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Expat Exchange - Having a Baby in Norway
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Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway


Having a Baby in Norway

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Discover the ins and outs of having a baby in Norway through this detailed article. It delves into crucial topics such as the differences between public and private healthcare, approaches to pain management, and the process of finding a suitable doctor. Plus, enjoy personal stories from expats who have embraced parenthood in Norway.

Norway is known for its high quality of life, stunning natural landscapes, and robust social welfare system, which extends to healthcare. For expats and digital nomads, having a baby in Norway can be a reassuring experience due to the comprehensive prenatal care and supportive postnatal services. The country's healthcare system is designed to provide excellent care for both mother and child, with a strong emphasis on public health services. Expectant expat parents can look forward to a system that is both accessible and accommodating, with a focus on natural birthing processes and a generally low intervention rate.

Choosing a Doctor

When expecting a baby in Norway, expats typically register with a local general practitioner (GP) or a midwife at a public health clinic (helsestasjon). It is advisable to do this as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. Norway has a high level of English proficiency, so finding an English-speaking doctor or midwife is generally not a problem, especially in larger cities and towns. However, in more rural areas, there may be fewer English-speaking healthcare providers. Expats can ask for recommendations from their local expat community or consult the list of English-speaking doctors provided by their embassy or consulate.

What to Expect for Prenatal Care

Prenatal care in Norway is thorough and well-structured. Expectant mothers will have regular appointments with their GP or midwife, and these appointments will increase in frequency as the pregnancy progresses. The Norwegian healthcare system emphasizes preventive care, so screenings and tests are routinely offered to monitor the health of both mother and baby. This includes ultrasounds, blood tests, and other relevant examinations. Prenatal classes are also available, often conducted in English in larger cities, to prepare parents for childbirth and parenting.

Do Expats Typically Have Private Health Insurance when Having a Baby in Norway?

Most expats do not need private health insurance for maternity care in Norway because the public healthcare system covers prenatal, birth, and postnatal care. However, some expats may choose to have private health insurance for additional services or for coverage while traveling outside of Norway. It's important to note that even without private insurance, the standard of care in public facilities is very high and is accessible to all residents, including expats.

Giving Birth at Public vs. Private Hospitals

In Norway, the majority of births take place in public hospitals, which are well-equipped and staffed with experienced healthcare professionals. Public hospitals focus on providing a natural birthing experience, and interventions are kept to a minimum unless medically necessary. Private hospitals and clinics are less common in Norway, and they typically cater to those who want more personalized care or specific services not offered in the public system. The experience in private hospitals may include more luxurious accommodations and potentially shorter wait times for certain elective procedures.

C-Sections in Norway

Caesarean sections are less common in Norway compared to many other countries, with a strong preference for natural births. C-sections are typically reserved for medical reasons where the health of the mother or baby is at risk. The decision to perform a C-section is taken very seriously and involves thorough consultation with the healthcare providers. Norway's low C-section rate reflects the country's healthcare philosophy that promotes natural birthing processes whenever possible.

Pain Management During Delivery

Norway supports various pain management options during delivery, with an emphasis on natural methods such as water birth, acupuncture, and breathing techniques. However, more conventional pain relief methods like epidurals are also available. The use of epidurals and other medical pain relief is less common than in some other countries, and their use is based on the mother's request and the medical situation. Expectant mothers are encouraged to discuss pain management preferences with their healthcare provider well in advance of their due date.

Hospitals with Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Hospitals with neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are located in major cities across Norway, such as Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger. These facilities are equipped to handle high-risk pregnancies and any complications that may arise during childbirth. The NICUs in Norway are staffed with specialized medical professionals and are prepared to provide advanced care for newborns in need. For expats living in more remote areas, it's important to plan ahead and know the location of the nearest hospital with a NICU, in case of emergency.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway

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