One year ago I was skipping to work when a construction worker whistled and said I looked as fresh as a mango in the mornings. Today, as I shuffled along the street a worker caught my eye and said something like “Poppa dag” which I surmise translates to “Popping any day! *wink*” No mistaking the belly for a large dinner.
Maternity and post-natal care in The Netherlands has a number of differences which I mentioned previously. The most significant being a preference/nudge/push towards home births or at least doing AS MUCH OF YOUR LABOR AT HOME as possible. Oh and that your hospital of choice could be full when we call for admission. I had an appointment yesterday and my midwife calmly explained that we would call the hospital when I was 7cm to see if they had room for me…I’m far from a birth expert but 7cm seems pretty damn close to pushing in my opinion. Much less the time at which we cross our fingers and hope the hospital has space for me! I kept asking questions hoping that we had a lost in translation moment. i.e. 7cm really meant 2 cm. I then reminded her that I wanted medication and it was possible that both my parents would be staying at our smallish house at the appointed time. “Oh well then YES we can call the hospital sooner!” Lead with that woman!
But, moving on from the whole hospital topic. The government pays 100% of your salary for 16 weeks maternity leave. 4 of those weeks must be taken before your expected delivery date. On top of the 16 weeks you are entitled to an additional 180 days of unpaid leave that must be granted (if requested) and you can take them right away or work reduced hours. You have the 180 days available for 2 years. Men are also entitled to their own unpaid leave but only 2 days of paid paternal leave. At first, I was annoyed that I had to waste 4 weeks of my leave before he was born. After all, I’m from America and there we work until our water breaks! Turns out, I gleefully quit the office 3 days ago for my 4 weeks of preparation time. How thoughtful the Dutch government is to put women and baby making first. When I asked my midwife about this practice she explained it might be more because work production during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy becomes pretty insignificant…well either way…
The other benefit of post-natal care comes in the form of a ‘kraamzorg’ or nurse that comes to your house immediately after you come home from the hospital. She cooks, cleans, tells visitors to leave, checks baby/mommy vitals, and provides general advice for 5 days and 8 hours per day. The nurse substitutes for staying in the hospital for any longer than necessary. In the event that my labor is completely normal I will be discharged 4 hours after delivery. Hence, the need for a nurse in the home. They will also come whenever is necessary. So…if I’m home at 5am they will be here if we want. There are wonderful testimonies surrounding these lovely kraamzorgs. Also, some oddballs, but we can always call the agency if we don’t like the nurse and she gets booted.