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Tense situation of obstetrics in Bonn: More and more pregnant women are being turned away

Tense situation of obstetrics in Bonn : More and more pregnant women are being turned away

In several Bonn hospitals expectant mothers have recently had to leave because there was no room for them in the delivery room. In addition, many midwife positions are unfilled. Experts give tips on what pregnant women should now be aware of.

Maria and Norbert M. have been preparing for this day for months. The contractions only come at 20-minute intervals, but since the 32-year-old is expecting twins, the young parents headed for the hospital where they presented themselves some time ago, just to be on the safe side. At that time, however, they had no idea of the odyssey that lay ahead of them. "We were simply turned away at the delivery room because there was no room for us. I wasn't accepted at the next hospital either," the Bonn woman reports. There, however, the couple was told that there was currently free capacity in Porz.

The parents-to-be had no other choice: They drove at high speed along the motorway towards Cologne. "Luckily we were travelling at night. We couldn't have coped with a traffic jam in this situation," the young father reluctantly recalls the extreme situation. Finally, they arrived in Porz just in time, and a short time later they held their healthy boys in their arms. All's well that ends well? "No," says the young mother resolutely. "I was very scared and felt helpless and alone. I really don't have fond memories of the birth of my children.“

Closures in the surrounding area have an effect in Bonn

Maria M.'s odyssey is not an isolated case, confirms the midwife of a Bonn hospital, who does not want to be named. "Due to the closure of many maternity wards in Bonn and the region, our delivery rooms are occupied around the clock. Unfortunately, we have to turn away expectant mothers again and again," she tells us from her everyday work. "I recommend that women not only have a plan B for the birth, but also a plan C and D."

While most babies are born through natural childbirth, sometimes mother and baby have to be rushed to a hospital by ambulance. Does the ambulance service also have problems finding a hospital to take the woman? "The current bed capacities in Bonn's hospitals are recorded in the fire brigade's control centre. This includes the availability of delivery rooms. In addition, the target hospital is contacted by telephone before the ambulance leaves. This ensures that pregnant women are transported to a suitable hospital by the rescue service," explains fire brigade spokesman Frank Frenser in response to an enquiry from our editorial team. "We will definitely find a hospital and will not leave the woman alone," he assures.

No guarantee of capacity

The fact that expectant mothers have to be turned away "is unfortunately unavoidable", explains Katharina Müller-Stromberg for St. Elisabeth Hospital. "If our capacities are exhausted, we always try to find solutions and mediate." Even a birth planning consultation is no guarantee that the necessary capacities will be available at the time of the planned birth, she adds.

For Professor Ulrich Gembruch, Director of the Centre for Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Hospital, there is another problem: "Not only at all Bonn hospitals, but also at very many others in Germany, there are currently difficulties in filling midwife positions. This is the main reason for the rejections in the delivery rooms," he explains. Only about 25 percent of trained midwives would work in hospitals. "Remuneration, but especially shift and weekend work, make working at hospitals stressful and unattractive, so the majority of midwives work exclusively or partly out of hospital.“

Births expected to increase by 25 percent

"So far, it has only happened in a few cases at Johanniter Hospital that women giving birth had to be turned away. We do not take the decision to turn away a woman in labour lightly in any case. If we cannot fulfil our responsibility to care for mother and child, we have to turn away women in labour," explains Professor Uwe-Jochen Göhring, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Johanniter Hospital. The closure of several maternity wards naturally has an impact. "It is more difficult for expectant parents to find an obstetric ward that is suitable for them. We expect a 25 percent increase in births this year compared to last year's 700 births," says Göhring.

(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel; Translation: Mareike Graepel)