Have you just discovered, or suspect, that you are about to become a parent but don’t know the Swedish maternity care system – how it works, do you need to see a doctor or a widwife, how to book an appointment, etc.? Here is what you need to do.
Irrespective of what the maternity care system back in your home country is, in Sweden it is fairly simple, provided you are able to figure it out going through various websites in Swedish. So, the easier method is to follow our lead. And remember that maternity care is completely free in Sweden as long as you have a personnummer. Even the visits to the midwife are completely free, as is the delivery process in the main hospital. Yes, you heard it right!
In a nutshell, this is the procedure:
- Search 1177.se for a convenient midwife clinic (Mödravårdscentral).
- Call the clinic of your choice and book an appointment.
- First visit: Ultrasound + blood tests, etc. all arranged by the midwife.
- Further tests and the second ultrasound.
- Midwife gives you pregnancy certificate which you send to försäkringskassan to register for parental benefits and plan parental leave.
- Choosing a hospital for delivery.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Call the Midwife: (No, not that TV series just now, the real midwife clinic)
Forget gynaecologist appointments, the first step after knowing that you are pregnant is to book an appointment with one of Sweden’s hundreds of Midwife clinics, also called Mödravårdscentral or MVC. Sometimes also called Mödrahälsovård. (I will call it MVC in this post for simplification). How do you find which MVC is closer to you? Visit 1177.se and click on Hitta Vård, or simply follow this link and make sure you select Mödravårdscentral in the search suggestions and also write the name of your city and/or kommun. Multiple search terms in parallel are possible. See the attached picture:
From the long list you get, choose any MVC which is convenient to you. We picked Mama Mia Söder (in Södermalm) as it was close to home and very convenient for us, but you can read about the various options from the list and choose accordingly. Also, my wife had already heard this name form one of her colleagues so we decided to call Mama Mia. The contact details are listed on their own website (www.mamamia.se), as well as on the search page on 1177.se.
Book an Appointment:
Once you have the contact details, call the MVC according to telephone calling times mentioned on their website. When you tell them that you are suspected to be pregnant, first they will congratulate you heartily, and then they will book you an appointment with a midwife. On the phone, right then, they will tell you who your midwife will be when you come in on the agreed date of appointment and you can tell them if you have a language constraint or not. It is all cool, they are pretty polite and will listen to you.
One thing to note is that getting an appointment in Sweden means waiting a little bit. It is common that your first appointment with the midwife might fall somewhere between the 8th/9th week and the 12th week. This is totally fine, so please do not freak out about the long wait. When we called Mama Mia, we got an appointment for 4 weeks later and even we had a terrible time due to the anticipation. But it is completely fine, trust us. There will be nothing special before the 8th week anyway.
The First Visit
Our first visit to the MVC (for us, Mama Mia Söder) was filled with nervous anticipation. However, the midwife was very nice and polite and she really made my wife feel special. She took her blood pressure readings, did a blood sugar test and asked various questions to both of us about our medical histories. We were quite lucky that the midwife had already found out that their ultrasound machine was going to be free at that time so we quickly went to the other room and had the first ultrasound. The foetus was quite small and we discovered that my wife was in the 9th week of her pregnancy. We were also pleasantly surprised when, without us asking for it, the lady at the scanner gave us a print-out of the scan, showing the tiny form of little one. And we got to know the due date: 8th January 2017.
In this visit, we had a hundred questions for the midwife and she gave us a brief overview of what to expect over the next few weeks/months. To put things in short, the midwife booked a few more appointments for the future and explained what each would be for.
Further Visits and other tests:
I remember three visits as the most important ones. The first of these (in the 12th week) was for collecting the mother’s blood samples for testing for various diseases. Note: They only call you later to tell you about the test results in case they find something in the tests, otherwise there is no further talk about these if all results were fine. So, be happy if you never hear about the results later. Then, there was to be a second one (in the 13th week), when they do the ultrasound and perform a test for Down’s Syndrome. These two visits were a bit of a nervous time because the readings from the blood tests as well as some measurements taken during this ultrasound, put together (also called CUB screening or KUB test) give a numerical probability of the baby having Down’s Syndrome. Fortunately for us, it was revealed that the probability was extremely low (1 in 3900) and there was no need to carry out any further tests for this disease (translate this page to English or download this pdf in english to read more about the tests). We also got the opportunity to print some more images of the scan (this time there was a fee of 100 SEK to print a picture – Optional) and during the scan was the first time we saw the baby move its tiny arms and legs as if playing an imaginary game and even turn the whol body around in the womb – oblivious to the fact that we could watch him do this even before he was born.
The third important visit happened in the 21st week and was the last estimated ultrasound scan to check that the baby was growing as expected. It was also now that we had the possibility to find out the sex of the baby, but we decided to keep it a surprise. If everything continues to be well, there will not be any more ultrasound scans.
A few days later, we went in the meet the midwife and we listened the heartbeat of the baby through an instrument and it was quite a moving experience as well. She also asked us if we preferred any specific hospital where we would like to deliver the baby. We decided on one which was closer to our home.
So, here we are today. After this, it is supposed to be one visit every four weeks for a while, and in the last 2-3 months the visits are going to increase in frequency until it becomes once a week as we move closer to the due date.
I hope sharing our experience will make it easier for other expecting parents in Sweden, specially those who are from other countries and don’t really understand the system too well in the beginning.
So, if you are about to enter this new world of parenthood like us, I wish you All the Best! Remember that the maternity care system in Sweden is very very good and the experience is hassle free and the convenience of the parents-to-be is paramount.