Health care in the Netherlands - Part 3

Many have heard the wild-west stories about the Netherlands, whereby the babies are born at home with the help of a midwife and without any pain relief whatsoever.

Having a baby in the Netherlands

Well, it is indeed true that approximately 30% of the women in the Netherlands opt to give birth to their baby at home and also that midwifes are not allowed to administer pain medication. And it is even true that - in principle - hospital births are not covered by your insurance.

However, if there is any indication at all that a hospital delivery is necessary, you will have your baby at the hospital - under the supervision of a gynaecologist who can administer pain medication - and this will be covered by your insurance.

Furthermore, experience has shown that a desire to be under full supervision of a gynaecologist will always be respected and you will be given the required referral notice by either the midwife or your general practitioner (GP).

A compromise is also available: the poliklinische bevalling, whereby you have your baby in the hospital, sharing the costs with your insurance company, after which, if all is well with you and your baby, you are sent home as soon as possible. If you or your baby require further care, this is automatically covered by your insurance.

One further remark: according to the World Health Organization, the Netherlands is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby.

The Consultatiebureau (Well-Baby Clinic)

Whereas in most countries, routine check-ups are carried out by a GP or kinderarts (paediatrician), in the Netherlands this service is provided by the local Consultatiebureau up until a child is 4 years of age. The Consultatiebureau is a network of clinics that provide preventative health care to infants and toddlers.

Once you have registered your baby, the local office will send a wijkverpleegkundige (neighbourhood nurse) to your home within 3-14 days after delivery. During this initial visit the nurse will observe your baby, discuss with you your initial experiences with (breast)feeding and schedule the first check-up at your local clinic.

You will also be given a Groeiboek (Growth book), which you should take with you to each appointment at the Consultatiebureau. An English-language version is available, so be sure to ask for one at the time of registration.

During the first year you will visit the Consultatiebureau approximately eight times. Your infant will be weighed and measured each time and you will have sufficient time during these visits to discuss any other issues of concern (nutrition, parenting issues, etc.).

The Consultatiebureau also carries is out the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports’ vaccination programme. After that initial year, you and your child will visit the Consultatiebureau on a yearly basis until your child reaches the age of 4.

Once your child has reached school age, this health service (including the carrying out of the vaccination programme) is transferred to the local health office of the Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst, better known as the GGD (Municipal Health Service). Both the Consultatiebureau and the GGDservices are offered free of charge.

All in all, though all medical issues, be they the sniffles, to having a baby, to more serious issues, are more intimidating when dealt with abroad, you can nonetheless feel reassured that proper medical care is but a phone call away and that you will be in good hands here!

This is the last part of the "Health Care: You are in Good Hands" article written by Stephanie Dijkstra, editor-in-chief of The XPat Journal. Have a look at the current issue or subscribe here.

Previous in the series
 Health care in the Netherlands - Part 1
 Health care in the Netherlands - Part 2

Stephanie Dijkstra


Stephanie Dijkstra

Stephanie Dijkstra is a Third Culture Kid in every possible way. Raised in four countries by Dutch/American parents, both of whom also grew up in several countries, the world is...

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