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Dutch prenatal care

I am pregnant and will be giving birth in the Netherlands. What practical preparations do I need to make?

Can you please tell me what services I can expect from a midwife?

In the Netherlands, maternity care is organised in a so-called ‘primary, secondary and tertiary care model’. Primary care, for low-risk women, is usually performed by verloskundigen (midwives) and huisarten (GPs). GPs are responsible for only about 0.5% of all births. Secondary care consists of gynaecologists in hospitals.

Midwives in the Netherlands are the lead medical professionals for providing care to women with ‘normal’ or uncomplicated pregnancies. They are independent practitioners (like GPs) who can work independently in a private midwifery practice or as part of a group.

After registering with a midwife, you will initially receive a check-up once a month. As the pregnancy progresses, the midwife will want to see you more frequently. In case of complications or an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, labour or in the postpartum period, the midwife will refer her client to a gynaecologist who will take over responsibility.

As an independent practitioner, a midwife can legally practice obstetrics without the supervision of a medical doctor. He/she is the sole healthcare provider during pregnancy, labour, delivery and the initial postpartum (postnatal) period. In short, he/she will help ensure that you and your baby are safe during pregnancy and through to delivery. Among other things, you can expect a midwife to:

  • Record you and your partner’s medical history, as well as that of your extended family
  • Monitor your weight and blood pressure, the foetal growth, position and heart beat
  • Check your blood iron levels
  • Discuss your plans about delivery, i.e. whether you plan to give birth at home or in an outpatient clinic (hospital or birth centre)
  • Assist you during labour, delivery and the initial post-partum period

Please note that you do not need a referral from your GP. You will find midwives listed in the Yellow Pages (in Dutch only).  Search for “verloskundigenpraktijk” and choose your city of residence. Alternatively, you can talk to your huisarts (GP) – he/she will be able to help you finding one in your local area.

It is reassuring to know that you can always change your midwife during your pregnancy if it does not click, or you feel that your birth plan cannot be carried out as you want.

If there are medical reasons for it, the midwife will refer you to the gynaecologist who will supervise all phases of care and the delivery will take place in a hospital.

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