Pregnancy and giving birth in the Netherlands

pregnant woman
Updated 2022-08-17 13:08

Perhaps you've settled down in the Netherlands, and you're ready to start your family. Or maybe you're only here temporarily but were already pregnant when you arrived. Whatever the case, you'll be welcoming a bundle of joy in the near future, so you're probably wondering about the process and healthcare system in this new country.

The Netherlands is ranked 6th in the world for the best healthcare systems, so you'll have peace of mind about care for both you and your baby. So what else can you expect? Read on to find out.

Confirming your pregnancy in the Netherlands

To find out if you're pregnant or not, you can go to your local supermarket to purchase a test. You can also go to the pharmacy. Tests cost between €5 to €15, depending on the brand you choose.

These tests may not be entirely accurate, so if you suspect you've had false negatives, you can ask your GP for a blood test.

Appointments in the Netherlands

Most women see a midwife or their GP for checkups during their pregnancies. The first appointment will occur three months into your pregnancy, and the midwife or GP will check for any complications you might come across. They'll also give you information on how to take care of yourself during your pregnancy, such as what you should eat (and avoid eating). After that, you'll see them every four weeks. Then, towards the end of your pregnancy, you'll see them every two weeks.

You'll be asked whether you want a home birth or hospital birth. There's been a recent uptick in home births, so you'll find the doctors quite knowledgeable about home births. They'll be able to direct you to appropriate resources.

Scans and tests in the Netherlands

In other countries, you may be used to getting prenatal testing. However, this isn't very common in the Netherlands. The exception is if the mother is over 36 years old and/or there's a history of congenital defects either in her previous children or family. It's also optional to get a blood test to see what your blood groups are.

Otherwise, Dutch health insurance (which is mandatory) covers just two ultrasounds. You'll get your first ultrasound (termijnecho) at 10 weeks and the second one (20-wekenecho) at 20 weeks. If you want more scans, then you'll have to provide a medical reason.

Note that basic health insurance in the Netherlands won't cover prenatal screening and genetic testing.

Giving birth in the Netherlands

If you want to give birth in a hospital, then you'll have to go to the nearest one to your house. If you want pain relief medications when the time comes, you should ask the hospital before you give birth, as it's not the norm to have these drugs.

Once women deliver their babies, they typically leave the hospital later that day. You'll get a growth book (Het Groeiboek) where you can put medical details (such as vaccinations).

If you decide to have your baby at home, you'll need to alert your midwife when you're in labor. They'll come to assist with their own equipment but can't provide pain relief medications. You'll get a maternity box (kraampakket) from your insurer afterward.

You also have the option of giving birth at specialized birthing houses (kraamzorghotel). You can stay overnight, but you must register up to two months before your due date.

Lastly, you can also give birth at outpatient clinics (poliklinisch), where you'll have access to midwives and doctors. Make sure to register early.

You must register your baby's birth within three days at your municipality. You can then receive a birth certificate.

Vaccinations in the Netherlands

In addition to vitamin K, newborns will also get vaccinations within eight days of birth. Your baby will be vaccinated against diseases like tetanus, measles, polio, and hepatitis B. Vaccinations are free.

Post-natal care in the Netherlands

Your health insurance will entitle you to a maternity nurse (kraamzorg), even if you have a basic package (it might not cover the entire cost). This nurse will come to take care of housekeeping and other household chores every day for anywhere between 24 to 80 hours. Register for this service before your third trimester is over, as this service is very popular.

As for maternity and paternity leave, it starts between four to six weeks before your due date. This is zvangerschapsverlof. You also have bevallingsverlof, which is 10 weeks taken after you've given birth. All 16 weeks are paid time off. Your partner can get one week of paid leave (geboorteverlof), and an additional five weeks off unpaid (aanvullend geboorteverolf).

As of 2 August 2022, parents can take nine weeks of leave in the first year of their baby's life and receive 70% of their salary. Some employers are even offering 100% paid leave. This gives parents a total of 26 weeks of parental leave.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.