Pregnancy and Childbirth in Iceland
Maternity care is available to all prospective mothers/parents and, if a woman has health insurance in Iceland, her maternity care is free of charge.
Maternity care services are provided at primary healthcare centres for women who are healthy and have no serious pregnancy complications. High-risk pregnancies are referred to the maternity ward of the National and University Hospital (LHS) and the maternity ward of Akureyri Hospital.
As maternity care and childbirth are not considered acute illnesses, Nordic nationals without Icelandic health insurance may end up having to pay for such services in Iceland themselves.
Women are generally invited for an initial examination in the 8th to 12th week of pregnancy, and the total number of examinations generally ranges from 7 to 10.
Expecting mothers are offered an ultrasound check during the 11th to 14th week of pregnancy if requested, for which a fee is charged, and around week 20 without charge.
Midwives are responsible for maternity care in collaboration with primary healthcare physicians and other professionals. In many locations expecting parents are offered additional courses of instruction for a charge, for example, on preparation for childbirth and breastfeeding.
Information on primary healthcare centres in Iceland be found on the websites of the Ministry of Health and Primary Health Care in the Capital Area.
No fee is charged for childbirth services as long as the mother has Icelandic health insurance.
Maternity care midwives provide information about possible locations for giving birth, as different service options are available in different parts of the country.
Women are free to choose at which hospital they wish to give birth to their children. However, the condition is set by a few smaller hospitals and for home births that the pregnancy involves no unusual risks.
If a prospective mother chooses to give birth at home, she should seek information on arrangements for home births from a midwife. A mother who gives birth to a child at home is entitled to full sickness benefit for 10 days from the birth of the child.
After giving birth, women remain in hospital or other care for periods varying from six hours to several days, depending on the circumstances of the birth.
Home services of midwives
All women who undergo a normal pregnancy and childbirth return home 6-36 hours after the birth of their child. They are then entitled to in-home service, which includes a visit from a midwife to the mother and child the first few days after leaving childbirth care. The scope of this service is based on the health and needs of the family.
However, this midwife in-home service varies somewhat depending upon the location, and prospective mothers/parents are advised to obtain information about these services in their area.
Social Insurance Administration pays the entire cost of in-home midwife service for women with Icelandic health insurance and can provide further information.
A notification of birth is sent to the primary healthcare centre closest to the child’s residence shortly after its birth. As this can sometimes take time, parents are advised to contact their primary healthcare centre soon after returning home from the maternity ward to let it know of the birth. Home visits are made by midwives/nurses up until six weeks after childbirth; after that time infant care is provided at the nearest primary healthcare centre.
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