Frequently asked questions

Folic acid

When should I start taking folic acid?
Folic acid, also called vitamin B11, is important for the production of new cells in the body. This is particularly true in the important period when the baby's spinal column is being formed. Taking folic acid prevents defects of the spinal cord and brain, like spina bifida. This defect isn't common: 1 in 700 babies. Research has shown that the chance is halved when women take folic acid around the time they get pregnant. But also if you've just discovered they you're pregnant it's worth taking folic acid. The government advises a 0.5 milligram tablet daily. The tablets are available from drug stores or pharmacies without a prescription. For the right effect you need to keep taking folic acid for two months after conception. This means for six weeks after your last period. Women with an increased risk of having a baby with spina bifida (for example because a close family member has had it) need to take ten times the standard dose of folic acid: 5 milligrams a day. To read more about this in Dutch, see the book Veilig Zwanger by Beatrijs Smulders and Mariiel Croon.

Ultrasound scans

When can I have a scan?
You can have multiple scans during pregnancy. Your midwife will telll you all about it on your firts visit. Midwifes in the centre, south and westpart of amsterdam work together in the "VEC Ite Boerema" see "

Hard stomach (Braxton Hicks contractions)

Are Braxton Hicks contractions harmful?
No, a hard stomach, known as a Braxton Hicks contraction, is just a normal contraction of the womb. It happens irregularly over the day and isn't really painful, though it can be uncomfortable. There are three reasons for Braxton Hicks contractions:

  1. You're too busy or you're suffering from too much stress. This is your body's way of protesting. The remedy is to take it easy and relax.

  2. Your uterus is a muscle. As the baby grows, the muscle is stretched and responds by contracting. This is a normal, healthy reaction of the uterus and it even appears to be good for the development of the baby's brain. 3

  3. In some cases there is a bladder infection without the characteristic symptoms. The midwife will refer you to your GP for a urine test. When should I contact my midwife if I have Braxton Hicks contractions? Always contact your midwife if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant and the contractions are painful and/or regularly recurring, certainly if they are combined with a discharge of blood, fluid or mucus. The contractions could then be premature contractions, sometimes caused by a bladder infection or another kind of infection. You need an extra check-up and treatment.

Ligament pain

What is ligament pain?
Your uterus is attached to your pelvis by ligaments. As the uterus grows these ligaments stretch and you sometimes feel a sharp pain, particularly in your lower abdomen, groin and the sides of your uterus. This can happen when you walk or when you change position in bed. The pain is a nuisance but fortunately harmless. If you lie down in a relaxed position it will go. The pain especially occurs at the beginning of pregnancy, and at the end when your baby is engaged in the pelvis.

Registering with the hospital

Do I need to register with a hospital before the birth?
No, it isn't necessary and isn't actually possible. This gives you the freedom to decide during the birth where you want to deliver your baby.

When to call

When should I call during labour?
You can always call. If you're worried or you're in need of encouragement, it's always fine to call. Sometimes a phone call is enough to set your mind at ease; in certain situations the midwife will drop by and see you. You can always ask the midwife to come. But as long as you feel safe, with the birth of a first baby there's always plenty of time to wait and see. When contractions start with a first birth, it can be hours before they're strong enough for the cervix to start dilating. As long as you're still coping well with the contractions, it's worth taking responsibility yourself and staying on your own or with your partner. The advantage is that the birth can progress well without outside disturbance. In the intimacy of your own atmosphere you can calmly get used to the pain, and labour will make the best progress. If after you've been having contractions for several hours you then call the midwife, there's a good chance that your cervix will have softened well or dilated a little. This is encouraging and increases your self-confidence. Our advice with a first baby is as long as you feel safe, don't call too soon. But if you need to, then you can (and should) always call. Strong contractions that lead to dilation come every three minutes and last about one and a half minutes. If you are having strong, long-lasting contractions every three minutes, dilation will be making good progress. If after a while you then feel the need to know how far you've come, it's a good time to call.

When should I call with a second or subsequent baby?
With a second or subsequent baby it's much clearer when you should call. Dilation usually progresses more quickly and intensely. You'll recognise how things are going and you'll sense infallibly the right time for the midwife to come. As a rule this is when you're having heavy contractions every three to five minutes. Be clear with the midwife when you talk to her on the phone. If you want her to come, say so directly. Be aware that you'll probably be waking her up. Give her a moment to come to and respond.

Pain relief

Can I have pain relief during labour?
Yes. There are various ways to relieve the pain. Warm water and acupuncture help you to cope with it. To have an anaesthetic you'll need to go into hospital. During your pregnancy you don't yet know what labour feels like. Consequently our advice is to wait until the birth before you decide whether or not you need pain relief. The form of pain relief and the time you receive it is always decided in consultation with the obstetrician.


De Genestetstraat 2
1054 AX Amsterdam

For non urgent questions call the midwife mo-fri
from 9.00-9.30
020-683 1640

The assistent of the midwifes can be reached by phone mo-fri
from 9.30-16.30
020-683 1640

The midwife on duty can be reached 24/7 in case of labour or emergencies:

Red team:
020 - 260 1706

Yellow team:
020 - 260 1287