Prenatal care is usually carried out by a verloskundige (midwife) in the Netherlands. You can either get a referral from your GP of contact a midwife directly. Only if there are complications in the pregnancy you will be referred to a gynaecologist or obstetrician by your GP or midwife.
A midwife is an independent practitioner and is allowed to practice obstetrics without the supervision of a medical doctor. The midwife will give you regular check-ups and will monitor your and your baby’s health, discuss delivery plans, and assist during childbirth. You will be able to choose your midwife yourself, so make sure you have considered all of your options to find a midwife:
- Choose one of the local midwives on your GP’s list from your GP
- Find a midwife by speaking with your friends or colleagues;
- Find a midwife near you through the website of The Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives (KNOV). Simply enter your home town (Voer uw woonplaats in).
Appointments with your midwife will be scheduled at regular intervals throughout the pregnancy, starting at every 4 weeks and then every 2 weeks as you near the due date. Your first appointment with the midwife usually takes place 3 months into the pregnancy and consists of an initial screening to identify any potential complications. At this point you are asked whether you prefer a home or hospital birth. Be sure to check with your insurance provider prior to selecting the home birth option, as it may in some cases involve an additional cost to your premium.
If any complications occur during the pregnancy, the midwife will refer you to a specialist who will take over responsibility. In case of a low-risk pregnancy you will be offered 2 standard ultrasound scans (between week 10-12, and in week 20). The midwife might decide to do additional tests if there is a medical indication. It is possible to get chromosome abnormality tests, which you can discuss with your midwife.
For extra support you might consider a doula to counsel you and your family before and during the pregnancy. A doula is not a medical professional, but provides emotional support, physical comfort, and informational resources, during and after childbirth for a woman and her partner.
Prenatal courses are organised to educate expectant women and their partners in the preparation for labour, offering you tools to manage your labour pain, optimal positions for birth, tips for recovery after birth and how to be a new mother. They usually last between 4 to 8 weeks and are often followed by a postnatal reunion. If you want to join a prenatal course, it is advised to to register by week 16, as the classes can often fill up very quickly. In larger Dutch cities, you can find prenatal courses offered especially for internationals. In The Hague, our partner ACCESS offers prenatal courses especially for the international community.