European Midwives carry more responsibility

The first Brazilian midwife who got her degree registered in Germany talks about arriving and working in Germany

May 2020

Those who come to Germany with CAPITALENT MEDICAL are not only highly qualified health care workers, they have also made a firm decision to gain professional experience abroad. Just like Luciana Reis, a qualified midwife from Brazil. Almost 1.5 years ago Luciana successfully entered the company’s program and came to Europe. In this interview she tells us why working in Germany as a non-European midwife is worth the effort – despite the long route it took for her to finally get her degree registered.


Interviewer: May 5th, 2020 is not only known as Hand Hygiene Day but also as the International Day of the Midwives. It is the second time for you to celebrate this day in Germany. Do you remember the first year in your new home?

Luciana: Yes. That year was intense and stressful. In the beginning I thought, “Never ever will I be able to make it”. Once I knew that I was going to start my German class in Sao Paolo and six months later move to Germany, I prepared myself for this new phase of life by learning the language and also mentally. But when the day of the move finally arrived and I got here, I felt overwhelmed.


Interviewer: Was there anybody who supported you in this time?

Luciana: After arriving at the airport, a team member of the company gave me a warm welcome and drove me straight to my new apartment. That made the first hours easier for me. Also, my new colleagues at the delivery ward, where I have been working since, were all super nice to me. But still I felt overwhelmed with meeting so many new people at once plus the new language. I was lucky though, because on my first day at work I met a patient from Brazil, who was about to give birth in my ward. We were both so happy to be able to speak Portuguese with each other. It felt like home and that felt really good.


Interviewer: Looking back, did you envision Germany and the people living here differently?

Luciana: Thinking about it, I would say yes. The cliché of “the Germans” is to be rather cold and distanced and that they poorly handle people who speak a different language. My experience though from living here is completely different from that: I was offered a lot of help – I was often asked whether I might need this or that – and it strikes me that the people here are actually very empathetic, when I don’t get what they are saying. Especially when they see that I am really trying my best to speak their language.


Interviewer: Considering that you had to reach German level B2 within half a year, your German sounds great! But tell us why you chose to become a midwife.

Luciana: I have always been fascinated by birth. Which is why during my six years of nursing studies I decided to specialize in midwifery and write all my papers in this field. During my practical training I worked with pregnant women and as a lactation consultant. After my graduation I worked in a private hospital for two years. In this hospital though I rarely got the chance to deliver a baby on my own.


Interviewer: But wasn’t that exactly what was driving you to become a midwife in the first place? Why is midwifery in Germany so much different from midwifery in Brazil?

Luciana: It must be something cultural. In Brazil most women opt for a c-section and this is done by the head surgeon. As a midwife we assist in these cases or provide antenatal and postnatal care. During my semester in Portugal I had noticed for the first time that women in Europe often decide to go for a natural birth instead and only agree on a c-section if it’s an emergency. The benefits of this are: For example the bonding between mother and baby right after birth or the woman’s mobility – after giving birth naturally she can leave the hospital very soon.


Interviewer: So would you say that your experience in Portugal had changed the way you see your profession?

Luciana: Well, I loved being a midwife in Brazil just as much, but it certainly broadened my horizon. Midwives in Europe definitely carry more responsibility. I will never forget my first time as a registered midwife in Germany when I was allowed to deliver a baby all on my own. That took place in May 2019 and it was a very special moment for me. And also, when mothers thank me after giving birth, I am reminded of why this job brings so much joy to me and why this was the right path for me.


Interviewer: Did you notice any other differences between the two health care systems?

Luciana: German hospitals are a lot more modern, alternative medicine is far more established here than in Brazil and looking at the current crisis the German ICUs are a lot better prepared. But even here we are missing clear guidelines at times – it would be helpful to have precise regulations on how to deal with the virus in the delivery ward. But people are working on that. And not to forget: In Germany we are lacking staff as well, for example nurses and also midwives.


Interviewer: That is quite a lot of information. Do you keep yourself updated regularly?

Luciana: Yes sure. I talk with my friends and colleagues here in Germany about relevant topics. And I also keep close contact with my family, friends, and hospital workers in Brazil. We keep in touch, because I find it important to share with them what I learn here. I keep reminding myself though that there are always two sides and that perspectives and cultures can be different. I can understand the women in Brazil, who prefer the c-section rather than going through the pain of a natural birth, just as much as women, who decide to give birth naturally. What is important is to give every patient all options and to educate them on all the according pros and risks.


Interviewer: Thank you, Luciana! One last question: What would you tell other international midwives who decide to work in Germany?

Luciana: It is worth learning the language. Not only because this is a prerequisite to get your degree registered in Germany, but also to be able to really settle in. And: Always be honest. If there is something you did not understand, better ask twice. That is the only way that brings you forward.