The role of the maternity assistant
Bringing peace, rhythm and harmony
The maternity assistant makes an essential contribution to the strength and confidence of young mothers and their babies during the delicate and crucial period after the birth. The maternity assistant will do her best to make the first week a celebration and a success in every respect. Her tasks are very varied, so they are by no means always easy. During the first day she tries to sense the atmosphere as much as possible to learn what attention and care the family needs most. Every new mother is different and has her own wishes and problems. The maternity assistant has the flexibility to keep adapting to new families and new atmospheres. This means that every time she has to change her priorities.
"Tricks of the trade"
The maternity assistant introduces your to the "tricks of the trade" of new parenthood. Guiding the mother with breastfeeding and monitoring and stimulating the bonding process are both important parts of her task. Apart from this, bringing peace, rhythm and harmony to the bedside is a challenge every day. Sometimes the maternity assistant needs her patience and confidence to get her through moments of difficulty and despair. The maternity assistant's approach can set an example and it contributes to the self-confidence of the new mother. This works best in the woman's own environment, in her own bedroom. After all, at home everything is more familiar and comfortable. Because the maternity assistant is a guest in the house, she easily adapts to the new mother's rules. It's often amazing how maternity assistants find their way around strange houses. At night they know exactly where the mother keeps her underpants or where the towels are. They have a sixth sense for everything that happens in a household environment. If the maternity assistant takes over a family from a colleague, she makes sure she is well-briefed before she goes to work.
The first nights with a new baby are sometimes long and hard. At daybreak the maternity assistant comes to lift the new mother's spirits. If the parents have been awake all night because the baby has been crying a lot and they don't know what to do anymore, it's wonderful in the morning to have the maternity assistant sitting on the edge of the bed to hear how the night has gone. The maternity assistant is like a mirror that radiates confidence, so the new mother knows the answer or solution herself. She takes over from the mother for a while so she can take a shower or get a bit more sleep. When she wakes up again everything is tidy and the maternity assistant gives some advice or a relaxing foot massage. Before she goes she does a bit of shopping or helps again with latching the baby on the breast. One last tip and she's on her way. Above all it's the little things that make the maternity assistant's care so effective, supportive and unique.
The care we provide
We can provide maternity care to clients throughout Amsterdam. Our links with the Birth Centre's obstetric practice goes back many years, and the working relationship is still close. But we deal with clients throughout the city, from any of the obstetric practices and hospitals. The number of hours of maternity care depends on the health insurance cover, the wishes of the family, or medical or social needs. The agreement with most insurance companies is that the number of hours is determined on the basis of an assessment form. This is sometimes done by the insurance company right from registration, then by our centre at the intake (around six weeks before the due date), and is reviewed when the care begins. The care is therefore always tailor-made, geared to the condition of the mother and baby and the situation in the family. For the benefit of our planning we ultimately provide care in one or a combination of the following three possible forms:
Mother and baby care
Care is provided for an average of three hours a day for the first eight days after the birth (counting from the day of the birth). The maternity assistant is only there to care for the mother and baby. She answers questions and helps with breastfeeding as well as doing medical checks and giving instructions on everything to do with looking after the baby. Given the limited time that the maternity assistant is there she usually doesn't get round to doing housework. This form of care is suited to people who have household help from other people apart from their partner (from a mother, mother-in-law or friend), have a small home, or just don't want to have a stranger in their house for a half or whole day.
Half day care
This comprises four or five hours of care for the first eight days after the birth. The maternity assistant provides the same care as with the mother and baby care. She also does light housework, like putting the washing on, making coffee and tea, keeping the shower and toilet clean, vacuuming and any other small household jobs to relieve the new mother as necessary. This number of hours is suited to people who are having a first baby, want to breastfeed and have no other help around the house.
Full day care
Care is provided for eight hours a day for the first eight days after the birth. Apart from the care described above in 'mother and baby care ' and 'half day care ', the maternity assistant can look after other children in the family, and do the shopping and cooking. This care is only provided if there is a real reason to have so many hours, and this must be clearly apparent from the assessment. For example, it might be because there are older children in the family, there are medical or social reasons, or you are a single mother.
About six weeks before your due date, a member of staff from the maternity care centre will call you to make an appointment for an intake. During the intake you receive extra information about the things you need to buy for use during the birth and in the period afterwards. You also hear more about the period after the birth and how you can contact the maternity assistant if necessary. The staff member will also run through a checklist with you to make sure you have thought about everything necessary. If you have any special wishes for the period after the birth (like vegetarian meals or particular customs), you can mention them during the intake so we can take them into account. If you have to pay for the intake yourself, please note that there is a price difference between an intake at home and by phone. During the intake you also discuss and fill in the assessment form to determine the number of hours of maternity care you will receive.
Maternity care for a home birth
If you give birth at home, in the final phase the midwife calls a maternity assistant to assist with the birth. After the birth this assistant passes on the information about the birth and the baby to the care centre. Depending on the time of the birth, the planner then arranges for a maternity assistant to come straight away or the following day.
Maternity care after a hospital birth or a stay in hospital
Only when the birth is over and you know definitely what time you will be arriving home should you (or usually your partner) call the planner at the maternity care centre (for the number see Contact under Maternity Care). Let them know what time you think you will be home. They will then discuss with you when the maternity assistant will be present and how many hours of care you will have. If you give birth or come home from hospital during the course of the day, the maternity assistant won't provide standard care on that day. She will only come round to provide initial care for you and the baby and set you up for the first night. This care can only be provided if you call the planner at the centre before 2.00pm. In all cases you should only call in the maternity assistant when you know definitely what time you will be home or when you need care.