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Lifestyle

8 Key Facts About Giving Birth in the Netherlands

The Dutch are renowned for their grounded demeanor, and this extends to their approach to childbirth. Pregnancy in the Netherlands revolves around one central theme: naturalness (along with enjoying beschuit met muisjes).

So, we’ve sifted through 24Baby and put together this guide of essential information to have under your belt before that pivotal moment arrives.

Maternity Leave is Quite Generous

Regardless of whether you’re employed or self-employed, you’re entitled to a total of 16 weeks of maternity leave (zwangerschapsverlof). This breaks down to six weeks before your due date and an additional 10 after giving birth. You have the flexibility to choose when to commence your leave, but remember to inform your employer at least two weeks in advance.

Paternity Leave is a Reality

In the Netherlands, paternity leave (also referred to as partner leave or geboorteverlof) is relatively brief. You’re granted five weeks of paternity leave (vaderschapsverlof), during which you receive 70% of your regular pay unless your employer opts to supplement your full salary.

Midwives are Standard Practice

The Dutch medical system tends to lean towards a laid-back approach. Consequently, doctors prefer to minimize medical interventions during childbirth. Midwives play a central role in the process, with doctors or gynecologists typically maintaining a minimal presence.

Home Births are Prevalent

Home births (thuisbevalling) are widely accepted in the Netherlands, constituting 30% of all births. Many Dutch women find the personal and relaxed atmosphere of home births preferable to the clinical setting of a hospital. If opting for a home birth, ensure you have a kraampakket (maternity package) containing essential supplies. However, if the idea of a home birth unsettles you, communicate your preference for a hospital birth to your midwife.

Embracing the Pain

Dutch women are renowned for their straightforward mindset, extending this philosophy to childbirth. Many perceive pain relief during labor as unnecessary, a sentiment reinforced by Dutch hospitals.

Kraamzorg : A Dutch Innovation

Following labor, you’ll typically leave the hospital within hours. However, there’s no cause for concern, as the Netherlands boasts an exceptional postnatal care system known as kraamzorg. A kraamzorg, or maternity care assistant, provides invaluable support for at least a week after childbirth, offering assistance with breastfeeding and newborn care, a service unique to the Netherlands.

Indulge in Beschuit met Muisjes

No Dutch birthing experience is complete without partaking in beschuit met muisjes (rusk with “mice”) after the baby’s arrival. Anise-flavored muisjes are believed to aid lactation and symbolize fertility, making them a customary treat shared with visitors, colleagues, and even the siblings’ classmates.

The Stork Tradition

You might notice peculiar house decorations resembling the backside of a stork adorning doors or windows. These are not avant-garde decorations but rather a traditional way to announce the arrival of a newborn (courtesy of the stork, of course), signaling the joyous event to neighbors.

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