Thursday, November 1, 2007

Earth Mother

This morning I had my first appointment with my Danish midwife, which in Danish literally translates into "Earth Mother." I was surprised when I received my letter to find my midwife appointment was in my neighborhood. I though for sure I'd have to take a 45 minute bus ride to Hvidovre Hospital where I'll be giving birth. I learned that while all the midwives work out of the hospital and do birth ward shift work, they also have one day a week where they come out to their satellite clinic to meet with patients for their prenatal work. Thus, all my midwife appointments from here on out will be on Thursdays at a small office about a half mile from my apartment. Very convenient and a nice walk.

I arrived early and had a cup of tea while I waited. (Incidentally I've noticed that just about everywhere you go in Denmark you'll find some type of warm drink waiting for you.) My midwife's name is Camilla, she was trained in Great Britain, and has been working as a midwife since 2003. Today she was working with a student midwife who took a more thorough medical history, took my blood pressure, measured my fundal height and listened to the baby's heart beat. She did a check of the old uterus and woke the baby up in the process. S/he began kicked in what I swear felt like annoyance. It was so naptime.

Since this was my first visit, midwife and student took some time to go over some of the basics of giving birth in Denmark. There are three different places you can give birth: the fødegang (more like a typical American hospital setting), the fødeklinik (more like an American birth clinic), or hjemmefødsel (at home). The hospital-like setting and the birth clinic are both in the same wing of the hospital and situated close to one another. In the hospital setting is where you birth if you want an epidural, or need a c-sections or other forms of treatment that may require closer physician supervision. It's not as private as the birth clinic version and you don't have access to a private room afterward unless you had a particularly traumatic birth.

In the birth clinic you are given a private birthing room [a 360 picture is here; scroll down a bit and look for "360"]. I am uncertain whether or not the hospital side patients have private birthing room. My midwife did mention that you can at least hear the other birthing women there and that can be a distracting. The birthing center room doesn't look that much different than my birthing room back in the States with two exceptions: the infant warming bed is right next to the birthing bed instead of far across the room and there is a big labor tub.

Since 2002 Danish mother's have had the option to birth at home. My midwife couldn't tell me how many Danes choose this option though the midwife student joked that all the students gave birth at home. (Perhaps because they didn't want to give birth at work?) The benefits here are you are able to have a baby in the comfort of your own home and the midwife who does all your prenatal visits attends your birth. With the hospital or the birthing center options, you are assigned whichever midwife is working in the pool the day you give birth and it is likely that it won't be the midwife you've gotten to know during your prenatal visits.

I honestly toyed with the homebirthing option a little just because I thought it would be really interesting to experience something that is functionally illegal in the United States (the mother cannot go to jail for having a baby at home, but her birth attendants can depending on how a particular state's laws are written). I have had one successful fairly uncomplicated birth which would make me a good candidate for homebirth. But I can't quite pull the trigger on this one. To be quite honest, I tend to be a pretty vocal laboring woman and I know it would really bother me psychologically knowing that I was probably disturbing our neighbors or scaring John. And we're renting our apartment from a private individual and I would constantly be on edge that something would stain the couch or mess up the wooden floors. I'm also really interested in experiencing the Danish version of managed childbirth in a setting that is more familiar to the American system. And there is always that big labor tub...

There are some other interesting things to mention too, but I'm going to save that for a special Friday post as this is already long enough.

Congratulations to my friend Rochelle who I just found out is expecting her fourth child!

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