Giving birth, making choices before then

Everyone who is pregnant is faced with a choice. Do you want to give birth at home or in the hospital? Every place where you give birth has both advantages and disadvantages. Please take this into account in your decision. How a home birth goes is different for everyone, but some things are broadly the same. What is the course of events after the birth? Am I going to breast or bottle feed my baby? These are questions that run through every pregnant woman’s mind.

Home birth

Every woman who is pregnant has to give birth. This is something for both the woman and the partner that they will never forget. That is why it is very important that it happens the way you and your partner want it. In the Netherlands we have the option to give birth at home. Many women also choose this. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

Advantages of giving birth at home

  • You are in your familiar environment and the baby is immediately in his/her home.
  • You decide how your delivery will proceed.
  • You can take a shower whenever you want.
  • You have your own belongings within reach.
  • Full reimbursement from the health insurer.
  • Less chance of intervention and infections.
  • Your partner is usually more involved in the birth by the midwife.


Disadvantages of giving birth at home

  • If complications arise during delivery, you will still have to go to the hospital.
  • You must meet certain conditions. (I will describe this in more detail later in this article).
  • No pain relief possible.
  • If there are problems with the child, no medical equipment available.


Conditions for home birth

  • You must be at least 37 weeks pregnant and a maximum of 42 weeks pregnant.
  • Your health condition must be stable.
  • There may not be a breech presentation or a multiple pregnancy.
  • You may not have had a delivery on medical grounds.
  • You must not have had a caesarean section.
  • The bed must be on wooden blocks.
  • There must be running water on the floor where you give birth.
  • You must be easy to transport from your floor, assuming complications arise.


Progress of home birth

How a home birth works is of course different for each person. Yet there are also similarities. Your labor is starting to get underway. You call your midwife when your midwife told you to. This will then come to your home to check your dilation. The midwife may then leave again because the dilation has not yet progressed far enough to remain. And then she comes back every time to see how the dilation is progressing. At a certain point, maternity care is called to come and assist. Then everything is prepared for the birth. During the birth you will be well supported by the midwife and maternity assistant. Once your baby is born, your husband can cut the umbilical cord and in some cases there is even the possibility that your husband will take care of the baby when it is born.

After birth

After delivery, they have to weigh the baby and do the Apgar test. This is performed 3 times. This is a test that provides a quick impression of your baby’s general condition. This test is done 1 minute, 5 minutes and 10 minutes after birth. This results in a score between 0 and 10 three times. Most babies are born with a score between 7 and 10 points. Then you can have your baby with you and you can start enjoying it. If you want to breastfeed, your baby will be latched on for the first time within an hour. And of course you can take a nice shower afterwards. The maternity nurse will stay until the condition has stabilized and then you will have some quality time with the family. You will then receive maternity care depending on your situation. In most cases you are entitled to 49 hours of maternity care, the legal minimum is 24 hours spread over 8 days. The maternity assistant will help you with household chores and teach you how to care for your baby. Discuss well in advance how you are going to approach maternity visits and hold each other to this. Also inform your maternity assistant of this, as this is the person who will open the door the most.

Hospital birth

A hospital birth can take place for various reasons. The best part, of course, is if that happens because you want it to. But it could also be because it is medically necessary. There are also advantages and disadvantages to a hospital birth.


  • You and your baby are constantly monitored by medical equipment.
  • If medical procedures need to be performed, you are already at the hospital.
  • Pain relief is possible.
  • You don’t have any ‘clutter’ in your house.
  • If medical help is needed for your baby, the specialist will be there quickly.



  • You are not the only one who needs medical attention. So you have divided care.
  • Medical intervention is carried out more quickly.
  • You have less privacy.
  • Due to the change of shifts you may have to deal with different people.
  • It is more difficult for you to decide for yourself when you go to the toilet, when you take a shower and which position you want to adopt.


Course of hospital birth

Assuming that you choose to give birth in the hospital, it is more difficult to describe how it works. Since this can be very different in every hospital. But here too, actions will be broadly the same. Your midwife will indicate when you can go to the hospital. Here you will probably be connected to a monitor to keep an eye on your baby’s heart rate. Your heart rate and contraction progress are also displayed on the monitor. The midwife will check your dilation regularly and when you are 10 centimeters dilated you can start pushing. If the child is born in good health, the father of the child may also cut the umbilical cord.

After the hospital birth

Here too, the Apgar test is performed as described above and the baby is weighed. Nowadays the baby is not measured immediately after delivery, as this would be bad for the hips. You can also have your baby with you. Then you take a nice shower to freshen up. If you are going to breastfeed, you will probably be advised not to wash your breasts with soap. Then you will give the first feeding. Depending on your condition and that of the baby, you can go home within a few hours. The maternity assistant will come here to help you get started during the first few hours. Then the procedure is the same as for a home birth.

What food am I going to give my baby?


The best thing for your future baby is of course breastfeeding. You usually provide this upon request. What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

  • It is always at the right temperature.
  • You always have it at hand.
  • It accelerates the contraction of your uterus after childbirth.
  • It is free.
  • You will regain your weight faster.
  • Full of antibodies.
  • Easier to digest, so your baby will suffer less from colic and vomiting.
  • Milk production adapts to your baby’s needs.
  • It’s hygienic.
  • The composition is always good.


  • You always have to feed yourself, your partner cannot give you a bottle. (Except if you express milk, but that is only possible after 6 weeks).
  • You and your child may get thrush (yeast infection).
  • You do not see what your baby drinks, so you do not know whether he/she is getting enough.
  • You have to learn to breastfeed, a slightly stubborn baby is not easy to latch on to.
  • Even if you want to breastfeed, sometimes you are not successful and you may feel like you are failing.
  • When you go back to work you will have to pump a lot. The law stipulates that you may use 25% of your working time to breastfeed or express milk. There must also be a special pumping room for you at work.
  • You must supplement with vitamins D & K.
  • You still need to pay attention to your food and medications. There are certain guidelines for eating, which you can ask your maternity nurse.


Bottle feeding

Breastfeeding is the best option, but the bottle is a very good alternative. If your breastfeeding does not get going, you can always switch to bottle feeding. There are also pros and cons to this.

  • You can see how much your baby is consuming.
  • You can go dieting.
  • Your partner can bottle-feed from day 1 and is therefore more involved in your child’s feeding.
  • When you go back to work, you don’t have to make any arrangements for food.
  • You have a little more freedom.
  • You do not need to supplement with vitamin K
  • You can eat and drink whatever you want.
  • You do not have to pay attention to medication intake.
  • Your baby is less likely to get thrush.

There are also disadvantages to bottle feeding. I list them for you below:

  • You must always prepare it, paying attention to hygiene, temperature and composition.
  • It is more difficult to digest, so your baby is more likely to have colic and vomiting.
  • Bottle feeding is quite expensive.
  • It contains cow’s milk which your child may be allergic to.
  • You must boil your bottles and teats every day.
  • You should always make sure you have enough at home.
  • According to the new guidelines, you must still supplement with vitamin D.

It remains difficult to make decisions about the birth and what kind of food you will give. But any choice is the right choice, you should do what you feel good about. Take all these facts into account in your decision. Talk about it with your partner and possibly with your midwife. A midwife can also remove your fears or doubts.

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