This week I talk to Monique who is American. She shares her experience of having both her daughters in Holland as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a former attorney turned freelance writer and blogger, living in the Netherlands with my husband and 2 daughters. While I wasn’t athletic and didn’t participate in sports growing up, these days I proudly proclaim that I’m a runner and participate in races in a variety of destinations every chance I get.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in California, went to school Indiana and Washington, DC and lived for a while in Connecticut.
How old are your children and where did you have them?
I have two daughters, aged 10 and 7, both of whom where born in the Netherlands.
Why did you have your children abroad?
There was no master plan to move overseas to have children. We had been living in the Netherlands for a while due to my husband’s work, with no immediate plans to return back to the United States and we were ready to have a family.
What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
The custom in the Netherlands is to have the baby at home, not use an epidural and to have a kraamzorg, or nurse, come to your home after the birth of the baby.
While I didn’t “go Dutch” completely when having my children, but I did take advantage of some of the customs. I was not interested in having my children at home, but I did use a midwife, as is common and encouraged for women under 35 who aren’t experiencing any complications during pregnancy. I choose to forgo the epidural during the birth of my first child, but didn’t have that option with youngest daughter, since I need to have an emergency Cesarean. I did have a kraamzorg with both children, and having someone help you during those first few days after you bring your child home is a delightful pleasure every new mother should have.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
It was a little unsettling at first because the customs were different than where I was from. I relied heavily on “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” and the website “Baby Center” to get answers and information from the cultural perspective I was used to.
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
During my first pregnancy, my midwife mentioned that it was fine have wine, but it should be limited to a glass a night. This goes totally against what is expected in America, and I went with the American recommendation and abstained during both pregnancies. Breast-feeding was also not as popular a choice here when I had my children, and though not discouraged, I didn’t feel as though I had a lot of support around me regarding that decision.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Try to embrace the customs the country you live in but in the end don’t stress yourself our and do what’s best for you.
Monique Rubin writes about Netherlands travel for Examiner.com and her family’s travel adventures on her blog Mo Travels. She lives in The Netherlands with her husband and two young daughters. You can follow Monique on Twitter.
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What a delight a “kraamzorg” must be!