Birth & Midwifery in Finland
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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Pia Esselström is a midwife (graduated 2004) who has worked in the postnatal ward, the antenatal ward and labor-emergency duty/ward (the place where women first come when they come to give birth at hospital and all the pregnant women who have some problems in their pregnancy). Pia and a doula friend started their own business, called “The Nest,” for pregnant women and women who have given birth and their families. Pia is also involved with assosiation called Active Birth in Finland, responding to questions that people send to the assosiation considering anything and everything about pregnancy and labour. Most of the questions are about homebirths.
Pia tells us: “I have four children of my own and after birthing my second baby in water I got more and more interested in physiological birth, natural birth. My goals for international midwifery: getting our power and strengths together for better pregnancy-care and birthing for motherbaby and the whole family. I think that together we can do much more to make things better and at the same time enjoy doing it by getting together and spreading the love that is connecting people all around the world!”
Pia speaks Finnish, Swedish and English.
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Update on Birth in Finland
There are only about 20-30 homebirths/year in Finland, maybe more but homebirths that are reported are around 20/year.
There are few (maybe 5? Some of them don’t want to do it publicly) independent midwives who attend homebirths and one OB who attends homebirths. There is an effort (by the government and by university hospitals/health care districts’ financial management) in Finland to shut down all small birth hospitals (most of them babyfriendly) and centralize all the deliveries to university hospitals. So all the hospitals under 1000 deliveries/year are under the threat of shutting down. Already one of the best babyfriendly hospitals was shut down and it’s very sad. The non-governmental organization, “Missä haluat synnyttää?” (“where do you want to give birth?”) is trying to reach out to the policy makers and birthing women and their families to change things. Aktiivinen synnytys, an active birth organization speaking out that women should have alternatives to decide where they want to give birth, organized a symposium last autumn regarding homebirths. So we are really trying hard to get our voices out for alternative-birthing and homebirthing here in Finland!
Health care districts are explaining that they are shutting down the small birth hospitals because it is too DANGEROUS to give birth in a small unit where you don’t have a possibility to do an emergency cesarean. So there is a lot of fear in the air and it is so sad that the birthing culture is going towards medicalization. Epidural rates are very high; for example here in the Tampere university-hospital where I work the rate is around 85% and c-section rate is around 15% and going up.
— Pia Esselström