Rosie&John, August 2019
Anticipating giving birth to our first child in a foreign country with only basic Dutch language skills, my partner and I sought a doula for guidance. We wanted someone who would not only prepare us for and provide support during the labor process, but also who would effectively advocate for us in a medical setting (if a hospital became needed). Maartje came very highly recommended by a pregnant expat friend who used her for both of the friend’s pregnancies. When I mentioned to another friend that Maartje was our doula, this friend replied, “I hear she is the best.”
The first time we met Maartje we were struck by her warmth, approachability, energy, knowledge, and no-nonsense attitude. Leaving our first meeting, my partner and I felt confident that although birthing and parenting were unchartered territories, we had an expert to guide us. In subsequent prenatal meetings Maartje got to know us as individuals, helped to clarify my birth plan, instructed us in optimal fetal positioning exercises, and imparted a lot of other useful information. She even asked to meet my mother when she visited from out of the country, which was not only meaningful to me, but also brought reassurance to my mother that I was in good hands.
Maartje exceeded our expectations in every way. I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through the labor and birth without her. While laboring at home she was by my side, helping with the pain, getting me what I needed, involving my partner to the extent that I/he wished. Although I was in a state of greater discomfort than I thought I could manage, I felt supported, safe, and trust that with Maartje I could get through it.
Anna&Massimiliano, January 2018 (after having followed a private child birth education class in their own home):
We would like to share with you the fantastic news that last week Monday our baby boy Matteo was born. Everything went really well, the experience was magic, the delivery was fast and smooth…We were home the same day and have been enjoying our family since then.
We found your training the most useful preparation we did during the pregnancy and will highly recommend you to our friends who are expecting. Thank you very much!
Alison&Steve, October 2017
Our memories of the birth of our first son are joyous ones – and we believe this was a direct result of having Maartje on our team.
Having someone dedicated (and boy, is she dedicated) to us was a huge benefit. The setup of the Dutch system combined with some common complications led us to see over ten different midwives – all excellent, but four of whom we met for the first time in the final 48 hours of pregnancy. Maartje became like a life vest whilst at sea – you hope you don’t need to reach for it, but it’s incredibly reassuring to know it is there.
In the lead up, we found her advice balanced (just the right amount of the massage and aromatherapy type deal, combined with loads of medically researched approaches) with a willingness to inform us, then adjust to our preferences. She’s well connected in Amsterdam, and helped us with everything from choosing the best suited hospital, lactation consultant and physiotherapist to where to buy the best lavender oil and getting a custom crib mattress locally made.
Guiding us through our first pregnancy, and a foreign system, was just the starting point of why we love Maartje though.
On the birth day itself she was a tireless force of nature. Calming, compassionate, brave and fierce – an almost impossible combination, and all in exactly the right measure. She somehow managed to be everywhere, precisely the moment she was needed, with exactly what was required – consoling Mother, shepherding Dad, magically producing watermelon and being necessarily stern to ensure the Dutch speaking medical team stuck to our birthing plan and wishes.
And still managed to snap some great photos that we never would have thought to take in the moment, but now treasure.
During a time of life that is simultaneously wonderful and stressful, having her help us embrace the former and cope with the latter was invaluable. It’s quite simply the best money we’ve ever spent, and we cannot recommend her to you vigorously enough.
We’ll be forever grateful, thanks Big M.
Marina&Pablo, September 2017:
We can’t think of our pregnancy and labour without Maartje. She was absolutely Amazing!
It all started with the meetings during pregnancy, where we were able to bond with her and get answers to ALL our questions. Besides the meetings, she sent us a lot of studies to read and be more prepared and was always available by whatsapp for questions. During the labour she was a very important piece to keep us on track and communicate with the midwife and the hospital. She went above and beyond with so many techniques to make us feel comfortable and facilitate the delivery process. We cannot thank her enough and be more happy with our decision of having her in our team in such an important moment.
Thank you very very much Maartje.
Erin&Mo, August 2017 (about a Birthing Basics & Spinning Babies workshop):
A friend and former colleague of Maartje highly recommended booking a workshop with her and after going through her website and exchanging some emails my partner and I decided to take the leap of faith and book her Birthing Basics and Spinning Babies/OFP workshop which meant a 5 hour drive from to Amsterdam from where we live in the South of Germany.
