Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All you need to know when pregnant in the land of windmills, bikes, dikes and tulips Part 2

This is part two of my article on All you need to know when pregnant here in the Netherlands. I hope that the tips I shared can be of great assistance to those who are pregnant and an eye-opener for those planning on getting pregnant and giving birth here in the land of windmills, bikes, dikes and tulips.

4. If you can afford it, get a DOULA. The word “doula” originates from the ancient Greek and is referred to as the “woman who serves”- the most important female slave or servant in an ancient Greek household who in most probability helped the lady of the house through childbearing. From the book Mothering the Mother by Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, a doula is referred to as the “woman experienced in childbirth and who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth”. The role of the doula is to have a safe, well-informed and empowering birthing experience.

In the Philippines the idea of having a doula is not so common. This is because of our extended family members and friends who are all willing to share their experiences and help before, during and after childbirth. But the practice of having a professionally trained companion to guide an expectant mother is on the rise, not just in Western countries but in Asian countries as well. This is because of the new perspective on trying to achieve a more positive and well-informed birth experience rather than just being at the mercy of doctors or midwives. Here in the Netherlands you can find a listing of doulas in your neighborhood through the dutch doula website.

Personally, had I known about a doula’s role before having given birth I would have opted to get one. When I gave birth in Indonesia it was just me and my husband doing the breathing and pushing techniques that we learned from attending one session of birthing class. Looking back, it would have been nice to have someone around that time to inform me of what is going on and how the birth is progressing. As for our youngest son’s birth here in the Netherlands, I was fortunate to have an encouraging midwife while we tried doing homebirth and later she was highly attentive to my needs when I had to deliver at the hospital instead. She handled my condition well and made decisions on time. But the connection was still lacking especially on the emotional part. Too bad my in-laws were out of the country for a vacation. My mother-in-law was looking forward to being there for the delivery. The second time around it was just me and Boris. I had to rely on my husband for support and I am so fortunate to have a man who does not flinch at the sight of blood nor was he panicky and unfocused. But the need to have someone to professionally rely on was there even more because I had a retained placenta. Boris and I didn’t have a clue on what is going on and the consequences of having such a condition. It was only after giving birth and reading about it did I know how life threatening it can be. During the time I was in the hospital we just went through the flow of things. No wonder the doctor was a bit surprised by my insistence to go home on the same day! Had I known about what my body went through I would have been gentler on myself and paced myself more. Had I been with a doula, she would have informed me of what I needed to do. I guess what was written on Doulas Making a Difference is true “My husband (partner) is my left hand and my doula is my right.”
With what I have learned and gotten to understand about doulas after my birth experiences it has inspired me to be a doula myself. Hopefully in a few months time I can finish my Becoming a Doula and Childbirth Educator certifications from Childbirth International.

5. Do the Math.
Having a baby is financially straining. Although the insurance covers the expenses of homebirths or hospital births but the minute the baby is born there are a lot of expenses that will be incurred. Questions like, how long will I breastfeed or shall I give formula instead? Disposable diapers or cloth diapers? Home-made food or bottled ones? ---these are questions with financial consequences. A comparison of the prices of diapers for 4-9 kilos revealed the following prices for 1 diaper:

Brand Price per diaper
AH huismerk, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,171
Aldi broekies, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,128
Schlecker Babyfun, Mini 4-10 KG € 0,160
Bibou, Ultra dry Midi 4-9 KG € 0,212
Bumblies, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,136
C1000 Select, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,156
Lidl huismerk (Cien), Midi 4-9 KG € 0,130
DA huismerk, Mini 4-9 KG € 0,190
Dotties, Midi 4-10 KG € 0,116
Edah huismerk, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,170
Etos Mijn baby, Midi 4-10 KG € 0,143
Europrofit, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,132
Fitti, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,231
Fixies, Junior 15-25 KG € 0,227
Friends, Midi 4-10 KG € 0,146
Huggies, Midi 5-9 KG € 0,200
Kruidvat huismerk, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,153
Libero Up & Go, Maxi 8-11 KG € 0,307
Moltex Oko, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,222
Pampers, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,156
Peaudouce, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,170
STIP, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,190
Super, Midi 5-10 KG € 0,170
Trekpleister huismerk, Midi 4-9 KG € 0,151

(Taken from:
Taking the cheapest one which is the Dotties and multiplying it to five changing in a day (.58) then multiplied by 365 days in a year will yield: 211,70 euros! That is if you only change 5 times in a day. Expect more for smaller babies and this is also depending on the absorbency of the diaper. Now I wouldn’t want to try for the formula! Breastfeeding is still the best choice not just physically but financially as well.

What can be done to augment the expenses?
One has to know the government support that having a child entitles you to. For one there is the Kinderbijslag which is the child benefit given by the government on a quarterly basis towards the expenses of raising a child. For more information on how the Kinderbijslag is given and how much to expect per child just go to the Sociale Verzekeringsbank(SVB) website. The site also has an English translation.

Kindergebonden budget(child budget) is another benefit from the government that is given monthly but depends on the income and number of children in the family. To find more information on this one has to read through the Toeslagen website. Unfortunately the site is only offered in dutch and medewerkers (employees) from the Dutch Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) only use Nederlands as medium of communication.

--- to be continued----

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