mothers in Germany are doing what they can to put off
giving birth until January 1 when a generous government aid program takes
The media has been filled with tips from doctors and midwives about
holding off birth until January 1.
While experts have warned women to refrain from medical intervention to
delay births, they acknowledge the allure of a financial incentive worth
up to 25,200 euros ($33,300).
"We're bracing for a siege on New Year's Day and will have a full staff
on hand," said Klaus Vetter, chief doctor at Berlin's Vivantes hospital.
Worried about a shrinking population and a birth rate at a post-war low
in 2005, the government in September introduced the law to encourage
working couples to have children. Babies born on or after January 1
qualify for the new benefits.
Parents who take time off from work to care for newborns can receive
two-thirds of their net monthly salary, up to a maximum of 1,800 euros,
for 12 months. If the other parent takes a further two months off, the
benefit is extended to 14 months.
Christian Albring, president of the German association of gynecologists
said all his patients have asked how they could safely extend their
pregnancies to January.
"They've all asked about possibilities of delaying delivery, but none
want to risk their babies' health," he said.
Physicians and midwives have been saying that avoiding red wine, stress
as well as physical or sexual activity are among the recommended natural
methods to help prevent inducing birth.