CONGRATULATIONS!!! You’re pregnant, but now what?
In lots of countries, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, the first place you go is your GP. It’s like an acknowledgement of the fact you pee’d on a stick, and got a positive result. Then most likely you would be referred to your local hospital and the rest of your pregnancy would be followed there. However, here in The Netherlands, that’s not necessary. The system is quite different, and if you like a more holistic, hands off approach in general, then it's really a breath of fresh air.
So who should you tell first…? Your partner? Your parents? GP? Well, you’re welcome to tell all of them, but actually, once the news has sunk in, your first port of call is to find yourself a midwife that you feel comfortable with, and is aligned to your beliefs and thinking. They don’t necessarily need to be on your doorstep, but maybe that’s factor you take into consideration when selecting your midwife practice.
Once you’ve made that first decision, the next thing to arrange is a Kraamzorg. A kraamzorg is a maternity nurse that will take care of you and your baby, the first week, and maybe a little more after you’ve given birth. They will also assist a midwife, at a homebirth. They are your guiding Angels, helping you through the first week as newborn parents. They will keep check on you both and share new parent tips and tricks along the way. They may work for an agency, or can be independent. They all have different approaches, and you may be lucky enough to find one that speaks your mother tongue. If you’re looking for something specific, you may find those unicorns get booked up quickly.
Statutory maternity care in the Netherlands is relatively short in comparison to other countries in Europe and across the world, which means many mothers choose to return to work after 3 or 4 months postpartum. Like most expats, we don’t have our parental support network on hand, so lots of parents choose put their babies into daycare early on. Daycare in NL, and especially in Amsterdam, have long waiting lists. So, if you think you will return to work soon after birth, try to make checking out daycares a priority in your first trimester, if you want a real say in where your child goes.
In birth, we have a saying “ knowledge is power, and if you don’t know your options, you have no options!” So following a childbirth prep course, I believe is an essential start to empowering yourself and your birth partner on the birth process. I myself teach HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method, which teaches you how to have a calm, confident birth, using self-hypnosis to manage the discomfort you experience in labour. We use visualisations, affirmations and breathing techniques to help get you through it. You will also learn about the physiology of birth, the stages of labour, what to expect and when, and how to navigate the Dutch maternity system. It's a method that's not just for one kind of birth, but all kinds of birth. So you can have no drugs, all the drugs, water birth, caesarean birth, etc. The main thing is that you're informed, knowing that you have options, and choices available to you. My next course starts on Sunday 11thApril at 10am.
Lastly hire a doula! Something I didn't do with my daughter. I didn't know what one was, and that I even needed one until after she was born. To this day, I truly believe, my own experience would've been different for both my husband and I, had we had one. Doulas provide new parents-to-be continuity of care. We provide you with emotional, physical and spiritual support that only doula can give. A doula will be by your side throughout your labour. She will be with you whenever you feel you need her, all the way until a few hours after the birth, no matter how long your labour is. A doula really helps you to navigate the system, helping you to feel calm and confident in your ability to birth, making you aware of the options and choices available along the way and supporting and guiding you with whatever you need. And you don’t need to look far for one either. I still have availability during the summer months, so get in touch to chat.