Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Giving birth in Sweden: The birth center info night

Skeppsbron in Gamla Stan, Stockholm Sweden  |  afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

A few weeks ago R and I headed to an information night at the birthing center we chose for where we'd like me to give birth. Having never given birth here in Sweden nor anywhere else, I had us sitting in our seats and was mentally shushing people around me 10 minutes before the midwife was scheduled to begin talking.

(Let me tell you, it's not easy to digest important information in a foreign language, especially when you're anxious and someone is repeatedly crumpling and un-crumpling the opening of their bag of candy while bouncing a toddler on their lap.)

The majority of the women that were there (each, amazingly, were accompanied by their partner) are also due in December, which made me a teensy bit nervous as the birthing center doesn't have that many rooms available (I believe around 20), and if when we call to let them know we're coming in we find out that they're full, I might have to give birth elsewhere, but, I'm trying not to think about that.

Anyway—when I found out that I was pregnant I decided to go with a private midwife group here in Stockholm for my prenatal care, and that private group is connected to private birthing centers located at all of the major hospitals in the area (there are stand alone birth centers, too, but we wanted to be near an emergency room just in case).

I've yet to figure out exactly what the difference is between private and public facilities (aside from aesthetics), as both have the exact same costs for pre-natal care, labor and delivery, and post-natal care for mothers and babies, which is: 0.

The evening began with the midwife going over the birthing center's philosophy—how the midwives work together to make the parents comfortable, how their goal is for both parents to feel mentally, physically and emotionally safe and taken care of, the process for checking in, and the sequence of activities that will take place from when we arrive to when we leave, including what happens after the birth, when we can elect to be moved from the birthing room to the "hotel" where the parents and baby can stay together for two days, assuming everyone is healthy.

(We're definitely taking advantage of that, because having someone else take care of all our needs for the first two days while we get to know our little one, and having midwives on call for any questions or help we might need, especially when it comes to breastfeeding, sounds incredible.)

Being a visual person, I loved when the midwife began flipping through step-by-step photographs in the presentation of the building entrance, the elevator bank, the entrance to the birthing center itself, the birthing room (which has a birthing bed, an L-shaped sofa, chairs, a table, and a private bathroom), pain relief apparatuses (yoga balls, bathtubs, a wooden coatrack-like structure that you can lean into and put your weight on, etc.), and examples of various birthing positions (on the birthing bed itself, on a birthing stool, in different positions on the couch, and even on the floor).

Perhaps the best photo of all, though, was of a smiling midwife carrying in a tray with two flutes of bubbly and two open-faced sandwiches topped with little Swedish flags on toothpicks for the new parents to enjoy after the birth.

While the information didn't go into super-detailed medical specifics (that was covered at another meeting at the birthing center—more on that later), it was a great introduction to how everything's going to play out, especially since neither of us have ever had any experience with Swedish hospitals.

We left two hours later feeling happy that not only had I picked that particular midwife association to be with us for my pregnancy and the birth of our baby, but incredibly relieved that we had waited to leave NYC and move to Stockholm before growing our little family from two to three.

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More on Swedish healthcare, prenatal care and giving birth in Sweden:

One year ago: Postcard from Andalucía: Cadíz + Medina-Sidonia
Two years ago: Craving a cozy cappuccino
Three years ago: Tension with the Times & Fondue femmes

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