Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Preparing for Childbirth in the Netherlands - Raising the Bed

Today marks the same point in this pregnancy as when our first little one was born.  So, as you can imagine, we are thinking that the baby could come any day now.  (Preferably not this week, though!)

Preparations

We've been preparing for this little one's arrival, despite also being in the process of fixing up our new house (thanks also to friends and family who have been helping us out!) and chasing around a toddler.

I think I can say that we are a few steps farther ahead than with the last one -
- This time the hospital bag is mostly packed, with a list of what needs to be grabbed at the last minute.  Last time, it was going to be my project for the following week.
- Last time we were just going to have the baby sleep in a separate room, in a regular-sized bed, but then were advised that it'd be easier (and better for the baby!) for him to sleep in our room.  So for the first bit of time, D slept in his stroller bassinet propped on 2 folding chairs in our walk-in closet.  This time, we've borrowed a bassinet from some church friends, and it's already put together.  And yes, it's also in our closet, but that's because it'll be in the way for now.

Now, for those of you that do NOT live in the Netherlands, you've probably thought to yourself, "Yeah, that's what we do here too."

But - bet you don't have to do THIS to your bed!


Last time R had picked up these bed raisers a matter of days before D's birth, and we hadn't even had a chance to set them up.  He and his brother raised the bed after we got back from the hospital.

What's the point?  These raise the bed so that the sleeping surface is now about at my waist (I'm about 5'5" or 165cm tall), and the point is to force me to do some pregnancy gymnastics in these last weeks.  Or trip over the stool when you need to get up for the thousandth time to go to the bathroom in the night.  Just kidding.

Home Births

In the US, the rate of home births - or those outside the hospital - is less than 2%.  (I couldn't find any definite stats from recent years, but I didn't see any higher than 2%.)

In the Netherlands, that rate hovers closer to 20-30%.  (Again, varying numbers for different cities and years.)

Both of these stats assume - and hope for - a low-risk birth with the possibility of transfer as needed.  I didn't want a home birth with my first, and I would still prefer a hospital birth with my second.  However, my midwife told us to prepare for the possibility that this birth could happen at home if it goes as quickly or faster than before! (From my first contraction to D making his appearance in the world was a span of only 4 hours!)

With a home birth, the raised bed makes it easier for the midwife to help with the birthing process.  This is tantamount to having a hospital bed that can be raised or lowered as needed, only you're not just going to pull these things out from under the bed every time.

Kraamzorg

The Dutch healthcare system has a wonderful thing called kraamzorg, and is not easily translatable back into English in one word/concept.  "Maternity nurse" maybe comes the closest.  For approximately the first week after D's birth, a nurse came to our house each day and helped with the following:
- checked my vitals
- checked that my uterus was contracting/shrinking as it should
- checked D's vitals
- made us tea and coffee and sandwiches and brought them upstairs when necessary
- cleaned the house
- did laundry 

It's a marvelous thing - sorry, America, that you don't have this.

In order for her to check my vitals, and make it easier on her back (so the reasoning goes), our bed has to be raised.  

Removal

I mean removal of the bed raisers, not the baby!

I think last time we pulled out the bed raisers once the kraamzorg time was done.  It was marvelous, because I no longer had to use a stepstool to get in and out of bed!