Our experience with Maartje proved the ten hour drive to be more than worth it. Maartje rocked up the narrow, steep steps of our hotel equipped with birthing ball, projector and more and filled the space with her fun positive and encouraging energy. The four hours flew by as she shared her highly informative and thorough workshop with us complete with relevant exercises for preparation and birth always providing the space for any questions that arose along the way. My partner and I both felt empowered and encouraged by the end of the morning. Any uncertainty and helplessness within my partner Moritz was replaced with a confidence that he too played an essential role in the preparation and entire birth process. Maartje’s profound knowledge combined with her total open, inviting and fun nature makes undoubtedly for an ideal Doula and pregnancy/childbirth companion. We are only sorry she won’t be able to make it to the birth of my baby but we totally understand she needs to be there for her clients in Amsterdam!
Eric&Marion, July 2017:
We decided to hire a Doula, as we were coming from abroad, and were not familiar with the Dutch hospital system. It was our first baby, which made it even more stressful and as such necessary to have good support. This turned out to be the best decision for the pregnancy and delivery. Maartje was able to help us when we had questions and didn’t know who to turn to and her presence was especially key on the day of the delivery. Maartje was with us the entire 17 hours of the delivery and she gave us so much strength to keep up without panicking and by helping reliving the pain without painkillers. She made it possible to stick to our birth plan as much as possible. She knew it inside out. She is very professional.
She knew the hospital staff and was able to get nice nurses by our side, which made this experience as gentle as possible. We cannot imagine having gone through this time without Maartje. Having a doula isn’t a luxury we think it is necessary! There isn’t enough support out there for mothers and a doula provides this balance.
Victoria&Stephen, July 2017:
On 22nd June, we met our beautiful daughter by way of an unmedicated and completely natural water birth at OLVG West Hospital. The whole experience was intense, magical and pretty much the perfect birth we had envisaged and worked hard towards. We are 100% certain however that the birth experience would not have evolved this way if it wasn’t for one special woman being in the room with us- our redheaded superwoman, Maartje.
I already felt fortunate being pregnant in the Netherlands with its natural and holistic attitude towards prenatal care and childbirth, and we decided to hire a doula to enhance this experience further. We were guided to Maartje through our fantastic Kraamzorg, Rebecca of Cherry Tree Lane, and were assured that Maartje was Amsterdam’s most coveted doula. We knew that having a doula present for the birth (and the months leading up to it) would ensure emotional support and knowledge of the Dutch system, however Maartje went above and beyond the job description in every respect.
During the early morning hours of the birth itself, it was looking increasingly unlikely that the natural water birth would be achievable but Maartje truly made the impossible possible that day! She worked closely with the team at OLVG West, assembling the best team and insisting that the 1 room with a tub be ready for us (even proposing that she get help get the room ready for me herself!) She orchestrated the entire thing and quite honestly the birth wouldn’t have been anywhere near as perfect without her influence. I felt safe and empowered in her presence, and her wisdom and insider knowledge of the Dutch system was paramount.
We truly can’t recommend Maartje enough- she surpasses all qualities of a doula and her enthusiasm for her job spills over into every moment we had with her. In the event we’re pregnant again in Amsterdam, we would love to get the Dream Team back together and Maartje will absolutely be the first person we will call! Maartje- you were instrumental to our positive birthing experience and we can’t thank you enough for making the day we met our daughter so amazing and utterly unforgettable!
Danielle&Danny, June 2017:
Our time here in the Netherlands has been short, but we got pregnant within the first 6 months of living here and I knew within the first few midwife appointments I’d like a doula to help with our pregnancy and delivery experience! We needed someone who understood the Dutch medical system and what my husband and I were about to expect with our first baby due in June 2017! After discussing her services with a friend and fellow expat I quickly knew I needed to meet Maartje!
After a very quick email response we met a week or so later at which point I knew she would need to be in attendance at our son’s birth! My husband Daniel felt the same way and that she would be the advocate we felt like we were missing in this “foreign to us” system! Also being our first pregnancy he was unsure what to expect. Maartje made sure to adjust her schedule to be sure to meet with us BOTH to help him understand what was happening with the pregnancy, and how he could be a bigger part of the experience!
Maartje met with us over the next few months and we quickly became friends! She’s a breath of fresh air, brings a whole new perspective to pregnancy and child birth, and can make fun out of even the most serious of topics! Maartje can also be serious and down to business as we experienced sooner than we had expected with our son deciding to arrive 5 weeks early!
We had developed a birth plan and gone through most scenarios other than this one! Here I am in a foreign country, my amniotic fluid had started leaking early, and I was going to meet my first baby way earlier than anticipated! Holy scary, but here walks in Maartje after letting her know I was in the hospital with her birthing ball on her back like a turtle and a big smile on her face! She has a way of lighting up a room and bringing joy to the most serious of situations!
That morning on last minute notice she immediately got people and things put into place that were important to my husband and me! Maartje made sure that even though this wasn’t the “scenario” we had anticipated that we both understood the things that were happening, people that were entering our room, and that the pieces we could control were still being met to our standards and plan!
