Both my children were born in London. And since we didn’t have a very chic insurance at the time, nor a very chic income, they were both brought into this world in the University College Hospital, an old Victorian NHS hospital (which means National Health Care — this is far from a chic private hospital)! I must say I didn’t really mind, because my pregnancies were very uncomplicated and so were the births. Thankfully I didn’t have to stay in the hospital for very long!
Now that I’m living in the Netherlands, chances are high that the next baby will be born at home. Currently, one in three babies are born at home here! To compare: in the UK, only about 2% of the babies are born at home, in the US, it is about 0.5%. I couldn’t find any percentages for France or Italy; I’m not sure it’s even legal there!
After the birth (regardless of whether you have a home birth or not), a ‘kraamverzorgster’ –a professional maternity nurse– will come to your house for 8 days, up to 8 hours a day, to look after mummy and baby. She will show you how to take care of your baby (bathing, breastfeeding, etc.). She will also look after older children, prepare meals, take care of the laundry, do some light cleaning and help you to receive your guests (and of course prepare the traditional ‘beschuit met muisjes’)!
If you had a home-birth she will be there after the birth to help clean up.
This whole unique system of home birth and after-care at home is rooted in the belief that birth is seen as a natural process rather than an illness. A woman who has just given birth without complications is healthy and thus needs not to be in the hospital!
PS. No gas and air, pethidine or epidurals are available for a home birth! Dutch women are TOUGH!