Although becoming a new parent – or a parent new to Belgium – can be an exciting time, it can also be daunting as so many things are new to you. Research shows that mums, dads, and babies have an easier time with this transition if a good support team is in place. Below you can find some of the main contacts that can provide support, advice and a general listening ear.
In this section you’ll find out more about:
- postnatal support from an independent midwife
- postnatal support from a doula, maternity nurse or other supporter
- breastfeeding support
- mental health support
- family support associations
- invaluable local Facebook groups
- loss support
Postnatal support from an independent midwife
Whether or not you saw an independent midwife during your pregnancy, and irrespective of whether you gave birth in hospital or at home, you can visit an independent midwife for a variety of postnatal issues, including:
- postnatal care for mother and baby
- advice on baby care
- breastfeeding support – some midwives are also registered lactation consultants, which mean they have followed additional training in supporting breastfeeding mothers
- postnatal exercise and pelvic floor re-education
- family planning/contraception
- psychological support
Read more about finding an independent midwife.
Postnatal support from a doula, maternity nurse or other supporter
A postpartum doula, maternity nurse or other dedicated postnatal supporter can help ‘mother the mother’ when the baby is already born, and throughout the first six weeks after birth, sometimes even much longer.
Some of the duties include:
- Help with the emotional and physical recovery after birth
- Light housekeeping so that mum does not feel so overwhelmed
- Running errands
- Assistance with newborn care such as diapering, bathing, feeding and comforting
- Light meal preparation
- Baby soothing techniques
- Sibling care
- Referrals to local resources such as parenting classes, paediatricians, lactation support and support groups
- Postnatal supporters also often offer nighttime service to help the family transition more smoothly into the challenges of nighttime parenting.
A trained postpartum doula or maternity nurse can also typically provides evidenced-based information on things such as infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother-baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care.
How to find …?
- postpartum doula – see our page about finding a doula for a list of English-speaking doulas in Belgium
- maternity nurse – the Dutch-speaking family support network Familiehulp (page in Dutch).
You can request maternity care from Familiehulp as of the sixth month of your pregnancy, and care can be provided up to 3 months after delivery. In unforeseen emergencies, they can also typically send a maternity nurse at short notice. It’s usually possible to request an English-speaking nurse.
Note that various organisations and services (health insurance funds, insurance companies, companies, governments, etc.) contribute to the costs of having a maternity nurse.
Breastfeeding may be the most natural way to feel your baby, but it definitely doesn’t always come naturally! And remember that each mum-baby breastfeeding relationship is different, so some mums may find that history doesn’t repeat itself – whether for better or worse!
Getting the right advice and support early on can make all the difference, so that the choice of if, and how long to breastfeed for is entirely up to you (and your baby).
For assistance with breastfeeding you can contact:
- a registered lactation consultant – an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional who is highly trained and experienced in the clinical management of breastfeeding and lactation. It is usually midwives who pursue this qualification, but some pediatricians and nurses are also IBCLC consultants.
Here are some IBCLC lactation consultants in Brussels and the surrounding areas who can support you at any time in your breastfeeding journey:
- Elke Van Den Bergh from Zwanger in Brussels
- Jo Everatt from Antenatal and Baby (mainly online consultations)
You can find other lactation consultants in Belgium here (external link in French).
- an independent midwife who offers breastfeeding support – read more about finding a midwife
- a doula who offers breastfeeding support – read more about finding an English-speaking doula
- if you are a BCT member, you can contact English-speaking BCT breastfeeding counsellors – volunteer BCT members, who have been trained to give mother-to-mother support
- breastfeeding support associations such as:
- La Leche League international website – useful ‘Resources’ section
- Infor-Allaitement – in French
- Vereniging Begeleiding en Bevordering van Borstvoeding (VBBB) – in Dutch
The website Kellymom also offers a wealth of evidence-based information on breastfeeding.
Mental health support
The Community Help Service (CHS) has been operating in Belgium for over 40 years, and provides information, support, assistance and mental health services in English to anyone in Belgium who needs help, regardless of nationality and circumstances. It is a non-profit association.
- a 24/7 confidential information and crisis telephone service, staffed by a team of trained volunteers under the supervision of professional therapists; and
- a Mental Health Service Centre, which has a professional staff of psychologists, psychiatrists and educational specialists – consultations are available in English and various other languages.
There are many private psychotherapy and counselling services available in Belgium, including English-speaking psychiatrists and therapists.
The website of the Belgian Commission of Psychologists provides a comprehensive search tool, allowing you to find practitioners close to you, speaking a particular language.
Family support associations
The Brussels Childbirth Trust (BCT) is Belgium’s biggest English-language non-profit association for families, with over 1200 members from over 70 nationalities. It’s a not-for-profit organisation run entirely by member volunteers who know exactly what its like to start or raise a family far from usual support networks in our home countries.
The BCT offer includes:
- activities like playgroups, new mums drop-in, gardening club, craft activities, music groups, as well as parenting information talks, baby massage, baby wearing information, first-aid for parents, and postnatal exercise classes
- many local groups, where you can really build local networks and share hints and tips with others living close-by
- support groups, including groups for those using IVF or other assisted reproductive treatments; for parents whose babies start their lives in NICU, for gay and lesbian parents, for single parents, for parents of children with special needs, and parents of twins and multiples
- birth preparation including the one-session ‘Pregnancy in Belgium’ evening and the classic 16-hour antenatal course
Invaluable local facebook groups
Here are some of the local Facebook groups/pages you really should join/follow!
- English-speaking mums in Brussels: This private group is a truly wonderful resource for all parents in Belgium. The majority of members are based in Brussels and the surrounding areas. This is a well-managed, supportive community where you can ask any family-related questions, and share you own experience. Closed group, but any parent in Belgium can request to join.
- Brussels Childbirth Trust’s Facebook group: Even if you’re not a member of this wonderful family association, you can still take full advantage of their vibrant Facebook group, which has almost 6,000 members. It’s a private group, but you can request to join the group, or ask a member to invite you.
- World Wild Schooling – Belgium: Previously known as ‘Forest fun in Belgium’, this English-language group has been a life-saver for hundreds (thousands?) of families since it was launched. Moderated by the wonderful Jo Koni, the group is a place to share and discover all sorts of family-friendly outdoor (and indoor) activities all over Belgium. Join the group to access an excellent map that will help you and your family explore corners of Belgium you never even thought about before.
If you’ve been involved with Antenatal and Baby, you’ll also have access to the private Antenatal and Baby group reserved exclusively for those known to founder Jo Everatt. This is a wonderfully diverse and supportive group so make sure to join if you can.
Loss support groups
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Belgium Facebook group: Waterloo-based mum Joanne Fraser has set up a support group, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Belgium – a closed Facebook group – for the loss of a pregnancy, stillbirth, infant death, conceiving or expecting after a loss.
Email email@example.com for further information or to be added to the Facebook group.