She helped to explain pieces that were unclear, had us take a step back to be sure we made the educated decisions we wanted to, kept giving me small goals to achieve, and made the absolute difference with the Dutch system that rainy May 3rd morning! After 8 hours of labor our healthy baby boy was delivered naturally, and as Maartje puts it, “I did a Dutchie!” We were all highfiving and hugging before noon!
She laughed, cried, and was excited right along side of us acting as our advocate and making the experience here the most positive one possible! Maartje we can’t thank you enough for your love and support and look forward to flying you to the states if we live there for baby #2’s delivery!
Raluca&Ciprian, April 2017:
We’re proud to introduce our little Matti (Mathias Sebastian)! He was born at OLGV West, on 17 April @19.19, with amazing support from our doula Maartje Bruning, Ciprian and my midwives Ruth van Nie (Verloskundigen de Baarsjes & Bos en Lommer) and Ellen Moonen (Pregnanta). They all made his birth an amazing experience, and much easier than expected! 🙂 He was born in a room full of love and passion-for-babies, and two new parents amazed to meet him and excited to show him the world!
I’m so grateful to have had my pregnancy and delivery in Amsterdam, and I simply love the Dutch system of presenting you with the benefits of doing it “old school” – no hospital environment, natural delivery, movement during birth, etc., plus all the support given by the duola and midwives, to make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be during those long hours. And the fact that the partner is actively involved in supporting you during labor and, last but not least, the fact that Matti never had to leave our room! Oh, and being able to do it all in English, in a foreign country. Having experienced this, I’m outraged of most other developed countries practices of asking you to lay down on a hospital bed, with your partner waiting on the hallway (so you’re all alone surrounded by nurses and from time to time doctors), babies being put together in one big room, so the mother “can rest”, etc.
And I’m grateful for having participated in Truus Gale’s childbirthclass, understanding what’s ahead of us, and meeting Maartje (she was our replacement teacher when Truus was recovering after her surgery). She made my delivery something to look forward to, and now something to look back to with a big smile an forever gratitude.
Katie&Matt, November 2016:
When you type the word “doula” into Google, this is what pops up: “a woman who gives support, help, and advice to another woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth.” Maartje does much much more than what Google states. From the moment you meet Maartje, you will be blown away by her positive energy, warm spirit, and her passion to ensure that you are supported and advised throughout your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Her mission is to guarantee that you have a positive view about your labor and delivery experience. She does everything in her power to make sure that this happens. During our nine months together Maartje provided us with the necessary education and coaching to equip us for the big day. In addition to preparing me, she also prepared my husband, which was an incredible relief for both me and him. It made my husband feel more confident in knowing what to expect and how to help during our labor and delivery. Throughout the entire process, she listened to our wishes and ensured (where possible) they were executed.
Maartje is not just a doula who stands back coaching from afar. She is truly hands on and involved. I was shocked at how many “hats” she wore during labor and delivery. For example, while giving me physical support to counteract the pain of contractions, giving me positive cheer, feeding me, and guiding me through the process, she was also multitasking by communicating with the hospital staff, coaching my husband, and updating my parents. From the very first moment, she never missed a beat or slowed down.
On the day our son was born, Maartje was truly a “gift.” She provided me with emotional support by coaching me on how to breathe and push through painful contractions. She is a natural doula, who goes above and beyond in her duties. I am forever grateful for Maartje’s support during my pregnancy, labor, and delivery of my son. When I look back upon my labor and delivery experience, it is a more positive one due to the fact that Maartje was there throughout my journey, coaching my husband and me through every step. If Google were to know Maartje as a doula, then her name would appear as the definition of “super doula.” I have her to thank for helping my husband and me start out on the right foot towards becoming happy parents. Thank you!!!
Oana&Daniel, October 2016:
After the birth of our baby girl and our first family moments, the words that came out of my mouth were:”I love you, Maartje”. Because this amazing woman helped us make a dream come true: we got a healthy baby girl after a good birth experience. And the positive birth experience we owe it to her, as we are sure it would have been totally different would she not have been there with us.
Meeting Maartje several times during pregnancy always left me with the feeling that everything will be alright; her positive energy, kindness and knowledge of the Dutch system reassured me each time that we chose the best person to support us for the birth of our baby in Amsterdam.
Maartje was with us throughout the (hospital) birth, adapted to each situation that came up, guided me through all stages, took initiative when the medical staff didn’t perform as it should have, knew all the time what I needed in order to progress, explained all the procedures and constantly defended our best interest. In short, she knew what to do, why and when to do it and the result was a 6-hours labor and a natural birth without any medical intervention.
