Right to advice

All men and women (and under 18s) living in Germany are entitled to free counselling at a counselling centre. You don't have to tell the counsellor your name.

Counselling is available on various topics, such as:

  • possible help (and money) available during pregnancy and when the child has arrived
  • questions on laws and rights
  • abortion

The counselling centres are state-approved. Many counsellors speak other languages besides German.

You can attend counselling alone or with someone you trust (such as your partner, a friend or your mother).

The counsellors are never allowed to tell anyone what they have discussed with you without your permission.

Right to medical care for pregnant women

A doctor carrying out an ultrasound scan on a pregnant woman.

Every pregnant woman in Germany is entitled to be examined and advised by a doctor. The costs are covered by the health insurance providers. Even if you don't have health insurance, you will receive medical care as a pregnant woman in Germany.

Maternity protection

In Germany, employers (e.g. companies) are legally obliged to protect women from loss of employment and protect them in the workplace. This is called "Mutterschutz" (maternity protection). It does not matter what nationality you belong to. It forbids, for example, work that is harmful to the woman or the child such as heavy lifting or standing for long periods of time.

Maternity protection before the birth:

In the last six weeks before your calculated due date, you as a pregnant woman are not allowed to work. You can continue to work only if you yourself say that you want to during this time period. However, if you change your mind at any time in the last 6 weeks before the birth, you can stop working and still receive your salary.

Maternity protection after the birth (absolute employment ban):

In Germany, mothers are normally not allowed to work for eight weeks after the birth. In the event of premature or multiple births, you are not allowed to work for twelve weeks after the birth - even if you want to.

Protection against dismissal

If you are pregnant, your employer can only dismiss you up to 4 months after the birth for an important reason (e.g. stealing from the employer). You can still inform your employer of your pregnancy up to 2 weeks after the dismissal, which would make the dismissal ineffective.  

Time off work for examinations

If you work for an employer and are pregnant, your employer must allow you to attend all medical check-ups, even during working hours. Your employer must pay you your full salary and is not permitted to deduct any money based on you attending medical check-ups.

If you have a fixed-term contract, the maternity protection is valid for the duration of the fixed-term contract.

Parental leave

Men and women who work in Germany for an employer are entitled to be given a maximum of 3 years' leave after the birth of their child. This means that the woman, the man or both do not have to work for a maximum of 3 years, but they will receive no money from the employer during this time.

The employer must reserve the job or a comparable job for a maximum of 3 years. After this time, you can return to your employer to work in the same job or a comparable job.

Parental allowance

All parents who want to look after their child at home during the first 14 months receive financial help in Germany. You can find information on this at a counselling centre.

Freedom to choose a midwife

Every pregnant woman who is insured with a health insurance provider can receive help from a midwife during pregnancy and after pregnancy.

The following midwife services are covered by the health insurance providers:

  • counselling during pregnancy
  • prenatal medical check-ups if your doctor has not already performed the examinations
  • help with pregnancy-related problems and contractions 
  • birth preparation (individual or in groups)
  • care during the birth (or in the event of a miscarriage) in the hospital, in the birth-centre or at home
  • care for the baby after the birth (so-called "postnatal care"), up to 12 weeks after the birth
  • postnatal exercises after the birth

In the event of serious problems with

  • breastfeeding,
  • wound healing,
  • intestinal lesions,
  • delayed postnatal recovery or other problems,

the statutory health insurance providers also pay for additional home visits from the midwife.

Click here to find a midwife near you: www.hebammensuche.de

Pregnant and don't want anyone to know?

If you are pregnant and need help, in Germany you are entitled to counselling.

You can find information and help at www.geburt-vertraulich.de and 24 hours a day at the free telephone number 0800 40 40 020.  You do not have to disclose your name. You will be put in touch with a counsellor near you with whom you can discuss everything.

A doctor reassuring a patient that he will not share any confidential information.

Dictionary and translations

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