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From 1946, directly after the war, Frieda Struyk established herself as midwife on Staten Bolwerk number 10. The current practice ‘Bolwerk’ started with her. Frieda was an extraordinary, eccentric woman. Former clients remember her as a cigar smoking woman, often wearing a knickerbocker, driving a Citroën 2CV. She was always accompanied by her dog, the last years by three quirky dachshunds. Frieda had a heart of gold and was always there for absolutely everybody. For example, she provided shelter for years to homeless and single mothers. 

Special consultation hour

On Sundays she held a special consultation hour for foreign women that had difficulty finding the time on weekdays. The Sundays were open house without fixed appointments, often taking place in the garden where the leaves of the grapevine were picked at the same time.
Quite convenient for making stuffed grape leaves. But the rest of the clients were not that average either. The practice attracted lots of alternative people and Frieda collaborated with the anthroposophical general practitioners from Haarlem.

Hard work

For over thirty years Frieda worked as a solo midwife. In 1979 she sought out a buddy. That was Marja Brakman who still works full time in the current practice. Marja and Frieda formed a solid team. They worked hard: one week of service, one week of consultation hours and a weekend off once every two weeks. Not to mention the fill ins they did for other practices in Haarlem.

The whole obstetric care at the time was incomparable with the current times. You could still give outpatient birth in four hospitals and each hospital had its own distinct atmosphere and character, not in the least to appeal to the midwives. For example, one hospital would offer the possibility to give birth in a bath tub while the midwives and gynaecologists guided breech deliveries at other hospitals.

Permanent team of four

In 2008 the practice literally moved next door to number 8. Other loyal midwives appeared. For example, Nienke has been working in the practice for 22 years and Joyce joined us 12 years ago. She was even born under guidance of the Bolwerk. Our newest addition is Sophie which makes a permanent team of four midwives. Bolwerk is a practice bursting with history. The curve from Frieda to the practice as we know it today spans no less than 76 years!

Thirty years of experience

In 1985 Frieda retired with Josseline Dahler as her successor. When Marja had her first child and short after that Josseline got pregnant unexpectedly, a third colleague was necessary. The work in the practice could be hectic, especially combining work with motherhood. Mobile phones did not exist at the time which resulted in a variety of colourful stories covering unexpected events.

Throughout the years various midwives passed through, but Marja and Josseline were always there like the common thread. Eventually they would work together for thirty years until Josseline’s retirement in 2016. Marja officially  retired on the 1st of january 2022.