Having a Baby in Norway – Expat Birth Stories

Where are you from?

Where in Norway are you located?

Can you kindly share your experience with your pregnancy and birth in Norway?
My experience was largely positive. I was lucky to have a complication free pregnancy, so followed the regular system for antenatal care. This meant I met with my fastlege and midwife regularly. Each time, I was weighed and the bump measured, and listed to the heart rate. In the midwife sessions, we talked about breastfeeding, my support network, options for labour etc. I also had 1 ultrasound scan at the hospital at around 18 weeks. Nearer to my due date, I had a ‘booking in’ appointment at the maternity unit at the hospital where we talked about my birth plan (I didn’t really have one!) and the practicalities of what to do when labour starts. All my appointments were taken in English and I felt well cared for throughout.

In addition, I had an ultrasound privately at 8 weeks and 12 weeks. My husband and I also attended a weekend birth course with a local NCT trained instructor. I felt that information regarding the process of labour was missing a bit from the Norwegian system, so would recommend seeking out a course like this if you feel you need to be more prepared.

I had a very long birth with some positive and some negative experiences. My waters broke (around 39 weeks) and I went in to the hospital for monitoring. As everything was fine, I was told to go home and return when contractions were close together or after 24hrs if nothing had started. Then I’d have an induction as the risk of infection starts to increase. The midwives I saw throughout gave us enough information and everyone spoke English well.

When we returned a day later, I’d been having contractions for a while and was quite tired already. We felt that we were left alone a lot at this time, and that was not what I was expecting so I felt quite anxious. Over the next few hours, I would have liked more support and information from the midwives. We didn’t connect well with the midwife assigned to us after the shift changed, and this was difficult. I ended up being induced as my contractions stopped, and then had an epidural and IV induction. This was around 48hrs after my waters broke, so I was pretty relieved by then to get some pain relief!!

I had no problems getting an epidural, it was actually recommended by the midwife as she felt I would struggle with the next stage of the induction. I had heard stories that midwives in Norway would put pressure on you to have a ‘normal’ (i.e. without medical intervention) birth, but that wasn’t my experience at all. I felt like mine and the baby’s needs were entirely balanced and the right decisions were made at the right time by the staff, and also discussed with me. From the time of the epidural onwards, my experience of the medical staff was absolutely fantastic. I had 1 to 1 care and felt extremely well informed. I can’t praise the midwives, students and other medical staff enough!

Eventually, I needed a vacuum assisted delivery and an episiotomy to get the baby out. This procedure was done by another doctor but the same midwife stayed with me and was brilliant in supporting me and explaining everything. Baby arrived safely at 13.30 on a Tuesday, 2 ½ days after my waters broke!

I’d like to mention the after care too, as I feel that the Norwegian system has amazing postnatal care. In Stavanger, if everything has gone well, new mums and babies can stay in a ‘barselhotell’ adjoining the hospital for up to 3 days. On hand are experts in breastfeeding, paediatric nurses, physiotherapists and other health professionals. You have your own room to make the most of those first hours and days as a family, but with round the clock access to care. It was fantastic! (You also get 3 square meals a day in the hotel cafe, so no cooking or washing up!!) Our daughter had some problems with her shoulder due to the vacuum delivery, so we were able to go and meet with physios and nurses in the hospital whenever we needed.

When we returned home, we dropped into our local helsestasjon and could get help with breastfeeding and just general advice. I used this service a lot in the early days and found it really helpful and supportive.

Do you have any advice for new parents to Norway?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support if you need it. For example, whilst staying in the barselhotell, we called for help almost every time I fed the baby just to check we were doing it right! The support is generally there if you need it, but don’t expect it to just come to you without asking.

If during your pregnancy, the Norwegian system isn’t what you’re used to from your home country and it makes you feel nervous, find out about other private services if you can afford them. I found having a scan earlier than what was offered by the Norwegian health system and the weekend birth course really made me calmer about my pregnancy.These are both quite normal parts of pregnancy care in the UK so I felt happy that I was able to do that here too.

As a new parent without a family support network living nearby, I’ve really relied on my friends. Reach out on local facebook groups and use the helsestasjon to join a ‘barselgruppe’ (postnatal group of mums in your area) to find other mums to connect with.

Your fastlege (GP) is your first port of call and contact with the medical services, and your new baby will automatically be assigned to them too. If you’re not happy with your fastlege, I recommend finding one you do like during your pregnancy. It’s easy to change to a different doctor and it might not be something you have the energy to do after the baby is here!

Where are you from?

Where in Norway are you located?

Can you kindly share your experience with your pregnancy and birth in Norway?
Overall my pregnancy birth experience was very positive (though I was healthy throughout my pregnancy). I found the midwives very knowledgable and they answered all my questions. It is normal to go to your family doctor for all tests (blood, diabetes, etc.) and my doctor did not follow up as closely as the midwife. I had to go back a few times because they did the wrong test or they forgot to do something. In Canada you go to a gynecologist so this was a little different. I would recommend checking with the midwife to ensure you are getting all the right tests at the right time. In Norway they treat pregnancy as natural and check ups are generally non invasive. I only had one vaginal exam when I went in to the hospital on my due date. It was then decided to wait a couple more days before they induced me (not necessary as my water broke a few hours before they induced me).

A birthing course was offered by the health station, but I took a separate course given by Amathea that was for single mothers (this was recommended to me by the midwife as the birthing course offered by the health station was more geared for couples). A very good service as it allowed me to meet other mothers in similar situations plus get the required information. Both courses were in Norwegian, though I believe they offer some in English.

Since I am over 38 I had the additional ultrasound and screening for Down’s syndrome. If this is something you want and are not over 38, it can be arranged for privately. I gave birth in Voss because as a single mom I wanted to be able to stay a few extra days in the hospital to recover plus the majority of my close friends are there. Also everyone told me that it is more relaxed and quiet in Voss. My birth was long and I was very happy to have the few extra days. The nurses and doctors were good and friendly. Medication / pain killers were not given unless requested, but once they were requested they were administered quickly. My birth took a long time so I had numerous midwives come and go, though they transitioned well. At the beginning I was left for long periods on my own in the room, though at the end I had all the support I needed (a doctor, 2 midwives and an assistant).

Do you have any advice for new parents to Norway?
Most important was to ask lots of questions, everyone was very friendly and helpful in getting everything answered.

Where are you from?
Would prefer to remain annonymous.

Where in Norway are you located?

Can you kindly share your experience with your pregnancy and birth in Norway?

My pregnancy was OK, I didn’t see any gynaecologist which is unusual in many other countries. In Norway, you are followed up with your GP (fastlege) and midwife very well.

No vaginal examination during pregnancy, again unlike many countries. This is only done after labour starts here. I was happy about this as no one likes this exam unnecessarily.

Delivery was really good, much better than I expected. Excellent helpful staff. Excellent technology and procedures. Delivery was tough but the staff were great and helped alot. I had a tear and they scheduled a gynaecologist visit automatically to check for healing after 9 months and to highlight if next delivery should be vaginal or via C-section. This was followed up very well, I didn’t need to follow it myself.

At hospital was great they spent a lot of time teaching breastfeeding and how to bath baby for first time parents.

Do you have any advice for new parents to Norway?
Advice for parents to do your research and ask and raise flags. The medical staff here consider things natural if you are concerned you have to request tests etc.

Excellent birthing classes before delivery at Stavanger komune on all languages with videos etc preparing for childbirth and giving information about hospital, what you get, where to go and what to do.