chance to do it before.

There was even a wooden park for kids to play which was so good. Actually it is a big wooden park to say. We had so much fun playing there.

The apple picking was our favorite, there were apple and pear trees everywhere. It was wonderful to see.

The next morning we went to (Erlebnispark) theme park which was 10 minutes walk from Wildparadies. The main attraction was a giant roller coaster but we didn’t get a chance to go as my daughter s little. The water ride (Waschzuber Rafting), which was so amazing and even small kids can ride it with fun. There were many rides for little kids as we exactly wanted for our 3-year-old which never happened in other theme parks. I would say it is the best toddler friendly theme park.

Love this quote from Stephen Moss, “Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.

As the quote says, in this fast-paced world it is necessary for the kids to expose themselves to nature which is helpful in their physical and mental well-being. We, as a parents too definitely had a break from our day-to-day life and really felt relaxed seeing my daughter completely away from TV and cartoons and spending time in the nature. It was such a lovely park with beautiful surroundings, impressive themes and great variety of rides. We enjoyed to the most and loved to visit it again in future.

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Breastfeeding – My Survival and Tips

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Breastfeeding, in my opinion is a easiest choice to make but toughest to follow. Today I am going to share my experience on breastfeeding my daughter as a baby. When I was pregnant with my daughter I decided to breastfeed her at least for 2 years. The time came and I gave birth. My daughter latched immediately and my milk came in by the second day. It was so wonderful to feed my baby and it was the best feeling ever. The excitement which I had for breastfeeding soon flew off the window. My nipples cracked in the second week and I was in excruciating pain and I did my own milk treatment (applying our own breast milk on the nipples and leave it to dry) and with lanolin cream. The nipple crack healed and my milk came in full flow like a fountain which made me suffer in breast engorgement followed by mastitis. I suffered from worst pain ever, it’s lot more painful than giving birth. I remember shivering in the middle of the  night with three blankets on me and breastfed my baby. As advised by doctor feeding continuously made the mastitis go and I was relaxed. From then I started to learn from my mistakes and I researched as much as possible and made my breastfeeding journey a success and as I planned I breastfeed my daughter till 2 years. It’s not an easy thing to learn on the go, so prepare for it to be a pro.

Breastfeeding is a real pleasure when you make it perfect. But, the perfection comes only through practice and patience. I would like to share some simple tips, which will prepare your mind if you are still pregnant or ease your mind with some solutions that you are searching for during breastfeeding. I am not a professional but a mom who gained knowledge through experience. You can always consult a lactation specialist before following the tips.

Pre-prep during pregnancy. Soon after making the decision that you want to breastfeed, start preparing for it. Some may ask ‘what is there to prepare’? yes you don’t have to prepare physically as your body will do most of the work in preparation for breastfeeding but mentally there are few things to prepare, so that you can avoid certain breastfeeding problems with a bit of preparation. There are a lot of resources to prepare beforehand. Preparations include massaging your breasts in your third trimester to clear the ducts, use of breast shells for flat nipples, finding good breast pump, purchasing nursing bra for convenience and support, breastfeeding pillow, nipple moisturizer, breast pads etc.

Get some help. It’s necessary to have some kind of help at the early stages of childbirth. You definitely can’t focus on baby unless someone takes care of the housework. There is no such problem if you reside near your mom, in-laws or close friend’s place, but in my case I was living in Germany, faraway from my hometown and there is no support system near me apart from my husband. Luckily, my mom and in-law came over to Germany which was a great support for me in my initial months. The help you get is not only for you but for baby and your family. Handling alone will lead to stress and sleep deprivation making breastfeeding difficult and hurting your physical and mental well-being.

If your partner is the only support then make him understand. When you live away from your home, the only support will be your partner, but expecting your partner to know what needs to be done is wrong. It’s about talking and solving together. Hence, talk and figure out what should be done. Definitely as a first time father, your partner may be clueless about what must be done and what you are going through hormonally. Instead of getting angry of what he has not done or done something wrong, remember he might have not known what to be done, so communicate as possible as you can and make him understand.

Food and water is must. I know as a new mom definitely food and water is a secondary thing. But timely food not only benefits your baby but also you. I remember going mad on the baby if I starve. Your diet does not need to be perfect, you need an estimated 300 – 500 extra calories per day. Breastfeeding might make you feel thirsty, so consider keeping a bottle of water nearby and drink as often as possible. I made a self-rule to drink water before and after breastfeeding which helped me a lot to fight against dehydration.

