The least talked about part of pregnancy is what comes after- the Postpartum period. I know we are all busy trying to prepare for a new baby and the birth itself (don’t forget managing the pregnancy) but we can’t overlook ourselves in the postpartum. Which is why as a doula I spend time prenatally with clients helping them understand and plan for what is to come. And now I have created this series to discuss the realities of life in the Postpartum. I would like to start this series discussing the Kraamzorg service and Postpartum Doulas.
Here in the Netherlands they have a maternity nurse service called the Kraamzorg. The maternity nurse is called a Kraamverzorger. It’s covered by insurance (your contribution depends on the type of insurance you have). It is mandatory to hire one as they monitor you and report to your midwife, who is still responsible for you in the postpartum. Also the Kraamverzorger will attend your birth (two people- you plus baby need two attendants).
I have heard a lot of mixed reviews from both Dutch people and Expats. Some were very impressed with what all the Kraamverzorger did for them: massage, cleaning, collecting kids from school, baby care, and cooking. These Kraamverzorgers really helped their clients to find their new rhythm! On the other hand, others have said their Kraamverzorger didn’t do much, spoke ill of their cultural practices, and one who even shamed them for co-sleeping. Obviously, just like with everything, it depends on the individual you hire (which can be difficult when you hire one through a service).
It is important to secure your spot with the kraamverzorger early as they fill up quickly. It’s not impossible to find one after 20 weeks, but it will be difficult. You might ask around and see who is recommended from friends or your midwife. If you have a solo midwife then she may also provide this service. My advice is to try to hire an individual rather than a service so you know exactly who is going to be at your birth. Try https://www.kraamzorg1op1.nl for a listing of individual Kraamverzorgers.
What if you don’t want the Kraamzorg service? For myself, I didn’t feel like I needed one; I had my wonderful mother-in-law with us and she is like three people in everything she does. She is truly a beautiful goddess of many talents. Well, good news, while you have to hire one, you can explain and she can just check in on you in the postpartum. No big deal.
So now onto the Postpartum Doula. What’s the difference you ask? The Kraamzorg service is only immediately postpartum; they come for the first week or so whereas a Postpartum Doula can come for as often and as long as you hire her for (usually in the first 3 months postpartum). Also the Doula is never medical and can range from practical help (cleaning, baby care, laundry, meal making,etc) to spiritual and emotional help (belly binding, special massages, birth story writing and listening,etc).
Some Postpartum Doulas offer overnight support or “night nanny” where they tend to your baby while you get some restorative sleep. The schedule might look like 19:00-7:00. And during this time they change and settle the baby, and bring them to you for feeding if you’re breastfeeding. Then whisk them away when they’re done eating so you can quickly get back to sleep. When the baby is soundly sleeping, sometimes they’ll fold baby laundry, make you snacks for the next day, and even tidy the kitchen. Talk about luxury!
Because you choose a Postpartum Doula based on your preferences, I have never heard a bad review. The big downside is that you have to pay for it yourself and the prices can be steep. The important part to remember is that really it’s an investment in your recovery and the rest of your life.