For those who don't subscribe to comments, I am reposting the story of AstroYoga's vaginal breech birth in Germany. I also suggest reading about breech birth in Frankfurt, Germany via the 2nd International Breech Conference.
I had a great pregnancy and birth experience in Germany with my first daughter. I am pregnant with the second now. The systems are a bit different state to state in Germany. I live in Bavaria where there are no birth centers, and in the town I live, there is only one midwife who does home births. Most women seem to chose hospital births here, so I have been able to book her for the second.
I also found that the type of care you get can vary greatly even from hospital to hospital. I had a natural breech birth in one hospital, but any other hospital in town would have pushed for a c-section. Only the hospital we chose specialized in vaginal breech deliveries, and much of that was due to a team of midwives who have been able to work with the doctors to keep their hands off of the breech deliveries.
The open nudity and the"chair of exposure" are exactly the same in Bavaria! When I was back in the US a few years ago and went to an OB, I kept taking off my clothes at the wrong time because I didn't wait for the doc to leave the room! I guess I got used to just stripping down in the middle of the room.
It is worth saying that one thing I found really impressive about the system here is that my choices about my prenatal care and birthing have been respected by the doctors and midwives I've worked with.
I had a lot of fear in my mind because I had a strong desire for a natural birth experience and had read so many stories of women being coerced by the medical community (usually stories written by people in the US). Given that my daughter was breech, I felt that I would be under more pressure to have interventions.
However, I made my desire for a natural birth very clear to my doctors and midwives, and they were all supportive. I was presented with the information I needed to make choices about things like possibly having an attempt at an external rotation of the baby (we opted out of that), but my doctor did not push at all and made sure we understood the potential risks from the procedure. In the end, we tried some alternative, non-invasive methods like acupuncture and Moxi. Even the doctor at the hospital who I expected to put some kind of pressure on for a c-section said she didn't see any reason why we couldn't do a vaginal delivery. I also requested that I not be hooked up to an IV during labor, and there were no restrictions placed upon me regarding food or drinks. I was active the entire labor and never left the room where I eventually delivered.
The midwives were happy to support my labor if I needed it, and a doctor was present for the birth (a protocol for breech deliveries), but she simply sat back with her hands folded and watched me deliver while the midwives were by my side. I delivered on hands and knees; no one touched my daughter, and after she was born, I was the first person to touch her. I held her for quite some time before the midwife asked to take her across the room for a brief exam (assisted by the new daddy). We went home together 4 hours later by our own choice. The midwife was by later that day to check on us and came by every day for a little over a week to help with nursing issues and check on my body.
This experience me not be the norm here, but I appreciated that my choices were supported (and covered by my insurance without question). Most of my friends here have had much more medical intervention in hospital births here and stayed at least one night, but that was also their choice.
This pregnancy, my doctor knows I am planning a home birth, and though most of her patients don't chose this option, she was completely supportive. Likewise, my midwife (who often does all of the prenatal care for her clients) has not shamed me for also wanting prenatal care by a standard OB and the ultrasounds and other medical interventions that come with it. I meet with both of them at the moment and am very happy with the care.