Starting a family or even extending your family is one of the most natural things we do in life and usually we are lucky enough to be surrounded by family and friends, navigating a system we understand and in a language we speak. Yet even then it can be very daunting. As an expat, without immediate family around and not always understanding the system, it can seem too much at times.
In this column I thought I would tackle a few frequently asked questions about having a baby in Denmark.
Does my doctor do the pregnancy test?
Usually you do your own test, which can be bought inexpensively from the pharmacy or supermarkets like Netto, and then you let your family doctor know if it is positive. She will then ask you to come in for an appointment usually at around nine weeks in. From then on you will be allocated to a midwife team and the process of appointments and scans starts thereafter.
How many ultrasounds will I have?
In Denmark, on the public health system you will have two ultrasounds one at 11 to 14 weeks and the second at 18 to 20 weeks. There are other tests offered for women in high risk groups and your doctor and midwife will discuss this with you if necessary. There is the chance to pay for further scans yourself via a number of private clinics.
Are there free antenatal classes offered in English?
The hospitals with maternity units such as Rigshospitalet, Herlev and Hvidovre offer free antenatal classes in English. Ask your midwife about them or visit their websites to find out more. There are also a number of private antenatal classes offered in English in other locations, which you will need to pay for.
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Will formula and nappies be provided in the hospital when I give birth?
All nappies and clothes for your baby will usually be provided in the maternity ward or patient hospital so you don’t need to worry about bring these with you when you come in to the unit nor will you come home with any dirty laundry.
Breastfeeding is actively encouraged and it is not usual for formula to be offered in the hospital when your baby is a new born. You will receive support from trained breastfeeding nurses in the hospital and this support continues when you get home via your health visitor. Most health visitors have a pragmatic approach to breastfeeding though and will support your choice to combination feed or to use formula if breastfeeding isn’t working for you.
How will I meet other new mums to help support me in the early days?
Your health visitor will set you up with a mums group, however if you want it to be an English speaking group sometimes there is a wait until they have sufficient numbers for the group. The meeting are organised by the health visitor in the first instance and then on the mums set up their own meet ups.
LINK (Ladies in Denmark) has an active programme of activities for English speaking mums/parents — from the pregnancy stage onwards. Churches often hold playgroups (kravleklub) and music classes for babies and the libraries also have barselcafes for new parents.
What is baby bio?
This is a uniquely Danish concept where cinemas put on a special morning showing for parents with babies. The lights are kept up a little and the sound is not so loud. You can bring your baby in with you or leave him sleeping in the lobby in the pram. There are staff to keep an eye on the babies and they let you know if your baby needs attention.
Is it OK to breastfeed in public?
Denmark has some of the highest rates of breastfeeding in Europe and breastfeeding in public is generally acceptable but many mothers use a muslin as a cover up. I often breastfed my son in shopping centres, cafes and in hospital waiting rooms and only ever had positive comments.
READ ALSO: VIDEO: Danish mums' breastfeeding protest
I want to use a sling to carry my baby as well as using a pram. Where can I see a good selection of slings to choose from?
Baby wearing is common in Denmark now and has shaken off its ‘crunchy’ image. You can find slings in the main stream baby shops as well as specialist places such as Purebaby. If you are unsure about which one is right for you and your baby, you can borrow on from Op Til Mor to find out.
Is it easy to use public transport with a baby?
All Metro and S train stations have elevators making it super easy to get around with a pram and a baby. Buses can take a maximum of two prams and they are very strict about this. The driver will lower the bus for you to get in and out easily, and there is a special button to press for your stop if you have a pram so the driver knows you need a little more time to get off.
I have written an interactive ebook all about having a baby in Denmark and how to manage in the first year. The book is twenty pages long and covers everything from where to buy what you need, what to expect from the medical team, how systems work, cultural differences, practical tips and how to deal with bureaucracy. You can get hold of it here.