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Having a Baby in the Netherlands – First Trimester Update

A little background on having a baby in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, when you find out you’re pregnant, the store-bought pregnancy tests are good enough for the doctor, so you don’t have to go in for a blood test to confirm the pregnancy! You actually don’t even need to call your doctor right away, all they will tell you is to find a midwife. Thankfully, I already knew two midwives that I wanted to reach out to. So of course, in my own “Hana” fashion, I reached out to them the first day I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to reach out to them quickly, because I specifically wanted a solo midwife (I’ll explain what that is below) and they book up a lot faster.

Traditionally in the Netherlands, every woman gives birth with a midwife, unless there is a medical reason to have an OBGYN. She can choose to give birth at home, hospital, or birth center with a midwife. Most midwifery practices have about five or six midwives who you will see throughout your pregnancy, and then whoever is on-call the day you give birth will be your midwife. I, however, wanted to work with only one midwife during my pregnancy and be guaranteed to have her at my birth (except for in the rare instance of severe sickness or family emergency, where I would then have her backup). Thankfully the Netherlands has these kinds of midwives called “solo midwives”. 

My experience

After our initial consultation, I chose my midwife and then didn’t see her again till I was 10 weeks pregnant. I then didn’t have my first ultrasound till I was 11 weeks pregnant! This is in comparison to the United States, where some women have an ultrasound as early as 6 weeks. The Netherlands follows the belief that pregnancy is a natural physiological process for a woman’s body, not a sickness that needs to be medicalized, and that there isn’t much they can do for a woman before 10 weeks.

I was totally okay with this laid back approach to pregnancy, because it really aligned with my beliefs as well. I, however did start to get anxious before my 11 week ultrasound. Not super anxious, just low-level, in the back of my mind, fearing a miscarriage, or even a missed miscarriage (when the body doesn’t register it, and then there is no heartbeat at the ultrasound). I have friends who have had both a miscarriage and a missed miscarriage, and while I felt informed and accepting of the very real possibility of miscarriage, now that I was pregnant, none of that mattered. I knew I would be devastated if it did in fact happen.

Every time I went to the bathroom I found myself checking my underwear (out of habit from when I used to check for cervical fluid with FAM) and would feel relieved that I saw no blood. I actually had spotting during week 10 of my pregnancy, which is very normal in a healthy pregnancy, but it still made me very anxious and eager to hear that heartbeat at the ultrasound appointment the following week. 

So when I finally had my 11 week ultrasound and got to see my little baby doing flips and hear its heartbeat, I was so relieved! I held all my emotions in though during the appointment, because I’m quite private with my emotions, but as soon as Brooks and I stepped outside and took a seat on a bench to look at the printed photos, I let myself cry with relief.

The physical

I feel lucky to not have had such a hard first trimester, mainly because I didn’t really get nauseous and I never threw up, but that being said, it still wasn’t a walk in the park. I have mad respect for the women who work full time during the first trimester!  I had an overall icky feeling the whole first trimester, not nauseous or sick, I just felt ‘ugh’.

The tiredness, oh the tiredness!! On top of the tiredness, I had the worst sleep of my life (so far). I normally am such a sound sleeper, but I would toss and turn and lay in bed with insomnia. I would wake up tired and only able to eat a bit of food, then attempted to get some work done on my laptop while sitting on the couch, only to have to take a nap at 11am. Once I could eat a proper lunch around 12pm, I felt like a whole new person.

Thankfully this all subsided around the magical 13 week mark and I am feeling much more like myself again. Looking forward to giving you all a second trimester update soon!


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