This post is a general introduction to pregnancy and birth in Norway. In future posts in this series “Having a Baby in Norway” I will go through procedures, information and experiences in detail. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section below so everyone can benefit from the answers.
Having a baby in Norway can be a little daunting, especially if you don’t speak the language and you are away from family. I have found that one of the most important thing to having a baby in Norway, especially if it is your first, is to learn as much as possible about pregnancy and birth. As a native English speaker, this cannot actually be done with just Norwegian resources alone (which are very minimal – even for Norwegians). With Lilu, who is my third child but first born in Norway, I was constantly going back to my English resources – books, magazines and websites to update myself on new ideas/practises and refresh on everything about pregnancy and birth. This made is so much easier when I got nurses or doctors who didn’t speak English as I knew what was supposed to happen at each appointment. It was also really important to have my Norwegian husband at appointments too as he could translate for me anything that I didn’t understand in Norwegian. This meant that I could ask questions right there and then rather than having to go home and study up on what the nurses where talking about.
I have found that the contact you have with nurses and doctors in Norway is quiet minimal than other countries like Australia and England (where I had my other two children). However, as I had placenta preivia with Lilu I was scheduled more appointments with doctors at the hospital for regluar scans – but my midwife appointments at the clinic remained the same. My point is, the Norwegian Medical System is very practical. If your pregnancy is going well then you will likely have less than eight scheduled appointments with either your doctor or midwife (your choice) during your pregnancy. However, if you have any complications, of course, they will take the necessary care to ensure a safe pregnancy and birth. Being my third pregnancy, I was actually quiet glad not to have to go to the clinic so regualry. I knew what was going on with my body and never looked forward to keeping an appointment at an awkward time during the day, parking, waiting in the reception, peeing in a flask, (usually all done with a toddler in tow) just for a 10 minute consultation. So win/win for me in Norway.
In pregnancy and birthing, Norwegians prefer natural methods of care and treatment such as, massage, physio, acupuncture, yoga etc, rather than just giving drugs. Maternity professionals work with the body to allow it to do its magic rather than intervene. Of course, it is always a mother’s choice. The Norwegian Medical System is numbered one of the best in the world so you are certainly in good hands. They have state of the art facilities and up-to-date practices. Health care here is public (private is very unheard of, but still an option if you want it) so all services are covered by the National Insurance Scheme when you are pregnant – sometimes including such treaments as physio. I also find that the midwives are very good at following birthing plans and even suggest new ideas and practices to help you have the birth you want.
After the baby is born you are scheduled a first appointment at the midwife clinic for the baby. The baby will continue on set appointmenbts called ‘controls’ which are to monitor the baby’s first year of growth and development as well as giving inoculations. The clinic is usually a hub for mother’s to have a nice place to feed and change baby when out and about. You can get information about how to dress and care for your baby for a Norwegian winter and other tips on living with children in an Nordic country. Sometimes they provide seminars about child and birthing (but usually not in regional areas) as well as mother’s group meetings.
I have had a great experience with pregnancy and birth in Norway, however, some of my non-Norwegian friends faced a lot of challenges. The main reason for this is because they couldn’t let go of their expectations that they brought from their home countries. They didn’t learn about the process, couldn’t ask questions because of lack of knowledge and the language barrier, and therefore were not able to prepare properly for the special event in their lives. Some of the women gave up wanting to know what was happening and didn’t have the wonderful experience they should of had. These women were often scared and insecure about their whole experience and it has left a negative impact on them.
So to recap: The most important things for a happy pregnancy and birth in Norway is to learn all you can about pregnancy and birth, to communicate with your medical professionals (don’t be scared of them because you don’t speak Norwegian) and be open to the Norwegian way of prenatal and maternity care. This will enable you to have the wonderful experience you should expect at this special time in your life.
Other posts in this series:
We have a new Birth and Pregnancy vocabulary page in our Learn Norwegian pages that will be added to regularly. It is really handy to learn some of the more common words and phrases to help you recognise information on pregnancy and birth as well as navigate yourself around the hospital. Feel free to ask us to add any other words or phrases that you would find useful too.