I advise all future parents to get Maartje as their doula, trust her and, as she says, enjoy the BIRTHDAY.
WE LOVE YOU, MAARTJE! And we hope you will continue to guide the entry into this world for many many more babies!
Stephanie&Korné, September 2016:
I am a south African married to a Dutchman. After the excitement died down from falling pregnant with our first child and hearing the horror stories of Dutch birthing…I suddenly felt very alone without my family and actually quite afraid, especially since I have Crohns disease. Non the less I found myself a highly recommended and amazing Kraam carer (cherry tree lane) who after hearing my concerns and situation pointed me in the direction of Maartje (saying she was the only Doula she would ever recommend). I quickly heard much hype about Maartje, a friend of a friend had had her at her birth and raved about her and a midwife I saw even dubbed the best doula in Amsterdam! Well I was intrigued…my husband on the other hand thought I was bat shit crazy and did not want, as he put it “some tree hugging, incense burning woman telling him and the doctors what to do”.
I met Maartje and on first meeting found her to be a normal, genuine, warm, calm, funny, friendly woman with lots of personality, charisma and a genuine love for what she does. I was sold immediately! Well, from that day on what ever my query or concern, Maartje always made time and always had an answer. She really became my mother, my sister, my nurse, my encyclopedia! she was amazing and her knowledge was unlimited and invaluable. From recommending specialists, to helping me make an educated birth plan (knowing my options and what they meant/entailed medically), to talking me through worries and even coming to an appointment with me and backing my decisions! Come the birth, I felt super prepared, I had all my ducks in a row…so when birth did not go the way I wanted it (an emergency cesarean) I had already laid out how I wanted things to go in that situation. A person might think with a cesarean why would you need a doula, but really we feel even more like we could not have held it together without her. My husband was panicking as myself and the baby were not doing well, I felt awful and did not know what to do, she assured and calmed us and talked us through everything-the whys and the what wills. She reminded me of what I wanted and made sure these things were implemented. Once the baby was born and my husband had left with her, I had Maartje, who had taken photos of my little girl to distract me while they finished the operation. She waited with me in recovery, made me tea, lightened the situation and got me to my baby as fast as possible. I honestly cannot stress enough how wonderful she was! My husband (the critic), loves Maartje and was/is so happy we had her, he admits she was not at all what he thought and we both agree if/when we do it again, Maartje will absolutely be there. Maartje thank you! You are our angel in…cowboy boots:p!
Anna-Sofia&Quentin, August 2016:
Maartje was simply tremendous as our doula. I had made it clear to my husband, midwife, mother, everyone under the moon, that I was going to have medical pain relief, but after months of having Maartje coach my husband and myself as well as her calming presence during labour I was able to go without! And what a beautiful experience it was, culminating in a healthy baby boy. And it really is all thanks to her. My husband told me right after the birth that the doula fee was the best money we invested ever. We just wish that we had had her at our side for our first. So to all expecting mothers – if you need someone to hold your back (literally and figuratively speaking) in the long journey of pregnancy and labour, you can’t do better than Maartje.
Quentin (husband): Maartje was an amazing help, not only for my wife but also for me. For our first child I had stood there clueless. This time Maartje prepared me for the birth and gave me lots of tips, so that I was able to actively support my wife during the birth, and really be a part of it.
Corina&Bogdan, July 2016:
My pregnancy journey in the Netherlands started with joy, but also fears about the Dutch system. Now, 3 months after the birth of my baby boy, I look back on my birth experience with serenity and appreciation for the way the process is organised. I am grateful for having given birth here and for the support I received from my doula Maartje and the midwives.
When I became pregnant, I didn’t have much knowledge about what being pregnant, giving birth or becoming a parent meant; I hadn’t had first-hand contact with many recent moms or babies; and especially not in the Netherlands, where everything is so different from my home country, Romania. All the more reason why it was great to have someone as positive and full of energy as Maartje beside me, while my body and life were changing so dramatically, and especially while I didn’t know what to expect. For me, these two things, knowledge and positive support, helped me a lot in order to decide what I wanted for the birth of my baby boy. Maartje was there to explain the “Dutch way”, to help me make up my mind and to encourage me when I needed it.
I ended up having an atypical birth; I also had three consecutive midwives helping me throughout, due to overlapping births. But since I was already prepared and I had my support system in place (my partner and Maartje), I knew things were going well even if not in the normal way; so I was able to relax (as much as one can in these circumstances), which I believe did a great deal of good. I gave birth naturally, without pain killers, to a 4.7 kg baby boy in less than 5 hours in the birthing centre, without trauma or tearing.
