Hospital birth

If you decide to give birth in hospital, there are still some choices you may be able to make to tailor-make your experience, provided your pregnancy and labour progress as normal.

The choices essentially revolve around:

  • who delivers your baby (gynaecologist or independent midwife)

  • how long you stay in hospital after the birth – this will depend on whether you had a vaginal or caesarean birth:

    • The typical hospital stay after an uncomplicated vaginal birth is 3-4 days;
    • The typical hospital stay after a caesarean birth is 7 days.


    • Note that community midwife care, i.e. care in your own home, is plentiful and well reimbursed by the mutuelles.

Note that community midwife care, i.e. care in your own home, is plentiful and well reimbursed by the mutuelles. See here for more information about finding community midwife care.

You can give birth in hospital with:

Midwife-led unit at Erasme hospital, Brussels

As well as a ‘classic’ obstetrics department and labour ward (i.e. with gynaecologist-led care), Erasme hospital also offers a midwife-led unit, the ‘Cocon’ (the Cocoon).

If you would like to give birth in this unit, you can either:

  • be followed by the Cocon midwifes during your pregnancy; or
  • be followed by your own independent midwife, and – provided your independent midwife ‘performs’ hospital births – give birth in the unit with your own midwife.

For more information (currently only in French): https://www.erasme.ulb.ac.be/fr/services-de-soins/services-medicaux/gynecologie-obstetrique/clinique-d-obstetrique/le-cocon-pour-un


Option 1

This is the most common option.

When you arrive at the hospital in labour / to be induced, the hospital midwives look after you, and call your gynaecologist when the birth is imminent. Your gynaecologist is then usually present for the birth.

After a normal, straightforward birth, the typical hospital stay is 3-4 days. During this time, hospital midwives provide the postnatal care for you and your baby.

Additional options: 

  • Even if your antenatal care is (principally) with your gynaecologist, you can still arrange some visits with an independent midwife and ask that she come to your home to support you in the early stages of labour, and even support you during later labour and birth in hospital. 

    Note that in this case she would not provide any medical care for you during labour and birth; the hospital midwives would be responsible for medical care.

  • Once home from hospital, you may still like to call on an independent midwife for extra postnatal care, e.g. for help with breastfeeding, general questions about looking after your baby.

See here for more information about finding a midwife.


Option 2

This option is becoming more common.

When you arrive at the hospital in labour / to be induced, the hospital midwives look after you, and call your gynaecologist when the birth is imminent. Your gynaecologist is then usually present for the birth.

After a normal, straightforward birth, provided you are recovering well and your baby is healthy, you may prefer to leave hospital early. This can be anything from a few hours after the birth, to 1 to 2 days later, depending on your situation.

Hospital midwives provide postnatal care for you and your baby while you are still in hospital, but once you are at home, a home-visit hospital/independent midwife takes over the care.

It is important that this is organised in advance to ensure continuity of care. Some hospitals proactively suggest this option, in which case they would arrange the follow-up midwife visits.

Even if your hospital does not seem to offer this service, you can arrange this with an independent midwife, who would then liaise with the hospital midwife upon your discharge. 

Additional options: 

  • If you have an independent midwife, she may be able to come to your home to support you in the early stages of labour, and may even accompany you to the hospital.

    Note that in this case she would not provide any medical care for you during labour and birth; the hospital midwives would be responsible for medical care.

See here for more information about finding a midwife.


Option 3

Your independent midwife would typically come to your home during labour, and travel with you to hospital.

In hospital, she continues to care for you during labour, and then delivers your baby (without the need for a gynaecologist to be present) – this is currently possible in five Brussels hospitals (ErasmeClinique Ste-ElisabethCHU BrugmannEtterbeek-Ixelles and Clinique St-Jean).

After a normal, straightforward birth, provided you are recovering well and your baby is healthy, you may prefer to leave hospital within a few hours, or you may prefer to stay a little longer. Hospital midwives provide postnatal care for you and your baby while you are still in hospital, but once you are at home, your independent midwife once again takes over the care. 

Note that in this case she would not provide any medical care for you during labour and birth; the hospital midwives would be responsible for medical care.


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