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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 06:51 AM   1
Coco Tutu
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Help! Birth in the Netherlands?


Hi ladies! I am posting here even though I belong to the second trimester, because I thought I might get more help here.
So, here is the story, I am a Greek expat in the Netherlands and pregnant with my first child. I am also a writer and I wrote an article on Dutch Review, talking about my experience so far. I am happy with it and that is what I wrote, while mentioning the situation in Greece and the high maternal mortality rate in the Netherlands. Once I shared the article on facebook I got TONS of private and public messages, telling me that I am sponsored by the Dutch medical industry, that this article is irresponsible, because the Dutch health care systems sucks and I should not encourage people to give birth in the Netherlands (I didn't!) and so forth. A lady even told me that she has 13 expat friends and they ALL have traumatic experiences from birth in the Netherlands.
I was also told that in the Netherlands women do not get routine checkups (like the pap test), which I did find scary.
My midwife is a British expat, but she has Dutch colleagues that I have met as while and liked them.

Could you please share with me your experience with giving birth/prenatal care in the Netherlands? Surely, I want to hear all stories, but positive once would help even more, as I am really scared now and I feel naive for believing that things are better here than in Greece.



 
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 07:24 AM   2
Erised
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Afraid you won't like my responds.
All I can advice you is that you make sure you stand by what YOU want, and don't assume they know best (like I did). If at all possible, avoid the hospital and have a home birth. Be informed in your rights and choices, and find a midwife that is willing to be there to support you, not to deliver you.

I'm Dutch, but have been living in the UK for the last 10 years basically (DH is British). We're not keen on the NHS and with Holland having the EU's best health care (well, in 2009 or 2010 it was voted so anyway) we decided to head back to Holland for our birth.

My midwife appointments and pregnancy were brilliant, couldn't fault anyone there. I was looked after properly, every scan was very detailed and they made sure they got all the information required.

Labour is a different story.
We were staying at my parents house at the time, as we were only there for a few months. I found no support in the midwives during my first 2 days ish of labour, they would come over for a quick visit only to do a dilation check and that would be it. No advice, words of encouragement or anything. In those 2 days I went from 2cm dilated to 6cm dilated, and could handle the pain absolutely fine.

It was at this point I changed my mind from wanting a hospital birth to wanting a home birth, but was told in no uncertain terms that it wasn't happening as they didn't have enough room. Fair enough I guess, but it was a bit of a downer.

I had a midwife come over at 9pm, and she told me there would be a different midwife coming at 11pm to asses me again and see how I was doing. New midwife came and even though she hadn't seen me before she decided within minutes that I was at 'failure to progress' and had to go to the hospital straight away to be jabbed up with medicine to make my contractions stronger and get things sped along... mind you, at this point my waters had only JUST broken. Seriously, less than an hour.

Once in hospital I never saw any midwives again. I was not asked for any birth preferences or anything, just hooked up to everything under the sun (IVs, cathether, heartbeat monitors etc) and expected to lay on my back and not do anything. I had a heart rate monitor for baby around my stomach, but it kept losing trace so they ended up screwing a monitor into her head (without asking for permission or even mentioning any of it I may add)... we found out later that the reason it kept losing trace was because they never even hooked the 2 'belts' together around my back, so there was no pressure holding it on and it was just laying lose on my stomach.

Pain relief wise, I was offered an epidural or 1 other type of pain relief which they told me wouldn't actually take the pain off, it would just make me realise it was there less (basically just drug me to get me high kind of thing). If I chose the meds to 'take the edge off' I wouldn't be allowed an epidural later on. I voted for the epidural, as I kept being told I was failing to progress and they basically made it sound like I'd be there for days yet. I never got the epidural though, as there was no-one in hospital to do it and they hadn't actually contacted anyone to come in just expected me to wait it out for the next 9 hours until someone would start their shift.

Eventually I got to 10 cm dilated at around 4am. During pushing baby's heart rate would drop a little so they panicked and did an episiotomy during a contraction, then did what should never be done and had the nurse push on my stomach to push the baby down (high risk of uterus rupture, and I've since been told it's basically a banned practice in most places) while the doctor put her hand inside me to pull baby down.

My daughter was born after about 10 minutes of pushing and with a heck of a lot more intervention than was needed.

My aftercare was horrendous.
I was left requiring a fair amount of stitches, both internal and external, which the doctor did while she was in the middle of a sneezing fit. Hygienic and all.

The nurse afterwards commented on my stretchmarks, it was rather insulting and something along the lines of me looking like a zebra... not what you want to hear right after giving birth.

I was not checked while in hospital, and the nurse was adamant I got up and took a shower. I didn't want one as I felt terrible, but listened to her anyway... big mistake. I got to the bathroom (shared ward and bathroom) when the whole world started spinning and sounded like a swimming pool. I scared the living daylight out of everyone on the ward with how awful I looked trying to get back to the bed, making it just in time before fainting.