So I do recommend Maartje as a doula, especially if you need to know, need positive thoughts and encouragement and need to be sure that you have by your side at birth someone you know and trust.
Bela&Stanko, July 2016:
Maartje was recommended to us by a dear friend. I was not sure what to expect, because the doula concept was new to me. The moment I met Maartje I knew what a doula means – having a friend, a coach, a fairy and a sparring partner, all combined in one person. She was so positive, energetic and experienced that I felt this birth thing, I could totally do it:).
Being away from home, I needed a person I could trust to be with me and my husband in the most intimate moment of our life – giving birth to our first son. Throughout the pregnancy Maartje gave me information, strength, support and helped me make informed choices when it comes to my health and that of my baby. During the birth, she was such an incredible force – her encouragement, massages and positivism, made the birthing experience a positive and special experience! I especially treasure that Maartje captured the incredible birth moments and wrote a detailed birth story that even years later, will remind me of my son being born. Thank you, Maartje!
Kirsten&David, April 2016:
Working with Maartje made our entire birth process much more fun and funny than it would have been without her. She helped keep us calm and happy, especially since we were very unfamiliar with the Dutch medical system. When we learned that our baby would need to be delivered in a hospital, we thought that we wouldn’t be able to have the kind of birth we wanted. But Maartje worked with us and the hospital to make sure that everything was how we wanted it to be. We really don’t think we could have done this without her help.
Diana&Peter, December 2015:
This was my second pregnancy and also the first one in the Netherlands. I was convinced that the best thing to do is to go back in my home country and give birth (due to the many stories about the Dutch system), when I met Maartje. Within the first few minutes I was ready to change my mind, as I felt that if there was one person I wanted to have beside me, it was Maartje. It is her enormous positive energy, knowledge and expertise, and great love for what she does, which touched me and made the difference. During my pregnancy months Maartje has wisely coached me in my decisions, had the patience to answer all my questions and address all my fears. She opened to me and my husband a new world – we learned a lot (although we thought we knew it all with our first one:), especially how to enjoy every single moment of this journey, showing us that pregnancy and giving birth can be a fantastic, fulfilling experience, and also fun. Dear Maartje, words are not enough to express our gratitude for your invaluable support in bringing Martin, our newborn sunshine, to this world. You will always be in our hearts, no matter where we are!
Bianca&Dimitris, November 2015:
Maartje helped us a lot through the entire experience, from the moment I contacted her (somewhere in week 30) all the way until I had my baby in my arms. She was a never ending source of patience, listening to how my pregnancy was developing and providing what I needed the most during my pregnancy: information! She cuddled (and calmed) me with articles about all the questions and worries that I would have, be it about the dutch system or about specific pregnancy condition that I developed.
The meetings before delivery were extremely useful and pleasant, adjusted to our needs and personalities. Both me and my husband are grateful to Maartje for going through an extensive birthing plan, explaining all possible options.
The birthing time is where indeed Maartje makes a big difference: she was available for us 24/7 as soon as the induction began and when the contractions kicked in, she arrived at the hospital within 30 minutes and stayed with us all the way. Her experience was vital to keep me calm and capable of making decisions under the given circumstances. She was my (clear) voice and memory, making sure that all we discussed in advance will happen or that I am clearly aware and agreing with any changes.
In several occasions, looking back and talking about my birthing experience with friends and family, I had to say “We couldn’t have done it so smooth without Maartje. Her presence was the best value for money !” Thank you dear Maartje !
Katie&Mike, August 2015:
We adore Maartje, she was our Mary Poppins! I met with Maartje early in my pregnancy after hearing rave reviews from a friend! The moment I met her, I knew I had to have her as my doula! Her energy is so positive it’s contagious. We’re expats so we wanted extra support before and during birth. It was great meeting with Maartje every few weeks and chatting regularly about articles/ my birth plan or all the random questions I had. She is a wealth of knowledge on birth and all the technique.
We had scheduled to attend Maartje’s birth class but our baby surprised us and showed up 4 weeks early! Thankfully all those meetings with Maartje had already prepared us for birth. Our birth went really quickly, and because we were early we knew we had to go to the hospital and no midwife so my husbands first call when I went into labor was Maartje! I don’t know how she did it but she made it to our house within 10 mins! The moment she arrived I felt ten times calmer. Her soothing voice put me at ease as she coached me through my breathing. She was there every step of the way of our birth and stayed after to ensure everything was going well.
It’s hard to be an expat and give birth abroad without family and nothing can replace that but Maartje made me feel as if I’d known her for ages. She’s the sweet red haired aunt who rides around on her bicycle with a yoga ball you’ve always wanted! She gave us so much comfort through the whole process and really made the whole birth so positive! I hold a very special place in my heart for Maartje!
