"My due date was 4 August, but on 11 August I still hadn't given birth. The baby was growing and growing and I felt absolutely enormous. Everything started hurting. After yet another visit to the midwife, in which she told me that the baby was still doing fine, I burst into tears on the pavement outside. Mignon, the midwife who was taking the surgery, saw me sitting there and called me straight back in again. I told I'd had enough of it and I was scared that I'd have to give birth in hospital if the baby was overdue. She then stripped my membranes, which sounds more exciting than it is. Whether it was because of this or not, that night I gave birth to Teuntje in the comfort of my own home. After eight hours of heavy labour I was allowed to push and after two pushes he was there. It was lovely to go in my own shower afterwards and then climb in my own bed! My family came round soon afterwards. Then three hours after the birth, when we were completely on our own with Teuntje, the three of us in bed together, it was bliss."
The phone! Three in the morning! It's Ahmed. "My wife has much pain, baby coming, midwife must come!" It sounds like real cry for help. Moroccan women wait a long time before they have someone call the midwife. I jump in the car and head for the Sluisstraat. I'd been there just two months before for the birth of the upstairs neighbour. The city is asleep, apart from a few rowdy drunks. In the Zeilstraat I catch a glimpse of two men kicking in a shop window. A break-in! I hit the horn hard but drive on quickly. With a shiver down my spine I phone the police. Ahmed is standing at the front door. I enter a new world. Inside hot mint tea is simmering on the stove, a girl and two boys sit on the sofa, pale with tiredness. Fatima is squatting in a corner. Her long dress covers her lower body. The desperate look in her eyes tells me it's serious. I quickly lay two refuse bags under her bottom to save the sheepskin she's crouching over. Very carefully I listen to the baby's heartbeat. She won't let me do an internal examination. Gently but firmly she pushes my hand away and pulls down her skirts. She's embarrassed and I don't push it. Father Ahmed disappears with the two brothers into a side room. Samira aged twelve whispers gravely that this time it's really taking her mother a long time. As the eldest daughter she already has experience with births. Suddenly the waters break. Moaning softly, Fatima carefully pushes. I say nothing, she doesn't need anybody now. Only when the head comes does she lift up her skirts again. Then it comes. She supports the head with her hands and the pushes her slippery baby out underneath her. As if i's the most ordinary thing in the world. When the baby cries, she gives me a radiant smile, a mixture of relief and triumph. Fatima carefully inspects her howling baby boy. Everything's fine. They don't have a hot water bottle, so I ask Samira to fill two empty cola bottles with hot water. Tonight she's my perfect assistant and interpreter. Then a relieved Ahmed comes in with biscuits and almonds. He tells me about his past job in the steelworks. Just before I go Samira shows me her school report. She's the best in her class. I can well believe it. Satisfied and elated I drive home to bed at dawn."
The birth of Lars
Monique: "At half past six in the evening my waters broke. I was amazed that such a huge stream of water could come out of me! The water was a strange green-brown colour. This wasn't good, we knew from the information evening. The baby might be under stress. The midwife Dianne was on duty and came straight away, although I still wasn't having contractions. She told me that there was indeed meconium in the amniotic fluid. But she reassured me immediately by letting me hear the baby's heart. Unfortunately we did have to go straight to the hospital and there they constantly kept an eye on Lars' heartbeat on a big monitor. He was doing fine. But I wasn't having any contractions. I was put on a drip to induce labour and after two hours I was in labour. My husband had gone home to pick up things for me and the baby and by the time he got back the birth was gaining momentum. I was having massive contractions which I didn't know how to cope with and I was getting desperate. The nurse who kept coming to see if everything was normal said that I had to keep it up for a while longer. But I'd already been at it for 12 hours!! Just when I couldn't take it any more, I was so happy to see Dianne come in. She had some spare time during her shift and had come to see how I was doing. She saw straight away that I was having a hard time and she helped me cope with the last contractions. The panic ebbed away and the urge to push got worse. It was Dianne who "caugh" our Lars, with the obstetrician present in the room. We were allowed to go home happy straight after the birth and the first week was a joy for all three of us."
Alice and Marc
"We've been living in the Netherlands for six months and in this crazy country women give birth at home. Well, not us. Although the midwife had confirmed that the pregnancy was completely healthy and I could decide what I wanted myself, we were sure we wanted to give birth in a policlinic. At half past seven in the evening we wanted midwife Door to come. By then I'd been having contractions for about seven hours. That night with all the rumbling I'd hardly closed my eyes, so I was already pretty much done in. It seemed to me time to go to the hospital. When Door came, after she'd been watching me for about half an hour she said that she wasn't going to examine me internally because she didn't get the impression that the real work had started yet. I insisted that she examine me and to my great disappointment after eight hours of labour and a long time of rumbling I wasn't dilated at all! Door gave me courage and said that everything had softened nicely. The contractions got worse and worse and by half past two I was finally dilating. But it was still too soon to go to hospital. Door said she would come back at eight oâ€™clock to see if I was dilated enough to go to hospital, but I couldn't stand it any more, I'd had enough. Bea proposed that I should have an epidural in hospital, because she also saw I couldn't take any more. I still don't understand how these Dutch women do it. I went with Door to the hospital and there I had an epidural. I was able to sleep a little and after that I recovered enough that I felt fine again. My contractions had got weaker " that often happens with an epidural " so I was put on a drip. After another twelve hours I finally gave birth! With a vacuum extraction, so I had to stay another night in hospital. All in all it was a heavy birth. It's taken me months to recover and really enjoy my daughter. For Marc the worse thing was that our daughter and I couldn't come home with him after the birth. It was awful for him coming home alone and knowing that I was in hospital with our daughter. We're waiting a while before we have another baby."
De Genestetstraat 2
1054 AX Amsterdam
The assistent of the midwifes can be reached by phone mo-fri
The midwife on duty can be reached 24/7 in case of labour or emergencies:
020 - 260 1706
020 - 260 1287