1. Childbirth in the Netherlands
If you have considered giving birth outside the hospital, you should know that in the Netherlands, home births are still incredibly common. Here, pregnancy is treated as something normal and healthy, with around 20 percent of births happening at home, in a very de-medicalised environment.
Another reason why home births are so common is the lack of a guaranteed space at the hospital at the time of labour: rather than searching, many mothers prefer to prepare from the start to give birth at home.
In the Netherlands, after childbirth, you also have access to a Dutch service available through your health insurance package, called kraamzorg. Kraamzorg designates a nurse or social worker that will come to your home after you have given birth: they are trained to keep track of the baby’s overall health and growth in the beginning, as well as checking how the mother is recovering. Additionally, they can check for signs of postpartum depression and other mental health issues that might affect the mother at the beginning of motherhood.
A kraamzorg nurse can give you parenting advice, show you how to properly care for the baby and even help with household chores. They offer these services in English too, so it is incredibly useful for expats.
2. Maternity leave in the Netherlands
Maternity leave in the Netherlands is very convenient, as you can get 16 fully paid weeks after childbirth. You must also take at least four weeks before your due date, which are also fully paid. Parental leave is relatively good as well, and you are entitled to it if you meet some criteria. One requirement is having worked for your current employer for at least a year, and that you are taking care of a child no older than eight years old. Conveniently, both parents can qualify for parental leave.
3. Outdoor activities
As your child gets older, you will notice that the Netherlands is an incredibly child-friendly place, with plenty of possible activities to engage in with your children. In every city, there are plenty of playgrounds and parks, and even petting farms for children. You can also choose to go to the zoo, or to various science exhibitions designed especially for kids and child-friendly museums such as the Children’s Literature Museum in The Hague.
Keep an eye out for various children’s festivals as well: most of them offer theatre, dance and painting workshops, all of which you can attend with your child. Sometimes, libraries also organise reading sessions for toddlers and babies.
4. Buying used toys
In the Netherlands, there are so-called kindermarkten, where you can either buy or sell used toys. These markets are organised like a small funfair where children can go and negotiate for the toys they like or play carnival games to win certain toys as well. Here, you can also have a glass of lemonade or eat pastries, so it really is a fun family activity that can prove very useful in the long run.
5. Schools in the Netherlands
Another thing to keep in mind in the Netherlands is registering your child at a school at any time between birth and three years of age. For many schools, the waiting lists are really long, so registering your child as early as possible gives you an extra advantage. Make sure to read what the rules for school registration are in your city, and keep in mind that your postal code is a very important stipulation: it is recommended to register your child at schools near your home, or move somewhere near your desired school.
The Netherlands is generally an incredibly child-friendly country. There are many benefits to giving birth and raising a child in this country, as long as you do your research and take advantage of it. How do you find being a parent in the Netherlands? Are things very different in your home country when it comes to parenting? Let us know in the comments!