Finding a midwife or doula
The decision to have a baby is a big one and the first of many. The next one is to find a skilled midwife. Ask around for references - people who have had a positive experience. Your doctor, friends, and family are good sources to start with. Alternatively, browse your local midwife list on The Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives site (Koninklijke Nederlandse Organisatie van Verloskundigen). It is best to register with your midwife before week six and up to week ten.
On choosing a midwife, expat Nicola Trigg commented: "My midwife was a recommendation through a friend. And she didn't fail me. At my practice, I got to meet all the midwives, five in all, during the pregnancy. So every time I had an appointment I would be seen by someone different. By the time it came to delivery, I knew them all and they knew me really well which was a major advantage because I could check which one was working the day I gave birth."
A doula refers to an experienced and trained professional who provides emotional and physical support to expectant parents during the pregnancy and childbirth process. Recommendations are always a good source, if, for example, language is a consideration, as is the national directory.
Not just for the earth-mother types, in the Netherlands home births are fairly common with nearly one third of women taking the 'natural' route. Your midwife will attend during the labour and delivery. She will also help with preparations to ensure the safety and comfort of you and your child. In the event of complications, she will assist you or recommend you see a doctor. In Amsterdam, you are just a short distance from one of eight hospitals.
If you have a health insurance policy that covers additional care, you are entitled to receive a kraampakket – a home birth hamper bulging with all the necessary essentials for delivery. There will be bits and bobs you never knew you needed in such quantities.
Home deliveries will also require metal bed raisers or klossen to help raise the bed to health and safety standards.
If you opt for a hospital delivery you must register with a hospital within the first few months of your pregnancy. If you have a preference for a particular hospital, it is recommended to register early. Your doctor (huisarts) will be able to advise you in your decision.
During the birthing process, your midwife or gynaecologist will be on hand to assist you. A hospital stay will vary from 24 hours to 10 days, depending on possible interventions during birth and/or necessary post-natal care. In the case of a Caesarean section, you will need to stay in hospital a few days longer. If the birth is problem-free, you can return home quite quickly - a stay of less than 24 hours is considered outpatient (poliklinisch).
Tip: contact your insurance provider to check what you are covered for in case of any unforeseen medical treatments.
Home suite hospital
If you prefer a private room in a hospital to your standard hospital or home birth, Sint Lucas Andreas is your only option in Amsterdam. Easily accessible by tram from Centraal Station, the hospital boasts three large hotel-type suites - one of which comes with a birthing pool. It is expensive and not all insurance companies will cover it, so it is advised you check with your provider before making arrangements.