The Birth of a Baby in the Netherlands

Find out what your options are when the time comes for the birth of the baby...

The country strongly favours home births, natural childbirth and the use of a midwife. Anyone wishing to have pain medication, pills, epidural or a possible caesarean section, should state this firmly at the outset and have it included, in writing, in their folder (so that the person doing the delivery knows). It is unusual to expect pain medication and most Dutch women have unmedicated births.

Many low-risk women give birth at home, attended by a midwife (about 30 percent of births).

Giving birth at home

Once called, the midwife arrives to check on the mother. This is generally when the nurse/helper also arrives who, together with the midwife, attends the birth. They provide help through the labour and take care of minor medical issues; if necessary the pregnant woman is taken to hospital. The midwife and helper do not routinely care for other children in the house; this is handled by the mother's partner or by a friend or doula. However there are no rules forbidding children from attending the birth.

Giving birth in a hospital

A woman may choose the hospital where she wants to give birth, although most elect to go to their nearest hospital, or one where their chosen midwife or gynaecologist works.

The midwife is met at the hospital and, if there are no complications, an obstetrician will not attend.

Women usually return home within 24 hours of delivery and may be free to leave from as little as an hour after the birth. If there are complications, an obstetrician and a paediatrician will provide assistance and pain medication or an intervention.

A woman may have her partner - or any person of her choice - attend the birth.