Scan Magazine, Issue 138, January 2022

Page 30

Scan Magazine  |  Feature  |  Childbirth in the Nordics

Photo: Shutterstock

Childbirth in the Nordics

– the safest place in the world to give birth, or a land that feminism forgot? In the autumn of last year, more than 100 midwives in Stockholm, Sweden, resigned all at once. They’d had enough. At the same time, midwives marched in the UK, and a digital solidarity demonstration was organised by birth rights organisations in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. But Scandinavia is known as a haven for gender equality with near-perfect healthcare systems – so where did it all go wrong? By Linnea Dunne

“I guess people generally think about Swedish healthcare in a positive light. I’m not sure they know a whole lot about our maternity care though – like the fact that it’s pretty much only hospital care that’s offered, while our neighbouring countries have midwife-led units that work with normal birth and home birth,” says Asabea Britton, a Stockholm-based midwife whose blog and Instagram Q&As have a huge following.

been in crisis for as long as I can remember, but it’s been getting progressively worse,” she explains, saying that last year’s developments were simply a case of midwives having had enough and putting their foot down. “It’s sad to have to do something as drastic as that, but I’m proud of my colleagues; I think this is what’s needed to affect real change.”

Asked about the recent wave of resignations, she maintains that the crisis is old news. “Sweden’s maternity care has

For Norwegian writer Line SloperSvanevik, that same conviction grew out of her own experiences of pregnancy

30  |  Issue 138  |  January 2022

‘Norwegian women have lost faith in their bodies’

and birth. “Like most people, I’d grown up under the impression that birth was undoubtedly going to be a painful, traumatic experience. Based on the accumulation of stories I’d heard and seen on TV, it seemed to be the general consensus that birth is awful and there’s not much you can do about it,” she says. When she got pregnant, however, something told her to dig a little deeper. “I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that birth had to be like that,” she says. Then based in the UK, she asked a midwife and was told about hypnobirthing – a conversation that became the start of a long journey of discovery and passion. Convincing her husband to get on board with what she jokes sounded a little “too hippy-ish” wasn’t easy, “but after his first hypnobirthing class, he was sold”, she says. Her first birth went almost exact-