That something alive suddenly moves in me

That something alive suddenly moves in me

In the eight-page reason for the expulsion, « adventurous misconduct » were listed. The authority rejected the reason.

Returning to the old job after such arguments is hardly reasonable for women. A medical prohibition of employment gives the expectant mother breath during pregnancy. Nevertheless, she often has no choice but to look for a new job – with not exactly rosy opportunities.

Pregnancy hidden for six months

No wonder when pregnant women postpone talking to the boss as long as possible and the self-employed keep the good news from being. According to « Wirtschaftswoche », a lawyer hid her pregnancy in baggy clothes for six months. It was only shortly before the birth that she officially said goodbye to a three-week vacation and after the delivery she first turned away questions.

The following applies to employees: There is no statutory date when a woman must inform the employer about a pregnancy at the latest. However, if you don’t tell the boss about it or if you don’t inform the boss within two weeks of a dismissal, you risk the special protection against dismissal that pregnant women are entitled to under Section 9 of the Maternity Protection Act.

Return to work – but with 30 hours a week, please

Tensions between employers and pregnant employees build up, especially when planning their return to work. When mothers return to work with at least 30 hours of work per week, they are less likely to face career disadvantages. But this number of hours is often not feasible.

Her difficulties at work only began when she returned to her old job after a year for 20 hours a week, a secretary told A newly hired colleague had taken over a large part of her duties; she had to look for work in order to be busy. The conflicts could only be resolved by changing to another department with different tasks, even if she was initially reluctant to do so. Part-time mothers would quickly find themselves in the second row. However, it is positive that the company has shown understanding for their input and has tried to find an acceptable internal solution.

Mothers with full-time jobs are the exception

The number of female part-time employees in Germany suggests that this doesn’t always work. According to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), eleven million women worked part-time in Germany in 2014. That is twice as many as in 1991. The IAB study found that in 65 percent of partnerships with children, women work an average of 18.2 hours a week. In contrast, only 28 percent of women in partnerships have a full-time job.

You can if the bosses want it

The example of a manager exudes a spark of hope. With the words « we can do it », her childless boss reacted to her first pregnancy, « Spiegel » quoted the mother of four. During her first pregnancy, she was able to reduce her weekly working hours to 35 hours and got a teleworking position. And an initially skeptical superior later stated: « It would be nice if there were more of your kind. » That sounds a lot better.

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Phobias are not short-term problems, but rather serious mental disorders. You can turn everyday life upside down and burden life. This is also the case with so-called toophobia – the fear of pregnancy and expository essay The Berlin midwife Jana Friedrich explains what affected women feel and what helps against their fears.

It is actually the most natural thing in the world: get pregnant and look forward to having a baby for nine months. Not so with Nalesh. She is afraid of this phase of life, which is beautiful and exciting for most women.

« I always wanted children, » she describes her feelings, « but I was incredibly afraid of pregnancy. On the one hand, because I knew that my body and soul would change. On the other hand, I was afraid that the child movements would completely change me could disturb and then I just wanted to have the child ‘out of me’. « 

Pregnancy phobia has long been a taboo subject

Nalesh is only one of around 180 women who spoke up on the blog of Berlin midwife Jana Friedrich after another victim reported in detail about her agonizing fears there last year. A chain reaction started. « Until then, the phenomenon of pregnancy phobia was uncharted territory in my everyday life as a midwife. I was very astonished at how many people recognized themselves in what was described and dared to talk about it – as if they had opened a door that had been closed until then. »

13 percent of women are affected

So far, only British scientists have dealt more closely with toophobia. In a study published in 2003, they found that as many as 13 percent of women had avoided or postponed a pregnancy out of fear. The examinations also showed that those affected often used very careful contraception, allowed themselves to be sterilized more often or urged their partners to be sterilized. In some cases, the fears even led to an abortion. However, the fear of pain, for example during childbirth, only seemed to play a superficial role for most of the respondents.

Family and friends don’t understand

The fact that relatively little is known about this phenomenon is probably due to the fact that most tocophobic women do not confide their fears to anyone because they are touching a social taboo. « Becoming a mother and being a mother has a fundamentally positive connotation, is viewed as something very natural and great, » explains the midwife. « For this reason, women who suffer from pregnancy phobia usually encounter little understanding in their social environment. »

A foreign body in the stomach

But what do women fear? « I don’t want my body to change like that, » says the experience report in the midwifery blog. « I just can’t imagine enjoying these changes, being proud, excited and happy. That something alive suddenly moves in me? What if pregnancy really feels as terrifying as I imagine it to be? »

Friedrich has now heard many such fearful fantasies – also from women who have just been diagnosed with pregnancy. « It is not uncommon for these expectant mothers to have the feeling that a kind of alien, a parasitic foreign body, is growing inside them, with which they cannot establish contact. They are afraid that they will be aware of the changes in their bodies that they almost consider damage experience, have no influence. That is a strange and creepy idea for them. « 

