How to Creat Life–the Danish Way

The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant was hop online and start Googling.  I took a test first thing in the morning, freaked out (in a good way), and resolved not to tell Andreas until he got home.  I finished knitting him a pair of socks, knitted a tiny baby sock to go with them (my way of telling him the news), and then it was about noon and I had four and a half hours until I could tell anyone.  So I Googled.  I googled “pregnancy tips,” “pregnancy week-by-week,” and “early pregnancy symptoms.”  And then I googled “graviditet.”  A lot of the advice was common sense, and overlapped: Eat a varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t take lots of medicine.  But a lot of it differed, albeit perhaps slightly.  The American advice said not to drink coffee, or eat sushi, soft serve ice cream, lunchmeat, soft cheeses, sprouts, soft boiled eggs, smoked fish, or even anything at a potluck.

Well, I ate soft serve ice cream,  sprouts, smoked salmon, brie, goat cheese, and soft boiled eggs.  Oops.  But really only “oops” if I was Googling in English, because the Danish advice never mentioned sprouts, or ice cream.  And as far as most other things on the list goes, the official advice is to eat as fresh of food as possible–keep raw things cold, and pay attention to hygiene when you prepare food.  They also say outright that pregnant women can eat sushi.

I joined the August due-date birth board on Babycenter.com, so throughout my pregnancy, I would check the forum.  The American women went to their doctor every month until the third trimester.  After that it was every two weeks until nearer to the end when it was every week.  I saw my doctor four times during my pregnancy (one visit was an “extra” to do a quick blood pressure check), and my midwife about the same number of times.  I went two weeks overdue, so I had another midwife visit, and a couple days before my induction, a hospital visit.  To be honest, I don’t know what these women talked about or did at all these appointments.  I could barely think of questions to ask at my few appointments.

I saw enormously pregnant women biking happily down the street (well, at least they looked as happy as anyone biking in Danish weather ever looks).  I saw them walking, running, lingering over lattes, and putting away that out-loud-allowed sushi.  Andreas and I attended a sort of parent-prep class, which wasn’t quite like anything I’d read about anyone else’s prenatal classes.  We talked about our relationship as a couple, and how to best sustain that under the stress of a new baby.  We talked about the birthing process and nursing, and I have to say, there wasn’t this sense of anxiety that I often get when I talk to American women or read American forums.  It was “here are pain relief options–which ones do you think you prefer?” not “here are pain relief options–and there’s no medal for women who don’t use them–but there are definitely risks to some of them–and these decisions you’re making will impact your birth experience, your baby’s alertness, your breastfeeding process, and pretty much the rest of your baby’s life.”

After Theo was born, it as more of the same, to my great relief!  But I’ll write about that a different day, or this post will *never* leave my drafts!

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