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During the first week of your baby’s life in The Netherlands you will receive encouragement and support from your midwife and your maternity nurse (kraamzorg), to help you on your way to establishing successful breastfeeding. An excellent start that you are sure not to get anywhere else in the world as part of the standard care you receive!

It is a fact that “Breast is Best”. However, along the way you are sure to have questions or even experience problems. It may be an idea to find a specific forum specialising in discussing problems to do with breastfeeding. Your neighbourhood consultation bureau will also have “walk-in hour” for free advice from a breastfeeding expert. Someone we know found the Borstvoedings Forum quite good, but it is in Dutch. Can you recommend an English one that you’ve found really useful? Please let us know!

If you’re really stuck then you can pay for some serious advice by calling the Dutch Organisation of Breastfeeding Experts (Nederlandse Vereniging van Lactatiekundigen). Here are a few examples of what you can contact them for:

  • Info and advice about breastfeeding
  • Problems getting baby to latch on
  • Baby refusing to breastfeed
  • When breastfeeding becomes painful
  • Recurring breast infections (mastitis)
  • Insufficient milk supply/ insufficient growth of baby
  • Premature babies
  • Sickness or handicap of mother or baby
  • Beginning again with breastfeeding

You will get an initial appointment of around 1.5 hours, during which time a plan of action will be drawn up. The costs for this advisory service vary. On their website they state that they are currently in negotiations to get the costs of this service refunded through the health insurance. For the time being that you will have to pay for this privately but it seems that some breakthroughs are being made.

You can also contact La Leche League Nederland and VBN (vereniging borstvoeding natuurlijk) – an organisation working with volunteers in The Netherlands. They support mothers in different ways: through a website, facebook group, telephone and support groups. You can find info at their website and via telephone: 0111-413189. You can get contact-information for support in Dutch, English, French and Spanish.

Dutch Legislation for Breastfeeding Mothers

There is extremely good legislation in place for breastfeeding mothers concerning the amount of time you are allowed to spend breastfeeding your baby. Someone I know’s breast pump broke at work so she made extra use of this to get home early and get a spare part sorted out for the pump !

Period of breastfeeding, working hours legislation, article 4:8 (original)

  1. A female employee who is breastfeeding her baby is allowed, as long as she has informed her employer, to spend time during her normal working hours to breastfeed and/or express milk. She is allowed to do this until her baby reaches 10 months of age.
  2. The time spent feeding and/or expressing milk is allowed to occur as frequently and for any length of time necessary as long as it does not exceed 1/4 of the working time per day/shift. The actual time should be set out after discussion with the employer.
  3. The time spent feeding and/or expressing milk will be viewed as working time and will be paid as normal.
  4. Every condition that deviates from this article, which negatively affects the employee, is null and void.

Arbo Decree, article 3.48

A room which can be locked should be made available for pregnant employees and employees who are breastfeeding their babies, so that they can have the opportunity to rest. In this room there will be a comfortable fold up bed or sofa available.

Additional Information in the Arbo Leaflet

As well as the above information this leaflet also states that the room which is made available must be suitable, pose no dangers, and be sufficiently ventilated. It states that if such a room can not be made available then the employee should be given time to go home to breastfeed and/or express milk. They also suggest you contacting your company doctor at the Arbo (bedreifsarts), workers union, labour inspectorate (arbeidsinspectie) if you are unable to reach a suitable arrangement with your employer.