Fear of loss of self-determination 

Women with pregnancy phobia are also concerned with the social cuts that the birth of a child entails. The midwife explains that some feared being pushed into the role of « crickets at the stove. »

In her experience, such thoughts plague educated, feminist-oriented women more than average. Often those affected are also a bit older and often live in a steady relationship. « The greatest fear of these women is that they can no longer control their everyday life with a child and lose their previous self-determination and independence. »

Psychologists can help

Since the phobia of pregnancy is a psychological disorder that those affected find it difficult to get a grip on themselves, Friedrich recommends getting professional help from a psychologist: « This is especially necessary when you are faced with fear like a gigantic wall does not escape his feelings. « 

But even simpler methods can make a difference. Friedrich found out about this after she took the taboo topic out of its shadowy existence on her blog. « For many women who then got in touch with me, just communicating about their fears had a liberating effect. Many found it comforting to know that they are not alone with their fear. This in turn encouraged others to open up. »

Pregnancy phobia disappears during pregnancy

Sometimes the fear disappears all by itself, especially when the dreaded pregnancy becomes a reality. Then a lot is put into perspective over the course of the months, the midwife knows. « Quite a few then made the relieving experience that their anxiety steadily subsided the bigger their baby got in the stomach, the more they felt it and no longer perceived it as a foreign body. » 

Further information:

Undetected pregnancy: how can it be? Pregnant: When do you have to inform the employer?

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About twice as many children are delivered by caesarean section in German hospitals today than 20 years ago. Every third child is now born this way – one possible reason is the doctors’ fear of complaints about birth defects. The likelihood of a birth by caesarean section varies greatly between federal states. Our table shows where caesarean sections are most common.

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Suction cup and pliers rarely used

The number of caesarean sections doubled between 1991 and 2010. (Source: dpa) Between 1991 and 2010, the proportion of cesarean sections increased from 15.3 to 31.9 percent, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden. Compared to 2009, the proportion increased by 0.6 percentage points. Other obstetrics are rarely used: a suction cup was only used in 5.3 percent of deliveries in 2010, and forceps in 0.6 percent.

Caesarean section most common in Saarland

In relation to the number of births, proportionally most of the caesarean sections were performed in Saarland (36.6 percent), followed by Rhineland-Palatinate (34.8 percent) and Hesse (34.2 percent). Births with caesarean section were the least common in Saxony (22.9 percent).


Caesarean section quota









North Rhine-Westphalia








Lower Saxony


Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
















Source: Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) 2012

No painless alternative to natural birth

Caesarean section is one of the most important achievements in modern medicine and saves the lives of many mothers and their children. But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is really necessary in only ten to 15 percent of cases. Women considering a planned caesarean section should not view it as a harmless and painless alternative. They still have pain, not during childbirth, but afterwards when the wound has healed.

Would you rather risk a caesarean section than a lawsuit?

But why are more and more women having their children through surgery? « A caesarean section is often the safer option, » says Petra Kolip, professor at Bielefeld University and author of a large caesarean section study, the dpa news agency. Safe for mothers who want to rule out any risk out of concern for their child – and safe for doctors who are afraid of being sued. « Doctors prefer to do a caesarean section sooner rather than later so that they are not sued, » believes the researcher. Professor Ulrich Gembruch from the University of Bonn and board member of the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics confirms: « Today it is simply no longer tolerated that a child is born badly. You will be sued immediately. »

The older the women, the riskier the pregnancy

Gembruch explains the rising rate of Caesarean sections primarily with the higher average age of the women giving birth. The older the women, the more often they are among the high-risk pregnancies. One of the most common reasons for a planned caesarean section is a caesarean section at a previous birth, according to data from the BQS Institute for Quality and Patient Safety in Düsseldorf. If surgery has to be performed spontaneously during childbirth, the most common cause is poor heartbeat in the child.

Caesarean section is no longer as dangerous as it used to be

Experts agree that caesarean sections are far less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago. Complications such as bleeding or infections almost only occur in unplanned operations, says Gembruch. He considers the possibility of caesarean section to be an advantage: « Many children who would otherwise be dead survive it. »

Known disadvantages of a caesarean section

However, a caesarean section is still riskier than a vaginal birth. A caesarean section harbors certain risks for both baby and mother, as the authors Bianca Marklstorfer and Verena Jobst describe in their book « Birth Event »:

Children born by caesarean section are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems, asthma or allergies. Psychologically, cesarean section children are said to have less assertiveness. Many women who have their child by caesarean section report severe pain after the operation. In the first few weeks after the birth, they were often physically impaired due to the abdominal wound. Breastfeeding problems and a difficult attachment to the child are also possible consequences.

Midwifery Association: C-section is easier to plan for clinics

Midwives are skeptical of the trend towards caesarean sections. « Far more caesarean sections are made than necessary, » believes Susanne Steppat, member of the executive committee of the German Midwives Association.