Life with children starts during pregnancy. If you have questions about the subject of pregnancy, you can go to an antenatal counselling service.
You should see an obstetrician regularly during pregnancy. He will answer your questions and monitor your child’s health. A midwife has similar responsibilities. She will advise and support you during pregnancy and also after your child’s birth. The midwife is also present at the birth. Your doctor can help you to find an obstetrician and/or a midwife. Many women also attend antenatal classes. They will give you lots of tips here to prepare you for the birth. And you will get to know other pregnant women.
Legal protection for working mothers, parental leave and parental allowance
If you have a permanent job, you can take advantage of Mutterschutz (legal protection for working mothers) even before the birth, in other words you do not have to work. In most professions that means 6 weeks before the birth. The maternity leave under the terms of Mutterschutz lasts a minimum total of 14 weeks. This period can be extended. Your employer may not terminate your contract during this period either. After the Mutterschutz leave, you can take parental leave: you can stay at home until your child is 3 years old. After the 3 years you can return to your job.
In the first 12 months of parental leave you receive parental allowance. If your partner takes parental leave as well, this extends to 14 months. The parental allowance you receive is dependent on your net income. You have to apply for parental allowance. You also get it if you have no job. In addition to parental allowance, you can also apply for child benefit. You will receive child benefit at least until your child’s eighteenth birthday.
Preventative health care
Your child must visit the paediatrician regularly. The doctor enters every examination in a special log book. These are preventative health checks. Even if your child is not ill you have to have this done. The paediatrician will also inoculate your child.
If you want to go back to work earlier, you need to arrange childcare for your child. There are many possibilities. Children under 3 can go to a crèche, or to a childminder. Children over the age of three can go to kindergarten or to a children’s daycare centre (see: “Early education”). Children aged over 6 or 7 have to go to school. School attendance is compulsory (see: “School system”). If you work, your child can go to an all-day school, or be cared for in an after-school care centre. Your child can stay there until 4 or 5pm. Usually your child can have lunch here too.
Leisure activitiesThere is plenty to do with your child in your spare time: There are outdoor playgrounds for small children. Older children can join a sports club, for instance. In the summer there are open-air pools everywhere, and indoor pools in winter for swimming. Towns offer special deals for children in the school holidays that do not cost much. You can find out information from your local Jugendamt (youth welfare office) and the town hall. Many clubs also offer special leisure activities for children (see also “Leisure”).
Many German children celebrate their birthdays at home with a party. They invite other children to it. If your child is given an invitation and goes to the party, he or she will make friends quickly. Sometimes children invite other children over for a sleep-over. That can help your child to find friends as well.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I find a pregnancy advice centre?
There are advice centres in many places. Your obstetrician can help you. But you can also find out more information from pro familia.
Can any woman take advantage of Mutterschutz (legal protection for working mothers) if she is pregnant?
Any woman in permanent employment can take advantage of Mutterschutz. It usually starts 6 weeks before the birth. Do you work with toxic substances? For instance in a laboratory? You will not be allowed to continue working there if you are pregnant. And you will immediately be protected by Mutterschutz.
Who can take parental leave?
Mothers and fathers can take parental leave if they are in permanent employment. Parental leave is usually 1 year per person. If both father and mother take parental leave, it lasts 14 months.
Who can apply for parental allowance?
It depends on your residential status. You can find out more information from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
Where can I find a childminder?
You can find a male or female childminder through the Youth Office in your town. Sometimes there are rent-a-grandmas or rent-a-grandpas, older people who enjoy spending time with children. Ask at the Youth Office.