Rush to counseling centers has subsided somewhat

Rush to counseling centers has subsided somewhat

The rush at pregnancy counseling centers is still very high © Blue Planet Studio (shutterstock)

The rush of past years at pregnancy counseling has subsided. Nevertheless, demand is high. Many women with a refugee and migration background turn to the Catholic counseling centers in Germany.

113.500 people seeking advice sought counseling at the 274 Catholic pregnancy counseling centers in Germany in 2018. The rush of the past years – plus 20 percent, due to the influx of refugees and migrants – has subsided, as the annual evaluation of the German Caritas Association shows. Nevertheless, the volume of consultations is still well above the figures of five years ago.

More than one third Muslims

Nearly 54 percent of all those seeking advice had a foreign nationality (60.213), 51.3 percent of them had a temporary residence permit. This figure is up 4.8 percentage points compared to 2017. 31.6 percent of all those seeking advice came from non-European countries. More than one in three was Muslim. Particularly difficult for the approximately 650 counselors of Caritas and the Social Service of Catholic Women (SkF): In more than one case in five, lack of language skills made help difficult.

Counseling centers are door openers for further help

About 18 percent of those seeking advice came to the counseling centers after the birth or continued counseling in the early family phase. From Caritas' point of view, the counseling centers therefore prove to be important door openers for further help. The local counselors have good contacts in the network of support services – to parenting courses, psychological support, or open meetings.

Other topics under discussion

The ies in counseling have changed: While in the years 2015 to 2017 the focus was on crisis intervention and arriving in Germany, the focus is now to a much greater extent on securing life, emphasizes Caritas family officer Sabine Fahndrich in her review in the magazine "neue caritas".

A significant proportion of women from refugee backgrounds suffer from the consequences of sexual violence and post-traumatic stress disorder, which have a negative impact on pregnancy and childbirth, he said. This could also lead to a situation in which those seeking advice are only able to deal with the needs of a baby to a limited extent. Due to the influx of women with a refugee and migration background, the topic of female genital mutilation/circumcision is also becoming increasingly important in pregnancy counseling, as stated by.

Cost absorption for contraceptives

According to Fahndrich, the coverage of costs for contraceptives as a state benefit is an important ie for many people seeking advice. Up to now, the state has not covered this service; however, many municipalities have so-called contraceptive funds. "For the Catholic pregnancy counseling centers, the question is whether and in what form they can participate in this fund," the author emphasizes. "In individual dioceses there has been an understanding that participation of the counseling centers of Caritas and SkF is possible."

The number of single women in Catholic pregnancy counseling has risen continuously: in 2018, their share was 14.4 percent. Topics such as partnership conflicts and separation are therefore addressed more frequently, especially among those seeking advice with a migration and refugee background.

Shortage of midwives

According to "neue caritas," increasing difficulties for women in pregnancy conflicts also result from a serious shortage of midwives in many regions. "The situation is coming to a head due to the closure of obstetrics departments and delivery rooms." Pregnant women are often left alone with their search for a midwife or for a place in a childbirth preparation course, Fahndrich stressed.

The number of counseling sessions after abortion continues to decline slightly in Catholic counseling centers. The figure was 0.1 percent in 2018 (98 cases). The number of counseling sessions after a positive result in a prenatal diagnosis also remains low. Here the counselors registered 188 people seeking advice. 597 advice seekers (0.5 percent) turned to Caritas and SkF in an existential pregnancy conflict. Catholic agencies no longer allowed to ie counseling certificates authorizing abortion since 2001.

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