The early days
If you are unsure and think you may be pregnant, you can take a graviditetest, or a “pregnancy test”. Pregnancy tests can be found at your local pharmacy, as well as in many grocery stores. Their cost varies depending on the brand you choose. But a common one sold in the shops is around 85 kroner (about 8 euro). You can also choose to make an appointment with your doctor to find out by taking a blood or urine test at their office.
Note that if your Norwegian and English skills are still at a basic level, don’t take the chance and not be able to fully understand the useful information you will learn at these appointments. You have the right to request an interpreter to come with you or speak over the phone at all of your doctor’s appointments. You just need to let your doctor or midwife know in advance first so they can schedule one.
Putting your health first
For many expectant families, adding another mouth to feed means added costs. Luckily, in Norway you might find these costs to be surprisingly manageable. Starting with your own health as a soon to be mother. If you are registered to be a part of Norway’s National Healthcare Scheme, medical appointments relating to pregnancy are free of charge. This includes the many checkups with your fastlege or “GP”. And in addition, the possible unplanned trips to your doctor or hospital you may make during the 40 weeks of pregnancy.
These pregnancy related appointments with your GP or midwife are valuable in checking up on the health of both you and your baby. And if you’ve already started having a bit of baby brain and are becoming more forgetful, then bring a notebook and a pen. Because you will also learn a lot of practical information about your health and what to expect as your belly grows at these appointments.
If you get sick while pregnant — whether it is pregnancy related or just a common cold — you can apply for paid sick leave. But first you must see your midwife or GP. Together you will decide the appropriate amount of time off you should take. It is also a requirement of your employer to adjust what they can at work (within reason) for expectant mothers to be able to do their job as comfortably as possible.
What is the Helsestasjon?
The helsestasjon or “child health clinic” is where new parents will take all follow-up appointments post giving birth. The clinic is open to all children from the ages of 0 to 5. It employs doctors, nurses, and specialists. It is also where children get their required vaccines and follow-ups done on any mental or physical health-related concerns.
The children’s health clinic is also a place for new mothers to meet other new mothers. The clinic arranges a networking meeting called a barselgruppe. Barselgrupper or “ maternity groups” are made with women who have given birth around the same time you have, and who live in the same area. It is not a mandatory meeting. Though it is absolutely worth considering if you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed during this new phase of life.
You can find out more about what the clinic has to offer new parents here.
At the hospital
The check-ups you’ve had with your GP or midwife throughout your pregnancy also include making a birth plan. Of course, it’s impossible to know if you will be able to carry out your plan as expected. But making such a plan with your GP or Midwife includes important information about hospital rules and what to expect when you arrive at the hospital.
Before you make your way to the hospital, give the labour and delivery unit a call to let them know you are coming. Once you have arrived and are declared to be in active labor, you are assigned a room and a midwife. Doctors, extra hands, and specialists usually appear as you near the labouring period and are actually ready to give birth, or if there is a sudden complication.
Depending on the hospital’s capacity, you may be given a private room to rest and heal right after giving birth. Or you may be assigned a room with one or two other new mothers.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, it would be smart to call the hospital you are planning on giving birth in to find out what their limitations are about having family in the birthing room. And information about visiting regulations afterwards.
All newborn babies are examined by a doctor. Before you leave the hospital, your baby will be screened for hearing defects, and a number of other diseases. As a new mother, you will also be given a physical exam and plenty of time to talk with a nurse or doctor about any concerns you may have.
The time you spend in the hospital is guaranteed to feel like a foggy dream. Which is understandable as there is a lot of emotion, adrenaline, and new impressions being made during this time. If you have any questions about your stay in the hospital, you are encouraged before you leave the hospital to make contact with your midwife and the doctor who was present during the time of birth. You can also look at a digitally medical review of your stay through your patient journal.
Registering the birth
When a baby is born in Norway, the hospital reports the birth to the Norwegian Tax Administration. The Norwegian Tax Administration then assigns the baby a Norwegian identification number and sends a request to the mother to choose a name for the child.
After the child’s name has been registered, the mother and father/partner will receive the confirmation in their Altinn inbox (a digital mailbox for government and business related forms).
If you and the father/partner of the newborn are not Norwegian citizens, you must apply for a residence permit for your baby as soon as possible.
Helpful information worth knowing about giving birth in Norway
- When you are far along enough in your pregnancy to start going to regular check-ups, you can choose if you would like to see your regular GP or a midwife for these appointments.
- Most women in Norway choose to give birth in a hospital. You can choose to do a homebirth if you are more comfortable. Be sure to schedule it with your midwife first.
- The mother can choose which hospital you would like to give birth in. In fact, it is one of the questions your GP will ask you when you go to your first pregnancy related appointment. Your GP will fill out the hospital choice request for you and send it to the necessary people. You will then receive either an acceptance in the mail or a call from your GP letting you know that your first choice isn’t available.
- After giving birth, a home nurse who works with the child health care clinic will be assigned to make a home visit. This is so that new moms don’t have to travel to see a medical professional. The home nurse brings a scale so that they can weigh the baby. In addition, they will also bring additional informational pamphlets for the family and answer any follow-up questions you have about postpartum healing and breastfeeding.
- In Norway, pregnancy leave starts three weeks before your expected due date. If you give birth before or after the expected date, your leave will be automatically adjusted by NAV and you will receive notice via mail.
You are entitled to maternity benefits if you have been in paid employment in Norway outside your home for at least six of the last ten months before you give birth.
If you are entitled to maternity leave, you can choose between 15 weeks at a benefit rate of 100 per cent parental benefit. Or 19 weeks at a benefit rate of 80 per cent parental benefit.
If you and your partner both qualify for parental leave, you are allowed to split up a joint period of 16 weeks at a benefit rate of 100 per cent parental benefit. Or 18 weeks at a benefit rate of 80 per cent parental benefit as you see fit. Note that these weeks do not include the three additional paid weeks the mother gets to take before the baby’s arrival.
You must take your parental leave before your child turns three or before you have another child. There is a lot of flexibility given between the mother and father/partner on when and how they can divide up their leave. Though it is a requirement that the mother takes the first 6 weeks of leave after the baby is born.
Norway’s focus on family life and a secure society for children is reflected in many of their laws and benefits. This includes a very generous maternity and paternity leave. For a full overview over how much you as the mother and father/partner are entitled to, look here.
Pregnancy related vocabulary
gravid – pregnant
termin – due date
blodtrykk – blood pressure
Jordmor – midwife
livmor – uterus
vekt – weight