Inaja&Patrick, July 2015 (in Portuguese and English):
Maartje, nossa querida doula, é um ser mágico que o Daniel Duclos colocou no nosso destino, a quem serei sempre grata!
Entre abraços e muita gratidão já com o baby Ben em meus braços eu contei a ela, um pouco receosa admito, o que pensei quando a conheci:
Ela chegou aqui em casa pra nossa primeira conversa, com seus cabelos descabelados encaracolados ruivos, num vestido verde musgo e com botas escuras juntamente com seu carisma, energia e personalidade que iluminaram todos os cômodos da nossa casa. Na hora me perguntei: cadê a vassoura? Que mulher é essa? Ela deve ser algo mágico, uma bruxa talvez?
E digo bruxa no melhor e mais especial sentido possível.
Ela me guiou, cuidou de mim e me apoiou em momentos que achei que não seria capaz de ir adiante no meu sonho, formando o melhor time possível ao lado do homem que me torna a melhor versão de mim mesma todos os dias. Sim, ela é mágica! Todos que cruzaram esse caminho – Amsterdam, Casamento, Nascimento – são mágicos.
Obrigada mãe pelo melhor presente que você podia me dar nesse momento, e a vocês Patrick e Maartje por me mostrar que “Eu sou possível”.
Maartje, our dear doula, is a magical being put in our path by Daniel, who I will be always grateful for.
Among hugs, gratitude and already with Baby Ben in my arms I told her what I thought in the moment I saw her in front of our door for our very first chat: “she is a magical being, maybe a witch even. Where is her broom?”
“Witch” used in its best meaning.
She was wearing a green dress and black boots and also a light that full filled the whole house.
She guided me, made me feel capable, took good care of me forming the best birth team along with the man that makes a better “me” possible every day. Yes, she is magical! Everyone that crossed this path – Amsterdam, Wedding, Birth – is magical.
Thanks mom Zeneide for the best gift you could have ever given me at this moment and Patrick and Maartje for showing me that “I am possible”.
Motherhood here we go!
Aline&Rodrigo, May 2015:
“Before getting pregnant, I knew so little about the birth system in the Netherlands. In our homeland, it’s everything so different. Our first baby, far away from our relatives, in a country we actually don’t really know… we decided then to hire a doula to help us through this process.
We couldn’t have made a better decision. With Maartje, we learned so much. She guided us giving informations to make our own choices. She prepared me, mentally and physically, for The Day (her massage, when you’re in the last weeks of pregnancy, anxious and tired of carrying such a big belly, is wonderful!). During labour, Maartje was my whispery angel.
She was there to remind me of positions, breathing techniques, but above all, to make me stronger with her words. In the end, my labour went quickly: when the midwife arrived I was already 9cm dilated. It turned out to be a home birth. Not my first choice, but still, with all the preparation I had, I was relaxed and confident, I didn’t despair at any moment. The birth was magic, in the comfort of our own living room.
Our daughter came to the world with my sister and niece helping Maartje and our – also great – midwife, while my husband supported me. The memory I’ve got is a sweet, positive experience, an extremely special moment in our lives. After delivery, I ate dinner that my sister cooked, took a shower in my bathroom by myself, and our daughter slept her very first night in the crib my husband made for her (and managed to finished just in time, that morning).
The recovery went also really well. No tearing, ladies, all thanks to Maartje’s tips! We’re grateful for Maartje’s brilliant work and for our friends who recommended her to us.”
Marina&Alexey, (with a special part written by Alexey about adding a doula) May 2015:
“The first thing that I did after making the first appointment with midwife was finding the doula. It was on 2nd month of pregnancy. I was writing down about 10 doulas in Amsterdam. But first one that I wrote email was Maartje. I think I choose her because I like the Rebozo close ritual (that I wanted to use but didn’t) and post natal vizit with birth story discussion.
First impression of Maartje was great. She is very bright, positive and charismatic person. And she does her work great. During all time of pregnancy we emailed to each other. She gave me contact of other Russian girl that now I am friend with. They advised me a very nice kraamzorg. And I am very happy of her service. Also Maartje introduced me to Positive Birth Meeting and Attachment Parenting group in Amsterdam. They were very helpful. I found new friends there and I have a support group that is very important in parenthood. And Maartje advised me a good childbirth preparation course. So she connects me to different people in Amsterdam. And this is awesome as I’m expat here I don’t know a lot of people. I’m very grateful Maartje for this.
