Expecting a baby in the Netherlands
Expecting a new addition to your family is exciting and nerve wrecking even in your home
country, let alone when you are living abroad. So what is it like to be pregnant and give birth
in the Netherlands?
The Dutch take a very natural approach in most respects, they even have one of the highest home birth rates among developed nations. Majority of pregnancies are handled via midwives (not gynecologists), even with hospital births, so an important first step is to find a midwife and make an appointment between your 6th & amp; 10th week of pregnancy.
How do I find the right midwife?
1. Speak to your GP who can provide you with a list of recommended midwives in your
area (or use the national register (KNOV) to search for midwives in your area
2. Ask around: neighbors, colleagues, friends, local Mom groups all will have good
3. Check our Guide to Midwives and Doulas
Many expecting parents choose to also hire a Doula to help them navigate the pregnancy,
birth and postpartum periods, especially when living abroad it can be so helpful to have a
knowledgeable resource who knows your family well and can be by your side throughout
the entire journey.
Every pregnant woman in the Netherlands has the right to postnatal maternity care. Kraamzorg(postnatal maternity care) is the term given to the medical service provided by a kraamverzorgende(maternity aide) to the new mother and her baby. Normally, 49 hours of service is provided over a period of eight days following delivery. However, the hours you are entitled to it will vary depending on the particular circumstances.
The kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) is a trained medical professional who will provide a range of services that may include:
Helping during a home birth
Guiding the mother through the feeding, bathing and taking care of their child, physically as well as emotionally, teaching her how to recognise the baby’s needs and how to attend to them
Monitoring the health of the mother and her newborn child, acting as a link between the family and the midwife/GP
Ensuring the house environment is maintained to an appropriate level of hygiene by cleaning the toilets, the bathroom and the mother’s and baby’s rooms every day
Helping with light household duties during her stay to ensure the mother gets sufficient rest
The exact details of what your particular maternity aide will help with, as well as the frequency and length of her visits, will normally be determined before the birth. This first (prenatal) home visit will take place at around the seventh or eighth month of the pregnancy. It allows both parties to discuss the expectant mother’s needs and expectations. Once the baby is born, you have the option of adjusting the agreed schedule to more or less involvement after consultation with the agency. Flexibility is the key here.
It is important to note that the maternity aide is trained to guide and assist, not dominate or interfere. They will adapt to your way of doing things, not the other way around. If you decide that you do not want to breastfeed, then that will be taken as your choice. No pressure will be applied for you to conform to a given dogma, and support will be provided if you want it.
It is suggested that you register with a kraamcentrum (maternity care agency) prior to the 12th week of pregnancy so that you can be assured of postpartum care. More recently, most agencies have started to accept registrations at any point during the pregnancy. However, you are strongly advised to register as early as possible with your preferred maternity care agency or so-called ‘kraamzorg agency’. The sooner contact has been made, the more time both parties have to make arrangements and communicate their needs and expectations. Your midwife may also be able to direct you to a preferred agency. You must contact your health insurance provider to ensure your chosen maternity care agency is approved by them.
A doula supports women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. This support is practical and emotional, but non-medical in nature, as doulas are not medically trained. Hiring a doula is a relatively new phenomenon in the Netherlands.
The provision of continuous support during labour is associated with improved maternal and foetal health and a variety of other benefits, including lower risk of induction and interventions and less need for pain relief.
A postnatal doula will assist a new mother at home with emotional support as well as physical assistance around the home. After the birth, the doula will visit the couple once or twice to follow up on the birth. Some doulas provide birth hypnosis and other support strategies. All doulas are on call 24 hours a day for their clients and many provide an on-going postnatal support service.
Learn more about what a Doula is and how to find the right Doula in Amsterdam.
It can also be very helpful to join a prenatal prep class to learn more about what to expect,
have the chance to ask questions about the local norms and healthcare system, and to meet
other expecting parents