Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Norwegian princess gives birth at home

Maertha Louise, the oldest child of King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, gave birth to her third baby at home yesterday.

I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about what it's like to have a baby in Norway. I wasn't able to find much on birth practices specifically, but I found several articles about Norway's generous maternity and paternity leave.

For those of you interested in history, here is an excerpt from a January 1952 issue of The American Journal of Nursing, called "Having a Baby In Norway" (vol. 52 n. 1, p. 50-51.) It's a fun snapshot into Norway's birth practices a few generations ago:
If a woman goes into labor, she calls this [emergency hospital and medical services] number, and she is then sent to one of the municipal hospitals which has an empty bed in its maternity division. If she has planned to have a private obstetrician, she has previously registered at a small private maternity hospital. Midwives attend all normal deliveries--in both private and public hospitals--and almost all deliveries are done in hospitals. The midwife usually has only one patient in labor, and the patients generally do not receive much medication. If medical aid is needed, an obstetrician is always at hand or on call. Of course, in the isolated areas of North Norway, the midwife must carry the whole responsibility herself.

There are two midwifery schools in Norway. The course lasts one year, and many midwives are not nurses; the student must deliver fifty babies before she can graduate. Although at the present time not all midwives are nurses, a new regulation which went into effect last year requires them to take nurse training first and then take midwifery training as special or post-graduate work. In the larger hospitals, only nurse midwives are in charge of maternity units...

There are a few mothers' classes, but not enough, and fathers' classes are unheard of. Nurses and midwives complain .that women know very little about childbirth and pregnancy, although good books on the subject are available. One popular woman's magazine has published a series of articles on relaxation exercises, following Dr. Read's theory. A class based on "natural childbirth" is offered in Oslo, but it is so overcrowded that some women who wish to take it are turned away. As a whole, Norwegian women are very much interested in natural childbirth. The Norwegians are sport-loving people--everyone skis in winter, hikes and swims in summer--so physical exercises appeal to them, and the young women have had well developed muscles from childhood on.


  1. I have always had the vague notion that birthing in my own home felt like being a royalty!

  2. I love that the fact that she gave birth AT HOME did not even make the headline!

  3. My husband has family in Norway and we travel there twice a year for business. Our family over there did not even give it a second thought that I am choosing to have a homebirth. And yes, their parental leave really is that good, even for adoptive parents!

  4. Ahhh Scandinavia. It is what I dream of and this just adds another reason to my lovely pile. Thanks for the cool story!

  5. Do you know where they rank in neo natal mortality rate, Rixa? Seems like the midwifery education is comparable to that of the States!


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