On giving birth in Greenland

I finally have a good excuse for not updating my blog: I gave birth to a little bundle of joy called Pippa on the 21st May! It’s taken awhile to adjust to the Motherhood. She came nine days earlier than expected, and after an exciting start, arrived in a healthy normal delivery.

The Friday evening before Pippa entered this world, my water broke. It wasn’t quite like at the movies, where water spilled everywhere and I was screaming… I just felt a gush of liquid come out and thought that I wet my pants. Yep, pregnant women tend to leak a little anyway 😉

The birth process started so unexpectedly that we were actually over our friends’ home for dinner. They were Rebekka and Martin, a young couple with three kids aged under 8 years. And funnily enough, it was at their home where my future was laid out right before my very eyes. Rebekka even told me in a matter of fact way, “This is going to be you in five years.” I smiled uneasily at the thought.

The future involved the parents’ Daily Quest to Feed and Entertain Their Children and Eventually Get Them To Bed. This is roughly how it goes:

Step One: Feed them food. A tasty version of the classic soldiers’ menu spaghetti bolognese was served to the little army of three kids (and us).
Step Two: On Friday nights give them a treat in the form of Disney TV.  It’s the bigger kids’ pacifier, allowing adults to simulate some sort of mature conversation at the dining table. (My initial thought was, what was Disney Sjov anyway? Well, there’s luckily still time to learn…)
Step Three: Move the horde to bed!

After bedtime, we were supposed to enjoy some adult conversation. Others would drink wine and I would eat cake. It was during Step Three, however, when I felt a ‘pop’. The time was 9.30pm. After the pop, I went to the bathroom to check my accident. It was when the fluids kept on trickling that I realised, ‘OH MY GOODNESS MY WATER JUST BROKE!!!!!!’

The ramifications of what just occurred took awhile to sink in, and I stayed in the bathroom a little longer than I needed to mull it over. I must say I am happy that we were in company of friends, including an experienced mother warrior of three, because if we were at home alone Jonas and I would have been more uncertain as to what to do. As it was, I just calmly asked Rebekka if I could borrow a change of clothing.

She gave me some necessities. We ate watermelon. I had cake. 20 minutes went by where we tried to have normal conversation but it was hard to stay focused on topic since I was continually leaking. We therefore decided to call the midwife on duty at hospital, who proceeded to ask a few questions to secure that everything was okay.

Was the amniotic fluid green or clear? How did I feel? Had my contractions started yet?

Everything was fine, and as I didn’t have any contractions she told me to have a good night’s rest and come in the following day at 10am for a check up unless something changed.

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again: in true Greenland style, everything was as hands-off as possible. This may be reflective of the state-paid system. The concept is that if there is nothing wrong, you should not expect to go in too often for a check up, as opposed to private health systems where they make you come back for any reason. So of course it made sense that if nothing was out of order even after my water broke, that I would stay at home and endure the pain in the comfort of my own nest. This would be unthinkable in other hospital systems, I’ve heard. But this is how they do it in Greenland, and it is easy enough due to the close proximity of everything in Nuuk. I thought it worked out well.

To give you an example of being hands-off: The next morning, we drove to the hospital and got checked up. As everything appeared to be fine and I had not entered ‘active labour’ yet (where the cervix dilates to at least 4cm) I was sent home to rest again. My sweet midwife Paneeraq told me to call her when it really started to hurt – like REALLY hurt – pain threshold being 1-minute contractions every 5 minutes. So I went home and rested, and eventually started to feel the world convolute around me. About 1.30pm, I rang, and said that it was starting to hurt alot but it was only about 40 seconds of contractions. She asked me if I could hang on a bit longer, and to call again in an hour. So I endured another hour before ringing again right at the turn of the clock.  At the second phone call, Paneeraq asked me to come in – but to take my time…

I won’t go into details about the birth, but I ended up being admitted to hospital 20 hours after my water broke, on the 21st of May at 5pm. For pain relief, I used laughing gas and entered a birth pool for a few hours. 4.5 hours later, our little baby came out. Jonas was with me the entire time, giving me water and cooling me down with a cloth when in the birth pool. It was the most exhausting experience I’ve ever had – by far!

Needless to say I could write much more but this is probably a good place to stop.

It’s been three weeks now since our little Pippa came to this world. We feel very blessed to have her, and we’re slowly bending our life to fit her rhythm. What I can say with surety is that the Daily Quest to Feed and Entertain Our Child and Eventually Get Her To Bed has already started, although there is no such thing as Disney Sjov yet. It is already proving challenging at times!


16 thoughts on “On giving birth in Greenland

  1. How did I miss the blog post? Congratulations!!
    Hope you all are doing fine, as the little one will certainly keep you awake non-stop 🙂

    The Hands-off approach seems to be more or less the norm in the countries I have lived thus far as well. In Germany it is like that and even more drasticly in Finland. My wife was 14 days overdue when we got an appointment to get Nathan out however Nathan decided just hours before that deadline that it is his time now for the entry show :p

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed his Tanny! A long time since I’ve been there, but interesting to revisit. Pippa looks just beautiful. Have lots of fun with her ….. Heath Cook xx

  3. Whoooaagh!!!! Many congratulations! Flippin eck that sounded harrowing. Just remember the second one comes a lot quicker. Lovely name and no doubt a lovely girl and a lovely family. Blogfans are enjoying http://www.mark-pict.blogspot.com. if you have time to have a look. Best wishes from Scotland err I mean England (home of good football) ouch!!!

  4. Congrats once more. Enjoy it to the max as each of those moments are unique!
    what kind of traditional food do you serve maternity visitors in Greenland btw?! anything special….

  5. Congratulations! I had a home birth in California for my second child. Midwives are a great way to do it. I’m surprised that she was able to attend you in the hospital. Only midwives that are Nurse Practitioners can see you in the hospital, then only the doctor can catch the baby. Bit of a let down. Greenland sounds even better now!

  6. Tanny, congratulations on the birth of sweet little Pippa! I hope you and your family are doing well and enjoying this special time. A big hello and best wishes from Canada 🙂

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