Thursday, January 24, 2008

My 38 Week Crash Danish Prenatal Class

My midwife double booked an appointment with me today so she could take some extra time to answer any questions I might have about birthing under the Danish system. I wasn't able to take any Danish prenatal classes since they are all in Danish, so this was quite thoughtful of her. Michael was there with me to listen in and ask any follow-up questions thought he primarily held a recuperating John during our visit.

I had already asked my most pressing questions related to childbirth in Denmark at my first appointment back in October. Besides delivering a healthy baby, my two main goals in any childbirth are to avoid a c-section and avoid undo trauma to nature's intended exit for the baby. Those goals ultimately led me to train for an unmedicated childbirth with my first, American hospital birth. (And believe me, you do have to "train" for labor just like you would train to run a marathon). So early on I had some specific questions answered about standard Danish hospital policies regarding such things as second stage labor and episiotomies.

So today's questions were more about just figuring out basic practices, a What To Expect When You're Delivering in Denmark. Here are a few highlights:

  • They recommend you call the hospital or birth center (which ever place you plan to birth) when your contractions are about five minutes apart and lasting about 60 seconds. At that point they will ask questions about the progress of your labor, listen to you have a contraction over the phone and advise on how long you should likely wait before you come in.
  • Labor tubs are available in the birth clinic and some midwives are willing to allow you to proceed with a water birth. I gathered that there is some internal controversy about water birthing and it is neither encouraged nor discouraged.
  • The standard post-birth is for the parents and baby to be left alone to rest in the birth room for an hour or two following delivery of the placenta, any necessary stitching and confirmation the baby is fine. If the baby has trouble getting started post-birth, it appears that they go to some length to insure that baby and mother are not separated. If the baby requires transfer to the NICU, the father goes with the baby and the mother is encouraged to follow the baby as soon as possible.
  • The minimum stay post-birth is six hours. If you opt to leave at that point, your midwife will do two home follow-up visits. If you opt to leave after 12 hours, your midwife will do one home follow-up visit. The normal stay is two nights though that can be extended if you are having trouble with breastfeeding.
  • At 11:30a (during weekdays?) a physical therapist from the hospital holds a meeting with new moms demonstrating postpartum exercises.
  • I was given a booklet outlining various pain relief options available including: the labor tub, massage, happy gas, acupuncture and, way at the back, an epidural.
There were a few other questions related to where the taxi should drop us off and what time the kitchen closes so we can be sure to order food if it looks like the baby won't make an appearance before then.

After today's visit, I feel like I'm ready to have a baby again.


Robyn said...

I am so happy you feel comfortable here in the Danish system. Your middle-of-the-night John care is on "high alert" in case James comes a bit early!

Joel said...

After today's visit, I feel like I'm ready to have a baby again.

Glad to hear it. Granted, I don't have kids of my own--but my understanding is that, at this point, the baby's coming whether you want it to or not...


tanya@motherwearblog said...

Wow. That's a li'l bit different than how it's done here, as you know. Can't wait to hear how it goes!

I'm sure you have great bf resources there, and you're a pro, but feel free to email if I can help at all.

Rebekah said...

Joel, did anyone tell you that pregnant mothers have a special switch that can turn labor on and off? Surely you must have learned that when you learned that Dad's stay behind with the other children when it's time for their wives to deliver Number Two. ;)

Joel said...

Wow, that's a good tidbit of info! I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing. So what's the big deal with this whole labor thing, then? It doesn't sound that bad...

Rachel said...

sounds like you are going to have a wonderful and informed experience. Good luck!