We were allowed home by noon, I remained pale and unable to stand up for more than a few minutes at a time for weeks due to the amount of blood loss I suffered. Not once was my iron checked.

The next few days the midwives would come over to my house to make sure I didn't have an infection, the stitches were healing up well (and to remove them as they weren't the type that dissolves after time) and that my uterus was shrinking down nicely. After that I was dismissed and never offered a 6 week check up, PAP or anything else.

Truthfully, it was horrendous and the reason why we stayed in the UK and had a home birth rather than hospital birth the second time around. I followed the exact same pattern with my 2nd btw, 2 days of labour, stuck at 6cm for a full day then suddenly getting to 10cm in less than an hour and pushing for less than 10 minutes. No pain relief required at all and it was amazing =)



 
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 07:32 AM   3
Itsychik
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Wow, I'm really shocked by the responses you got!

I am an American expat who has been living in the Netherlands for 7 years. My DH is Dutch and we are expecting our second child (the first was also born in the Netherlands).

Maybe it's because I have mostly Dutch friends that I don't hear any of the negativity that you're getting, but my first pregnancy/birth experience was not traumatizing at all. I had a great set of midwives (there were 2 in the practice I belong to, now there are 3). I felt confident and cared for throughout my pregnancy, and when they suspected I might have complications (i.e. a HUGE baby) I was transferred to the OBGYN care at the hospital for closer monitoring. I felt respected and well treated by all of the professionals who monitored me throughout my pregnancy.

You're welcome to read my birth story (link is in my signature) but I was induced in the hospital after my waters went and labour didn't start. At the hospital they were very accommodating and even though I eventually ended up having an emergency c-section (fetal distress), the doctor was patient and explained everything to me and I didn't feel pressured into anything. Despite not getting the birth I wanted I was quite satisfied with the entire process.

We're expecting #2 in 4 weeks and I've also had a great experience so far. Due to my previous c-section I am 'automatically' being transferred to hospital/OBGYN care as of this week for monitoring and they have also been very supportive of my VBAC wishes.

What region of the Netherlands are you living in? We're in 'Noord Holland' and will be at the MCA hospital in Alkmaar and I've only had good experiences there so far.

If you have any questions please feel free to let me know



 
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 07:48 AM   4
Itsychik
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@ Erised- you were treated horribly sorry for your bad experience.

Regarding the pap smears, in the U.S. we start getting these annually once you turn 18. In the Netherlands I was told by my doctor they don't normally start doing them till a woman turns 30 (although when we were TTC with my son--I was 27--I insisted I wanted one and aside from being told I would "have to pay for it on my own as it wasn't covered in the insurance" they agreed to do it.

I also had one done at my 6-week postpartum check up at the hospital by the OBGYN I had been seeing.

Sadly, I think it might be a matter of looking around until you find a care provider you're comfortable with. I have plenty of complaints about the Dutch health care system in general, but (so far) I haven't had a bad experience with my maternity care. As with any system though, it helps if you know what you want and are willing to speak up.

Good luck Coco with the rest of your pregnancy though



 
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 08:22 AM   5
Coco Tutu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erised View Post
Afraid you won't like my responds.
All I can advice you is that you make sure you stand by what YOU want, and don't assume they know best (like I did). If at all possible, avoid the hospital and have a home birth. Be informed in your rights and choices, and find a midwife that is willing to be there to support you, not to deliver you.

I'm Dutch, but have been living in the UK for the last 10 years basically (DH is British). We're not keen on the NHS and with Holland having the EU's best health care (well, in 2009 or 2010 it was voted so anyway) we decided to head back to Holland for our birth.

My midwife appointments and pregnancy were brilliant, couldn't fault anyone there. I was looked after properly, every scan was very detailed and they made sure they got all the information required.

Labour is a different story.
We were staying at my parents house at the time, as we were only there for a few months. I found no support in the midwives during my first 2 days ish of labour, they would come over for a quick visit only to do a dilation check and that would be it. No advice, words of encouragement or anything. In those 2 days I went from 2cm dilated to 6cm dilated, and could handle the pain absolutely fine.

It was at this point I changed my mind from wanting a hospital birth to wanting a home birth, but was told in no uncertain terms that it wasn't happening as they didn't have enough room. Fair enough I guess, but it was a bit of a downer.

I had a midwife come over at 9pm, and she told me there would be a different midwife coming at 11pm to asses me again and see how I was doing. New midwife came and even though she hadn't seen me before she decided within minutes that I was at 'failure to progress' and had to go to the hospital straight away to be jabbed up with medicine to make my contractions stronger and get things sped along... mind you, at this point my waters had only JUST broken. Seriously, less than an hour.

Once in hospital I never saw any midwives again. I was not asked for any birth preferences or anything, just hooked up to everything under the sun (IVs, cathether, heartbeat monitors etc) and expected to lay on my back and not do anything. I had a heart rate monitor for baby around my stomach, but it kept losing trace so they ended up screwing a monitor into her head (without asking for permission or even mentioning any of it I may add)... we found out later that the reason it kept losing trace was because they never even hooked the 2 'belts' together around my back, so there was no pressure holding it on and it was just laying lose on my stomach.

