“Giving birth in the Netherlands has radically altered my attitude about the Dutch,” says American blogger Janelle Ward (BlondebutBright), who now advocates natural birth.
In my early years abroad I was already hearing scary things about giving birth in the Netherlands. Mostly ghastly things like “You’ll never get any drugs, you know.” “They’ll let you labour for 50 hours and will never even consider a C-section.” “You have to give birth at home although women often are rushed to hospital because of complications.”
Giving birth in the Netherlands has radically altered my attitude about the Dutch.
An eye-opening experience
Anyone who knows me or who has followed this blog over the years will understand that this was quite unlikely. But having a baby here has opened my eyes to one example of how the Dutch system actually works, and has made me aware of how much I was living on the expat fringe.
My son Adrian arrived on 26 August 2010, coincidentally the nine-year anniversary of my arrival in the Netherlands. As I mentioned in my last blog post, he was transverse and ended up in a breech position, despite my greatest efforts to get him to turn. So the midwife referred me to the hospital, and the LUMC handled the remainder of my appointments.
After one final (and failed) attempt to turn Adrian with ECV, the doctor told me I had two options: schedule a C-section or try to deliver naturally. I did a huge amount of research and was uneasily heading to the conclusion that I should get a C-section. Then I went to speak to the doctor. He listened to my reasoning and then said, “Well, if you really want a C-section, we’ll schedule if for you. But if you are interested in a natural delivery – and it sounds like you are – then I want you to know we are fully capable of delivering him vaginally, and all indications point to the possibility of a positive outcome.”
A natural birth
I was shocked. In the US – not to mention almost every other European country – such a scenario was almost impossible. And yet the doctor was actually encouraging me to try for a natural birth? I really expected the opposite. After all, isn’t it easier for doctors to schedule a C-section? It’s half an hour of work, can be done during working hours, and there’s no waiting around for nature to take its course. And yet the obstetrics department at the LUMC seemed to want to complicate their working lives in order to provide the best outcome for my baby. Of course, they cautioned that they had a very low tolerance of complications for a breech baby, and if anything went wrong during labour a C-section would be unavoidable.
So we decided to go for it, and waited for Adrian to make his appearance.
He finally decided to grace us with his presence at almost 41 weeks. The natural delivery – performed by an incredibly competent resident – went very well. Breech deliveries require special training and it seems that all obstetricians at the LUMC are familiar with the art. It was performed flawlessly, even at almost 3am when Adrian was born.
An enthusiastic advocate
Throughout my pregnancy I said that I wouldn’t want to be in any other country for this experience. This feeling has only increased after giving birth in the Netherlands. After avoiding everything Dutch for years, I now find myself an enthusiastic advocate for their philosophy – which, surprisingly, seems designed around my wishes. My attitude change also comes from what I experienced after the birth, when a system boasting home visits took over. Visit my blog for details of my experience with the kraamzorg (maternity nurse) and the consultatiebureau (health clinic).