Where and how to have your baby – your options

Your midwife and GP will help you to choose where to have your baby. Midwifery-led units, hospital maternity wards and specialist clinics offer different services.

Bilde av et nyfødt barn

Illustration: Johnér Bildbyrå AB

Healthy women who have had a straightforward pregnancy can generally choose where to give birth. However, the type of service available varies from region to region.

Apply for a place to give birth

It is the responsibility of the midwife and GP to book you into an institution for childbirth on your behalf as an expectant mother. The GP or midwife sends an application to the institution where you wish to give birth. You can also make the application yourself, especially if you want to have your baby at an alternative-birth-care centre such as the ABC maternity ward in Oslo or Storken maternity ward in Bergen.

The midwife or GP is responsible for informing you of your options and has a list of the services available where you live. Discuss your options with your midwife or GP if you are unsure. Together you can find the birth setting that is right for you.

Pregnant women have the right to choose where to have their baby, but their chosen institution may decline the application if there are no places available. You will then be offered a place at an alternative hospital to what was perhaps your first choice.

If there are complications during your pregnancy, you will have to give birth at a hospital that has the right expertise, such as a neonatal intensive care unit.

Specialist clinic, hospital maternity ward, or midwifery-led unit?

The public maternity and obstetric service is divided into three levels: specialist clinics (kvinneklinikker), hospital maternity wards (fødeavdelinger) and midwifery-led units (fødestuer). At hospital maternity wards and specialist clinics, the service available will be varied, and they offer obstetric care both for healthy women expected to have a straightforward birth, and for mothers and babies at risk who need special monitoring.

Some pregnant women need extra monitoring due to various kinds of risks, which means that the birth setting must have more specialised facilities. To ensure that you receive the best possible care, your midwife or doctor will continuously assess the level of antenatal and intrapartum care you might need. This means the care you need during your pregnancy, when you go in to have your baby, and during labour.

If you or your unborn baby have a condition that means that the birth setting should be a specialist unit, you will be booked to have your baby in a hospital maternity ward or specialist clinic with the necessary expertise. Most women in Norway give birth at a specialist clinic (kvinneklinikk) or a hospital maternity ward (fødeavdeling).

Specialist clinic

A specialist clinic (kvinneklinikk) is a unit that specialises in high-risk births. Some pregnancies and births need extra monitoring. These clinics are staffed by obstetricians and paediatricians and have neonatal intensive care units.

These specialist clinics also take healthy women aiming for natural childbirth.

Hospital maternity ward

A hospital maternity ward (fødeavdeling) is staffed around the clock by obstetricians and midwives. Some maternity wards are served by hospitals that have no neonatal intensive care unit.

If your baby might need to be monitored by a paediatrician immediately after the birth, then you will be booked to have your baby at a hospital with a neonatal unit.

Midwifery-led unit

A midwifery-led unit (fødestue) is located inside or outside of a hospital. This option is for healthy pregnant women with straightforward pregnancies and who are expected to have an uncomplicated delivery.

The midwifery-led units are organised by a hospital with a maternity ward, and are staffed by midwives. If any complications arise during labour, you will be transferred to either a hospital maternity ward (fødeavdeling) or a specialist clinic (kvinneklinikk).

The midwives at midwifery-led units should offer antenatal care, intrapartum care and postnatal care (meaning care from pregnancy until after your baby is born). Knowing the people who work at the midwifery-led unit gives women peace of mind before giving birth.

Sometimes, women who have had their baby in hospital are transferred to a midwifery-led unit nearer their home after giving birth. Ask your midwife or GP for more information about midwifery-led units (fødestue/normalenhet) close to where you live.

Antenatal and postnatal classes

Various types of antenatal and postnatal parenting classes are available. The aim of these classes is to give parents insights about the last stage of pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Some hospital maternity wards and midwifery-led units also organise guided tours and visits to their delivery rooms.

Contact your midwife, GP or chosen birth setting for a list of local visiting options.