Pregnancy

Prenatal care

Prenatal care is usually provided by midwives. The role of the doctor or gynecologist in a normal pregnancy in the Netherlands is minor and in most cases he/she is not involved at all. This is slightly different to other countries. Choosing a midwife is often a tough task, but there are reliable search tools available:

 

 

Your first appointment will be any time from week six of your pregnancy, but more usually around ten weeks. This initial contact is a good time to let your midwife know how you visualise the labor and birth process. It is reassuring to know that you can always change your midwife during your pregnancy if it does not click, or you feel that your birth plan cannot be carried out as you want.

 

Prenatal tests are generally only carried out when you have a medical history indicating the need for this, or when you are over 35 years of age. Some screenings such as blood tests and ultrasounds are done in specialist centres. If you want, you can have an ultrasound made by a specialist, around week 20 of the pregnancy. 

 

Delivery

You will be asked where you want to deliver your baby. With 30 percent of all births taking place at home the Netherlands boasts the highest rate of home births in the world. However, more and more women are opting to give birth in a hospital, either with a poliklinische bevalling (midwife) or a ziekenhuisbevalling (gynecologist), based on medical advice. You always have an option to go to the hospital, but check first what your insurance company covers. 

 

Pain medication is rarely offered during birth. If you insist on receiving some pain medication, please discuss this with your hospital. Most Dutch midwives and doctors prefer not to interfere with the natural process of labour and delivery. Talk to your practitioner early in the pregnancy about your preferences, especially concerning pain relief.


Courses are organised to educate women in the process of childbirth and to teach pain relief through breathing techniques and massage.

 

After the delivery

The midwife will visit you at home in the first week after the baby is born. If you have seen a gynecologist instead of a midwife, you must go to their clinic for appointments, or arrange for your doctor or midwife to visit you at home. You will have a final post-natal check-up 6 weeks after the baby is born. Your baby will be monitored and get further immunisations via regular visits to the consultatiebureau (well baby clinic). 

 

Registration of a birth

The birth of a child needs to be registered within 72 hours at the local town hall. This will provide the child with a birth certificate. The passports, birth certificate and residence papers of both parents must be shown, along with the marriage certificate if they are married or an official living-together contract if not. The mother's name must be mentioned on the birth certificate regardless of her marital status. The birth can be registered by the father, the mother or a third person. Following registration, those paying Dutch taxes should receive a form entitling them to child benefit.

 

International birth certificates may not be automatically issued; request one at the Registrar's office and provide the relevant paperwork depending on parents' nationality. Foreign parents may apply to the consulate of their embassy in the Netherlands for registration of the birth with their home country. This however does not mean they don't need to register with the Dutch authorities. The Dutch registration of birth must be obtained first.

 

Ask for what you need!

As in many other countries, the relationship between patient and medical services is constantly changing and responding to individual patient needs. In the Netherlands, you should not be afraid to ask for the information/services that you want or feel comfortable with. Your insurance company is a good source of information about what is possible and what is not. The ACCESS Organisation offers useful information on giving birth on their website.   

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