Pregnancy in the Netherlands: Giving birth

Pregnancy in the Netherlands: Giving birth

So, you, or your partner, are nearing the end of your pregnancy. What can you expect when you give birth in the Netherlands? What are your options regarding the delivery? Where can you give birth in the Netherlands?

In this country, you have several options when it comes to giving birth. If you haven’t experienced any medical complications during your pregnancy, you can give birth at home, in a birth centre or at a hospital. Did you experience complications during your pregnancy? Your midwife or obstetrician will most likely advise you to give birth at a hospital.

Birth plan

In the Netherlands, it is common to come up with a birth plan with your partner and care provider. This plan will be part of your medical record and will describe your wishes concerning the birth. Of course, you will need to keep in mind that in the case of an emergency, things may go a little differently than planned.

Home births in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a reputation as a country where home birth is considered the most popular option. This was certainly true in the years that followed WWII, when 80 percent of all pregnant women delivered their baby at home.

However, the number of women that choose to have a home birth has been declining ever since. In the 90s, 35 percent delivered their baby at home, and in 2010 the percentage of home births was 25 percent. Note that pain relief, such as an epidural or nitrous oxide, is not available for home births.

Birth centres in the Netherlands

When it’s not medically necessary to give birth in a hospital, but you don’t want to give birth at home either, you can go to a birth centre instead. Your own midwife or obstetrician will oversee the birth.

Birth centres in the Netherlands:

  • Have a homely feel and are similar to a hotel.
  • Often offer forms of pain relief medication, such as nitrous oxide.
  • Take your personal wishes into account, such as background music etc.

Please note, not all Dutch health insurers in the Netherlands will cover all the costs you will incur when giving birth in a birth centre. So, be sure to ask your insurer about this.

Hospital births in the Netherlands

There are two types of hospital births in the Netherlands; you can give birth as an outpatient (poliklinisch) or an inpatient.


If you are an outpatient at a hospital, your own midwife or obstetrician will oversee the birth. A gynaecologist will not be present.


You are considered an inpatient when you have to give birth in a hospital for medical reasons, such as complications during labour.

What's next...

Once your baby has been born, you can benefit from the Netherlands' unique postnatal care system called kraamzorg. And make sure to register the birth of your baby at your local municipality

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