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Health matters

Pregnancy and Childbirth

As soon as you think you are pregnant, visit your family doctor who will outline all the services provided in the Netherlands. Your doctor can also give you information on genetic testing if you feel you need advice.

Midwives  (verloskundige), who will support you throughout your pregnancy and during delivery, usually provide prenatal care. Screenings, such as ultrasounds, are done in specialist centers. If you are part of a high-risk group, you may have extra tests.

In addition to seeing your family doctor, it is advisable to register yourself with a maternity care (kraamzorg) agency, preferably before the 12th week of pregnancy. Your midwife can direct you to organizations they partner with and your health insurance provider must be contacted to ensure your chosen maternity care agency is approved by them.

Home delivery by midwives is traditional and accounts for more than half of all births in the Netherlands. However, there are several options. Whichever one you choose, you must book early. Make sure that you have also checked with your insurance company about the extent of their coverage.

The three most common choices are:

  • midwife care with a hospital birth (poliklinische bevalling)
  • midwife care with a home birth (thuisbevalling)
  • hospital care with an obstetrician or gynecologist (gynaecoloog)

When making your choice, however, it is important to discuss pain relief with the midwife or gynecologist prior to giving birth. Medical pain relief during birth is not normally used in the Netherlands, although many practitioners are sympathetic towards non-Dutch women’s expectations.

After delivery in the hospital, you are normally sent home relatively quickly. Depending on your health insurance, you may be entitled to home nursing (kraamzorg), which provides you with some help with looking after your baby and household chores. There are various agencies that do this.

Baby health clinics (Consultatiebureau voor Baby) provide children’s health care up until the school age of four. In these clinics, specially trained doctors who provide immunizations and other pediatric care check every newborn baby and young child regularly. For more specific problems, the child will be referred to a specialist.