When I got pregnant, a lot of things changed inside me. As a midwife, I struggled to be my care provider and to take care of myself, but that was impossible. Now I was the mother who asked for attention. Being an ex-pat in a foreign country, away from my family, and with language barriers, questions and anxiety were growing.
Mostly, this stress started the fact I came from a country where childbirth is a medical event, and the midwife’s role has been taken over by the doctor and by the hospital.
But is all this stress of possible and medicalized birth control in the Netherlands really necessary?
In the Netherlands, the health care system for expectant mothers is different from that of the rest of Europe. In general, pregnancy (zwangerschap) and labor (bevalling) are very different from what we know from other European countries. The maternity system is midwifery-led, supporting the mother, whether she wants to give birth at home (tuisbevalling), in a birth center, or the hospital (ziekenhuisbevalling). In this health system, midwives have a primary role and not the doctor when it comes to healthy pregnancies (and there is no pathology). Between 2005–2008, 29% of babies were delivered at home.
Why choose my midwife to monitor my pregnancy and childbirth?
The midwife is one of the oldest professions. In all ancient civilizations, it appears as the woman who helps another woman to give birth. Nowadays, she has specialized in caring and advising women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. As the most trained, she prepares the expectant mother for her delivery experience. She informs her about the birth process and advises her to have a smooth birth development. In addition to the informative and consulting part she undertakes, she is responsible for providing you with vitamins and other medicines, as well as to take the necessary ultrasounds for the smooth control of your baby’s integrity.
How do I know if all the strange symptoms of pregnancy are typical? Who will show me how I should breathe during childbirth? All of the above makes you questioning, as ex-pat mama, and stress you out. Of course, your midwife (coming from a verloskundigen praktijk) is the one who will teach you how to recognize the signs of labor and what to do as soon as they appear. She will be near you, try to calm you down, and she will empower and support you. She can alleviate your anxiety about unknown birth and the possible dangers, as also she takes care of you and makes you feel more energetic.
What is the difference between personal vs hospital midwife?
The difference between your midwife and a hospital midwife is that the former works more spontaneously depending on your needs having a friendly profile while taking care of you. Unfortunately, bonding with the hospital midwives is not possible. They do not lag in knowledge but stay a few minutes next to you to do the necessary steps and implement the protocol of the hospital. Your midwife encourages you to change positions and postures, to use the delivery ball (peanut ball), to move, thus reducing your delivery time. It is the one that will help you control your body with breathing and relaxation. The presence of your midwife will affect you both psychologically and practically positively in the overall experience of the birth.
Apart from your pregnancy and childbirth, your midwife’s work does not stop there. She visits you the first days of postpartum, with resident visits. In collaboration with the kraamzorg, she will give you instructions about your baby’s care, breastfeeding, and postpartum period based on the guidelines of the W. H. O.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum are a milestone in the life of every woman with the right to access high-quality maternity services that only your midwife can provide.