Giving Birth the IKEA Way: Do It Yourself

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Apparently, the Swedes take their D-I-Y very seriously, and not just for oddly named furniture. A new mother from Sundsvall in Northern Sweden called her local newspaper to complain after she was asked to clean out her own hospital room two days after giving birth. By C-section.

When Elin Andersson decided that she was ready to go home with her new baby, the midwife “went and got a big white laundry bag and asked me to clean out the room and the bed where I had lain,” she told a newspaper. She also said she had to call the nurses to remind them to give her medication. (More on Having Kids, Especially Young Ones, Ramps Up Depression)

Far from denying her allegations, hospital staff confirmed them. “Medical safety always comes first and you can’t leave a mother while she’s giving birth,” one midwife told the newspaper. “It’s true that we sometimes need to make use of the parents and that doesn’t feel good at all.”

Swedes enjoy a much-admired public health system with higher cancer survival rates and life expectancy and lower infant mortality than most of Europe, let alone the laggardly U.S. A recent poll found that 75% of Swedes felt that they could easily get good health care for themselves or a relative if they became ill. Only 51% of Americans felt the same way. (More on Why It’s Harder For Older Women to Have Healthy Babies)

But critics say conservative governments, in an attempt to rein in taxes, have starved the system of funding. So you could argue Andersson’s experience square or round. Anybody want to weigh in on whether they — or maybe their spouse, who presumably doesn’t have a big new abdominal scar — would be prepared to strip their bed and pick up their hospital room if they could have a baby with no hospital costs?

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