Sunday, March 22, 2020

Pregnancy in a Foreign Country

After many years of waiting, I am very happy to announce that we are pregnant with our second child. This is my second pregnancy away from my home country, and is a different country from the first pregnancy, which was in Japan. 

It is not always easy to be pregnant in a foreign country especially if the language is very different. Thankfully, we have been here in Germany for 10 years now, so we are more or less fluent with the German language. Germany also has a very good health care system, and the health insurance pays for the routine check-ups and the medications that may be needed during the course of the pregnancy. There are of course extra medical checks that you will need to pay yourself, the ones that they call IGEL-Leistungen, which are not included in the routine checks but you may choose to get if you are a high-risk pregnancy patient, if there is a history of hereditary illnesses in the family, or if you want to know if your baby is healthy or not.

Here are some of the things I learned while on my pregnancy here: 

If you are pregnant, you will get a Mutterpass (mother passport) from your OB-Gyne, where all important information pertaining to your pregnancy is recorded and which you will need to bring everytime you come for a routine check up.

If you are employed, you also need to inform your employer, the latest when you are past the critical first trimester, that you are pregnant so that you will be registered and protected by the Mutterschutzgesetzt (maternal protection law). This law protects mothers-to-be in the workplace, especially for example those who are doing shifts, are working at the factory, or at areas where they are exposed to harmful chemicals, etc. The law also gives the mother-to-be ample time to prepare herself for D-day. Six weeks before the scheduled birth, the mother may already stop working. She will still get her full income during this time, as well as eight weeks after the baby's birth. The employer and the health insurance company shares in the payment. After this Mutterschutzfrist (maternity protection period), the mother and/or father can apply for Elternzeit (parental leave) as well as for Elterngeld (parental allowance) for a maximum of 14 months. After the parenteral leave, she may opt to go back to work for her employer. 

There are also paperworks that need to prepared. And right after the baby is born, you will also need to find a day care facility and reserve a place so that after the parental leave is up, you can go to work worry-free knowing that your baby is in capable hands.

I still have a long way to go in my pregnancy. I am now on the early stage of the second trimester and with the Corona scare going on, it is not that easy as I thought it would be. I pray that all these will pass, that a cure, a medicine or a vaccine will soon be developed so that we can all move on with our normal lives. There is nothing else that I could wish for but for a healthy and stress-free pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

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