This article aims to take you through the process in as much detail as possible. It is never easy to have a baby, let alone having it in a different country (not to mention the language!) than that you are used to. Hopefully this will answer some of your questions and give you a better overview of the process in Norway.
Missed your period? Think you might be pregnant? Go ahead and get pregnancy test kits from the pharmacy. They are 99% accurate and testing more than once would doubly and triply ensure the accuracy of your results. Alternatively, you can book an appointment with your doctor where you can find out if you are pregnant or not.
The First Appointment
Once you find out that you are pregnant, call your doctor’s office to fix an appointment. Some doctors will only see you in Week 8 – 10 of your pregnancy while others will see you right away. This will be the start of your svangerskapskontroll. (pregnancy checks)
What’s done at the first appointment?
- Calculation of your due date
- Urine test (for infections and protein content)
- Blood tests (for syphilis, HIV, Rubella, Hepatitis B and C) and other extra tests if necessary, based on your history. If you come into contact with cats, do ask for a toxaplasmosis test too.
- History taking (Civil status, medical history, surgical history, known hereditary illnesses in the family, previous pregnancies and possible complications you may have had, number of kids you have, your partner’s and your education level, occupations, religious views, nationalities, lifestyle habits: smoking, drinking, drug use.)
- Blood pressure and weight will be taken.
You will be given a form (Helsekort For Gravide) which will document all the above. You keep this form with you and bring it to every visit to the doctor, the midwife and to the hospital.
The Helsekort For Gravide is a link between doctors, midwives and hospitals, so that everyone gets the same information. You decide what information to give. No one can force you to answer questions and not all questions are equally important for pregnancy and birth. Feel free to ask about why the question is important that you should respond to it.
You will also be encouraged to start taking folic acid (if you have not already done so). Folic acid can help to prevent serious birth defects in your baby.
In addition, you might be given a book on pregnancy. (Depends on your doctor.) Be sure to ask your doctor about any doubts or questions you may have. Pregnant women have a million and one different concerns so if you do not specify yours, your doctor will not know to discuss it with you.
You will not get an ultrasound done until Week 17 to 19 of your pregnancy unless you have a compelling medical reason to have an early ultrasound. This will be up to your doctor to decide. It will also be your doctor’s office which will arrange the scan at the hospital for you. You will receive a letter in the mail from the hospital telling you when to go for the ultrasound.
For those of you who are curious to see your baby before your first ultrasound, you can have private ultrasounds done. Private ultrasounds are not that expensive, costing from 500 NOK for a 2D one and from 800 NOK for a 3D one. Search for ‘ultralyd, your area‘ to find private ultrasound clinics. If you are seeing a private gynaecologist, he/she will usually have an ultrasound machine in the office as well.
Approximate Times of Future Appointments
First appointment : Week 8 to 10
Second appointment : Week 17 to 19 (Ultrasound scan done)
Third appointment: Week 24
Fourth appointment : Week 28
Fifth appointment : Week 32
Sixth appointment : Week 36
Seventh appointment: Week 38
Eighth appointment: Week 40
Possible ninth appointment: Week 41
Note: These are guidelines only. You may have more appointments then the abovementioned. It depends on your practitioner.
Are These Appointments Free?
Yes, basic care during your pregnancy is free. If there are any complications arising from your pregnancy which requires you to be referred to a specialist for further investigation and treatment, that is free as well.
The 2nd Doctor’s Appointment
At this appointment, the nurse might take more blood tests and a urine sample. The doctor then checks your blood test results from the first appointment. He should also inform you of which state midwife (jordmor) to go to. Seeing the midwife is part of your pregnancy checks (svangerskapskontroll).
Other than that, the doctor will check your weight, blood pressure and ask you general questions about your well-being.
Appointment with the Midwife
The doctor will refer you to a midwife at a health station (helsestasjon). You will have to call and give your details and they will send you a letter in a few weeks for the appointment date and time. Appointments with the midwife are free as well. However, you can also opt to visit private midwives, the cost of which will be borne by yourself.
In a normal pregnancy, a routine ultrasound will be performed, sometime between your 18th to 21st week of pregnancy, at the local hospital or specified clinic. The ultrasound is free but you might have to pay a fee if you’d like to have images of your baby. Your general practitioner (fastlege) is responsible for sending a referral to the hospital and the hospital will, in turn, send you a letter informing you of the date and time of your appointment. Don’t forget to bring along your pregnancy card (helsekort for gravide). If your fastlege forgot to send a referral to the hospital, feel free to call up the hospital when you are at Week 17 and ask when your ultrasound appointment will be.
