So I would say that in comparison to US moms, Germany moms are much more “crunchy”. They breastfeed, they wear their babies in slings wrapped around them, etc. I’m not saying that one way is necessarily better than the other. But I do think that each family should work out a routine that best fits their personalities/lifestyle.
At the last birth preparation class, one of the mother’s turned to me and asked “How long did you breastfeed?” I proudly answered, “Nine months!” Her reply, “So short? I breastfed my son for almost 3 years.” Granted, this woman was not not actually German (Italian) but as you can see, most Europeans are generally a bit crunchier than Americans. Doesn’t matter, I’m still proud of my 9 month stint as personal milk supplier. In Germany, there are free breastfeeding classes and insurance covers for midwives and lactation consultants to help you. And there are plenty available to come to you when you need them. In the US, I had a phone number I could call with questions. And when a friend of mine got a pump, I was the one who helped her figure it out. My mother really couldn’t help me, because she breastfed one of her kids and only for a short stint. I now know that she probably didn’t produce enough milk because no one had ever really taught her what to do. Her own mother was told formula was actually better for babies.
So, I thought going into tonight’s informational meeting at the local hospital, that it’s Baby Friendly certification from the WHO would make it a really great place to give birth. Hmmm….
Granola Hospital Midwife: “We recommend a relaxing bath to relieve labor pains. Oh, but we only have one bathtub, so if you are in that room, and another woman wants to use it, then we will ask you to go to another room.”
Husband looks skeptically at the bathtub.
Me: “Well, that’s not so convenient…”
Granola Hospital Nurse: “We are Baby Friendly, that means we have no pacifiers. If you would like one for your child, you’ll have to bring your own from home.”
Husband looks slightly alarmed.
Me: “Great, one more thing to remember to take to and from the hospital.”
Granola Hospital Midwife: “We no longer have a nursery. It is best for the baby to be with the mother 24/7. Just as they were for the last nine months.”
Husband: “Aww, that’s nice.”
Me: “Ummm, what? The only sleep I got in the 6 weeks after O was born was on the one night the nurse convinced me to send him to the nursery for a few hours. They changed his diaper and rocked him and held out as long as they could before bringing him back to feed. How am I going to survive without my one night with 4 solid hours of sleep?”
Yeah, that last bit was the deciding factor. Unless the baby is crowning or my water comes gushing out like in the movies, then I’m going to squeeze my legs together and just deal with it for the 45 minute drive to the Women’s Clinic in the city. I’m not saying that if you want your baby with you 24/7, then you are bad/crazy/whatever. I’m just saying that I need that option. It helped me to be my best mom self to have one night when other people looked after O and I could let my body recover. And Lord knows, that child needs me to be my best mom self, because even at my best, I am far from perfect.