Utrecht (Netherlands), Feb 1: 'A progressive world is where women get equal rights as men', a quote by Political philosopher and social psychologist John Locke holds significance in the light of the Dutch tradition of giving women the right to choose where to give birth, including at home, with low-risk pregnancies.
'Pregnancy is not an illness. We midwives are the experts in birthing physiology and the gatekeepers of transferrals to secondary care', explains Renate de Bie (36), midwife from Utrecht. 'The underlying principle is to have a physiological approach to childbirth and not overmedicalise it. We guide women through pregnancy, birth and the post-partum period, and only turn to hospitals if we identify a medical complication', she further said. Maternity care in the Netherlands is organised according to a primary, secondary and tertiary care model, where primary care, often delivered in the community, is led by independently practicing midwives.
The secondary and tertiary levels are provided in a hospital setting, but only when certain conditions apply. Midwives refer to a national document that provides guidelines to identify the required level of care depending on certain risks of complications, a WHO European Region report said on Friday. Renate has worked for eight years as part of a midwife practice, assisting women giving birth, including in their own home. Though she has now been working in a secondary care hospital for over two years, Renate talks fondly of her experiences in home-birthing. 'I always loved arriving in a dark street in the middle of the night, where everyone was asleep, unaware that something special was about to happen. I’d spot a solitary light and think – 'That’s where I need to go'. The whole experience is so intimate, there can be such a tranquillity around giving birth, where the woman is completely in her mantra. Having been welcomed into a family’s home and bedroom, I would feel so privileged to have been given their complete trust. Driving home the sun would rise and I would feel like I was myself radiating, considering the unique experience I had witnessed. As the city would come alive I would think, 'People are going to work and students returning from a night out, while I just helped a baby into the world'. Assisting a birth always feels magical.' (UNI)