10 must-knows if you’re having a baby in Antwerp

Lauraandbaby
Laura Soave

This is for you if you are going to have a baby and you live in Antwerp-
a few helpful things to keep in mind by Laura Soave (pic right), who has recently had her second child here in Antwerp.

1.The Mecca of Parenting

If you need advice about your baby or pregnancy, or about  breastfeeding; if you want to find a baby massage class, do yoga during pregnancy or if you just want a chat about your sleepless nights with your newborn you’ll find everything you need at the Kraamvogel.

Kraamvogel provides a variety of services and support: the website is very clear in terms of finding what you need: it’s divided into 3 sections: Zwanger (pregnancy), Bevallen (delivery) and Kinderwens (getting pregnant/ starting a family). In the Kraamvogel (Volkstraat 7 – 2000 Antwerpen) you’ll find lots of books about babies and pregnancy too

kraamvogel2. All you need is help

If you are in need of a consultation at home or you would like support in deciding  whether to deliver at home or at the hospital, you can go on the website Vroedvrouwen.be to look for a vroedvrouw, a midwife. These are independent professional women and they provide a phone number that you’ll be able to reach during the week or weekend if you have difficulty with breastfeeding or other newborn-related issues. You can also contact organizations like Solidariteit voor het Gezin to get the kraamzorg. This organisation, like many others, will be able to provide you, for a fair price, someone that can help you during your first days at home with your baby. They will prepare simple meals for you, you can send them on an errand to the pharmacy or the supermarket. They’ll even do some cleaning in the house, if needed

3. If this isn’t your first Rodeo…

First-time parents cannot wait to buy new clothes, lots of toys, a new stroller. When you’re having your second child, it’s a whole new vibe. You’ll try to recycle whatever you can and at some point you’ll want to get rid of things. Whenever you want to give away things (clothes, toys, crib, etc.) you can bring them to Moeders voor Moeders, a charity organization located in Borgerhout that works with 160 volunteers. I have done a tour of the place myself and believe me, when I tell you, it’s huge and well organized in departments, there’s even a cafeteria where people who cannot afford it, can get coffee for 10 cents.

moedersvoormoeders

 

You can also go to the Geefwinkel creandersregenboog in Berchem, where you’ll find clothes (men, women and children) and you’re allowed to bring things but also to collect what you like or need.

4. To pump or not to pump: that is the question!

NoordbabyNot a lot of people know that the public hospital Sint-Vincentius in Antwerp doesn’t rent electric breast-pumps any longer, nor will you find them at the pharmacies. I found Noord Baby as the only place in Antwerp city centre that rents breast-pumps. The owner is a midwife and also organizes workshops on different topics (pre-partum classes, breastfeeding, and so on).

You can also contact your mutualiteit (health care insurer) to rent the breastpump (generally for a very fair price).


5. When your baby is born

Shortly after the birth of your baby,  you’ll be contacted by an organization called Kind en Gezin, who will arrange an initial visit with you at home. During the visit, they’ll test hearing and monitor the baby’s weight. They’ll also get you an appointment for the baby’s first vaccinations. You can either go for a general consultation, or just to take the weight and measure your baby (no appointment needed for this). All of these services are for free.

kindengexin

6. Home delivery and Shopping 

Orchestra and Dreambaby on the A12 are the cheapest big malls for toys, clothes, strollers, diapers, and more important items. But can also find lots of good deals at Kruidvat. Especially on baby products.

Personally I’ve always found practical to have diapers delivered home, together with other baby supplies. Parents do not always have time to rush to the supermarket to get the essentials (diaper disposal bags, wet napkins, diapers).

Let’s call it ‘peace of mind’: I only do this once a month via bol.com and get it delivered at home for free in 24h.

Don’t forget: if you have Mobile Viking as phone provider, you’ll receive a percentage of your purchases as phone credit. Pretty awesome!

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7. CPR for babies and toddlers

This can be a scary topic for new parents, but bear with me here, because it is important.

