A few days after giving birth I published a blog post about being pregnant in the Sonderborg area. But while being pregnant and giving birth is one experience, living with a newborn is a whole other experience!
We left the hospital 3 days after giving birth. Now, this is not normal as the basic expectation is that you stay in hospital for 24 hrs after birth, unless you require extra care (e.g. having had a C-section such as in my case). I feel a bit sad that not everyone gets the opportunity I got to stay in hospital for a couple of days and be supported in becoming a parent.
The care I got in hospital was excellent and I have not found that kind of support in the community as what I got from the nurses in terms of taking care of a baby but, especially, breastfeeding. I must admit that based on this decision I would not be too surprised if parents who would otherwise breastfeed give up when with a bit of support they could have successfully breastfed (if they wanted to, of course).
Leaving hospital was relatively painless. Once it was decided that I could leave (could get out of bed, had no fever etc) I was allowed to leave at my own pace. I am sure if I wanted to stay there too long I would have been moved on, but I was also looking forward to getting home and starting a new chapter.
Care in the community
Care in the community is, same as prenatal care, a two-pronged affair: support is mainly offered through your own sundhedsplejerske (health visitor). Your personal doctor is, however, also involved for medical checkups and vaccinations.
At first I was a bit confused as to what the sundhedsplejerske is. So let me set this straight: the sundhedsplejerske is not a nurse, or a doctor, or even any person who applies for the job. A sundhedsplejerske is a health care professional who has studied to become one (yes! there is a specific course for this, as facebook now constantly reminds me following me searching for more information!).
The sundhedsplejerske is assigned to you within days of giving birth and she contacts you herself in order to make arrangements for the first meeting, typically within the first week at your own home. During this meeting she will give you information leaflets on taking care of the baby, where to find further information if needed etc. She will also measure the baby and sees if you have any questions.
In my case the first sundhedsplejerske assigned was Danish-speaking who didn’t speak any English at all. Of course, good communication is very important as you often can get quite a lot of support from them. Luckily on asking to have someone else assigned who could speak some English this was quickly allowed and within 2 hrs of calling someone new was assigned. I have now also heard that you can also change your sundhedsplejerske if you do not click with the person assigned, so do make sure you feel comfortable with yours or else ask for a change. Nevertheless, I liked both the ones assigned to me (even if I couldn’t communicate perfectly with one of them).
What to do with a newborn?
So far I have been in work since the first day I moved to Sonderborg. So finding myself with whole days to fill did concern me! However, so far I have easily managed to fill my days with getting to grips with having a newborn, going to the shops for food, or going for walks along the water or to the forest (if you see me in town do say hi :D).
If you are interested, however, there are a number of other activities you can take part in that are not as ‘lonely’. First of all there are the ‘mother groups’ (mødregruppe) organised by the sundhedsplejerske, where they put you in a group with other mothers with whom you can go for walks, drop in for coffee, or go for lunch in town or anything else you want. So far, however, I have not been assigned a group as I have been told they are trying to organise an English-speaking group.
There are also other activities. The first I came across was babysalmesang (baby psalm singing). These meetings are, as the name might imply, organised by most of the churches in town. Now, I am not Danish Protestant (even though the churches organising these meetings are) but so far this doesn’t seem to be a problem. The group I am joining will start in April, so I cannot tell you much about what will happen, except that we will sing…psalms I guess? Do sign up early if interested, as there seems to be quite a demand and the groups get full relatively quickly.
Babysalmesang is probably OK for babies from newborn. For a bit older children there are also baby swimming classes. These are offered by different groups, including the Sonderborg swimming club (which recommends that the baby is 5-6 months old at the start). The classes are mainly to start getting the children used to the water. The music school also offers rhythym classes for babies. A new group will start in April.
Well, that is what I have found out about. Is there anything else baby-related I have missed?