Information about the hospital system and about getting medical treatment in Germany.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Is it a good idea to plan the birth of your child in a German hospital?

For any hospital in the world, the obstetrics department is one of the very important clinics. Not because the medical challenges are so great, but because here the “clients” are not really sick, and usually the outcome is a happy one. Under marketing aspects, this is ideal for establishing a new client relationship which can, if the parents are happy with the treatment they received during the birth of their child, lead to a life-long relationship, even including the rest of the family.

German hospital managers have understood this very well. So most have spent substantial amounts to make these parts of their hospitals most attractive: Beautiful rooms with modern, family-oriented furniture at good hotel standard, special buffet style breakfast for the mother AND the father (who can also share the room with her, and stay overnight). Specially designed delivery rooms with all the equipment imaginable for any delivery method the mother could wish: big round beds, underwater- delivery tubs, supports and chairs, together with soft soothing music, special light effects, storage of all medical machinery out of sight make these “birth rooms” feel more like comfortable living rooms that anything else. And Fathers are really welcome to join their partners during these important hours; many clinics permit them even in the operating theatre during caesarean birth. Of course, medical standards like online monitoring of the pre-birth parameters of mother and child, all known methods of pain relief/suppression, the availability of a special operating theatre with surgery team in case of need (e.g. of a casarean birth) are ensured – but not in the foreground. Everything is focused on making the birth of their child the most emotional positive experience for the parents.

Some links showing beautiful clinic examples:

Due to this competition among hospitals, parents-to-be have developed the habit of travelling around to visit the various providers in their area, look at the facilities, speak to the doctors and the midwives, and then decide, where they want to go for giving birth.

Some additional aspects are also relevant for this “clinic shopping”: Is the doctor a specialist in pre-natal diagnostics? How high is the rate of caesarean vs. natural delivery? Does the hospital try to promote breast feeding or not? Are the midwives freelance or employed by the hospital? Is the doctor in private practice or hospital resident? Does the clinic have a quality certificate like KTQ, ProCumCert? Is there a paediatric clinic available in the same hospital? Does it provide care for prematurely-born babies?

One important criterium: How many births does the clinic have per year? German regulations have a tendency to restrict the license for obstetrical care to clinics that have more than 300 births, although the medical evidence, that this is really a valid quality benchmark, is under debate.

Luckily, in most cases, all this is not really necessary. But the main reason for going to a hospital for delivery (and not go to a “Geburtshaus” run only by midwives or stay at home and having “your” midwife come to your home) is that parents look for the extra safety, which easy availability of all the hospital staff and facilities gives them for any emergencies.

For international patients who consider coming to Germany for the “Big Day” all these criteria also apply. Referral organisations like German Hospital Service Ltd. will assist them to get the relevant information ahead of time.

But of course one little problem remains: The exact date of delivery cannot be planned. So the best you can do, is to travel to the city with the hospital you have chosen, ahead of time, and plan to stay at a nearby hotel until labour gets under way.

By the way: Under German law, a baby does not acquire the German nationality by being born there. So this would not be an argument for coming to Germany for the birth of your child. But the excellent medical standard, together with the special attention that hospitals offer to delivering mothers and their families can be a perfect reason.

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