Recognising that pregnancy is not an illness, as goes the Dutch maternity approach, cycling eight months pregnant is unlikely to shock your doctor or midwife.
Being pregnant anywhere is a mixed bag of emotions from elation to sickness. Raising children abroad is both amazing and challenging wrapped up in one awkward shaped parcel. If you’re having a baby in the Netherlands, though, you have many reasons to count yourself lucky. Here are 10 reasons you’ll love being pregnant in the Netherlands.
1. Pregnancy is not seen as a disease
When that cross appears after you’ve peed on that stick you aren’t ferried off to the nearest doctor or hospital. Instead you choose a midwife and, if all is progressing well with your pregnancy, you have all your pre-natal appointments with your midwife.
2. You may give birth where you like
Around a third of births in the Netherlands are home births. You can choose a hospital if you wish, or even a kraamhotel – a birthing hotel – or you may opt for a home birth. Unless there is a medical reason (in which case you must give birth in a hospital) you are free to choose where you give birth.
3. You get a box of goodies sent to your house
As you near the end of your pregnancy you will receive a kraampakket, sent by your health insurer. Sure there’s a naval clamp in there, alcohol of the none drinking kind, more mattress protectors than is healthy to wonder about, and lots of cotton wool related items for soaking up mess. But hey, you still get to feel like a kid at Christmas when a big box arrives with your name on it. Just don’t try and work out what it is all for.
4. Nobody bats an eye when you are still cycling eight months into your pregnancy
Nothing, and I mean nothing, separates the Dutch from their bikes. Growing a baby in your buik is not a valid reason to stop cycling – in fact the advice is keep moving – because you are having a baby, you’re not ill (see reason number one).
5. The Netherlands is child friendly
It is seriously child friendly. There are playgrounds on every corner. There are schools in every direction you walk. The country is littered with pancake restaurants. Do I need to go on?
6. The Dutch are raising some of the happiest children in the world
If you could pick any country in the world to raise your children you could do far worse than the Netherlands. Year after year the Dutch come out around the top of happiness surveys, with children showing the rest of us just how happy you can be.
7. You get kinderbijslag
That’s child allowance to you and me. If you live or work in the Netherlands and have children under the age of 18 then you are probably entitled to child allowance, paid quarterly directly into your bank account. It helps, it really does.
8. Your cupboards fill up with chocolate things
It’s nearly impossible to raise children in the Netherlands without ending up with hagelslag (sprinkles) and chocolate spread stocked in your kitchen cupboards. I tried to resist. For years I was strong. But the peer pressure is stronger and eventually you will succumb. It all goes on bread. Just go with it.
9. You live with mini language teachers
Your children will speak better Dutch than you by the time they are three years old. And they are proud to let you know that by correcting everything you say.
I left the best for last: Kraamzorg, a maternity nurse in your home after the birth. I love, love, love kraamzorg. In my humble opinion it should be made illegal for countries not to provide new mothers with kraamzorg. But hey, who am I? I have experienced kraamzorg three times and every time was a unique but amazing experience. My story in Knocked Up Abroad Again tells more about kraamzorg and the best things about a Dutch birth.