As I mentioned earlier, our little family has a new member since last year. I stayed in Iceland throughout the whole pregnancy and labour, and I must say, it was a very pleasant experience.
Being a first time mummy, I didn’t have any certain expectations towards prenatal and antenatal care in Iceland, but if I did, my experience would have exceeded all of those expectations.
Once we found out we were pregnant, I contacted the local health care clinic, and I was assigned to a midwife. She is a lovely woman named Sólveig, who assured me even though we were only scheduled to meet once every month, I could call her anytime if I have any questions. She gave me a pregnancy booklets, both in Icelandic and English so I could practice my obstetrics terms in Icelandic 🙂 Aside from glucose tolerant testing and ultrasound check that were done in the hospital, all of my regular check ups during pregnancy were conducted by Sólveig.
On a Sunday morning, I went to the university to work on a group’s assignment for the last subject on MBA course that I undertook at that time. When I came home at 18.00, I started to feel mild contractions, which I thought was a false sign of labour. I ended up spending the whole evening fully awake, with contractions that got more and more intense by the minute. After speaking to the midwife on duty, calling my sister in law to come to our place to watch the puppy, we went straight to the hospital. The time was 04.00, it was dark and rainy.
After admitted, I was taken to “Hreiðrið“, which was a huge room, with a double bed, a big tub, an en-suite shower, and a changing table. The midwife was offering me various alternatives to pain alleviation, and I got to try them one by one. I had acupuncture, which helped a bit. Then I tried going into the tub, which helped a LOT. I actually managed to fall asleep while I was in the tub. I stayed in it until the midwife told me to start pushing the baby out, then I asked to be moved on to the bed. I pushed and pushed for what felt like forever, then just when I desperately pleaded to my husband to take me home because I felt tired and that I’d like to keep the baby inside me anyway, the midwife excitedly told me, “you’re baby is born!”. The time was 06.00 in the morning, and the sun had already risen.
And there he was.. our baby, a little bit bluish in colour, covered in white stuff, very wrinkly, and was crying and screaming his little lung out… he was perfect!
The midwife instantly put him on my chest, and started rubbing him with towels. The baby was still crying, so I guessed the birth must have been more stressful for him than it was for me. After spending some time on my chest cuddling and peeing on my face twice, the baby was taken by the midwife for test and measurement at the changing table next to the bed I was on. Then my husband put a diaper and clothes on the baby, right before the midwife helped us to start breastfeeding. Once the baby fell asleep, he was put in a bassinet, and we were all moved into a recovery room.
The room was big, though not as big as the previous one, but it had a double bed, changing table, and a sink. Both my husband and the baby were fast asleep after we came into the room. But I was still very awake, despite having very little sleep for the past 24 hours.
Close to our room, there is a pantry, complete with bread, cereals, fruits, juice, milk, tea and coffee. I nibbled some of the food there while trying to figure out why I couldn’t fall asleep. When I came back into the room, I decided to wake my husband up to keep me company (evil me!). Thankfully, before he got grumpy because I woke him up, a lady came into our room with plates of food! The menu was fish that day, and it was wonderful.
After eating, I couldn’t wait to get home. I wasn’t sure why, because the room we were in was really cozy (it felt more like a hotel room than a hospital room, to be honest). I was so fidgety, I asked the nurse if we could go home straight away. She kindly told me we had to stay at least for several hours to make sure both the baby and I are good to go. She came again to help us breastfeeding again, check on my tummy, and asked if I had peed yet. When I told her I didn’t feel like peeing, she said I wouldn’t be allowed to go home if I didn’t pee first 😦 A pediatrician came after awhile to check on the baby, and when everything checked out, he allowed us to go home. The time was 14.00.
When we arrived home, I felt so much better as I finally got to relax. I took a shower which felt really nice and we ordered pizza for dinner because we had not had a chance to stock up on food (the baby was born 8 days earlier than estimated, by the way). I talked to Sólveig the midwife on the phone, and she came to our house that night to check on both me and the baby. She explained about how she will be making home visits to our place for the next 8 days to check on our progress. She even helped us bathing the baby for the first time. Here are few things on why I would have another baby in Iceland again:
- It’s FREE because I am a permanent resident in Iceland. I was actually contemplating on giving birth in Indonesia, but since I quit my job in Jakarta, I was not covered by insurance anymore, and that would mean paying for hospital and doctor’s bills out of our own pocket, which could go up to EUR 2,000 for similar service and facility that I had in Iceland. So, we had the baby in Iceland (yay!)
- I love my midwife and everybody in the hospital because they were all super nice! They were all very gentle, patient and very supportive to all my decisions and requests during the labour, despite having me talking in mixed languages of Icelandic, English, Indonesian, and even frantic hand signals that happened occasionally 🙂
- The baby stayed with me all the time. I remember when my youngest brother was born in Jakarta, he was brought to the nursery straight away, and I only got to see him through a glass wall. But then again, this was 17 years ago, so things might have changed by now.
- The home visits were very convenient. At first, I was a bit nervous of having the midwife visiting us everyday for the first week, because I thought I would have to get the house cleaned and myself showered before accepting any guests. But the first thing she said to me when she visited us was, to put the baby and myself first before everything else. Oh, how glad I was to hear that. So, most of the time during those visits, I was usually in my pajamas, under the duvets (bliss!), in a very messy house 🙂
There you have it, my fantastic experience of having a baby in Iceland. So tell me, wouldn’t YOU have your baby here if given a chance? 🙂