Baby Brain


Having a baby in the Netherlands means a minimal level of scans, tests and interference. But is this a good or a bad thing?

Pregnancy Checks and Tests

Image: Wikimedia Commons 

Oxford Dictionary: Re|assur¦ance
The action of removing someone’s doubts or fears

I imagine first-time parents are the most anxious of them all. This assumption is based on precisely no scientific data. But my instinct is, the second time round (if there’s a second), the familiarity of it all will make my husband and I more relaxed.

Expectant parents seek ongoing positive reassurance about the health of their baby. During my latest childbirth preparation class, we were divided into small groups and encouraged to share our concerns for our pregnancy / birth. In my group, with most women around the 30 week mark, the lengthy gap between the 20 week scan and the birth itself was raised. The consensus was that we’d like to see our babies on a screen just one more time to feel confident in their wellbeing.

Countries vary in their proclivity for testing. The Netherlands sits at the hands-off end of the scale. Healthy Mums-to-be are given:

  • 1 or 2x scans around 12 weeks to confirm the baby’s existence and to test for certain congenital conditions (if requested)
  • 1x scan at 20 weeks for a full anatomy check
  • Midwife appointments every four weeks, reducing to three then two in the third trimester. Checks include blood pressure and baby’s heartbeat, then measuring your bump with a tape measure from 30 weeks to estimate size and growth rate
  • An initial blood analysis, including iron levels. A repeat of the iron test at 30 weeks

Tests you don’t get, whose existence I’m reliably informed of by friends from other countries, include scans between 12-20 weeks, scans after 20 weeks, or gestational diabetes. In the interests of fair representation, if  the midwives think something is unusual they will arrange extra checks.

Typically in the Netherlands, every pregnancy complaint is considered “fine” or “to be expected”. Last midwife visit I mentioned my extreme tiredness and excessive growth compared to the previous 30 weeks. The response was the standard confirmation – “that’s very normal”.

For many of my course mates, hailing from every corner of the world, the relaxed Dutch approach is viewed as positive and even comforting in its lack of drama, but falling just short of their ideal input. Consequently, many have paid for extra scans, or even sneaked some extra tests during trips to their home country.

It’s great not to treat pregnant women a medical concern. But just a little more information could go a long way. Yes, everyone likes to know that their little niggles are nothing more. But I’d have liked to know what normal / abnormal growth looks like. Maybe stick me on some weighing scales and throw some stats at it. I think this small step further is all the Dutch need for their approach to be spot on.  


What’s everyone else’s experience of pregnancy checks and tests? Did you feel like you had too much, too little or just right? And what was a typical response to your questions or concerns?


17 thoughts on “Reassurance

  1. I am from the United States and I can understand where you are coming from. You’re right, pregnancy is not a medical concern but pregnancy should be monitored throughout gestation in case problems occur. When I was pregnant with my 5 year old daughter, I feel like I went to the doctor quite often and everything went great. I can only imagine how often high risk pregnant women visit their ob in America!


    • Thanks for the comment. I think in the USA there are definitely more tests / checks than in the Netherlands … I’m v interested to hear your view & that you found it positive. Am always curious how different I’d find my pregnancy experience in another country!


  2. I’m based in the US as well and we haven’t gone more than a month without seeing our baby. We did have 2 elective scans however – one for reassurance and one for an early gender reveal. Totally worth spending the money on. I would consider myself a worrier – so I definitely like knowing as much about my and my baby’s health as possible, at all stages of my pregnancy.


    • I’m envious … I LOVE the scans, seeing the baby is magical … Maybe we should just pay for another one … And if it lessens your worries it can only be a good thing!


  3. I’m from Australia and we definetly get a ton of tests and scans. I saw that you didn’t mention getting tested for GBS. Do you not get tested for this in the Netherlands?
    Completely agree that first time parents have more concerns and rightly so. we have no Idea of what is normal or not
    I got to see my baby at each doctor appointment and it was great because he had his own scanning machine and I was so worried about baby that it brought so much relief to me


    • I had to Google GBS – I wasn’t even sure what it was – so I’m guessing I haven’t been tested for it! (might ask my midwife next time …)
      Can’t believe your doctor has a scanning machine for every appointment, that’s amazing! … definitely starting to feel like another scan would be nice ….


    • Every 6 weeks … That does sound quite spaced out. But then maybe that’s because I love the midwife appointments! – there’s bound to be other things you get that they don’t do in, say NL.


  4. I can understand your concerns, but it doesn’t sound hugely different to the UK. I saw my midwife first time at 6 weeks (booking in) then not until after my first hospital app (that was at 10 weeks). I then had 12 week scan and 18 week midwife app but won’t see her again now until 25 weeks, then I have growth scans at 28, 32 and 36 weeks. I am considered high risk and they believe the baby will be too small so those scans are not the norm. Up to birth I will only see midwife every 4 weeks from 25 weeks. I would prefer to be left alone more I think. I do like the midwife appointments but the hospital ones last such a long time and are often stressful too!
    x x


    • I think maybe the UK has less midwife appointments but more scans … Luckily seeing the midwife doesn’t involve travelling to hospital, I’m sure if it did I’d find that less enjoyable. I guess whatever care you get as long as you feel happy and comfortable with it that’s all that matters. Sending best wishes for you and the healthy growth of your baby.


  5. Hi, this sounds exactly the same as my experience in the UK – a 12 and a 20 week scan. midwife appointments at the same intervals, a couple of blood tests and that’s that. The only extra care I’ve had was this weekend just gone when I went in for monitoring because the baby hadn’t moved all day. I haven’t felt under cared for as a first time Mum, I have to admit, I’ve felt really relaxed the whole way through xx #blogbumpclub


    • Hi – thanks for the comment – great to hear that you’ve had such a positive experience in the UK. In the end, I guess feeling relaxed and happy is all that matters 🙂


  6. I’m having my baby in the UK and was surprised at the difference between this pregnancy and my first four years ago (also in the UK). Here, if you had a normal, healthy pregnancy and birth with no intervention the first time, they class you as low risk and so reduce the number of times you are checked. It means that, this time, I’ll have had two scans (one at 12 weeks and one at 20 weeks) and then fewer midwife appointments (there’s an 8 week gap between my 20 week scan and 28 week midwife appointment). On the one hand I like this – I’m busy running around after my daughter as it is and juggling work etc let alone making it to regular check-ups. Plus, I know that if anything feels wrong I can just request an earlier appointment. But on the other I sometimes wonder if having more check-ups would make the pregnancy feel more “real” and give me more time to prepare mentally for another baby. I’m so busy that I often forget I’m pregnant – despite the big old bump and regular cankles! Thanks for linking up to the #BlogBumpClub again. x


    • Oh that’s interesting I’d never thought from the perspective of if it was a second baby. I wonder if they follow the same pattern in the Netherlands – low risk first time, even less checks second. Or what would happen if we ever decided to move back to the UK.

      I’m not surprised you’re busy, I marvel at where you get the time, energy and inspiration for your lovely blog from! … although I can empathize with the ‘not really pregnant’ thing. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, for a few seconds I forget I’m about to have a baby. Strange how the brain can bypass such a major event.

      Thanks for the comment x


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