Independent midwives can care for you during your pregnancy, birth and after your baby is born. For most ex-pat women in Belgium a home birth is not considered as a possible option. But, with the support and care of an Independent Midwife it is possible and here's how...
1-3% of women choose to have a home birth in Belgium. If you are considering a home birth you need to find an independent midwife who can support home birth. Sometimes they can offer midwife led continuity of care within the four walls of a hospital.
Like gynaecologists, midwives are affiliated to particular hospitals but unlike consultations with a gynaecologist, consultations with most midwives are fully reimbursed by your mutuelle/ziekenfonds (social security organisation).
Birthing your baby at home is not just restricted to second and subsequent pregnancies. But, to be able to give birth at home, you need to meet certain criteria:
With an independent midwife you can give birth either:
Hopital Erasme is the only hospital in Belgium to have a midwifery-led maternity unit, Le Cocon. The unit actively promotes natural childbirth and midwife care for you throughout your pregnancy and childbirth.
How much does care with an independent midwife cost?
Unlike hospital births, home births and midwife appointments are fully reimbursed by the mutuelle/ziekenfonds (social security organisation). Your midwife’s additional expenses (such as petrol etc.) are at your cost. You may have to pay a contribution towards blood tests and scans, unless you have top-up insurance. It is a good idea to investigate what health insurance you have anyway, just to make sure you are covered for all eventualities.
Home Birth Care With An Independent Midwife
Before your baby is born
Each midwife, whether she works independently or within a team, normally has a partner midwife to help with deliveries. She is also connected to a hospital and a gynaecologist. Most (if not all) of your routine prenatal checkups will be with the midwife, although you will be able to visit the hospital for scans and the standard prenatal blood tests. It is a good idea to visit the maternity facilities of the hospital and meet the gynaecologist anyway, just in case things don’t go according to plan at home.
Finding a Midwife
Flemish Professional Organisation of Midwives (Dutch)
Union Professionnelle des Sages-Femmes Belges (French)
Both organisations provide information on how a midwife cares for you in pregnancy, birth and after your baby is born. Plus a search function on how to find a midwife near you.
The power of women, and their families, is strengthened by the power of the midwife.
● Homebirth, a practical guide. Wesson, N. (2006) London, Pinter & Martin
● New Active Birth. A concise guide to natural childbirth (chapter 10: Active Birth in home or in hospital). Janet Balaskas
● Water Birth – a concise guide to using water during pregnancy, birth and infancy. Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon
● The Father's Homebirth Handbook Hazard, L. (2010) London, Pinter & Martin
● Homebirth: The Politics of Difficult Choices. Nolan, M. (2011) Abingdon, Routledge