Your GP in Groningen
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Pregnancy and Childbirth
If you think you may be pregnant, schedule an appointment with your family doctor to go over the relevant services provided in the Netherlands.
Your doctor can also give you information on genetic testing. You can buy pregnancy tests at drug stores (apotheken) to find out at home if you may be pregnant.
Once you confirm your pregnancy, you will need to contact a verloskundige (obstetrician or midwife), who will support you throughout your pregnancy and during delivery.
It is recommended to find an obstetrician’s office close to your home for ease of travel and quick access throughout your pregnancy.
Screenings, such as ultrasounds, are usually done at the obstetrician’s office (verloskundigenpraktijk). If you are part of a high-risk group, your verloskundige may advise you to have extra tests.
You will also need to register yourself with a maternity care (kraamzorg) agency, preferably before the 12th week of pregnancy. Kraamzorg, which is unique to the Netherlands, provides you with some in-home help with looking after your baby and household chores for several days after giving birth.
Your verloskundige can direct you to organizations they partner with, and you will need to contact your health insurance provider to ensure that they cover your preferred maternity care agency.
The three most common choices for childbirth are:
- midwife care with a hospital birth (poliklinische bevalling)
- midwife care with a home birth (thuisbevalling)
- hospital care with an obstetrician or gynecologist (gynaecoloog)
Home delivery by midwives is fairly common in the Netherlands, although it has been in decline in recent years, and accounts for around 15 percent of births. Whatever your birth plan is, we recommend making arrangements early, and checking with your insurance company about the extent of their coverage
When making your choice, it is important to discuss pain relief options with the midwife or gynecologist before giving birth. For example, pain relief options are different for a home birth than in hospital (specifically no epidurals).
Medical pain relief during birth is not standard in the Netherlands, but you can receive an epidural or other form or pain relief upon request (if you are not too far along in labour), so feel free to ask for it if that is what you would prefer.
Cesarean sections are also less common in the Netherlands and are not typically a procedure you can request, but may be deemed necessary if you or your child’s health is considered at risk in any way.
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). There are various agencies that do this. You will also have home visits from your midwife/OB and the local health authorities to check up on you and do a heel prick for your baby to test for congenital disorders.
Baby health clinics (consultatiebureaus) provide children’s health care up until the school age of four. You will be invited to come for appointments at your nearest clinic. In these clinics, specially trained doctors provide immunizations, other pediatric care, and regularly check every newborn baby and young child. Your child may be referred to a specialist if the health clinic staff think it is necessary.
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Your GP in Groningen