This ultrasound aims to date your baby and provide a more accurate due date and most importantly, to check that your baby is developing normally. The ultrasound will be mostly in 2D but the technician might show you some 3D shots as well.
What exactly is assessed at this ultrasound?
- Gestational age – gives you a more accurate due date
- Number of fetuses
- Baby’s vitality
- Cardiac activity and blood flow
- Anatomy and development of baby – head, kidneys, bladder, stomach, spine, arms and legs
- Placement of the placenta
- Amount of amniotic fluid
- And, (should the parents desire to find out), the sex of your baby
Specific measurements of your baby – head circumference, femur length, etc will be measured to ensure that your baby is developing normally.
If all is well with the ultrasound, you will be sent off to reception to fix an appointment for an innskrivning day, which will occur roughly a month before your due date, where you come into the hospital, get a tour around the birthing room and facilities and also to input all your information into the hospital system.
If something atypical is found during the ultrasound, you will be referred for furthur tests.
Meeting the Midwife
Your doctor (fastlege) will inform you of whom to contact and where to go. Getting an appointment with your midwife is as simple as calling them up at the health station (helsestasjon). After you call up the health station and give your details to them, you will be sent a letter informing you of your appointment date and time. You’ll be advised to allocate 1 hour for the first appointment and half an hour for subsequent ones.
The main purpose of seeing the midwife is obtain information and advice about your pregnancy and aid with preparation to becoming parents. You should feel comfortable about asking your midwife anything as that is what they are there for. No question about pregnancy is too silly or insignificant.
Your midwife will start by going through your pregnancy card (helsekort for gravide), asking all the questions that your general practitioner (fastlege) has asked before and even more.
She will then proceed take your weight and to measure your fundal height – measure of the size of the uterus. It is measured from the top of the mother’s uterus to the top of the mother’s pubic bone in centimeters. Subsequently, she will attempt to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. I say attempt as you may not be able to listen to it, it depends on your baby’s position at that time. But if you do get to hear it, it sounds exactly like a galloping horse. Your midwife will then count your baby’s heartbeat and all the information that she has gathered from you will be written down on your helsekort.
Please note that everyone’s ultrasound session and meeting with the midwife might differ.
If you are pregnant, you are eligible to apply for free baby boxes from several sources. The advantages of these boxes, besides being free, is that you get to test out different brands of products before deciding which ones you would like to use. The contents of the boxes include useful items for your newborn baby like diapers, creams, shower gels, etc and also for the parents. Please note that some of the boxes come with certain terms and conditions. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
This is an appointment usually made at the end of your routine ultrasound for you to go to the hospital roughly a month before your estimated due date for registration. The midwife at the hospital will key in all your details into the computer so that they have all your information when you are there for labour. Be sure to bring along your health card (helsekort for gravide), the ultrasound document and other documents from your doctor (e.g. test results). You will get information from the midwife about what is offered at the hospital (acupuncture, bathtub, epidurals, information about staying in the hotel, etc etc) You may also ask for a tour of the birthing facilities (this, however, is subject to availability).
What to Pack for the Hospital
Be sure to pack your little luggage bag a couple of weeks early (at least by the end of the 36th week) in case your little one decides he/she wants to see the world earlier than planned. Also, make sure your partner or support person (parents, siblings, friends) knows where the bag is so they do not have to search high and low for it.
Some moms have informed me that it is best to pack for a 3-4 night stay.
Please note that these are just suggestions, feel free to add more in the comments below. Also note that the hospital will most likely provide most of these items but you might want to have your own belongings anyway.
Healthcard for expectant moms (Helsekort for gravide), Rhesus form, ultrasound information form and other blood or other test results you may have.
Camera/Video camera + chargers
Mobile phone + charger
Laptop + charger
Books and magazines
Snacks (for a long labour) – fruit, nuts, raisins, energy drinks, water.
Comfortable nursing clothing – be sure not to pack clothes which are too tight
Undergarments (Be sure to have a good stock of these)
Slippers (for use within the hospital environment and in your hotel room)
A set of going home clothing
A change of clothes
Toiletries (You never know how long your labour might be and Daddy might want to freshen up)
A set of going home clothing (henteset) – remember to plan for the season
Diapers and wipes (although the hospital can provide these as well)
Socks and mittens
Ensure that your baby seat is set up in the car.
Congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby! What next after you return home from the hospital/hotel?
Registering a child who is born to at least one Norwegian parent
The hospital will automatically send information of the baby’s birth to the Tax Office (Skatteetaten). If the birth occurred without the presence of a doctor or a midwife, it is the mother’s responsibility to report the birth to Skatteetaten.
Marital Status of Parents
New parents who are married at the time of the child’s birth, do not need to declare anything. The husband is automatically recognised as the baby’s father and both parents will automatically receive shared parental responsibility. The same goes for cohabitants who are registered at the same address in the People’s Register (Folkeregister) at the time of the baby’s birth. This is valid for babies born in and from 2006.
If the parents are separated or unmarried, the father must acknowledge paternity. This can be done at the hospital. It can also be done at the following places:
- at the Tax Office (Skattekontoret)
- at NAV or in the presence of a judge
- at the doctor or midwife who was following up during the pregnancy
- at a Norwegian embassy or consulate, if the father is out of the country
- with the ship’s captain, if the father is on board a Norwegian ship in foreign trade
If the parents are not cohabitants, the mother must approve the father’s acknowledgement of paternity. This can be done in the following ways:
- If the mother has declared who the father of the baby is at the hospital, Skatteetaten will get the information from the hospital about it. The mother thus does not need to sign on the actual paternity acknowledgement form.
- If it has not been declared who the father is at birth, the mother must also sign on the paternity acknowledgement form.
Personal Number (Personnummer) of the Child
The Tax Office (Skatteetaten) will give the child a personal number (personnummer).
Name of Child
When the child has received a personal number (this comes in a form in the mail from the Tax Office), the mother must fill in the child’s given name/s and last name/s and return the form to the Tax Office.
If parental responsibility is shared, the father/co-mother must approve the name after the mother has sent in the chosen name/s. The father/co-mother will receive a separate form to fill out from the Tax Office.
After the child’s name has been registered, the Tax Office will send a birth certificate in the mail to the parents. This will be sent to the mother’s address (that which is registered in the People’s Register). The birth certificate will be in Norwegian but you can request for a birth certificate in English, Spanish, German and French (it’s just one certificate with all 4 languages).
Registering a Child Born in Norway to Parents Who Are Not Norwegian Citizens
If neither you nor your partner are Norwegian citizens, you will need to apply for a residence permit or registration certificate for your newborn baby. It is UDI who handles such applications. You have to apply for the residence permit/registration certificate within the first year of the child’s life. It is a requirement that both parents have legal residence in Norway.
Depending on when your baby was born, you may be thinking about applying for a childcare/kindergarten (barnehage) spot for your child. Depending on the municipality (kommune) that you live in, there can be a long waiting list for a vacancy in the childcare facilities so it is advisable to apply for a spot once you get your child’s personal number (which is approximately 2-3 weeks from the birth of your baby).
Visit of the Health Nurse (Helsesøster)/Visit to the Health Station (Helsestajon)
Within a week or two after your baby’s birth, you will receive a call from the Health Nurse. You can opt for either a home visit or to bring your baby to the health station. The purpose of this visit is for you to seek answers to any questions that you may have in relation to your baby or yourself.
The health sister will also give you information about your baby’s vaccination schedule and when your baby should visit the doctor and/or midwife for routine checks. (These usually take place when your baby is 6 weeks old, 3 months old, 4 months old, 5 months old, 6 months old, 8 months old, 1 year old, 15 months old, 2 years old, 4 years old and 5 years old).
In addition, she will inform you of baby group meetings (barselgruppe treff). These are voluntary.
Assistance at Home
After coming home from the hospital, you might find that you’ll need help with either caring for your newborn baby or with the housework. If you are unable to get help from your family, you might want to look into hiring help.
Husmorvikar (home help) are people who can help you with a diverse range of services such as cooking, baking, cleaning and caring for you and your newborn baby. Below is a list of some of these companies. You can also check with your doctor, midwife or healthstation to see if there are other companies offering similar services in your city.
AssisterMeg (Stavanger, Oslo, Bergen)
PrimaOmsorg (Asker, Bærum, Oslo, Porsgrunn, Sola)
You can find a list of approved cleaning agencies here.