You find yourself pregnant in Amsterdam and you probably have to decide on a lot of things you never thought or wondered about. What color do you paint the walls of the bedroom for the baby? What kind of tests will you take? What to eat or what not? Do you want to find out the sex of the baby and many more. Towards the end of your pregnancy you might also face the question: where do I want to give birth? In this article I will explain the different options and birth locations in Amsterdam.
Most women who give birth in the Netherlands will choose to birth in the hospital. With a medical team readily available, this seems a safe option for them. When your pregnancy was normal, without any medical conditions, the chances are big though, that you don't see a doctor at all during the birth or after. Not all people realize that, but here in the Netherlands we have wonderful midwives who are perfectly able to support you during a non-medical birth. Whenever you choose for a so called outpatient birth in the hospital, you will start laboring at home and usually transfer to the hospital when you are in active labor (around 4-6 centimeter dilation). Your midwife will meet you in the hospital then. There might be extra cost when you give birth in the hospital, so check the policy of your health insurance company.
In case there is a medical condition, that is discovered already during pregnancy (think of pregnancy diabetes or hypertension) or during labor (such as a wish for pain relief or meconium in the waters), your midwife will transfer you to the hospital. In that case there will be a gynecologist and/or a medical midwife who has the medical responsibility for you instead of your own midwife. Besides the gynecologist there is also a nurse taking care of you. With shift changes, the care provider also changes.
I advise you to make a top 3 of hospitals, just in case your first choice is not available at the moment you go into labor. Look at their websites and go for a visit if this is possible, so you can see where you feel most comfortable and know the route to the hospital if you plan on going there with your own car.
When there is no medical need to give birth in the hospital you can choose to go to a birth center as well, which has a more homely feeling. The rooms are usually equipped with normal beds instead of hospital beds and have private bathrooms. In Amsterdam there is a birth center attached to the hospital OLVG West, this is called 'Bevalcentrum West'. Here are four rooms, of which two have a big birth pool. The other two rooms have a regular bathtub, that you can use to find comfort during contractions but cannot be used for a water birth. The Amstelland hospital has a birth center as well and they also give the possibility to give birth in a pool.
A big plus for the birth center is the homely atmosphere and that you can have pain relief here, without the need to be transferred to the hospital: gas and air. So you can keep your own midwife for support, which most people find more comfortable then the idea of having a different care provider with every shift change. Again check the policy of your health insurance company to see if you will face extra costs when you choose for this option.
Then there is the option to give birth at home. Some people choose to give birth at home, others don't have a choice anymore when things proceed so fast that there is no time to go to the hospital anymore. So it's wise to have a 'kraampakket' at home, just in case ;). When you will birth at home, it is your own midwife that will support you during most of the time (she will drop in every now and then in the beginning and usually stays when you reach the end of labor). For the actual birth of the baby the midwife will call the Kraamzorg nurse for extra support.
A good reason to choose for a home birth is that you are usually pretty comfortable in your own space. You have your own shower, favorite foods and drinks, comfy bed, music and candles et cetera. And there is no need to transfer to a place when you are busy coping with contractions of course.
Whenever the idea of having a mess at home is holding you back: birth is not as messy as you think. And the Kraamzorg nurse will take care of cleaning afterwards as well, when you are just snuggling up with your fresh, new baby. Or you could just hire an Airbnb apartment to make a mess at someone else's home. HA!
Another option, that not at a lot of people know of, is to give birth in the Geboortehotel. This hotel is located in the city center of Amsterdam and has three rooms, that are all very luxurious with a big king size bed, a fire place and a big birthing pool. Here you have also the possibility to get gas and air for pain relief if needed and you give birth with your own midwife. Check the health insurance policy again for costs.
What I like a lot about the Geboortehotel is that you can reserve a spot here, for only 25 euro. Also: you can go there in an early stage of labor, compared to giving birth in a hospital or birth center where you have to wait until you reached the active stage of labor. So you don't have to transfer in the heat of the moment, but can settle earlier if that is what you like. And then there is also the possibility to stay as long as you like. In the Geboortehotel they have a Kraamzorg nurse on call for 24/7, who can help you with all your needs: breastfeeding, showering, serving you some food or drinks et cetera. You don't have to go home a couple of hours after the birth of your home but instead can reserve the room for a day or more to really recover in your own time.
How do I know which place is best for me?
The most important thing when it comes to the choice of a birth location is that you pick a place where you feel most comfortable. Because when you feel safe and comfortable, your body starts producing oxytocin and this wonderful hormone should be overflowing your body during labor.
Because you can never reserve a spot, except at the Geboortehotel, it's also okay just to wait until the moment you are in labor and then decide where to go. If it suddenly feels much better to stay at home instead of getting into a taxi to go to the hospital: just stay home! Or when your instincts tells you to move to the hospital even though you had in mind to birth at home… go there! But now at least you know what your options are, so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Whatever you choose, wherever you go, I will follow!