Midwife speaking

Every month, midwife Dieuwke Ottens talks about what she experiences in her practice as a midwife. In this newsletter she tells about the intake interview. This is the first conversation you have with your midwife as a pregnant woman. So a first acquaintance, but an extensive acquaintance.


My name is Dieuwke Ottens. I am a midwife at Midwifery Practice De Connection in Haarlem. I have been working full time as a midwife for 20 years. I have also been a sexual health consultant (NVVS) at the Dutch Society for Sexology since 2015.

In short about what I do as a midwife

I supervise pregnant women and their partners. I do that during pregnancy and childbirth. And also in the period after childbirth. I have now supervised more than 1,300 deliveries. So I have quite a lot of experience. There is hardly a question that I have not heard in all these years.

And what do I do as a sexual health consultant?

Answer questions about sexuality. All kinds of questions. They could be questions about pain during sex. Or that partners both have different sexual desires during or after pregnancy. And men with erection problems also come to talk to me.

The intake interview at the beginning of the pregnancy is important

It is our first real acquaintance. That is why we as midwives take plenty of time for this conversation. With us, the intake interview lasts 1.5 hours. This gives you and your partner plenty of time to ask questions.

The intake interview is for pregnant women and the partners

We think it is very important that the partner is also present. We also involve him/her in the pregnancy. That is why we prefer to schedule this meeting with you. And when it suits you both. Because with us you can also plan your intake interview in the evening and on Saturday.

We also think it is important to get to know each other. This is how we build trust in each other. Because childbirth is something intimate and special. If you know and trust each other better, it's just that much nicer.

During an intake interview I ask a lot of questions

I would like to know how your pregnancy and your health is going. Because sometimes it is necessary to arrange a consultation in preparation for the delivery. Or do you need help from, for example, a general practitioner or internist, because you are taking medication.

I also give a lot of information about a healthy lifestyle. For example, about smoking and drinking alcohol. That is not good during pregnancy. It can be difficult to maintain not drinking and smoking. Especially if your environment continues to do so. As a midwife I can help you with that. And also to make healthy choices. I'll give you tips that help you keep up with those choices. Then your baby is off to a good start.

There are many different topics

I'll name a few:

  • the use of drugs,
  • tips for quitting smoking, alcohol and drugs,
  • visits to specialists in the hospital,
  • surgeries you've had in the past,
  • the health of you, your partner and your family,
  • healthy diet tips.

And I also discuss the choices you have for prenatal testing. Then the health of your baby will be examined. Think of congenital abnormalities, extra ultrasounds and research into Down syndrome.

I don't think any question is too crazy!

So feel free to ask any questions you have. Examples of questions I often get:

  • What can I eat or not eat during pregnancy?
  • I smoke, how can I stop and keep it going?
  • I'm not exercising right now, because I'm tired and nauseous. When can I exercise again?

And also questions like:

  • Before pregnancy I drank alcohol regularly. I do want to stop, but then those around me see that I am not taking anything. What should I say?
  • Can I have sex now that I'm pregnant? Can the baby not get damaged or get a headache?

Just ask your question. There is hardly a question that I have not heard before. Sometimes a question comes up that I don't know the answer to right away. Then I look it up and come back to it later.

Many pregnant women read a lot

Partly because of this, they already know what is healthy and what is less healthy during pregnancy. However, I advise against looking on the internet on all kinds of forums. The information contained therein is not always correct. During the intake interview I often give tips about websites with good information. For example, one of those websites is deverloskundige.nl. Also the app pregnancy snack of the Nutrition Center is very convenient. And there are several (free and online) courses like Non-alcoholic Pregnant of the Trimbos Institute.

It is better to avoid alcohol during pregnancy

Most know that it is not good to drink alcohol. Sometimes people come from another country and drink drinks with alcohol. They do not always know that alcohol is not good for the growth of the baby. I think it's important to give them information about this.

I also hear that pregnant women find it difficult not to drink alcohol. Especially if that is very normal in their environment. They are often looking for tips. Tips on how to replace those drinks with alcohol with something else delicious.

Finally, did you know that…

… it used to be said that a glass of alcohol every now and then can do no harm? Now the advice is not to drink alcohol when you are pregnant. Because every glass also ends up with your child. This can be harmful to the development of your baby.


This was my first blog! Curious if it appealed to you. A new story next month.




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