Irma Speetjes & her Childbirth Class | Interview by our GiT spouse Irem Bezcioglu

Am very happy to present this interview with Irma Speetjens about her Childbirth Class, initiated and carried out by Irem Bezcioglu!

Finding your way in a new country is demanding! There are thousands of things to ask, learn and remember. After living in Eindhoven for more than 4 years, I thought I had learnt enough!

Yet I started all over again when I found out I was going to have a baby. Among the many learning experiences during pregnancy, taking a childbirth class was by far the most useful one. I am happy that I contacted Irma Speetjens, a mother of four kids, a nurse, and a childbirth class teacher, to help me facilitate the birth of my son.

In her classes, Irma makes sure couples are well prepared for what expects them before, during and after the labor. This post is all about her; who she is, how she started to work with internationals, what she offers in her classes, etc.



Irma and Kuzey

Irma Speetjens with the lovely handsome son Kuzey of Irem Bezcioglu

Could you tell us about yourself?

I’m a mother of 4 children, 3 sons and one daughter. I love biking, like reading books and shop in town and feel relaxed on our boat and enjoy the Netherlands from the water. Besides that there is always something going on in my lovely family.

After being a hospital-based nurse for 12 years I became a mother. Because of these new family commitments, I started the childbirth education of Samen Bevallen. Since 1997 I have worked as a childbirth class teacher and I give classes in Dutch two evenings a week.

I know what it is like to be expecting a baby in a culture other than your own and all the uncertainty and emotions that this can bring. I specialize in prenatal individual or group childbirth classes- information sessions and coaching for international couples expecting a baby in the Netherlands.

I really enjoy working with pregnant women during pregnancy and birth. My aim is to help couples have a memorable and empowering birthing experience in the Netherlands. I hope that every international parent-to-be I support will anticipate their birth with confidence, look back at their birthing experience with contentment and feel prepared and excited about becoming new parents in Holland.

How did you begin with the birth class for internationals?

As a former expat myself, having lived in the United States and also Japan, I have personal experience of what it is like to move countries and find your way in a new totally different system. My husband works at ASML and he knows how many expats are living in Eindhoven. And being pregnant! He motivated me to start my English classes.

This was the inspiration for starting my English spoken classes in 2000.

How can internationals benefit from your classes?

This course is designed to provide the opportunity to explore a wide range of issues surrounding labor. For the mother, take your time to enjoy the discoveries of pregnancy and the richness that birth can bring to your life as a woman. For the partner, support and protect the mother during the pregnancy, the birth and in the early weeks after birth. The ideas in this course will help you get started and show you how you can be actively involved. The class also helps you to find your way in having a baby in the Netherlands. It will show you how the Dutch maternity care system works and will make you feel safe and “at home”.

The class helps you prepare for the birth of your baby in an informative and practical way. During the course you will learn and practice different birthing techniques as well as all the what’s and why’s about pregnancy and labor. My main goal is to give you and your baby the best start possible. The classes are intended for both the mother and her partner and will teach you how to do this: together as a team.

My courses are a wonderful mix of couples from all over the world and will give you a really good opportunity to get to know other parents-to-be in the area. Together, you will be able to discuss and learn from each other.

  • Avoidable hazards in pregnancy
  • Stages in labor
  • Dilation, what happens in your body
  • Pushing and birth of the placenta
  • When to call the midwife or hospital
  • Attitude towards contractions and pain
  • Different ways to cope with labor and how partner can support
  • Pain relief options and implications
  • Obstetric interventions explained (vacuum, Caesarean section. Induction why, when, how)
  • Breastfeeding information
  • First week with baby, bonding – post-natal care
  • Life with a new baby
  • Birth plan
  • Giving birth in the Netherlands; the Dutch Maternity Services
  • Helping you to make informed choices and handle concerns
  • Relaxation
  • Breathing and massage techniques
  • Exercises such as pushing in different positions
  • Positions for labor and how partners can help

What kind of reactions do you receive from your participants?

Some reviews:

  • Feeling at home
  • Being pregnant in a country that is not your home, adds an extra factor of doubts on what to expect
  • It helps you in understanding the Dutch birth culture.
  • My experience and empathy as a mother, nurse, and expat helps a safe environment, where all questions are allowed, and where you feel at home and relax. The lessons are very interactive, and you have a lot of fun!
  • She teaches practical and useful stuff, for both women and their “coaches”
  • After taking the lesson, we feel more prepared for receiving our little one
  • She knows how to touch and connect, to make you feel special!
  • Childbirth Class Irma is the class for you if you are expecting a baby and you want to know what to expect around the delivery or you simply want to feel a bit more secure   about this new experience in your life.

picture from Irma’s site ‘Childbirth Class Irma’

What is special about pregnant internationals? They are away from their families. How do your classes support them in this regard?

I hope to give them strength and confidence! And feel at home and share stories with the other participants in my class.

Of course, there is a difference according to my Dutch classes. They are not in their own country, know the way in this system but if you are not from the Netherlands it’s all new and there is the unknown of being pregnant and have a baby in a foreign country. They listen to home birth stories, how to deal with pain, the midwife system and how” tough” Dutch ladies are. (not true, we are all the same in labor!)

What has surprised you most during the classes so far?

I realize that it’s not always easy to be pregnant in a country that is not yours. It surprises me that in some countries the partner is not allowed to be in labor and support the ladies. In some countries it can be busy with the whole family around the lady in labor!

It is very useful to have a partner to lean on when you are in labor and that the partner knows the ins and outs to help in the birth process. You can support her and know what to expect!

  • Because you are becoming new parents and it’s nice to have one evening a week to prepare yourselves and reflect about pregnancy and birth.
  • Because you know more together
  • Because the birth of your baby is a very beautiful moment in life for both of you

What are your future plans?

Keep on doing this wonderful job I have! I really love it!

(Thanks a lot Irem for your interview and thanks a lot Irma for your inspiring information! Pls click here for more info)

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