It’s a must for every parent. There are organisations which offer classes. It’s just one evening (4 hours- but you can also find longer courses that offer more detailed and developed training) during which an expert will teach you what to do in case you’ll have to manage a situation involving choking, drowning, burning, drinking poisoning substance or medications. There is also a practical session at the end with practice- mannequins. This is a specific class for CPR on babies and toddlers: Rode Kruis First Aid to babies and children in EN EHBO bij kinderen in NL

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8. Parental Leave (Ouderschapsverlof/ Congé Parental)

If you have a Belgian contract, once your insurance has terminated the payments for your moederschapsverlof (maternity leave) you can also apply for your Ouderschapsverlof (parental leave). You can do this easily by applying via RVA’s (ONEM) website. This website provides the paperwork you need only in NL and FR.


You’ll need to fill in the paperwork (to be downloaded on the website) and there is a part for the employee and a few pages for your employer. You’ll need to attach to your file a copy of your baby’s birth certificate too. This procedure usually takes about a month or so to get approved. You can also follow your file online, to see scheduled payments etc.


9. Find your Mary Poppins.

mary-poppins-2756841_640Use Bsit: this is a very handy app created in 2015 by two cool Belgian mums – Géraldine and Donatienne – who wanted to know more about their babysitters before meeting them for the first time. You set your price per hour; you choose for proximity or best reviews. The reviews are very helpful; you can read about other parents’ experiences with that same person. You also get to know things like: how much experience your babysitter has, how many sittings she has done, which languages she speaks, her age etc.

There are also a couple of other organisations that provide this kind of service: Kinderoppas and Nanny in Nood. These can be a little more expensive than Bsit, but helpful and professional in the same way.

10. If you’re going back to work…

You’ll find a very useful list of Crèches on this website. There is a section for people in immediate need of a spot, but usually finding a daycare that has a spot in Antwerp can take a while, so try to do it as soon as possible -many people in busy areas will get onto waiting lists after the 12 week scan. You can choose whether to opt for a Group daycare or apply for an Onthaalmoeder– these are mothers at home that take between 6 and 8 babies. This is a solution for parents who prefer a smaller environment for their child. But again, hurry!  There are often long waiting lists for any of these solutions.

About the blogger

LauraS
Laura Soave (nonnative blog)

Laura Soave is an Antwerp blogger and designer from Italy. Check out her blog: nonnative and find her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter  

Would you like to write a guest post about your experiences (or knowledge) of Antwerp? contact me on nessascityblog@gmail.com. I’d like to hear your Antwerp story.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 1st, 2nd & 3rd June

quaeye werelt
De Quaeye Werelt

There are two big events going on over this weekend (and beyond). Stad Antwerpen opens its Baroque Season . Events, walks, museum exhibitions, music and perfomances will celebrate this most opulent of styles, with which this part of the world is so closely associated.  Baroque Season continues until January of next year. Kick-off events for this weekend can be found here, and a full and detailed programme can be read or downloaded here

Over Saturday and Sunday it’s De Quaeye Werelt at Sterckshof (Rivierenhof). This is an event which we always look forward to: De Quaeye Werelt takes you back to 1477: merchants, musicians, knights, and medieval folk of all types pitch their tents, sell their wares, and eat, drink and entertain for two days at Rivierenhof. The main event is the reconstruction of a medieval battle (at 3pm) which is fun, exciting and VERY noisy (take care of little ones and anyone who maybe alarmed by loud sudden noise; you might want to bring ear defenders for babies and kids). It’s an extremely friendly event with participants coming from all over Europe, and with something for everyone.

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Friday

Start your weekend with drinks at Aper’eau on Bolivarplaats from 5pm.

Saturday

Hair of the dog? Seefhoek Brewery are hosting four bands at Cafe Seefhoek from midday at Leven in de Brouwerij.

Enjoy Boulevard National in the Quartier Nationale today, and the Latin Murga parade at Costa: “Music, street food, art and fashion all combined in one must-attend event!” promises the Facebook page . If you do not know this part of town, today would be a great day to check it out – it is a nice area for shopping if you want to get away from the high- street brands feel of Meir.

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On Damplein from 2pm it’s Family Saturday. Take the kids along for music, performances, face-painting, free workshops and entertainment. Food, drinks and ice-creams available.

There are two runs taking place in Antwerp today. Good luck to all those taking part! There’s the Deurne 10 Miles and the Sint Andries run. The Deurne 10 Miles (at 19.30pm) raises money for bowel cancer, and there is a free run for kids at 6pm.

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Here’s the Saturday programme for Baroque Antwerp Opening Weekend.

