Discuss pain relief options
There is a strong trend towards home births and natural childbirth in the Netherlands and therefore epidural use is low. But if you want it, pain relief is available. It is essential you discuss your needs and state your preference with your doctor and/or midwife from the outset to ensure your chances of having some when you need it most.
Considering pain medication for home births, for example, note that midwives are restricted to over-the-counter anaesthetics.
Help at home
As well as registering your child during the first week, or even hours, after birth new mothers will be given a kraamverzorger or maternity nurse. You should register for one before your fourth month of pregnancy.
It is a service unique to the Netherlands where a medical professional will come to your home and assist you in providing care for your newborn. A good portion, if not all costs, will also be covered by your health insurance.
Pampered parent, who me? It’s not unheard of that the kraamverzorger will spend a week doing your groceries for you, help prepare your meals, and even collect your other kids from school. Some nurses may even find time to prepare the traditional Dutch biscuit, beschuit met muisjes, for visiting family members or friends. Pink and blue sprinkles come as standard.
Maternity leave is regulated in the Netherlands. You are entitled to 16 weeks paid maternity leave, starting 4-6 weeks before your due date (you must stop working a minimum of four weeks in advance). This extends to 10 weeks after the birth, dependent to a certain degree on the child being born on time. Your partner has the right to five days paternity leave. Parental leave is also regulated. Both you and your partner may take unpaid parental leave.
As well as being the designated centre of vaccinations for travel, the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD) also provides free immunisations for children against a variety of diseases. Learn more about GGD services, or see the below pdfs for specific information about vaccines for children. Please note: due to an increase in cases of whooping cough in recent years, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM, is currently looking into including a whooping cough vaccination in standard antenatal care. Babies can only be vaccinated once they are six weeks old, leaving them vulnerable to the disease before. If the mother is being vaccinated in the third trimester, i.e. between 28 and 32 weeks of the pregnancy, the antibodies she produces will pass on to the unborn baby, protect it against the disease in the first months of its life. Until the antenatal vaccination scheme is implemented nationally, pregnant women can still choose to be vaccinated against whooping cough, but it won’t be included in the standard antenatal coverage.
Healthcare for children 0-4 years
The cities of Amsterdam and Amstelveen have published advice in English about the services local health agencies provide for children during their first four years of life. These brochures also include addresses and contacts for local clinics. Download the Amsterdam PDF | Download the Amstelveen PDF.
- Parenting in Holland is an independent guide to pregnancy and birth in Holland.
- Access is useful for information on your childbirth needs in English.
- KiesBeter provides a complete list of hospitals and medical centres in the Netherlands.
- Nomad Parents is a useful resource site featuring a daycare & playgroup finder and stories & reviews by expat parents.
- Amsterdam Mamas is a community group that shares advice on parenting and life in the city.
For a full list of the Expatcenter’s partners, including childcare providers, or for more information on the Partnership Programme, please click here.