In Amsterdam

Childbirth Preparation Class, Amsterdam

After five weeks of classes, we’ve taken away more than just the facts about childbirth … 

Pregnancy Classes studying classroom

Image: Flickr / Bill Erickson


My main motivation for taking childbirth preparation classes was to meet other expectant couples. I’m sure I’m not meant to admit that. But, I grew up in the UK knowing about NCT (National Childbirth Trust) classes. These are renowned for bringing together parents-to-be living in the same area and creating lifelong friendships – my Mum is still in touch with some of her group 30 years on. I was hoping to find something vaguely similar in Amsterdam.

When you’re an expat, the geographic make-up of classes becomes extremely diverse. The group of 10 couples in our English-language classes included some 15 different nationalities, from Argentinian to Ukrainian. In some respects this is nothing new. I’m rarely in a room full of English people. But it makes you appreciate that having and wanting to look after a baby is a universal life event that crosses cultures. It also means it takes a bit longer to break the ice.

When it comes to pregnancy information, I fall between two camps. I enjoy a specific and limited amount of information – a very small number of websites, plus the real experiences of friends and other bloggers. I balance this against avoiding information overload, which I think can over-ride your body and brain’s natural instincts.

Childbirth preparation classes are more positively reassuring than I thought they’d be. I’ve got no frame of reference against other countries. But, because the Dutch consider it such a natural event, everything we were taught emphasised how we’re biologically set-up for this. There was a lot of information delivered at a breakneck pace. But instead of making me feel panicked I felt comforted that human design – as demonstrated by billions of women before me – comes with sprog-producing abilities as standard.

I’m still not convinced about watching birth videos. One lesson involved watching a short film of births. It was made worse by being a 1980s, German, soft-porn-lighting video complete with hairstyles of the age. And I don’t mean on the head. Several of the men in the class who’d never seen such a thing in their life claimed they found it useful and enjoyable. Charlie still thinks they’re lying.

It’s fun to sit back and let the men do the work. Several elements of the class were all about them. They were taught massage techniques and, at the end of the course, given a review quiz to see who’d been listening. My husband, being the most competitive man in the world, loves to tell me he was best in class.

It will be exciting as each couple’s little ones arrives. Now the classes are done, we just sit back and wait for all of us to have our babies. And, in a few months, hold a reunion when they’re all here. I’m sure there will be all kinds of different stories. But, in the end, we’ll all have our new families.

For English-taught childbirth preparation classes in Amsterdam, I’d highly recommend Truus Gale. With 20 years of midwife experience condensed into five evening sessions, she runs her classes like a military school teacher. But, her level of knowledge is absolutely fantastic.

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What’s your experience with childbirth preparation classes? Absolutely worth it, or too much information? 

15 thoughts on “Childbirth Preparation Class, Amsterdam

  1. I’ve always been in the UK so for me it was NCT all the way, but as our first babies are all about to turn 4 we are all still in touch more or less and it was the friendship that was the most valuable part of that class for me – the information about labour and caring for a newborn you can know theoretically but nothing quite beats experience!

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    • Hmmm I’ve been wondering on the theory vs experience bit and if everything we’ve learnt will go out the window / be forgotten the moment our girl arrives! – so nice to hear you’re still in touch with your NCT-era 4 years on. And thanks for the comment.

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  2. We did a couple of NHS classes here in the UK when I was pregnant with F but, afterwards, I wished I’d done NCT. It wasn’t for the classes or the information – but for the mum friends after the baby was born that I missed! This time around I’ve done Yoga and Aquanatal which, although not about birth, are preparing my body for what it’s designed to do (and hopefully won’t let me down on!). I find Yoga really useful for learning breathing techniques and relaxation methods, and I hope this will come in handy when labour arrives. In terms of classes though, we may do another one just to remind my husband that he does actually have a job to do on the day and can’t just sit in the corner waiting to spring into action at the “exciting” pushing stage! Thank you for linking up another really interesting post to the #BlogBumpClub. x

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    • I absolutely love pregnancy yoga too. Will also have to see how much it helps … but the weekly breathe (and mini massage) is absolutely amazing. My husband keeps asking me where the room will be that he can go for cigars and whisky while I’m in labour. Apparently, we’re having a baby in the 1950s :)

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  3. I genuinely have never attended a class for anything like this. I was 19 when I had my eldest and was of the opinion that whatever happens will happen I didn’t want to scare myself about childbirth so I ignored that it was even going to happen. Although I did end up with a csection before labour kicked in so I guess I didn’t need the info. But I’ve got less than two years ago each time and figured once you’ve done it I fe you don’t need classes. I have decided once no3 arrives I will go to a local breastfeeding group and see how I get on as I think I’ve always missed the whole making friends with other parents thing by not attending groups and classes xx

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    • Women have been successfully having babies since long before classes existed so I’m sure they’re not essential! I was also worried I’d feel more scared after … Thankfully it hasn’t worked out that way but I know exactly what you mean. Good luck number 3. As the third sibling myself I can tell you they’re the best ;)

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  4. I went to my classes at the local hospital hoping to meet people and make friends—the MW who taught the class never even had us say our names out loud let alone allow time to become friends. I was really disappointed because as an expat I thought it was my chance to make friends who’d be in the same ship as me. I see one girl from the class as she works at the grocery we shop in but we only really say “hi” because we recognize each other’s faces. I feel like this great opportunity was missed. Oh well!

    ❤Transatlantic Blonde: 29 Weeks❤

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    • What a shame – I think so much depends on who and how the class is run, whether they have the social side in mind already. It really took until session 4/5 to break the ice with ours … even though we had name badges on there hadn’t been anything interactive before then. And I think we were all a bit too shell shocked with information for the first few weeks to also take time to bond.

      Hopefully you’ve found other ways and places for a network … I’ve also found pregnancy yoga classes quite good for that.

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  5. Agree with you re info overload. I’ve hit a wall with absorbing info now and think it would be detrimental to read any more. I’ll google as I go along once she comes out :)

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  6. Thank you so much for this. I am looking for a class near me this time around as I am really hoping for a VBAC. It’s really interesting reading about all the different classes out there x x

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    • You’re welcome, I’m very happy to hear it’s been helpful for you … good luck finding a class & hope it’s a social one too! – be interested to hear what you opt for.

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