Woman gives birth in car after maternity ward closure

Woman gives birth in car after maternity ward closure
The hospital in Sollefteå, where the maternity ward has closed. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT
Less than a month after a maternity unit shut down in Sollefteå and inspired a course teaching women to give birth in a car, the first baby has been born on the roadside.

The closure of the maternity ward in Sollefteå, northern Sweden, at the end of January meant that expectant mothers in the sparsely populated area now have to travel to Örnsköldsvik or Sundsvall, both of which are around a hundred kilometres away.

On Thursday at 10.07am, a woman, who lives in Sollefteå, gave birth in her car on the road on the way to Örnsköldsvik after she and her partner did not make it to the hospital in time.

Writing in a public post on Facebook, she describes the experience as a “nightmare”.

“It's the worst thing I've been through, a trauma and a miracle at the same time. Everything went well physically, but what about psychologically? Is that not at least as important? Those of us who don't want to live in big cities, do we not deserve better than this?”

An ambulance dispatched from Örnsköldsvik arrived shortly after the baby was born and helped take care of them. It was the woman's second child.

Hospital officials told Swedish radio that both the mother and baby are healthy and have been able to return home.

READ ALSO: Midwives launch course on car births

The decision to close the maternity ward in Sollefteå was taken last autumn, with the county council arguing that recruiting competent staff has been difficult and the closure would save around 15 million kronor ($1.69 million).

Ewa Back, the chairperson of the health and medical board at the local council argued at the time that it would not put patients at risk. “We have received results from thorough investigations which prove that you can do this without risking patient safety,” she said.

Many disagreed however, and groups of locals and supporters from other parts of Sweden have been occupying the building since early this month.

Also in response to the closure, two midwives grabbed global headlines after launching a course teaching expectant parents what to do if they have to go through the process of giving birth in a car.

“If you think that it will be something between 120 and 200 kilometres to the nearest maternity ward, it's winter, it's dark, there's a bad mobile signal… anything could happen on the way. Car accidents, the car could break down, you maybe drive off the road. You have to be ready, and the worst could happen even if it is very, very uncommon,” course leader Stina Näslund told The Local last month.