In the Netherlands, when you are pregnant, you will regularly visit either a midwife or a GP who practices obstetrics. However, if you happen to be in need of specialist care during your pregnancy, you will be referred to an obstetrician at a nearby hospital.
Dutch prenatal care
It’s important that you make an appointment with a midwife or an obstetrician as soon as you know you are expecting. Your midwife will inform your GP about your pregnancy. During your first visit, the following subjects will be discussed:
- Due date
- Previous pregnancies
- Your health and that of your partner
- Your family’s health
- Your personal situation, including your work
Besides discussing the aforementioned topics, your visit will also include a physical exam. Your blood pressure will be measured, as well as the size of your uterus. Generally, you will meet with your midwife or obstetrician once every four weeks in the first half of your pregnancy. Nearing your due date, this increases to weekly appointments.
Of course, this also depends on your personal situation. For instance, women who are expecting multiples will have to go for a check-up more often.
Dutch ultrasound exams (or sonogram / echo exam)
In the Netherlands, health insurance companies usually only reimburse two ultrasounds. You will receive your first ultrasound exam around the tenth week of your pregnancy (also called the termijnecho). The second one will take place around the 20-week mark (aptly called the 20-wekenecho). However, if it’s deemed medically necessary, your midwife may decide you need additional ultrasounds, such as the groeiecho (30 weeks) or the liggingsecho (36 weeks).
Besides the medical ultrasounds, many women in the Netherlands also opt to have a pretecho (fun echo). The pretecho is usually a 3D ultrasound, so you can see the baby clearly.
Your midwife or obstetrician will ask you if you are interested in having a blood test done. This test is entirely optional. The results of this test will tell your doctor your blood group, your Rhesus D- and Rhesus C-blood group, whether your body contains antibodies to foreign blood groups and whether you have been exposed to STDs, such as syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV.
Screening for congenital conditions
In the Netherlands, it is possible to get a prenatal screening for Down’s syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards’ syndrome (trisomy 18) and Patau’s syndrome (trisomy 13). This particular screening is usually carried out during the early stages of pregnancy.
Many birth centres and midwife practices in the Netherlands offer pre- and postnatal pregnancy classes, such as childbirth preparation classes, breastfeeding classes, hypnobirthing classes, pregnancy yoga classes and more. Ask your midwife or obstetrician for more information if you are interested in taking such a class.
Have you decided where you would like to give birth yet? Find out more about what your options are concerning delivering a baby in the Netherlands. Also, don't forget to read up on kraamzorg, a unique form of postnatal care in the Netherlands.