Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pregnant in Sweden: The first visit

OK, bear with me guys, but it is time to tackle the experience of being pregnant in Sweden. I am officially in the second trimester today, I had a beautiful and perfect NT ultrasound last week, so I am embracing this and going to try to enjoy it.

Also, pregnancy is handled differently in different parts of Sweden, so my experience may not be your experience. If you have had something strikingly different, please feel free to share!

Who do you call?

With my first this was tough to figure out – but the answer is your closest midwife. Where I live you are allowed to choose any midwife in the region as your main provider, and then you must go to them. I am in the process of perhaps switching – so maybe more on that later. It isn’t always easy to find your local midwife. My practice has pretty much moved to a new location every other year (Good to see my tax dollars at work!) and every time they get a new phone number and new telephone hours (Friggin telephone hours are the worst). But once you manage to reach them – voila!

What happens?

You will book a preliminary visit. Don’t worry about getting yourself all tidied up down below. The Swedish midwife doesn’t want to take a look at what’s going on down in your lady business unless you are having some problems or you are in week 39. You will be keeping your skirt down at all times. Breast exam? How about never. You are on your own.

You will talk. About your diet, your habits, mostly how much you drink and if you are planning to drink during your pregnancy. If you are a non-Swede and drink a few glasses of wine a week with dinner when not pregnant instead of like 8 beers on Friday night, you might fall into a risk category and have to answer some questions. The questions are things like “How many times have you blacked out due to drinking last month?’ so you should probably pass.

The midwife probably won’t give you much information. Or will give you completely useless information (like the one who told me to avoid peanut butter because ‘there are healthier nuts’ – maybe so, but they are great vegetarian protein also, lady). They will refer you to a website with all of the recommendations because ‘They change so often we don’t have time to print brochures.’ The only main difference I could see was that sushi is OK now.

The book

You are given a book about having a baby. There is one about your first child and one about siblings. To me this was the most socialist aspect of the thing. A book, written by the government, about your pregnancy and your baby. The Swede thought I was nuts and read it cover to cover five times.

For the most part I have had nice midwives, but some of them, like the one I have now, treat you like you are five. When talking about some of my issues and things with other pregnancies and Little Swede I was told I was a ‘Good Girl’ (Så duktig!) and ‘So Brave’. These things drive me nuts (but are not the main reason for my current midwife shopping).

What you leave with

You will get some paperwork and should get another appointment booked. But don’t expect to go to the midwife often. Sometimes you get a folder with all of your paperwork which you are supposed to dutifully take with you to every appointment you go to at any clinic. My hospital is in the process of switching to electronic, so I don’t have papers this time (Had them in March though). I am very happy about this since I always forgot my damn paperwork, but the midwives are kinda pissed about it. 


  1. Haha interesting to read. Since I only have been through one pregnancy and it was here in the US it is a little fun to compare with the Swedish system.Which I knew already then (from my friends' experience) was different.
    I think the most striking differences are that here (at least in NYC where I live) you don't see a midwife at all but an Ob/GYN (gynekolog) and that your Ob is also the one who is supposed to deliver your baby. In Sweden you have no idea who will deliver your baby sometimes you don't even know what hospital that will have room for you at the time of arrival (at least in Stockholm area and specially in summer time...). Also, here (in NYC) when it comes to the actual delivery it is all about lots of "pain killers" (epidural is more of a standard procedure here) and lustgas (laughing gas??) is really not an option at all. When I first mentioned that in Sweden women use this gas when giving birth people thought I was joking and then when they understood it was true they told me it sounded very midevial.... ;-)
    I was a bit afraid thought that they would give me to MUCH drugs since i did not want to become totally drugged. But in the end I shouldn't have worried about it since my daughter anyhow decided to be a preemie, and since she was still breech by the time I had a C-section.
    Well, I guess the most important thing during the pregnancy regarding how you feel (no matter here or in Sweden) you have to find a person who you trust and feel ok with.
    Good Luck now!!!

  2. Congrats on the second trimester!

  3. Yes, congrats from me too. And gas and air is brilliant. Don't let your husband get hold of it or he won't pass it back to you.

  4. Ahahah! Fantastic post. I can see myself thinking most of the things and being astonished by the practice. Wonder why things are like this in Nordic countries.

  5. That doesn't sound too bad, I would probably worry my self to death since have two children in America we tend to think every thing is an emergency and ends in a c section. What is the c section rate in Sweden, what happens if you need one? Are there birthing centers or do you always go to the hospital?