Pregnancy & Birth

Hello everyone, my name is Sina and I am originally from Germany. We moved to Arnhem a few years ago for my husband’s work.

My first child was born in Germany and I was mega surprised how different it is to be pregnant in the Netherlands. The biggest difference for me was that if you are healthy and everything is going normal with your pregnancy you never see a doctor here.

When you find out that you are expecting the first thing you do is book an appointment with your huisarts (General practitioner). But don’t expect him to do a check – no no; he will give you the contacts for midwives in your area. Midwife in Dutch is „vroedvrouw“. They are very well educated and do nearly all the preparation and support during your pregnancy. You will only get treated by midwives, as long as everything is normal. Dutch midwifery care is unique in the world. The keyword here is natural. The viewpoint in the Netherlands is that childbirth is not a medical condition and pregnant women should not be treated as patients.

At  the KNOV  page  (“The Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives“) there is a search option where you can put your postcode and find midwives near you.

You should choose your midwife early.

With the basic health insurance all general treatments are covered, but it is important to check your policy in details and add the „pregnancy“ option if you don‘t have it already. In Germany you go to scans and check ups very often, while here I only had all in all 3 scans and that was it. As a German I had to get used to it. After every appointment I was thinking „Was that it?!“ So it was an adjustment for me. I had to learn to trust my body and nature. But on the other hand if there is a problem during your pregnancy the doctors and hospitals are at a very high level and are very experienced. You will be taken care of. The medical treatments are very high standard.

I was lucky; I had a really good pregnancy and no need for hospitals. It never even crossed my mind to give birth at home. I was getting ready for a hospital birth and attended the open day in Rijnsate hospital to get all the information you need and where you can see the delivery rooms. (Click here for more info about Rijnstate maternity wards https://www.rijnstate.nl/bevallen).

With my basic insurance I realised I have to pay extra for delivering in hospital, but I was willing to pay whatever was needed.

The midwives explained a lot about home births during our check-ups. They said it is nothing scary but I couldn`t imagine it.

When I was 20 weeks pregnant I joined a yoga class with Yoga Willie.  I highly recommend it. The lessons include a lot of breathing exercises as well which prepare you for birth and I also got the chance to speak to many other pregnant women and share experience. I was really impressed how many women wanted to give birth at home.

Not everyone can choose to give birth at home though, as if the midwives think you might be at risk you will not be allowed to. And not only because of health concerns. What they also take into consideration is where you live for example – if you are on the 3rd floor in a house/apartment building and there is no fast emergency exist giving birth at home is not advisable. This is the country where you can see a woman in labour being taken out of the window with a fire truck!

So here is my delivery story:

My contractions started two and a half weeks before my due date in the evening. My first delivery in Germany was quite fast, so the midwife told me I should call her earlier rather than later.

So I called her at 4 o`clock in the morning. She came and stayed at my house for 2 hours. But nothing was moving forward and she was sure they were just preparatory contractions. During the 2 hours we had a lot of time again to talk about giving birth at home and she told me a lot of great stories. She said you will never be so relaxed in the hospital as you would be at your home where everything is familiar. I was curious listening to her but still couldn`t imagine doing it myself.

In the morning a friend of mine picked up my son, so we would be free to go to the hospital. The midwife came again around midday and there was still no progress.

So my son came back home and I was waiting for the contractions to fade out but at 6 pm the contractions and the pain got more intense and I wasn`t sure if I should call the midwife again or not. I was a bit embarrassed at the earlier false alarm, but I called her an hour later.

She was here around 7:45pm and saw the situation had changed – my daughter was ready to come. We had to make a quick decision. Luckily it was still the same midwife as before. I trusted her and felt comfortable with her. My son was jumping around, what to do with him now?! In this moment my husband and I decided: Let`s do it at home in the living room! For the next hour it was a mega rush. The midwife called for an assistant from the Kraamzorg.  We turned our sofa into a bed, put four coke crates under the sofa to make it higher (so the midwife can work without backpain). I was concerned about the carpet and all the blood – but they said no worries you will see nothing. The midwife took 3 big bags out of the car and in a flash our living room was a delivery room. It felt so good to be at home. I could concentrate on my breathing and got not distracted.

At 9:30pm my husband brought our son to bed. At 10pm the midwife called him, he needs to hurry up, otherwise he would miss the birth! At 10:22pm our daughter was born at home, on the sofa. The two women did such a good job. If you would ask them, they would say, they did nothing, but they did for sure. It was one of the best decisions of my life and I`m so glad and happy that I was so lucky to have this experience.

In this country you don’t stay in hospital after giving birth either. A few hours later they send you home after a normal birth. From this moment on for one week the Kraamzorg will look after you 8 hours a day. Which is great! You have to google Kraamzorg Arnhem and decide with your midwife which is the right one for you and book them in time.

I hope my story will put you at ease and might give you the courage to try a home birth as well.

Useful general information you can find here:

https://www.expatica.com/nl/healthcare/Maternity-matters-What-to-expect-in-the-Netherlands_101827.html

https://birthinternational.com/article/midwifery/the-place-of-birth-the-dutch-midwifery-system/

https://www.knov.nl/samenwerken/tekstpagina/489-2/midwifery-in-the-netherlands/hoofdstuk/463/midwifery-in-the-netherlands/  (here there is a search option where you can put your postcode and find midwives near you)

Posted by Sina

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