“When Rina Mae Acosta’s daughter was born last winter, she knew she could count on the help of her fairy godmother.
Or to be more precise, her kraamverzorgster, the maternity nurse who visits every new mother in the Netherlands daily for the first eight days after giving birth. The nurses spend up to eight hours a day at the new mother’s home doing whatever it takes to help her rest and bond with the baby ― from taking care of laundry or grocery shopping to helping entertain older children ― as well as carrying out health checks.
“The Dutch believe in the pragmatic approach of ‘mothering the mother,’” explains Acosta, who has two older sons ages 7 and 3 and co-authored “The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids by Doing Less.” “She basically held my hand and instilled in me the philosophy of tending to my own health and needs so that I, in turn, can take wonderful care of my babies. My connection with my maternity nurse was so special that she became a friend and has nursed me and all three of my babies.”
All this comes either heavily subsidized, or completely covered, by a universal health insurance scheme and followed by four months of paid maternity leave. Compare that with the U.S., where women wait four to six weeks for a postpartum checkup and 40% then miss it, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ― possibly because they’re already back at work by then.”
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