The Dutch way: homebirth and at-home maternity care!

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!

KraamzorgAfter 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!

xxx Esther

PS. No gas and air, pethidine or epidurals are available for a home birth! Dutch women are TOUGH!

6 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Michela | March 18, 2008 | Reply

Even after yoga, chanting and loads of books I have to say that home birth still looks scary to me!

2. Krees | March 18, 2008 | Reply

The kraamzorg service is such a godsend, especially for those of us whose mothers don’t live in the same country and aren’t there right after the baby’s born! It was helpful to have someone to help and give advice on breastfeeding, bathing and diapering. It was also great to have someone who could do some laundry and dishes and turn away visiting neighbors at inconvenient times so that we could get just a few more minutes of a nap. Maybe most important, having the kraamverzorgster there instead of my mother or mother-in-law meant that my husband and I could start to establish our own routine and ways of doing things with the baby instead of having our moms tell us what was best.

3. Courtney | March 18, 2008 | Reply

Again, I must be (half) Dutch because I LOVE the idea of a homebirth. It just sounds so nice to be in the comfort of your own home. It just sounds so lovely and natural.
I tried with both my babies to have them at home, but sadly I never did.
Third time’s a charm, right?

4. Olia | March 19, 2008 | Reply

“The kraamzorg service” Surely it cannot be true!!!!
It sounds wonderful.
And why did I have my daughter in London all alone without anybody around but from a screaming baby and a lot of sleepless nights? Midwife came to the house a few times only to bully me into breastfeeding my baby.

5. justyn | March 20, 2008 | Reply

I have had four hospital births at four different hospitals in two different cities. The first three were uncomplicated and completely unmedicated and the fourth was two weeks late, induced and included an epidural – The experiences were so wildly different and the recoveries so wildly different that I can not imagine purposefully choosing the IV, and longer recovering route (for me). The idea of giving birth at home and having help for over a week sounds like a dream……

Of course something about the breakfasts you ahev described would likely help with recovery ;)

6. Samantha | March 20, 2008 | Reply

I am having my first baby at the end of May, beginning of June, and I am planning a home birth. I am sooo excited about it, and am totally comfortable with my decision. I will have the support of my husband, mother, two best friends and my wonderful midwife. Could there be any better way to celebrate this new life, than by bringing it into the world surrounded by the people whole love me the most, and will be a major part of my child’s life? I can’t think of one.

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