Sunday

First Sunday of the month means Sunday shopping in Antwerp. Shops will be open on Meir and on other shopping areas such as Nationalestraat and Kloosterstraat.

SKRAP are holding second hand markets on the Groenplaats for the next five shopping Sundays from 8am -8pm.

skrap

Here’s the Sunday programme for Baroque Antwerp Opening Weekend. Fans of street art will be especially interested in the opening of the Baroque murals. These four special works of art were commissioned for the Baroque season.

It’s going to be a warm weekend again, with the possibility of some showers on Saturday.

Miscellaneous

 

tigers and flies
Tigers & Flies

It is always nice to be contacted by people who are coming to Antwerp and have scoped out Nessascityblog, so I was delighted to hear from Tigers and Flies -a UK Brighton based band, who have an accessible, jangly indie-pop sound. You can give them a listen here or catch them live at Korsakov’s on Wednesday night at 9pm (UPDATED START TIME). For free!

Sinksenfoor (annual funfair) is underway in Park Spoor Oost and it is HUGE. We went two weeks ago and had a great time. It’s on until 24th June. And you can print out some vouchers for deals and reductions on rides & food here.

Beyond Nessascityblog

It’s been really great to have worked with other interesting people recently.  Here’s a round -up of some Nessascityblog collabs:

Firstly I wrote  Three Great Spots For When The Sun Is Shining which was published on the Stad Antwerpen website and optimistically describes three places in the city you might want to check out if the weather holds out …

Next I wrote this guest post  about 5 Antwerp destinations for the blog Discovering Belgium.

NonnativeblueyellowLast Monday, I was delighted to publish a guest post by Laura Soave of Nonnative – a must-read if you are new or recently arrived in Antwerp.

I also thoroughly enjoyed myself in conversation with comedian Nigel Williams  of Stand Up Antwerp. You can hear the podcast of that conversation here. It is the first of a new series of weekly podcasts that Nigel is working on called “Babbel Without A Cause” about members of the expat community in Antwerp.

I was also interviewed for The Bulletin and look forward to sharing that soon.

Anyway, this all serves of a reminder of how nice it is to work with others, so if you have an Antwerp idea for Nessascityblog that you would like to contribute, or something you would like written for your own publication, please get in touch.

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pics this week courtesy of Skrap, Visit Antwerp, Boulevard National and Tigers & Flies.

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This Weekend in Antwerp: 25th, 26th & 27th May

banner nieuwsbrief

It’s Antwerp Art Weekend all weekend. Take the opportunity to discover some of the many galleries  and art spaces around the city. Here is the agenda for the weekend, and don’t forget to swing by de Studio, which functions as a hub for the event, and provides information and directions about what is happening as part of Antwerp Art Weekend.

Here’s the Google map you need for this weekend!

Friday

Critical Mass assembles on Theaterplein at 6pm to mark 20 Years of Critical Mass in Belgium with an hour’s cycling through the city.

Flying Pig is on Grote Markt from 5pm

Saturday

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 22.14.26At Bocadero (Waagnatie) it’s Feria Andaluza -a festival of Spanish culture, which is free to enter, and which continues on Sunday. It’s open from 12- 12. Enjoy traditional music, dance, food and drink from Spain.

Also showcasing its national -the Thai Embassy are hosting a Thai Weekend on Groenplaats, also over both days from 10am – 7pm. Dance, music, food and handmade Thai products will be available at over 70 stands on Saturday and Sunday.

It’s the ABC-markt (Antiek, Boeken, Brocante & Curiosa) at Den Beulebak from 11am -5pm.

If you are feeling energetic, it’s the Rivierenhof Run 2018 and if you did not register, you can do so on the day between 12 and 3pm. Kids run for free.

And London Calling celebrates all things Morrisssey and The Smiths at Ampere. Come and enjoy the tunes of England’s favourite musical curmudgeon, along with other Britpop tracks.

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London Calling at Ampere

 

Sunday

ATWA2018 Poster

 

Feria Andalusa is open from 12 -10pm (see above).

Thai weekend continues on Groenplaats.

Billed as a ‘slice of New Orleans on The Schelde’ Brasspartij 3 takes place at Harmonie Park thought other styles will also be represented:  funk, balkan, ska, drum’n’bass … as five Belgian bands battle for the winning title, from 1.30pm onwards.