Sleep when baby sleeps. I know it’s easy to say but hard to follow, but try to take as many cat naps as possible to pump energy for the night otherwise you would be waking like zombie the next day will result in irritable, lethargic, unable to focus on the most tasks and breast milk reduction. Even if you can’t go to sleep lie down and relax. Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep, just lying down can be restorative.

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Relaxed feeding. Relaxed feeding will always help in good milk flow. Having skin to skin while feeding make you and baby relax and enjoy the moment. Have a snack while feeding the baby. Hunger will lead to anxiety. Make yourself comfortable by leaning onto a pillow and have a pillow under your legs for support while sitting. Breastfeeding takes time so you can relax by doing your favourite thing like listening music, watching shows etc. Once baby and mom gets hang of it then you can nurse by lying down.

Breastfeed on the go. Breastfeeding on the go is inexpensive, time-consuming and mess free. All you need is your breast and hungry baby. No pre-prep needed like washing bottles, sterilizing etc. Once you get hang of nursing your baby, it’s by far the most convenient way of feeding your baby fresh warm milk anywhere anytime. Breastfeeding in public is not a sin. My simple trick to breastfeed in public is wearing a tank top underneath my t-shirt which helped to nurse easily by just lifting my t-shirt while feeding without exposing my breasts.

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With preparation, some information from fellow moms, little research, help from others and proper knowledge will make you a breastfeeding champ. Nursing may be natural, but it’s downright difficult so don’t give up and think breastfeeding is your responsibility. There are mom’s out there who does not breastfeed for many  reasons and it’s  a your choice, a mother is a mother even you breastfeed or not. For new moms out there and for those who are going to be a mom, my best wishes for your wonderful breastfeeding journey.

Some tips to boost milk production

  • Nurse often.
  • Switch sides.
  • Nurse skin to skin.
  • Don’t use binky so early.
  • Wear right bra.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Try herbs to increase milk.
  • Massage your breast before and during nursing.
  • Add more garlic to your food.
  • Include Oats, fenugreek seeds, spinach, carrots, barley in your diet.
  • Eat more proteins.

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A letter to my daughter on her 3’rd birthday

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To my little princess,

My little princess from heaven, you turned three today. Can’t believe it’s already been three years. Though I am happy on your birthday, mommy is kind of sad as you are growing so fast and I am already missing my little baby in the house. Three years of Hugs, kisses, morning snuggles, crazy things you do to make mommy laugh and you become my mom sometimes are the best things in my life. I couldn’t believe how these three years passed by so quickly. Three years of stay at home with you is a blessing. I am very thankful to God for keeping me beside you in each and every milestone you attain. For past three years you are the topic of discussion for mommy and daddy everyday before going to sleep. You made our lives more colourful. Noone can ever love me like you do. You always love to pretend like mommy while brushing in the morning, excercising, cooking, crazy dancing and singing.

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You are always want to be loved and express your love back even more. Now, you have started making sentences which me and daddy adores everyday. We can’t wait to have conversations with you my little honey bunch. Your attitude shows you will grow strong and independent, we are so proud of that dear. You can now say your ABC’s, months, days of the week, can count till 20 and can sing rhymes in a cute voice. You are little cautious when you meet new people and it does take you a bit to warm up with them, once you are comfortable you give lots of love and smile to their face. You are such a active girl who loves to play outdoors more. The smile you have when we call you princess is priceless.

Your mornings start with climbing on mommy’s back to come out of your bedroom which I love the most. When I come to pick you up from kindergarten, you will run fast into my arms saying mommy which melts my heart. God blessed you with the kind heart and nature of giving which we are proud of, no matter what don’t ever lose that my darling.

God has totally fulfilled my wishes. You are the perfect daughter I dreamt of. Mommy and daddy can’t wait to all that this year has in stock for us. Mommy don’t have words to describe my love for you. You make my life worth dear.

Love you lots and happy birthday little princess,

Mommy.

