First things first: in case you didn't know, the vast majority of pregnancy/birthing stuff in Sweden is done by midwives. Doctors rarely enter the picture. Midwives have university degrees and are an integrated part of the Swedish healthcare system. Midwives do the prenatal check ups, the ultra sounds, the parenting classes and the deliveries.
The standard Swedish approach to pregnancy is to go to an antenatal clinic about 10 times during the pregnancy where a midwife does routine checks. These checks are pretty simple and generally include: blood pressure, hemoglobin, blood sugar, weight and belly measurements. They also ask about mood, sleeping and advise on any unpleasant symptoms that may have cropped up. No one pokes around in your bits at any point during the pregnancy (I've heard they do this in America). One ultrasound is done at week 18.
Then when one is in labor, it's usually off to the hospital. The birth is attended by whichever midwives are on call. These are not usually the same midwives as the ones who work at the antenatal clinic. Laboring individuals can eat and drink, have who they want with them and labor in any position they want. The most common type of medical pain relief offered is laughing gas, but "walking epidurals" are also available. Massage, movement, a warm bath, and acupuncture are recommended first. Laboring on one's back is discouraged but respected if it is the person's preference.
We are going about things a little bit differently. An alternative option is to have midwives who have specialized in homebirthing come to one's home and attend the birth at home. We chose this option for a whole myriad of reasons, some gender related and others not.
A brief list of some of the reasons why we're choosing homebirth:
* The opportunity to become well acquainted with the midwives who will attend the delivery. If we need to transfer to the hospital, they will continue to attend us at the hospital. Contact with strangers is severely limited.
* The belief that birth is a natural process that does not need to be unnecessarily medicalized.
* The strength, calm and power that comes from one's home where one is most comfortable, relaxed and "in charge." And a desire to avoid the anxiety induced by the hospital/unfamilar setting.
* Preference for a drug-free birth.
* Preference for a waterbirth.
*Minimizing the language barrier
The midwife who has taken care of all our prenatal check ups is probably one of our all-time favorite health care professionals. She has embraced us a gay/trans couple and has always shown us the highest level of respect and the best compassionate and competent care.
Through the organization Föda Hemma, we connected with two homebirth midwives who also attend births at our local hospital's birthing center. Yesterday morning, two beautiful women radiating strength, love and wisdom came to our home, sat our on our terrace with us for over an hour and chatted about the upcoming birth of our little Piggelin. These amazing midwives answered all our questions, discussed our feelings-- our hopes and our fears, our needs and desires, and helped us prepare for both the emotional and practical matters of the birth. In addition to attending the birth, they will also arrange all the follow-up care such as a home visit from a pediatrician a few days after the birth and an appointment at the hospital a couple weeks later for the standard newborn hearing test.
They left us both feeling calm and reassured. We are in the very best of hands!