 

 

kite
Photo by Murat Ustuntas on Unsplash

Kite flying enthusiasts will enjoy this Vlieger Happening on Linkeroever from 1.30pm featuring some professional kiteflying stunts, kids entertainment and the chance to make your own kite if you do not have one. Vlieger Happening takes place on the Middenvijver (August van Cauwelaertlaan).

And art lovers will be pleased to know that Lambermontmatre is starting up again for the summer. This monthly art market showcases and offers for sale the work of local artists, painters and photographers. There’s a Ricard bar, as well as other drinks and snacks. There’s also always live music (2.30pm and 5pm) and a relaxed atmosphere, just right for a warm Sunday afternoon.

Finally, best wishes and congratulations to Grade 12 students of Antwerp International School for the graduation ceremony today!

The weather is predicted to be warm again (21 -22 degrees) though with some clouds. There may be a little rain on Friday.

Beyond Nessascityblog

It’s been really great to have worked with other interesting people recently. I’ve been pretty busy!

Firstly I wrote  Three Great Spots For When The Sun Is Shining which was published on the Stad Antwerpen website and optimistically describes three places in the city you might want to check out if the weather holds out …

Next I wrote this guest post  about 5 Antwerp destinations for the blog Discovering Belgium.

NonnativeblueyellowLast Monday, I was delighted to publish a guest post by Laura Soave of Nonnative – a must-read if you are new or recently arrived in Antwerp.

I also thoroughly enjoyed myself in conversation with comedian Nigel Williams  of Stand Up Antwerp. You can hear the podcast of that conversation here. It is the first of a new series of weekly podcasts that Nigel is working called “Babbel Without A Cause” about members of the expat community inAntwerp.

20638485_1446523395414979_8327219774800375873_n
Stand- Up Antwerp

I was also interviewed for The Bulletin and look forward to sharing that soon.

Anyway, this all serves of a reminder of how nice it is to work with others, so if you have an Antwerp idea for Nessascityblog that you would like to contribute, or something you would like written for your own publication, please get in touch.

Miscellaneous

Next Wednesday is the last of the month, so Antwerp city museums are free on that day (30th May)

Sinksenfoor (annual funfair) is underway in Park Spoor Oost and it is HUGE. We went last weekend and had a great time. It’s on until 24th June. And you can print out some vouchers for deals and reductions on rides & food here.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 18th, 19th & 20th May

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HERE’S THE GOOGLE MAP FOR THIS WEEKEND AND BEYOND …

FEATS (Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies) is on over this weekend on (18th -21st). It is hosted by BATS VZW (Antwerp’s own British American Theatre Society) and takes place at the Fakkel Theatre on Hoogstraat.  Tickets are popular, so waste no time in getting yours if you would like to go. Tickets via this link will get you an evening comprising of three performances. Here is the list of participating groups, and the FEATS program.

FridayamorikaGreeknight

On Steenplein, some and enjoy another Aper’eau event next to the river from 5pm.

A little way along the river, summer bar Bocadero opens for the summer season at Waagnatie from midday.

Amorika host an evening of Greek music at ‘T Werkhuys (8pm)  for just 5 euros (pic right, courtest of Amorika).

Saturday

Cross the river for an Evening Market on Frederik Van Eedenplein from 3pm to 9pm.

Sinksenfoor (funfair) opens today in Park Spoor Oost at 2pm. Sinksenfoor is on an ongoing summer attraction, open until 24th June.

Sunday (Pentecost)

The regular second hand book market on de Coninckplein has a musical dimension this month, as it will be accompanied by a piano marathon.

For more general bargain hunters, this Rommelmarkt, free from 10am -6pm at Skate Planet.

Japan Con takes place in the Loods building (Park Spoor Noord) and brings Asian pop culture to Antwerp (animé, Manga & cosplay) from 10am -6pm. Tickets are E8.99 (free for kids under 10)

There are Pentecost services at OLV Cathedral.

bocaderoF
Bocadero Summer Bar

Friday will be cool/ mild (16 degrees) The weekend should be mostly dry, with temperatures warming up on Saturday (20-21 degrees, cloudy with sunny patches) when there could be a light shower. Sunnier on Sunday.

Miscellaneous

I am proud to share this post I wrote about Antwerp for Discovering Belgium blog.

