As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, 2016 was a fun year. The highlight was that we found out we’re expecting a baby (and right after confirming our move to the Netherlands). At first I was worried and a little scared. My usual weapon against fear is information, so I went online and did the research that started with “pregnant in Amsterdam” and ended with a very happy delivery of the baby 9 months later.
So if you are pregnant AND in the Netherlands – fear not as it’s one of the best countries to give birth in and be taken care of postpartum. At least from my experience and from what I’ve heard from other women. While the memories are fresh, I wanted to write a few tips and put all the links I found useful together. Hope it helps!
Disclaimer: these are all based on my experience, being a working expat in Amsterdam. Things can be different from city to city and change with time, so please double-check everything.
Things to do if you’re a pregnant expat in the Netherlands
- get insurance. I went with CZ (I have Zorgkeuzepolis + Basis Collectief add-on). So far I’m happy with it, you do need to follow-up on some claims, but all the basic pregnancy things are very well covered and processed. You get a free Kraampakket with them and with extended premium you get hospital birth without medical indication fully covered. Alternatively, a good place to start with choosing the health insurance is one of the comparison sites. Call insurance once you are 24 weeks to get a maternity package (Kraampakket).
- Register with a midwife (link to all registered practices). In the Netherlands midwifes take care of you during pregnancy, not the doctor – they are extremely helpful and give all the needed information and advice from the day your pregnancy test shows positive to 6 weeks after the baby is born. I went with Astrid Limburg and can recommend them to anyone!
- Register with a kraamzorg. A blessing for expats with family far away – a Merry Poppins that comes to your house every day for 8 days after birth and helps with all baby matters, your postpartum recovery and even around the house! Incredible.
- If you’re planning to (return to) work after having a baby, register with a kindergarden/daycare as early as possible. Some are so popular they have waiting lists for a year ahead. The prices depend on how many days a week you want your child to go there, the more days, the lower the hourly rate is. On average, 5 days a week in Amsterdam daycare would cost you €1500-2000. Depending on your (and you partner’s) work situation, you may get some of it back, but not more than €500/month. Expensive, I know. That’s why many Dutch parents take parental leave and distribute it throughout years, taking one day a week off (also know as Mama- or Papadag)
Useful resources and tips
- Join Amsterdam Mamas facebook group – it is the best and most supportive online community I’ve seen. They also have season groups for moms so you can join meetups with recent moms like you.
- Join prenatal workout groups or classes: Mom in balance bootcamp, Mommy 2B bootcamp, Delight Yoga, Studio 191 – there are many many more, I’m sure you’ll find something nearby. Tip: see if that can be partially covered by your insurance (I got reimbursed for €100 for pregnancy yoga classes).
- Take prenatal classes. I can recommend the ones we attended (all in English): a Sunday class with Truus Gale and also her Preparing for Parenthood evening class (try mentioning Olha and Anton when you sign up, you might get a discount) and a breastfeeding preparation course at De Bozemvriend. You won’t remember everything they teach, but you surely will gain new knowledge and a high level of confidence. Some courses are also (partially) covered by the insurance.
Tip 1 from a personal experience: we were searching for an apartment and our agent advised we add the fact that we’re expecting into the offer and we had one rejection (I’m not sure if it was because of the pregnancy) but be aware it’s possible.
Tip 2: if you’ve just arrived and planning to rent an apartment and you either are or planning to get pregnant, consider things like stairs leading to the apartment and if there’s a place to leave a stroller, what’s around the area, how many daycare centers around etc. You want to have everything at a close vicinity, a convenient neighbourhood and a house where you are comfortable while pregnant (and after your baby arrives!).
Tip 3: connect with fellow expectant mothers, you all share similar struggles and probably have the same questions, so please use each other to make your pregnancy easier and build that support network!
Tip 4: take photos! However cheesy it may sound, this IS a special stage of your life and capturing it is important. All photos in this post were taken by our friend, the 3 (technically 4) of us went on a nice walk in the park on the last Autumn day in Amsterdam and we had so much fun! I was 8 months pregnant and felt HUGE and bloated and not pretty at all, but I’m so happy we did it, so I can look back to that precious time. Thank you Abed from Snaps N Straps Photography for capturing our happiness!
And I want to end this post with this: please relax and enjoy being pregnant in one of the best places on Earth, take it one day at a time, build the support network and everything will be great!