Many newcomers to the Netherlands are taken aback by the non-interventionist approach to perinatal care and are often told that everyone delivers at home with a midwife. In fact, only about 23% of deliveries take place at home, the rest take place in...
Many newcomers to the Netherlands are taken aback by the non-interventionist approach to perinatal care and are often told that everyone delivers at home with a midwife. In fact, only about 23% of deliveries take place at home, the rest take place in a hospital under the guidance of a midwife or gynecologist. Mothers-to-be are monitored regularly throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as during the postpartum period – as are their babies.
A midwife is an independent practitioner who can legally practice obstetrics without the supervision of a medical doctor. And unless complications arise or there is a previous medical problem – in which case you will be referred to a gynecologist – once you have opted for a midwife, she will be your sole health care provider during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the initial postpartum period.
Although it is not standard Dutch practice, should you prefer to be cared for by a gynaecoloog (gynecologist) from day 1 (or starting early on during your pregnancy), then this can be arranged, but you will need a referral from your midwife or GP in order for the costs to be covered by your insurance.
Prenatal testing and genetic screening are not performed on a routine basis in the Netherlands. Genetic screening, for example, is generally conducted only when the pregnant woman is found to be in a high-risk category for fetal chromosomal defects such as Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Spina Bifida or Muscular Dystrophy. In the Netherlands, a pregnant woman is considered at high risk if she is 36 years or older, if she has previously had a child with a congenital defect or if there is a history of chromosomal problems in either her or her partner’s family. Should you not fit into one of the above categories but have personal concerns, discuss this matter with you midwife or gynecologist.
Where Will You Have Your Baby?
There are two options available when giving birth in the Netherlands: you can do this either at home, under the guidance of a midwife, or in the hospital, assisted by either a midwife or gynecologist. A third option is what the Dutch call a poliklinische bevalling (out-patient hospital delivery) attended either by a midwife or gynecologist; you then voluntarily have a hospital delivery, but are in and out of the hospital within 24 hours – barring complications. You will be required to stay longer in the case of medical complications or a (planned) Caesarean section (5-7 days).
Kraamzorg(Maternity Home Care)
The Netherlands provides wonderful maternity home care subsequent to either a home birth or hospital delivery. The maternity aid will visit daily to assess the health status of both mother and child. Part or full-time care is available.
The Consultatiebureau (Well-Baby Clinic)
Whereas in most countries, routine check-ups are carried out by a GP or kinderarts (pediatrician), in the Netherlands this service is provided by the local Consultatiebureau up until a child is 4 years of age. The Consultatiebureau is a community-based, country-wide network of clinics providing preventative health care to infants and toddlers, whose main goal is preventative care. Through screening – motor and cognitive development, speech, hearing and sight – abnormalities can be detected early on and monitored. It also carries out the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports’ vaccination program.
Once your child has reached school age, this health service (including the carrying out of the vaccination program) is transferred to the local health office of the Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst, better known as the GGD (Municipal Health Service). Both the Consultatiebureau and the GGD-services are offered free of charge.