Pregnancy & Maternity

Living in Europe | Medical care | Netherlands

Pregnancy & Maternity

There are quite some differences between receiving health care in the Netherlands and the care you have received in your home country, especially concerning the medical care for pregnancy and delivery. In the Netherlands, there is a unique system of midwives and gynaecologists. Midwives guide the healthy pregnancies and regular births. A gynaecologist steps in when complications arise.

A midwife has had an intensive education of 4 years to get a bachelor degree. During those 4 years a midwife in training spends 50% of her time doing internships, so by the end of her training she has witnessed and assisted already a few hundred deliveries. A midwife is primarily a medical expert. But, aside from this, she is also a coach and a confidant during the whole pregnancy period.

Child wish

When you have the desire to become pregnant you can already make an appointment with a midwife for a ‘trying to conceive’-check-up. During this appointment a midwife can tell you everything you need to know about getting pregnant in a healthy way. By doing this you can influence the outcome of a pregnancy in a positive way.

Pregnancy

When you are pregnant you can contact a midwife immediately or you can be referred by your GP. An ultrasound is done early in the pregnancy to see if the pregnancy is viable. The midwife also finds out all relevant information about your medical history and she orders blood tests.

You will be invited to have a consult on a monthly basis at the start, which will rise in frequency when the pregnancy progresses. During those consults the midwife checks your health and the health of the baby. Several ultrasounds are made, including an anomaly scan around 20 weeks. You will be provided with a lot of information to prepare yourself for the delivery and the time after birth.

Delivery

The Dutch maternity system gives you the option where to deliver. If there are no complications during pregnancy and delivery, you can choose whether you want to deliver in the hospital or at home. In both cases the midwife guides you through the delivery. If there is no compelling medical reason to deliver in the hospital, you do have to check with your insurance company if you have full coverage for that. In the Netherlands medical pain relief during delivery is not standard, but always an option.

Postnatal care

After birth or when you return home with your baby, a maternity assistant (‘kraamzorg’) will take care of you and your baby at your home. She does medical checks, she teaches you everything you need to know about taking care of a baby and she does some of your household chores. The maternity assistant comes the first 8 days for several hours a day. You have to check with your insurance company how to arrange the kraamzorg.

After the kraamzorg, the ‘consultatiebureau’ takes over. The consultatiebureau checks the child’s development for the first 4 years and for example gives all the vaccinations.

Registering your child

All new-borns must be registered. The Dutch law says that this must be done within 3 days after birth. A new-born can be registered at the town hall (gemeentehuis) by you, your partner or any person that was present at birth. The following documents will be required:

  • Both parents passports
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Residence permits
  • If not married you have to arrange the ‘acknowledgment of paternity’ (erkenning van het ongeboren kind) already during the pregnancy, also through town hall.

When you register your child’s birth, you can ask the officials for an ‘international birth certificate’, which may prove useful in your home country. Some countries allow you to register the foreign birth of a child at the embassy. Contact the embassy before the child is born so that you know what to do and what the time limits are, if any.

Child benefit (kinderbijslag)

The Dutch social security system pays an allowance to help pay for the cost of child raising. To receive it, you must first make an application. For this you can go to the website from the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB).