The Netherlands has a unique system for care during pregnancy and childbirth. As part of primary healthcare, over 80 per cent of pregnant women receive support and supervision from a midwife close to home. Over 40 per cent of Dutch women actually give birth under the supervision of these professionals, either at home or in a short stay hospital setting. Dutch midwives are highly trained, capable of working without the supervision of an obstetrician and charged with risk assessment during pregnancy and childbirth.
Despite their extensive professional skills, midwives had not been receiving formal academic training until recently. The scientific basis underpinning their work is growing, but many aspects of midwifery care still require further research. Simone Buitendijk will be focusing on the changing forms of collaboration between midwives and obstetricians as well as experiences with pregnancy and birth care of various groups such as ethnic minorities. She will also be assessing the effects of the increasing demand for anaesthesia and the increased scale of childbirth-related healthcare.
In addition to her duties as Professor by Special Appointment, Buitendijk will remain active as professor of Preventative Child Heath at Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). She also heads the ‘Child Health' programme at the Netherlands Institute for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Last month, Buitendijk was the focus of national media attention due to her co-authorship of an article asserting that home births are just as safe as hospital births.