Planning pregnancy in a new country could be challenging because you are away from family and friends who have lots of experience in how things work. Here you have to manage and plan everything on your own so it’s always better to avoid surprises and be prepared. I have decided to share my journey to help my readers, to foresee and plan better. I have divided this process into 3 parts which are prenatal care, childbirth, and postnatal maternity care.
First of all, I really want to complement the Dutch medical system. At times they might sound rude but they are actually right. When we are in any situation we tend to panic and ask them for medicines etc. but they know when to take action and when not. We need to trust them and keep ourselves calm. They often say “Having a baby is not a disease” which sounds strange but right. Therefore according to me and my experiences, It’s safe to give birth in The Netherlands.
Let’s talk about planning pregnancy and prenatal care in this post and the rest of the topics I will cover in my next posts.
First thing first- If you are planning your delivery in The Netherlands, understand the following terms:
During this phase your GP is not your only doctor, you will be meeting 3 more Services:
- Midwives/ Gynaecologist: Midwives are professional care taker of expecting mothers. They are responsible to take care of your tests, scans and everything related to delivery, and also postnatal recovery.
- Kraamzorg: Postnatal care for new mom and her baby for 8 to 10 days. Read more about Kraamzorg
- Consultatiebureau: They provide basic health care including health checkups and vaccinations for all children from 0 to 4 years.
Planning Pregnancy in the Netherlands:
When you know you are ready to have a child, You can take the following steps:
- General checkup: Meet your GP and get your full-body check-up if required. I opted for a Vitamin D test for a healthy pregnancy.
- Insurance: Normally health insurance in the Netherlands covers most of the maternity costs. But usually, they don’t cover hospital childbirth and physiotherapy after delivery. Do check with your insurance by making a simple phone call. If not you can change your insurance plan in December.
- Search Midwives: Midwives (verloskundigen) in the Netherlands are the lead medical professionals for providing care to women with ‘normal’ or uncomplicated pregnancies. They are independent practitioners (like GPs) who can work independently in a private midwifery practice or as part of a group. You can search for English speaking reputed midwives close to your home. To know more about midwives and how to find them click here
Pregnancy test in The Netherlands:
If your period is late and you think maybe you are pregnant, you can buy a urine test at the supermarket, chemist, or pharmacy. Tests cost between €5 and €12 and various brands are available.
If you have a negative test but think you might be pregnant, repeat the test one week after your missed period or talk to your GP about a confirmatory blood test.
Time to meet your Midwives
Usually, when it’s positive in your pregnancy tester doctors consider it a pregnancy and it’s time to take the first appointment with the midwives. A normal pregnancy is full of ultrasounds, tests, and check-ups. Let’s discuss them in details:
Prepare to meet your midwife:
- The first visit will get scheduled in the 8th week of pregnancy.
- Both parents must attend this meeting.
- Prepare a list of questions and concerns to get professional advice from your midwives.
What to expect in the first meeting with midwives:
- The practitioner will note down yours and your partner’s medical histories, as well as that of your respective families.
- They will also, give you a medical check-up: Your weight and blood pressure will be taken. Also, blood iron levels will be checked.
- First ultrasound, to check fetal growth, position, and heartbeat of the child. In most of the cases, this ultrasound is vaginal ultrasound so be prepared mentally. After this scan midwives can predict the tentative delivery date.
- They will also discuss whether you plan to have a home birth or hospital birth.
- Be open and discuss all your concerns and worries related to pregnancy.
- You can also talk about your diet plans and exercise schedule. If you want to take prenatal classes.
- First Scan 8 weeks: This is the time when you will see your child for the first time in the ultrasound and be prepared this might be a vaginal ultrasound. After this scan midwives can predict the tentative delivery date.
- Second Scan 12 weeks: This scan was done to check the growth of the baby.
- Third Scan 17 weeks: Here in The Netherlands it’s legal to check the gender of baby, therefore this scan was to check the baby’s gender. We asked the midwife to write that on paper, I wanted to see the gender of my baby as a big surprise.
- Forth Scan 20 Weeks: This scan is considered to be a big scan in which they check the complete growth of child and pregnancy.
- 3D Scan 23 weeks: It’s possible to have a 3D scan and video of ultrasound but again we had to pay extra which was around €100 (approx.). We opted to have this scan and I was very happy with the results.
In rest of the checkups, they will only listen to the heartbeat of the baby. Remember if baby movements are less than normal, you need to call your midwife for check-up. Never hesitate to call your midwives for anything urgent or not.
As a pregnant woman living in the Netherlands, you have the option of having your child tested before birth. In this way, you can opt for tests that screen for Down’s, Edwards’ or Down Syndrome and Patau’s syndromes. It is worth noting that not all pregnant women opt for screening tests, but all will be offered them. If you decide to have your child tested for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, you can choose to have
- A combined test: a blood test between the ninth and fourteenth week and an ultrasound scan between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy. OR
- The NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing): a blood test that can be performed in the eleventh week of pregnancy or later.
Parents who are expecting a child can have their unborn baby tested for spina bifida or other genetic disorders. The ultrasound is performed between the 18th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy.
The cost of these tests are not covered in insurance, you will have to pay on your own and these test costs around €100 (approx.) Here you can find more information https://www.rivm.nl/informatie-over-screening-op-down-edwards-en-patausyndroom-incl-vertalingen
Look After Yourself
It is very important that you feel at ease, well looked after, and able to communicate your needs to your practitioner. You need to avoid stress as much as you possibly can when pregnant. So, if you are uncomfortable or dissatisfied with the service you are receiving in any way, move on to a new practitioner. There will be other midwives, gynecologists and doctors out there. For any questions and worries, you can call you midwives and GP and ask for help.
Most Important Things to Do/ Plan during preganacy:
- Insurance: Make sure you know what your health insurance covers for you
- Birth Preference: Decide what you want, home-birth or hospital birth. Discuss your wishes in detail if you want water-birth or epidural or absolutely normal delivery.
- Kraamzorg: Register yourself with a kraamzorg. Read everything about Kraamzorg in my next post.
- Shopping list: Arrange all things required to welcome baby, click this link to find the list of all items.
In my next post I will be discussing everything I purchased to welcome my baby in Netherlands.
* Everything I have shared above is based on my opinion and personal experience. My only intention is to help new moms and generate awareness, these are no where any professional guides.
If you have any questions or feedback please feel to comment in comment section below.