Life Abroad / Pregnancy

My Birth Plan

Obviously the grammar could be cleaned up a little…

In case you’re curious, here’s what I laid out in my birth plan*, based on the format provided by my midwife (with the specifics being basically identical to what I asked for when laboring with Prim):

  • My expectations regarding my pregnancy and delivery:
    • Give a short description of how you see the course of your pregnancy and delivery
      1. Calm, normal and quick (ha!)
      2. I would like the delivery to be calm, peaceful and supported. I would like to be able to dim the lights and play music in the delivery room.
  • Who will be present during delivery:
    1. Husband, midwife, any necessary medical personnel.
  • Contractions: relaxation and pain relief
    • If applicable, which positions would you prefer to soften your contractions whilst giving birth? (eg: walking, on the birthing stool, showering bathing, etc.)
    • How would you prefer to counter the pain associated with the contractions? (eg: breathing techniques, etc.)
      1. Would like to try all available positions to soften contractions (walking, birthing stool, shower, bath, etc.)
      2. I would like medication/epidural pain relief available, but hope/prefer not to use.
  • Where would you like to deliver:
    1. At the hospital (OLVG Oost).
  • Special treatments/interventions during deliver?
    • Do you have any other wishes or ideas about your delivery not mentioned above?
      1. I had a delayed, massive postpartum hemorrhage following the delivery of my last child due to a large blood clot.
      2. I have had back surgery on L5/S1 and have a bulging disk at L4/L5 — if given an epidural, it needs to be above L4/L5.
      3. Prefer delayed cord clamping, especially if baby is born before 37 weeks.
  • Postpartum period
    • Do you want to breastfeed or bottle-feed (with formula) your child?
    • Do you have any other wishes or ideas about your postpartum period?
      1. Skin to skin immediately following delivery, for as long as possible.
      2. Husband to cut umbilical cord.
      3. Breastfeeding exclusively as soon as possible after delivery.

My midwife reviewed my plan thoroughly and informed me that this is all “very standard” in the Netherlands — including delayed cord clamping (it’s the standard to delay clamping in all births here). Also, you get to eat during labor here (hallelujah!) As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything for over 24 hours while in labor with Prim and was STARVING, so I’m glad that I’ll at least have the option to re-fuel as needed here, without having to sneak it behind the nurses back (because, yeah, I would this time).

Now, obviously, a “birth plan” is kind of a misnomer in itself because birth plays out how it’s going to play out, no matter how hard you try to control it. The above is more a “birth wish list” of sorts; and just like I did when I was pregnant with Prim, I’m going in with the intention of letting my body do its thing naturally and will re-assess my needs as they come up in the moment.

An interesting note on the hospital and postpartum period here — the standard hospital stay is a mere 4 hours after delivery. That’s right, 4 hours after you deliver you’re sent home with your brand-new baby. Again, if this were my first child, I would probably be freaking out a little bit about this, but since this is my second, I’m ok with it (in principle). Obviously if you have any sort of complication or reason for extended monitoring you stay in the hospital longer, but part of the reason for the short postpartum stay is because you are provided a home health nurse for the first 8 days following birth.

Standard insurance covers a kraamzorg (basically a home postpartum nurse) for about a week after delivery, for anywhere from 3-8 hours a day. The nurse comes and checks your healing, assesses how the baby is doing, assists with breastfeeding, and will also watch older children, run errands, and do light housework.

Amazing, right?

Also, the first health appointments you have following birth (for you and baby) are conducted at home. The midwife comes to you for your postpartum check and the consultatiebureau (which handles pediatric care in the Netherlands) also comes to your house to check the baby. This is partially for your own comfort and also so the consultatiebureau can assess the baby’s living and sleeping situation (so smart!)

Further, when you actually go into labor in the Netherlands, the process is a bit different than the US. Much like the US, you call your midwife (or doctor) when you believe labor has started, but rather than managing it all on your own, here in the Netherlands your midwife will come to your house to monitor and support your labor. She tells you when it’s time to go to the hospital and accompanies you, and while at the hospital she can stay with you during labor if you would like the support. Once you’re ready to deliver, assuming you don’t have any complications, the midwife will deliver your child with assistance from a nurse. This means that if you have a normal, low-risk pregnancy, labor, and delivery, then you won’t actually see an OB or other doctor EVER during your birth or pregnancy. Nuts!

*I also went through a longer-form birth plan here, which is awesome any very comprehensive — but it is in Dutch and the google translate is only about 90% helpful. That said, if you’re looking for a birth plan template, this really covers all your bases!