Also Maartje helped me with birth plan. And I felt it like she did it for me – I only had to tick what I prefer and she compiled a good birt plan. I highly appreciate it, because back then I didn’t have enought time for that.
That way she led me through the pregnancy. I wrote her how I am and what I have done, midwife visit results, feeling and stuff. In 6 month I feel that she is as my good friend.
During day of birth we chatted by WhatsApp and that helped us. She suggested what to do, so I continued my plans of the day and later on we didn’t hurry up with calling midwife. During labor itself she relayed my husband for supporting me. I liked very much her massage with oils and rebozo scarf. She advised right things, like to have a rest for my husband and to have a meal for me, and especially that I took a shower and bath before midwife came. Without her it would be difficult for us to guess what and when to do. I feel that she organised us during labor. So I was relaxed knowing that she helps us. Also I like very much that Maartje encourage and praise me, breath and sound with me. Husband could do these as well but not as good as a professional doula.
I am very happy that I met Maartje and she was attended at birth of my first child. She was a part of this birth and influenced the flow of it in a very good way. I’ve got the birth that I wished for, and I am very satisfied how it all went.”
Alexey, May 2015 : “Maartje was a very great help during the delivery. My wife really wanted to deliver at home, and doula was another component that makes everyone relax and be sure that everything is going to be fine, and there are enough people in the house, so the mother and child are taken care of. As a partner I was supporting my wife as much as I can and was kind of on a right track anyway. But with Maartje it went way smoother. It would be very hard to stay as calm as we all did during delivery without another pair of experienced hands, which was Maartje. It’s physically real hard to always stay with a woman with massages and other kind of support during the whole process of delivery. Doula can’t do it by herself either, it requires two people. That’s why partner plus doula makes it so good.
I was a little bit sceptical in the beginning, but now I am sure that a good doula definitely worth money spent. Helping woman to deliver as close as possible to the way she wants helps everyone – child, mother and partner.”
Loes&Thijs, January 2015:
“When I first spoke to Maartje, it had never crossed my mind to hire a doula during my second pregnancy as the image I had of doulas was quite airy fairy. She was however immediately very down to earth and full of empathy for the trauma I still had from the birth of our son which had ended in a C-section after an induction at 37 weeks. This conversation with her got me thinking and we decided, despite our initial scepticism towards doulas, to give it a go and make an appointment to discuss how she could help us make this pregnancy and labour a more positive experience. Our first appointment was a very pleasant one and we had a really good connection with Maartje which made us decide to ask her to help us.
During my pregnancy Maartje kept in touch regularly and she always knew when my next hospital appointment was. She went through great lengths to learn more about my medical condition, which she had no previous experience with, and to help us find remedies for the inconveniences that came with it.
The great benefit of having Maartje as our doula was however, that she really helped us with our birth plan. This really empowered us to get our wishes clear and discuss those with the relevant specialists in hospital. Also she helped us to be critical towards the hospital protocols and to try to ‘bend the rules’ as good as possible in order to match our wishes.
Due to a medical condition I had to be induced again at 37 weeks and also during this process Maartje’s support was very valuable to us. Maartje insisted to come to hospital with us when we first had to ‘check in’ and was there with us for quite some time during the next two days of my induction. We had lengthy conversations and she helped us with information and exercises to get dilation started, but we also had a lot of fun together and were a really good team.
On the last day Maartje stayed with us all the time from the moment my waters were broken until the moment our baby daughter was born 10 hours later (this really exceeded my expectations!) to help us cope with the contractions in different positions. Also here she was able to keep things light and we were able to have some laughs in between the contractions.
Maartje is a very down to earth, positive person who is just great fun to be around (even when in labour!). Also, she is very professional and knows her way around in a hospital environment. Overall we are very very happy we had Maartje to help us during this pregnancy and labour. We are very sure that without her help we would not have been able to achieve to get the birth experience we wished for. We are very grateful for that and Maartje will be forever in our hearts.
I would really recommend to hire a doula and especially Maartje to everyone who is pregnant, regardless if this is your first pregnancy or not. We would definitely work with her again if I would ever become pregnant again!”
Natalie&Omar, December 2014 :
“We would like to say a massive thank you to Maartje who has been an incredible coach and friend not only with the birth of our sweet daughter but also in the weeks and months leading up. Maartje helped me to understand and navigate through the Dutch health system, prepare a birth plan which took into account my personal preferences and together with the midwife got me emotionally and physically well prepared for the labour. We had many moments of big laughter and at all times I felt supported and protected during the birth journey making it a beautiful and powerful experience. Thanks again!”
Rebeca&Isaac, December 2014 :
‘Let me start by saying that I couldn’t imagine giving birth in the Netherlands without Maartje. I can go even further and say that I would ask her to be by my side if a had a second child no matter where in the world I am.
