Where to give birth
If your pregnancy progresses without complications, you may choose to give birth in the hospital, at home or in a birth centre. If there are complications or medical issues during the pregnancy, home birth may be too great of a risk. In that case you will have to give birth in a hospital under the supervision of a gynaecologist.
Hospitals remain the most popular place to give birth in the Netherlands, although as many as 1 in 8 babies are born at home – one of the highest rates of home births in the western world.
Hospital (with or without medical indication)
If you choose to give birth in a hospital, you must attend the one closest to your home unless told otherwise. You must register with a hospital within the first 5 months of your pregnancy. The birth will be attended by your midwife and a hospital nurse. Midwives in the Netherlands prefer the birth to be as natural as possible, therefore the use of drugs to relieve pain during birth is quite rare. If you do insist on accessing drugs, however, then you must discuss it with the hospital prior to delivery. The usage of pain relief will be administered by an anaesthesiologist of the hospital.
If you choose for a hospital birth without medical indication (if you have a low risk pregnancy without any complications), you will be charged a fee. There are additional health insurance plans that cover these costs. If you have a medical indication (if you have any complications or risks during your pregnancy), you will have to give birth in the hospital. This is covered by your health insurance. In this case you will be assisted by a gynaecologist, doctor or clinical midwife.
If you choose a home birth, de verloskundige (midwife) will provide the primary care. The midwife will also help with preparations to ensure the safety and comfort of you and your child. Getting a kraampakket can be a good idea, as it contains all the items you need to prepare for a homebirth. You can purchase it online, at a drugstore or you get it from your health insurance company.
Bear in mind that because the midwife is not a medical professional, the usage of pain relief during home birth is not allowed. Should any complications arise, you will be taken to hospital. The midwife will be assisted by the maternity nurse (kraamverzorgster), who will stay after the birth to take care of the mother and the baby.
Giving birth in a birth centre is done under the supervision of your own midwife. Some birth centres are connected to a hospital, which might be a benefit should an emergency occur. Usually you can go home a few hours after the birth. For giving birth in a birth centre you will be charged a fee, which might be covered by you additional health insurance plan.