Pain relief wise, I was offered an epidural or 1 other type of pain relief which they told me wouldn't actually take the pain off, it would just make me realise it was there less (basically just drug me to get me high kind of thing). If I chose the meds to 'take the edge off' I wouldn't be allowed an epidural later on. I voted for the epidural, as I kept being told I was failing to progress and they basically made it sound like I'd be there for days yet. I never got the epidural though, as there was no-one in hospital to do it and they hadn't actually contacted anyone to come in just expected me to wait it out for the next 9 hours until someone would start their shift.

Eventually I got to 10 cm dilated at around 4am. During pushing baby's heart rate would drop a little so they panicked and did an episiotomy during a contraction, then did what should never be done and had the nurse push on my stomach to push the baby down (high risk of uterus rupture, and I've since been told it's basically a banned practice in most places) while the doctor put her hand inside me to pull baby down.

My daughter was born after about 10 minutes of pushing and with a heck of a lot more intervention than was needed.

My aftercare was horrendous.
I was left requiring a fair amount of stitches, both internal and external, which the doctor did while she was in the middle of a sneezing fit. Hygienic and all.

The nurse afterwards commented on my stretchmarks, it was rather insulting and something along the lines of me looking like a zebra... not what you want to hear right after giving birth.

I was not checked while in hospital, and the nurse was adamant I got up and took a shower. I didn't want one as I felt terrible, but listened to her anyway... big mistake. I got to the bathroom (shared ward and bathroom) when the whole world started spinning and sounded like a swimming pool. I scared the living daylight out of everyone on the ward with how awful I looked trying to get back to the bed, making it just in time before fainting.

We were allowed home by noon, I remained pale and unable to stand up for more than a few minutes at a time for weeks due to the amount of blood loss I suffered. Not once was my iron checked.

The next few days the midwives would come over to my house to make sure I didn't have an infection, the stitches were healing up well (and to remove them as they weren't the type that dissolves after time) and that my uterus was shrinking down nicely. After that I was dismissed and never offered a 6 week check up, PAP or anything else.

Truthfully, it was horrendous and the reason why we stayed in the UK and had a home birth rather than hospital birth the second time around. I followed the exact same pattern with my 2nd btw, 2 days of labour, stuck at 6cm for a full day then suddenly getting to 10cm in less than an hour and pushing for less than 10 minutes. No pain relief required at all and it was amazing =)
Erised thank you so much for sharing your birth story! I am so sorry it was traumatic and it sounds that your health care professionals were not professionals at all There is so much conflicting information about birth here... Most messages that I got on facebook told me to go to a hospital because people had traumatic home births (and loses). I realize that every birth is different so EVERY story has something to teach. So again, thank you! And I am glad you had a great second birth!



 
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 08:28 AM   6
Coco Tutu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Itsychik View Post
Wow, I'm really shocked by the responses you got!

I am an American expat who has been living in the Netherlands for 7 years. My DH is Dutch and we are expecting our second child (the first was also born in the Netherlands).

Maybe it's because I have mostly Dutch friends that I don't hear any of the negativity that you're getting, but my first pregnancy/birth experience was not traumatizing at all. I had a great set of midwives (there were 2 in the practice I belong to, now there are 3). I felt confident and cared for throughout my pregnancy, and when they suspected I might have complications (i.e. a HUGE baby) I was transferred to the OBGYN care at the hospital for closer monitoring. I felt respected and well treated by all of the professionals who monitored me throughout my pregnancy.

You're welcome to read my birth story (link is in my signature) but I was induced in the hospital after my waters went and labour didn't start. At the hospital they were very accommodating and even though I eventually ended up having an emergency c-section (fetal distress), the doctor was patient and explained everything to me and I didn't feel pressured into anything. Despite not getting the birth I wanted I was quite satisfied with the entire process.

We're expecting #2 in 4 weeks and I've also had a great experience so far. Due to my previous c-section I am 'automatically' being transferred to hospital/OBGYN care as of this week for monitoring and they have also been very supportive of my VBAC wishes.

What region of the Netherlands are you living in? We're in 'Noord Holland' and will be at the MCA hospital in Alkmaar and I've only had good experiences there so far.

If you have any questions please feel free to let me know
Thank you for sharing your story! I posted on a facebook group of expats in the Netherlands asking for some birth stories and got many other positive birth stories as well. The thing is that people forget to talk about the positive aspects while it is hard for us to get over traumatic experiences, and I think this has a lot to do with why I got so many comments filled with frustration.

And thank you for offering to help with any questions. I am in Zuid Holland and will give birth either in Delft or Rotterdam.



 
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Old Jan 11th, 2018, 15:37 PM   7
Daashley
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Hello! I’m also American and going to give birth in Alkmaar MCA but am trrrified of it - could we connect?



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