I was very afraid of the system in Amsterdam. As expats, we heard so many awful stories about giving birth here that we thought the best decision for us was to hire a doula; that’s how we found you. Maartje was key to our journey during pregnancy and labour in the Netherlands.
My labor was not what I had envisioned. I wanted to have an epidural for different reasons (standard where I come from) but, unfortunately, it didn’t have the effect on me that I thought it would. Maartje did a great job to prepare me to deal with pain, and she actually acted as pain killer during labor making it less painful, and helping me manage my anxiety through contractions and long hours… I had a very long labor.
I can’t thank her enough for teaching me everything about birth, for guiding all my decisions and for allowing me and supporting me in all my choices on what I wanted and what I envisioned as my experience for giving birth to my first child. Both me and my husband now see Maartje as our friend who supported us during pregnancy and labour, and even afterwards giving us support and tools to cope with early days of parenting. If I had to do it again, I don’t see myself doing it without her!’
Carla&Daniel, October 2014 :
‘If there is one thing I would recommend for every pregnant women is to have a doula on their side for labour. Better if they can have the doula early in the pregnancy and also have her support during the pregnancy. Maartje was my doula and supported me in my last month of pregnancy and during my labour. What I can tell from my experience is that thanks to the wise decision of hiring her I had the birth experience I wished. I had a medical condition so I had to delivery at the hospital and thanks to her amazing work and support, I had basically a “home” birth in the hospital room with only the minimal medical intervention that was required. This was exactly what I wished and she was key in make this possible. My husband was also all the time on my side supporting me and I couldn’t have done it without him. And Maartje was there supporting us both through the path for the birth of our beloved baby’
Anna&Mikhail, August 2014 :
‘The only painkillers I had during birth were my beloved husband and my caring doula.
I would like to share my birth experience. I will be honest with you, one of the first reasons I started thinking about having a doula during birth is the cultural and language barrier as I am from outside the EU. I was also worried about how my husband would be feeling while I am in the process. My husband is one of those men who like to keep things under control, so my concern was that he would freak out when everything starts. I considered myself to be physically fit enough to deal with the process on my own. Which was a complete underestimation of mine.
As a matter of fact I had to be induced with the balloon and had an oxytocin IV. At the birth courses I heard stories about contractions pain being much stronger with oxytocin and that most women would immediately go for a painkiller. Well I was one of the few exceptions in that case. This was only thanks to my husband and my doula Maartje de Bruijn-Bruning. They were working as a team, and almost “in shifts”. Maartje showed Mikhail a couple of points of pressure to soothe pain. She was using different positions and items like rebozo and birthing ball to find out what would serve me the best. What helped me to keep on going without the painkiller is that they both were pushing on my back almost every time I had a contraction.
It is also worth mentioning that I had a full support from Maartje in terms of answering every single question of ours, when we wanted to make decisions in certain situation like when is best to start with the oxytocine, what could be risk factors etc.
What I liked a lot is also that when I arrived to the hospital to be prepared for the induction Maartje insisted on being there, even though I said it was not necessary. This meant a lot for me. It was a good sign showing how she really cared about me, even though she had another delivery just the night before.
Finally it was such a pleasure to drink some tea together a week after my birth and remember what all four of us had gone through together and reading a nice post partum birthing log that Maartje prepared.
In short I was blessed, I must say we were blessed, to have Maartje from MotherMe supporting us and would definitely recommend her to all my friends, who are going to deliver in Amsterdam.’
Sharnette & Gaetan, August 2014
‘Maartje and I came together by accident but it turned out to be a happy accident. I was always skeptical of using a doula as I wasn’t sure what value they could add to the birthing process, but from the moment I met Maartje I knew I wanted her to be my doula. Maartje is compassionate, open minded, vocal, confident and discreet. With Maartje’s support and advice, I felt confident and strong going into the delivery room and was able to draw on inner strength I didn’t even know I had to positively manage what turned out to be a very complicated delivery. We can honestly say that we would not have coped so successfully had Maartje not been with us during the birth. It felt like having a big sister or close aunt with you. We have such wonderful memories of what could’ve been quite a stressful delivery and for that we are forever thankful.’
Aviva & Alex, July 2014
‘I had a great experience using Maartje as our doula. We are new to the system in Amsterdam and she provided us great peace of mind. She was very knowledgeable, caring and always had answers! I don’t think I could have done it without her support. She never left my side during birth and helped me and my husband every step of the way. Thank you for assisting me with bringing my son into the world! Hiring you was the best decision, and I would highly recommend her services to any mother to be!’