Birth & Midwifery in Iceland
Resources for parents and practitioners
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Some of the following sites may not be in English; an online translator may be useful.
Birth Situation Room Report
Midwifery Today Country Contact*
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Kristbjörg Magnúsdóttir is a midwife at the National University Hospital in Reykjavik. She works part-time in the delivery ward. The University Hospital has about 2800 births per year out of 4000 in Iceland. She works for the Icelandic Midwifery Association, negotiating for higher wages and better benefits for midwives in Iceland who work for the government (all the hospitals are government run). She has three children, two of whom were born at home.
The State of Midwifery in Iceland
Thank you for your commitment to midwifery, a great Web site, interesting blog and truly amazing magazine.
I am still very passionate about homebirth. I gave birth to my fourth child (third homebirth) in September 2008, so I am quite busy at home, but I started doing homebirths again in April 2009. The Icelandic midwife who has been doing most of the homebirths where I live in Iceland (Reykjavik and surrounding areas) took some time off this summer and homebirths are still on the rise, so I am really busy. I attended 24 homebirths in 2009, compared to four in 2007 and 2008.
In Iceland, in 2008, there were 61 homebirths out of 4,766 births (1.28%). The number of homebirths is rising. We were aiming at the 2% mark in 2009, but didn’t quite make it.
Icelandic midwives are lucky to be able to do homebirths without having the mothers pay (except if they are outside the Icelandic health system). The health care system here pays for up to three visits before birth, the birth and up to 11 postpartum visits in the first 7–10 days. All antenatal care (from 11 weeks) and births are free of charge. But if you see an OB early in pregnancy you have to pay. Midwives do all antenatal care and attend all births.
I still hold a part-time job at the big university hospital, but I am hoping that I can just do homebirths and hopefully antenatal care. Many midwives in Iceland are, for the first time—mainly because of the recession, unemployed. Many of the 12 midwives who graduated in 2009 have not found work in midwifery. This is the first time in the 90 year history of the Icelandic Midwifery Association that members are facing unemployment.
— Kristbjörg Magnúsdóttir