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Gestational Diabetes – My travel and tips

First three months of pregnancy was bit rough for me. I had continuous vomiting and nausea, but I survived that and pregnancy was smooth until my 24th week, yes I failed my Glucose Tolerance test and confirmed with Gestational Diabetes after second screening. It was so devastating for me, as I never heard any Gestational Diabetes stories before and no one in my family had undergone that. I have always been on the smaller side, so even we little people can get diabetes. When my Diabetologist told my numbers was not too high and I can control it through diet, and no need for any oral medication or insulin shots if I maintain the sugar levels, I felt bit relaxed hearing that. As I was an Indian and living in Germany, my doctor who was obviously a German couldn’t give me an exact diet suggestion which I needed. He told me to cut of the rice as I am an Asian, as Asians eat rice more (yes, of-course as a South Indian, I cannot live without eating rice). I came home with the determination of controlling my sugar levels through proper diet. But, the problem is I doesn’t know what to eat and I ended up starving. I remember calling my husband and crying who was at work, as  I was hungry and couldn’t know what to eat. Then, I started my research and made a diet plan suitable for me. Once I started the diet, I just fell in love with it which made me follow till now.

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With my experience on Gestational Diabetes I just want to share some tips as follows,

Don’t over think. For those who diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes , it’s not a walk in the park but it can be managed. Calm your mind first. Depression and stress will only harm your health and baby, so put your mind at ease. Healthy diet during Gestational Diabetes will not make you to gain more weight which is more helpful to easily lose that extra kgs post delivery.

Carbs are not an enemy. Carbs eventually turn into glucose so it’s important not to be excessive, but at the same time avoiding it totally will make you weak. However, Carbs should be included in every meal. Glucose in the blood is necessary because it is the fuel for your body and nourishment your baby receives from you. A reasonable portion doesn’t raise your blood sugar level. Starch is definitely a source of energy, which is totally needed for a pregnant women. You need to eat a consistent and moderate amount of carbs regularly through the day.

Monitor blood sugar level. Immediately after diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, the doctor will suggest to get a Diabetes Kit, which includes needles to prick your finger and a little machine that reads your blood sugar. Check first thing in the morning to get your fasting rate and then an hour after you eat each meal to make sure your blood sugar stays in a healthy range. It’s definitely an empowering feeling when our blood sugar reading is good as we made a healthy food choice.

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Sugar free diet. Avoiding unnecessary carbs such as sugar, which includes carbonated drinks, lollies, soft drink, cordial, fruit juice and sugary substances. You can give yourself some treats at times for self-appreciation, but you should never over do it.

Have an exercise routine. Go for a walk or take the stairs after a meal to lower your glucose levels. It’s ideal to go for a walk at-least 30 min to an hour daily apart from after meal walk. Doing meditation really helped me to focus and reduce stress. Yoga is another good choice during a general pregnancy and especially during Gestational Diabetes.

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Eat healthy. Never skip a breakfast. Your blood glucose levels are most likely to be out of whack in the morning , so skipping a breakfast will definitely put you and your baby at risk. Eat a good breakfast with proteins and limited carbohydrates avoid fruits with breakfast. Distribute your foods between three meals and two or three snacks each day. Eating on a particular time each day helps you to monitor your blood sugar level. so, make a time for all the meals and snack that you take.

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Sleep well. Insufficient sleep will make blood sugar level to go high. I know it’s hard to say a pregnant women to sleep well but, good night sleep will keep your numbers normal. Exercising and being more active will definitely give a good night sleep.

Keep a diet plan. Keeping a track on what we eat will help a lot in getting an idea of what makes the numbers go high. Once you master that you can make a diet plan and eat accordingly so that you are not stressed of thinking what to make for each meal. Add lots of proteins in each meal, it helps a lot to make your tummy full. Eating home-made food is the healthy for you and baby, so try to make your own food. I didn’t say food at the restaurants are not healthy but we can’t go wrong with home-made food. When you doesn’t have anyone to cook for you and if you feel overwhelming just go out and eat. Eating out occasionally is not a big deal.

Gestational diabetes can be easily managed through proper diet. I never felt hungry, i ate carefully planned meals and snacks on a strict schedule. I kept my glucose level in check and delivered to a healthy baby in full term without undergoing c-section. By the end of my pregnancy I gained 11 kgs, which is now all gone since I continued my diet after having my baby girl. GD (Gestational Diabetes) actually forces women to eat healthy and exercise. With the right education Gestational diabetes can be easily managed. Some food items that agree well with someone else who is pregnant may not be good for you. If so, please consult your doctor or a nutritionist for advise.

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.