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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 11:55 GMT
Pregnant Germans seek cash bonus
Pregnant woman
German mums-to-be are avoiding actions that may bring on labour
Many German mothers-to-be are reportedly trying to delay labour so their births coincide with a generous new government scheme.

Parents of babies born on or after 1 January will be entitled to up to 25,200 euros (16,911, $33,300) to ease the financial burden of parenthood.

But those born even a minute earlier will not be covered by the scheme.

The cash subsidies are part of a government initiative to boost Germany's dwindling birth rate.

German women have an average of 1.37 children, well below the average of 2.1 needed to keep a population stable. One minister recently warned of "the lights going out".

Under the current system of Elterngeld, parents receive a maximum of 7,200 euros (4,831, $9,472) over two years.

But the parents of children born in 2007 will be granted over two thirds of their former salary for up to a year - up to 25,200 euros.

'Let nature take its course'

Doctors have been warning women not to take any medication to try to delay labour, and few, they stress, would put the life of their baby at risk for the sake of the money.

But what many mums-to-be do in order to bring on labour, pregnant Germans are now anxious to avoid.

These include drinking red wine, eating curries and taking part in physical activity.

Midwives are also advising women to avoid cinnamon and cloves - a staple of German Christmas cooking.

And it was to the government's festive spirit that a Berlin bishop appealed this week when he asked for the start date for the new benefits to be brought forward.

"It would be an anti-bureaucratic act in the spirit of Christmas to move the date from 1 January to 24 December," Wolfgang Huber, a leader of the Protestant church, said in the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.

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