Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Lynn who is American and had her first daughter in the US and her second in the Netherlands. Here is her story:
Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?
I am American and my husband is Italian. We have two daughters, ages 3.5 and 1.5. We had our first daughter in San Francisco and then moved to Delft, Netherlands when she was two months old. Our second daughter was born here in Delft.
Why did you have your children abroad?
We had been living in the Netherlands for a year when I got pregnant with our second child. Thanks to my wonderful local mom’s group (DelftMaMa
) I didn’t have any concerns about having a baby here and I never thought about going back to the US for the birth.
What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
One of the great things about having a baby abroad is that it gives you the chance to question the status quo in your own country and think about what kind of care and support is important to you (versus what everyone tells you that you need). The medical staff in the Netherlands had a much more laid back approach that resulted in fewer tests and less invasive appointments. As a second time mother, I appreciated the hands-off attitude.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Overall, I felt positive about my experience as an expat expectant mother. My main concern was that my requests for pain relief would not be honored. The Dutch have a history of denying requests for pain meds (although this is changing), and the midwife and doctors all told me that it might not be possible to get an epidural if the anesthesiologist was not available. That certainly added some stress to my pregnancy! I was lucky in the end to arrive at the hospital right before the anesthesiologist left for the evening…I hate to think about how my delivery would have gone had I shown up an hour later!
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
A major difference I encountered was opinions about how postnatal care should be handled. In the US I spent 3 days in the hospital and then went home. The medical staff encouraged me to get up and moving and I was back out walking around the neighborhood within a few days. The Dutch believe that mothers and babies should stay at home and do the minimum possible for at least the first week. Mother and baby are sent home as quickly as possible (as soon as a couple of hours after the birth) and once home, a special care nurse (kraamzorg) comes and helps you at home for the next week. The nurse handles all of the check-ups, appointment scheduling, cleaning and chores so that you can focus on yourself and your baby. While I loved having the kraamzorg nurse come to my house (every country should have this system), I did have a disagreement with her over whether or not I could leave the house. She did not even want me to walk one block to the grocery store. I had to get the midwife to give me medical permission to leave.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
I would suggest that mothers connect with a local mother’s group and get to know other women who have given birth in the area. They will help you get answers to all of your questions, give the best advice and support you (and your new baby) through every step of the way.
About Lynn and Nomad Parents:
Find out more about Lynn on her site Nomad Parents. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Nomad Parents is the online community for expat families in the Netherlands. The site is full of helpful information, real stories and regular articles from experts relevant to parents with children ages 0-4. Come and visit us to find out what parenting in the Netherlands is all about.
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