Monday is Pentecost Monday (aka Whit Monday). It’s a public holiday so most shops will be closed. Warm sunshine expected! How about this bike market on Dageraadplaats instead? Goegekregen are also holding one of their secondhand markets on Theaterplein from 9am.

Also on Monday a guest post here on Nessascityblog, from the lovely Nonnative Blog

Keep an eye on the ZVA website for the release of the Antwerp summer programme on the 22nd May (Tuesday). Tickets for events will be available from 2nd June.

I’m pleased to share this blog post: Three Great Spots For When The Sun Is Shining which was published recently on the Stad Antwerpen website and optimistically describes three places in the city you might want to check out if the weather holds out …

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Open- air swimming pool De Molen is now open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from  midday until 6pm.

Summer bars now open: Bar JardimBar Paniek and Bocadero (from 18th May).

 

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Guest Post: Laura Soave, designer and blogger from Italy writes about how there is no place like home …

Laura Soave is an Antwerp blogger and designer from Italy. Check out her blog: nonnative and find her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter  Read her story here:-

LauraS

No Place Like Home …

Breathless, I’m completely breathless, not because I’m admiring a beautiful view from a fancy skyscraper in some fancy big city like New York. No, the reason why my ex-smoker lungs are loudly screaming is because I have just ascended 65 stairs (yes, I counted) just so I could reach the top floor of a building in Kipdorpvest, a street in the heart of this small city. And all of this effort just so I could visit the last apartment available te huur (to rent). That day I made my first big decision in a foreign country: quit smoking! This is one of the first memories I have of moving to Antwerp and one of the first time I saw Leopold de Waelplaats. I thought it was one of the most charming places I had ever seen: foggy, a little grey, but incredibly charming. I remember I was sitting in this café while waiting to check the last apartment for the day. It has been a long time since I’ve thought of that first day in this strange, new land.

LeopoldewaalpltsF
Leopold de Waelplaats

My name is Laura and I am an Italian from Napoli living in Antwerp since 2011. When I moved here with my Italian husband we did it to get a better life, sure. But we weren’t running away from La Bella Italia; we were homesick everyday, and we still are. Were we leaving everything behind – family, friends, our apartment – in order to try this new experience that might get us a better job and a better future? The hope for better opportunities fused with a curiosity to explore a new culture won the battle between “shall we go?” and “we’d  better stay”.  

So the answer was yes. Even though during my first days of Belgian-life I perceived some kind of hostility, I wanted to feel part of the culture and understand the everyday mechanisms of a society that I could not yet comprehend. While observing people crossing the street I couldn’t help but wonder how could they go around with just a light t-shirt or shorts while an unstoppable rain was coming down! And as soon as a timid ray of sunlight emerged, everybody was sitting outside, no matter what temperature: that was a complete mystery to me. But yes, I now forgot cars and traffic and rode around Antwerp on my purple bike, crossing streets of a city so diverse that it can make your head spin. I noticed there is less queuing at the bank or at the post office, and less stress caused by things like late buses, however, you’ll feel the need to take advantage of enjoying a day outdoor in the sun, because it might be the last you’ll see in a long time. Due to this and many other reasons, I became passionate about this place. I started working as designer, began to attend Dutch classes and discover more of this new culture. I made both Belgian and international friends.

GroenplaatsLaura

When you live abroad for a while, you realise your life will always be split into two perfect halves. Half of me is still in my hometown; and then there is other half that has tuned out of my own culture a little, and has adjusted to a new way of life and new rules. At first, this new feeling created a sense of non-belonging, not belonging to Antwerp but also not to Napoli, because not living my culture for so long made me forget what’s it like to live there. A dawning awareness enabled me to at last realise that I do belong to both places at the same time, so to make a better record of my life here and experiences, I recently started a blog about Antwerp (nonnative.blog), which is a collective of expat voices. Nonnative is a place where people can write about this city from the expat point of view; it’s like an online home.

Sometimes I think of what Dorothy says “There is no place like home” right before clicking her heels for three times to go home. Home can be in two different places at the same time: in one place you have your heart, and in the other your have your soul. One cannot live without the other.

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Inspired to write a guest blog post telling your Antwerp story? Please get in touch via nessascityblog@gmail.com -I’d love to hear from you.

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