The Challenges of Pregnancy While Living in Germany and Tips to Overcome Them
Being away from family and friends
When I was pregnant with my son, we lived states away from family during Covid. I’m no stranger to going through pregnancy without family around- but they felt close enough. And the network of friends my husband and I had built came with such a strong support system. That pregnancy felt so special; it felt like a celebration. Living abroad and being pregnant has made me feel like I’ve been going through this pregnancy alone at times.
Being so far from family can make such a celebration feel more isolating. You want to celebrate this little miracle but have few people to celebrate with. When I was pregnant with my son, I was working as an aesthetic NP– that gave me the wonderful opportunity to see many patients every one to four months. They made me feel special every time they would check up on me.
Being far from family, friends, and a close-knit support system can be emotionally hard.
Reestablishing a support system
Having a support system is an absolute necessity, especially when you have little kids. Living a few hours from post in Germany for our OCONUS duty station, we are fortunate to have one incredible family that has been our major support system; without them, I would feel lost. They have helped us in more ways than I can count. Just this week, they took Liam for two hours- that was my first break in probably two months. They are the reason why we successfully moved into our new apartment with a toddler in less than two weeks!
Reestablishing that support system takes work. It means putting yourself out there. It can be hard, especially if you feel like you are starting over. A tiny village can be so strong. Making friends abroad should be a priority once you have made an OCONUS move.
Missing the comforts of home
Satisfying food cravings
Living abroad and pregnant means you’re miles away from the comforts of home.
I have loved living in Germany; it has been an incredible experience. As the pregnancy has continued, I have missed more and more the ‘comforts of home.’ Mainly the food cravings! I have just accepted that 90% of my cravings have sadly been unmet- and do you know how hard that is for a pregnant woman?? I feel like I am depriving my body and baby of something necessary, haha. At times, it has felt a bit torturous.
I recall the ease of picking up food after work or ordering door dash. The never-ending list of food opportunities to satisfy those cravings- don’t I miss those!
Finding over the counter medications
Finding your medications on the German economy is no easy task; I have found it to be a bit unsuccessful. Thankful we go to Stuttgart every couple of months or so to stock up.
Booking a massage
My last massage was a prenatal massage with my son Liam. I definitely don’t get them frequently enough, and being here in Germany it’s been hard to find a window for it!
The language barrier and cultural differences
As Americans living in Germany, we have been here for a year now- and sadly, my German has not progressed very much. Between being a mother of a busy toddler, having pregnancy brain, and putting in the effort into my blogging hobby, admittedly, I have not dedicated enough time to learning the language. I am a bit ashamed even to say this out loud!
But living on the economy, we are seeing German doctors and are planning on having a baby in Germany at one of their hospitals.
The doctor visits have been challenging. My doctor knows a little English, but not much. It can be a bit frustrating and has made me feel like we are just flying by the seat of our pants. Or go with the flow and hope for the best. The healthcare system is different, and it has not been easy to get used to. I am still trying to figure out the insurance end!
They do provide you with a Mutterpass, which you will bring back to every appointment, It’s pretty unique.
Balancing home dynamics
Solo parenting while pregnant is hard with a tiny support network. It can be a bit more challenging taking care of the family and yourself when you’re having a baby abroad. This is one of my biggest struggles; in which I’m constantly trying to figure out tools to help balance the home dynamics during pregnancy and figuring out a daily schedule that works for my family.
Helpful tips for dealing with the struggles of living abroad while pregnant
Put yourself out there. I have recently put much more effort into making friends with some ex-pats in town, and they have been great new friends! You don’t have to be going through this pregnancy alone. It can be hard to find the time, but putting yourself out there is so important to developing that support network.
Related post: How to make friends when living abroad
Keep up with hobbies
Try to continue to do something for yourself. It can be so easy to lose your identity as a mom, and being pregnant can easily make you feel less like yourself. I understand not having much free time- but be intentional with your time! Make small windows. Plan ahead. Include your spouse and family. Hobbies allow you a creative outlet and are a perfect way to reestablish some of that self-identity. I have found that setting a little time aside for a hobby has helped me be more patient with my son, especially when I’m overly exhausted.
I don’t have much opportunity for me time, so I’ve had to learn how to incorporate self-care into my daily routine– which often includes my toddler. One of my favorite activities is taking him outside. Remember, self-care includes taking care of your health!
Self-care can be small or as extravagant as a mother’s getaway! I’ve had two incredible mom getaways since living in Germany- a weekend filled with Champagne in Reims and a glorious 24 hours filled with some of the finest chocolates in Switzerland. That’s two incredible weekends over a year. Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be as small as setting aside time in the morning before your little ones wake up, reading a book, having a date night with your spouse, sleeping in, or even going to sleep early. Find something that will help you recharge during this phase of life.
Stay in touch with family
You may be miles away, and the time change can complicate communication opportunities. But in our current day, technology provides us with so many options. Living abroad and pregnant can be lonely, and sharing this amazing chapter with family and close friends should be prioritized!
Schedule those Zoom calls!
Send them photos!
Keep them in the loop.
Embrace the cultural differences
This pregnancy started a bit overwhelming with a good bit of fear. Honestly, I’m still unsure what to expect, especially regarding the delivery. But I have decided to accept these cultural differences and embrace this new experience. This has helped change my mindset. Think of it as a unique experience. A special chapter in your life that you can look back on.
Enjoy the experience of living abroad and pregnant
Pregnancy can be hard; pregnancy with a toddler can be even harder. Living abroad and pregnant may feel like the hardest. Start finding joy in the little things. Remember, you are an incredible person growing a tiny little human; this is no small feet! Go, mamma, go! You are amazing! Practice those self-affirmations in the mirror.
Celebrate the miracle and take the photos
Being pregnant means you’re growing a tiny little miracle. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. It is truly a gift and a blessing, and one that many women wish they could share. Don’t forget to celebrate the journey! I wish I had a little paparazzi with me to take photos of me and my baby bump. It’s an incredible time, and those memories should be made, even if you don’t feel yourself. At Least take those weekly bump photos. Document the journey. It can be challenging, especially in the thick of it. Remember to celebrate this incredible miracle. Your body is doing amazing things!
The overall experience of living abroad and pregnant
This is such a unique journey. Don’t let the challenges take away the fact your body is doing something amazing! You’re creating life! Learning how to cope with the challenges of living overseas while pregnant is important to enjoying the overall experience. This will ultimately allow you to grow as a person! You’ve got this, mama!
I would love to hear from you! Have you lived abroad while pregnant? Did you have any challenges? Did you develop certain coping mechanisms?