Each maternity/labour ward is different. If you are having your first baby in Norway I would suggest you arrange a tour.
Because I live in a small city (Tromsø is actually the fifth biggest city in Norway but only has 70,000 people!) some pregnancy and birth services are not available. One of these services is birthing classes. Even though I already knew what was going to happen with the birth of Lilu (I’d been there two times before) I wanted Moose to be able to learn the process too. But unfortunately this option wasn’t available so we just read books together.
However, I had two immigrant friends, an American and a Russian who were pregnant for the first time. They were very concerned about the whole process and had never seen a labour ward before. Their doctors said that tours of the birthing ward where not available any more. This wasn’t good enough – so I called up the maternity ward myself and arranged a ‘private’ tour for all of us at the hospital. I mentioned specifically that we were all immigrants having our first babies in Norway and we need someone who is fluent in English. It was no problem – they were happy to oblige.
This is probably an odd thing to say, but the tour was fantastic…lol. We got to learn about the procedures the ward has for labour (things can be different from place to place). We got to see the birthing rooms (they were very luxurious), the recovery rooms and the special monitoring room (the room they take the baby to if it has any complications). We talked about all the equipment (and played with it). We asked about the ward’s natural pain control methods – they showed us a room full of aids such as birthing balls, chairs, massage equipment, heat packs and electrodes – they even had acupuncture from a qualified midwife! We learnt about drug relief and emergency procedures such as when they would consider an episiotomy or caesarean. They also told us about an experimental practise for helping women naturally prevent tearing. We got to meet other midwives who might be on shift during our labour. This tour was one of the best things I could have done to prepare for a Norwegian birth.
As it so happened, when I was in labour I ended up in the same room as the tour and had the same midwife! I didn’t recognise her at first, being in pain and all, but it was nice to have someone who knew me to help. Knowing what was going to happen and what was available to me meant I could make my own choices – this was esepcially important when developing my birthing plan. Because I knew everything beforehand I could prepare properly and I had the birth I wanted. It was the best birthing experience ever.