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FAMILY

Are more babies being born in Germany amid the pandemic?

Experts believe that the coronavirus pandemic has influenced many couples’ sex lives. But does this mean that a baby boom is on the horizon in Germany?

Are more babies being born in Germany amid the pandemic?
The pandemic has led to couples having more sex, but will a baby boom follow? Photo: DPA

Postponed holiday plans, cancelled concerts and no chance of parties: it should come as no surprise that many couples are turning to other pastimes to keep entertained.

Wolfgang Krüger, author and psychotherapist, believes couples are having more sex. But will this lead to more babies being born toward the end of the year?

According to the Professional Association of Gynecologists (BVF), between 770,000 and 800,000 children are born every year in Germany. That equates to roughly eight new pregnant women a month in every doctor’s practice. 

A post-pandemic baby boom?

It is conceivable that there will be a small increase in the number of new pregnancies this year. 

“It could be that some couples who have been considering children have taken advantage of all this extra free time to give it a try”, said BVF president Christian Albring. 

READ ALSO: What's the advice for sex and dating in Germany during the coronavirus crisis?

But such an increase, if there is one at all, would most likely be lower than 10 percent. Albring suggests that many people have also run into financial difficulty because of the pandemic, which may have led them to postpone their plans for children.

Doctors say that it is still far too early to make any concrete statements about the impact of the pandemic on pregnancy numbers. 

But thus far most experts seem to agree that the pandemic won’t cause a ‘baby boom’ in Germany. 

Caring for pregnant mothers has become more challenging due to pandemic restrictions. Photo: DPA

Baby-product manufacturers have come to similar conclusions. “Both we as manufacturers, as well as specialist retailers we supply, are experiencing no swell in demand due to the pandemic”, said Monika Holhut from the pram manufacturer Gesslein. 

According to data from the company myToys, online demand has gone up in recent months . However, this is more likely to be due to a general shift toward online retail than to increased birth rates, said spokeswoman Katrin Schäkel.

A difficult time to be pregnant

“This pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for everyone. It’s not the case that couples are suddenly having more children”, explained Kathrin Herold, chairwoman of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Midwives Association.

Her Bavarian colleague, Mechthild Hofner, sees it the same way. On the one hand, she does believe that there will be no decline in the birth rate. 

READ ALSO: REVEALED: German children less satisfied with life than those in other countries

“But our midwives have not noticed a significant increase in registrations for birth preparation courses either.” The same is the case in Brandenburg and Lower Saxony.

Some medical practices have even recorded a decrease in the number of pregnant women registering for such courses. 

“The women have to wear a mask and socially distance whilst doing breathing exercises”, said Christine Zinsler, a midwife from Munich. As a result many course bookings have been cancelled.

Even if the number of pregnancies during the Corona crisis hasn’t increased according to the doctors and midwives, Berlin relationship expert Krüger believes that Germans are definitely having more sex.

“More time in close proximity, combined with a general sense of fear and uncertainty will definitely stimulate more intimacy”, said Krüger. But whether that will lead to more babies being born is harder to say. 

“We do know that people are having more sex. Whether they are using contraception is something I’d rather not ask”, laughs Krüger.

Translated by Eve Bennett.

 

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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