I have been thinking about this post for a while and I veer from wanting to write a humourous post to a more serious one so biting the bullet I have decided on a cross between the two. It is important to say that my pregnancy, birth and beyond experience comes solely from Denmark as I only have one child and this is very much my personal experience.
Before I was pregnant we used to see prams with muslin cloths pegged to the hoods to give babies shade and privacy. We often thought surely there is a better, less hacked way to do this? But less than a week into having my son we were walking around with him napping in his pram with yes, you guessed it, a muslin pegged to the hood. And do you know what – it is the easiest and most practical way to do it.
Sleeping babies outside in the cold – crazy I thought but I soon realised that this was the best way my son was going to get a long and healthy nap so I everyday (for one of his naps) I wrapped him up in the morning in a snow suit (flyvedragt) and his padded sleeping sack, popped him in the pram and off we went. Bearing in mind he was born at the start on one of the very cold winters this decade but I still did this. I think the recommendation is that it is OK down to about minus 5 degrees. When he had croup the best solution was to pop him in his sling, wrapped us both up in a duvet and go out into the cold yard – coughing stopped immediately and he fell asleep. I was never able to leave him to sleep outside alone in the pram – that was a Danish bridge too far for me.
In the UK they won’t let you leave the hospital without the production of a car seat (or so I am led to believe) but after three days in the hospital after a c section birth, we took my son home on the 2a bus, in his pram of course, but I actually felt this was safer than a taxi and plus we had no car seat.
Every home with a baby or child in Denmark seems to have a Trip Trap high chair, expensive and well designed. It was an automatic thing for us to buy one and we love it still. We did shock the assistant in the shop by asking for a green one not the normal black or white one Danish parents go for. She headed down to the basement to blow the dust and cobwebs off one for us!
Once we were onto weaning, there was guidance from the health service here but people pretty much do what their parents did and also give babies a lot of adult food soon on. I amazed my neighbour, who had a son around the same age as mine, by asking her how much was too much leverpostej (Danish liver pate) to give a seven month old – she didn’t think there was too much!
On a serious note the biggest thing I noticed during my pregnancy, birth and the early days was the relaxed nature of those around us from health professionals to strangers. My midwife appointments were relaxed and if there was a problem she would have said, but there was no panic about anything. I was quite petite when I was pregnant but she was happy with the baby’s size and I was healthy and active so all was good. I did, however, get a lot of frowns and comments in the UK when I visited at 5 months pregnant from perfect strangers about how small my bump and I were.
The birth was complicated and there was an element of emergency to it but at no point did I feel we were in trouble and I am sure the medical staff were put a little off their stride but there was no sign of that. I had a general anaesthetic but I had my baby skin to skin within about 30 minutes of his birth. Our experience as one of the last births in Frederiksberg Hospital was amazing and the food was superb too!
At five weeks my son was underweight and I was struggling with breastfeeding. I was told by friends in the UK the reaction would have been to have been told to give him formula. Not so here, I was reassured by my GP that is wasn’t my fault, we spent a week in Hvidovre Hospital with me getting 24 hour breast feeding support and my son was monitored and his weight increased purely on breast milk until we were both ready to go home, we could have stayed longer if we wanted to. I then continued breastfeeding until he was almost five months old – I do wish I had done it longer.
I didn’t do everything the Danish way (no real use of a dummy, no huge jugernaut of a pram and no solo sleeping outside) but I certainly did things in a more relaxed way that I think I would have done in the UK. He was always in the fresh air not enclosed in a car, which would have been the reverse in the UK. No one told me what to do, no health visitor with opinions, no strangers on the street with ‘thoughts’, I avoided non Danish mums who panicked about the volume and weight of the food their weaning baby ate, I stayed away from the competitive Olympics of mothers’ groups and found my own way, which I found is very easy in Denmark.
I read and dismissed all the baby guru guides (eventually), found a way I liked (baby wearing, finger foods and keeping my baby at home with me for a long time) and it worked for us.
Did you have a baby here? I would love to hear your thoughts…