Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pregnancy and Birth in Norway

I now understand why Norway is "almost" a paradise for preggies, young families, and single moms. "Almost" because of the language barrier. Apart from that, every kind of support, be it financially, medically or emotionally, is available for free. There is indeed such a thing as free lunch.

Prenatal check-ups with a personal midwife and doctor, ultrasounds, birth courses, are set at regular periods for free. Any additional medical examinations or treatments can be arranged. For free. In our case, we had an ultrasound examination on a monthly basis because I was discovered to have a myoma.

Delivery and full board stay at the hotel-cum-postnatal ward are also gratis. I cannot emphasise more how important is this because as a first-time mom, going through labour and birth can be such a painful, traumatic and overwhelming experience. One barely have the energy to eat, let alone think about how to foot the bill!

The first few days after birth are spent with the midwives and pediatricians recovering and learning how to breastfeed, bathe the baby, change nappy, and most importantly get to know your tiny little miracle. The baby undergoes a pediatrician's examination, ear test, guthrie test, and in our case, receives Hepatitis B and BCG vaccinations (for high risk group babies).

And of course, paternal benefits are simply awesome. Maternity leave for 56 weeks (inclusive 10 weeks paternity leave) at 80% of your salary or 46 weeks at 100%.

Postnatal check-up 3 months after birth, a home visit by a public health nurse within 2 weeks, and an opportunity to join a local postnatal group are just few of the postnatal support one gets.

Where it lacks the extensive family and social network and support system common among developing countries, Norway compensates it with its unparalleled social welfare system.

Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) website

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