The number of women in Norway who plan home births with a private midwife team has doubled in recent years, reports Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). More women prefer the comfort and privacy of their own homes over hospitals where they can’t always make their own decisions.
“Here at home I could feel my own body’s signals and there wasn’t anyone wanting to take me here or there,” Karina Kolsrud, age 38, told NRK when describing why she decided to have her now-four-month-old daughter Alva at home in Røyken, west of Oslo. “There weren’t masses of people around me. It was just my partner, the midwives, a dog and me.”
Everything went well and Kolsrud now figures into the statistics from the state’s medical birth records (medisinsk fødselsregister) showing how the numbers of women like her have risen from 89 in 2008 to 153 in 2014, the most recent year publicly available. The numbers are still small, but midwife Cathrine Trulsvik said she thinks the increase is a result of better access to midwives “and that women talk to each other. More realize that it’s possible to give birth at home.”
Princess Marthe Louise created headlines 11 years ago when she opted to give birth to her second daughter, Leah Isadora Behn, at home at her island estate on Hankø near Fredrikstad in 2005. The princess and her husband, who announced they were divorcing just before the weekend, also had their third daughter Emma Tallulah Behn at home in Lommedalen, west of Oslo, in 2008. Since then, the numbers have doubled even though home birth is not part of the national health program in Norway. Those opting for home births must cover most of the expenses of midwife assistance themselves.
Research indicates fewer complications with home births and Professor Ellen Blix, who has specialized in studying the development of home births, believes they should be included in the public health program. Midwives themselves, however, note that home birth is not an alternative for everyone. They say that women currently opting for home births in Norway must be healthy, have undergone a “normal” pregnancy and meet various criteria. Even so, around 15 percent of home births end with transfers to hospitals.