Postpartum care: You will not believe the amazing post-birth service ALL Dutch women receive
Bringing a baby home from hospital is an overwhelming time for any new (and seasoned) parent.
Not only is your body sore from giving borth (no matter what way you did it), but you are also no doubt tired, emotional and your hormones are literally all over the place. But you got a baby to look after, so life has to go on. Luckily, most of us have partners who are able to take paternity leave and help out during those first couple of weeks at home, and some are even luckier in that they have family nearby who can call over with food and help do the washing too – because let's face it; things like that just drop way down on our collective to-do lists when you got a crying baby to feed and you're leaking from pretty much everywhere. Sorry – TMI.
However, if we had all lived in Holland, thing would look rather different.
How? Because of this little thing they like to call kraamzorg (pronounced “KRAM-zorg”).
Kraamzorg, basically, refers to the Dutch maternity service which happens after your baby is born, where a special maternity nurse comes over to their homes for up to 8 hours a day, for eight days.
Dutch mamas get a maternity nurse to help them out for over a week, at home, FOR FREE.
According to an article on Babble, in the Netherlands, pregnancy is considered a natural stage in a woman’s life, not an illness to be managed, and is mostly managed by just midwives, with very little interaction by doctors at all. The birth is almost always managed by midwives too, and around 25 percent of women giving birth at home, making the Netherlands the country with the highest rate of homebirths in the industrialized world.
For those who give birth in hospital, most leave within hours, but they are not left alone. Because then, in true fairytale style, a maternity nurse who comes over to their homes and basically helps the new mum out for over a week.
This nurse, called a kraamverzorgster (kraamzorg means postpartum care in Dutch) checks in to see how mum and baby are doing. Her job is to weigh the newborn as well as monitor the mum’s postpartum progress. However, and this is the best bit: The nurse’s duties don’t end there, though. She can also give advice on feeding and sleeping, fills in a kind of diary where she describes how the day went, and remains in contact with the midwives.
It gets better: For the next eight days, the kraamverzorgster cleans the bathrooms, makes the beds, and does the laundry. She makes sure mum is rested and showered. She prepares light meals (sandwiches, salads etc.), keeps enthusiastic visitors at bay, and sometimes even runs errands or takes care of older siblings.
Sounds dreamy? We know. And depending on the family’s needs, the maternity nurse can even stay longer than that, for example when the mum is single and has no family to help her out or after a long, difficult birth.
This is what Olga Mecking, an expat living in Holland, had to say:
"I don’t know what I would have done without my kraamverzorgster. Two of my three children were born in the Netherlands, and I had kraamzorg both times. Needless to say, it was amazing. She was always telling me to rest, taught me how to breastfeed properly, prepared delicious and healthy fruit salads for me, and soon knew which tea I liked best. She took my two older kids for walks and went shopping for me."