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Question for moms in Sweden...

575 Views 6 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Storm Bride
Hello, all.

I have a friend who lives in Sweden and he just let me know that he and his partner (not sure if they're married) are expecting a baby sometime around October. I'm in Canada, and have become really paranoid about the way obstetrics is practiced here. This is my friend's first baby, and my first impulse was to pass on some warnings. But, I don't know what Sweden's obstetrical community is like.

Are Swedish doctors really intervention driven? Or, are they more inclined to let nature take its course with labour?

I'd appreciate any feedback, so I know whether or not to give my friend my usual warnings!
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I just saw this post. I live in Sweden and had my two boys here. I have only had two babies here but can tell you about my experience and what I have heard other American moms say.
I would say compared to the US and to what my mother told me (she was in the room with me when I had my first and she worked in the US as a nurse in the hospital nursery), Swedish doctors and midwives are much less interventional (is that a word?). In other words, they leave you alone if you want them to. My mom said if I had had my first in the US they probably would have done an emergency C-section as it was taking so long and then my epidural did not work right and everything got slowed down. But my midwife in Sweden (and it is the norm to have a midwife assist the birth, not a doctor unless there are complications) wanted to to wait as long as the baby was okay. He was and I did end up having him vaginally without any problems. The doctor did check on me since I had complications with the epidural (which is of course a whole other story) but he didn't push for anything other than a fetal monitor.
Now, with my second, I was much more prepared after taking a prenatal yoga class and resolving NOT to have an epidural. The midwife left me alone alot because I wanted to be left alone with my family. I had acupuncture, done by the midwife, and self-administered laughing gas sometimes (very common here--you decide how much you want and it just helps you over the worst hump of a contraction). I did not have a fetal monitor and not even an IV. My baby was a 4 weeks premature, but when they checked him out, it was in the same room where we birthed.
A few other things about having a baby in Sweden...
-you do not see your midwife until week 12 unless you have a high risk pregnancy
-you only see a doctor once during your whole prenatal care, unless high risk
-you can choose to give birth in a natural baby center--no meds at all--as long you are not high risk (this is not available in all cities)
-you write a birthing plan which the midwife actually reads
-you can choose to give birth in a big family double sized bed--which I did with my second
-there are warm baths for labor
-your partner gets to stay with you at least one night in the hospital (at most--mine stayed two nights with our first with me in a private room and my dh and older son stayed with me and the baby the second time in a family bed for two nights, very cheap for the partner, I think something like $20 a night when I had mine)
-they do encourage early hospital leave if everything is normal
-a midwife or pediatric nurse will make a house call if you go home before something like 4 days, just to check on nursing and the baby's weight and such
-there are no regular nurseries at the hospital--the baby remains with you at all times--they will not even take the baby out to weigh him without one parent going along (when my son was operated at 4 months for a hernia, it was omepltely expected that I would sleep with him at the hospital for the two nights he was there, in the same bed)
-they do not feed babies at all (no bottles!), but rather they help you with nursing (we did have to give our preemie supplements with a spoon, which the doctor ordered but our midwife kept coming in and saying not to worry about the supplements but to hold him naked and nurse as much as possible)

In general, Swedes view pregnancy and birth as normal and not a sickness and this is where i have heard some complaints from other Americans I know here--they feel there is not enough care given during a pregnancy and birth. I loved my care during my pregnancies but was not happy with the care I got for all of my miscarriages (some good and some pretty awful). But it did suit me to have the birth be my thing--and not the hospitals.

Well, that was a lot of info! But I hope it gives you a little picture of what it can be like. Others here may have a different experience.
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Thank you, Bee. That's exactly what I was looking for. When I had ds1 (1993), things here were a little more like you describe, although most women used a GP, not a midwife (they weren't legal here yet). OB's were only for high-risk pregnancies. The hospital had nitrous oxide, etc. I laboured at home for 20 hours, then went in at 10cm and got cut for breech! I went into transition labour on the operating table. Blech!

Anyway, during the next ten years, things seem to have become much more interventionist around here, and I was worried that Sweden was heading the same way. I'm so glad to hear that pregnancy is still considered a normal process there! Mabye I'll finally get a birth announcement that doesn't include the phrase "by c-section"!
People actually write that on their birth announcements?

Since writing this I have heard that c-sections are on the rise here. But still nothing compared to the US as far as I know. Infant mortality is the best here--so mothers and babies are generally very healthy and the care must be pretty good.
These have all been online announcements, and it seems that every one I've received in the last few years has been a c-section...mostly for big babies. ARRRGGGH!

The rate locally is about 30%, but I'm not in the US. I'm in Canada. There are apparently areas in the US where the rate is around 50%...I don't know if it's that bad anywhere in Canada or not.
C-section rates are somewhere between 14 - 16 % in Finland and Sweden depending on the year you are looking at.
Oh, good! That means my friend's wife/gf is probably okay. I don't see it as likely that she'll have a totally unnecessary section with rates like that. Thanks!
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