Protesters to march against ‘chaos’ in Swedish maternity care

A series of demonstrations have been organized in 15 towns and cities across Sweden to protest against the "chaos" at the country's maternity wards.

Protesters to march against 'chaos' in Swedish maternity care
File photo of a childbirth ward in Sweden. Photo: Anders Ahlgren/SvD/TT

Marches are due to take place on August 20th in Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg as well as smaller areas like Sollefteå and Östersund.

Organized by Cissi Wallin and Emily Comeau Hellsing with the help of Födelsevrålet, a non-profit representing pregnant women who have experienced problems during childbirth, the demonstrations follow a number of high-profile stories from recent months exposing the strained maternity care situation in Sweden.

“We think it's particularly pertinent just now because in recent months there's been a lot of attention given to the situation for midwives and how it is for people giving birth,” Emma Pettersson Hernandez from Födelsevrålet told The Local.

“Maternity care has never been a priority. There has never been a specific focus on investment in this kind of care within healthcare, nor has it been seen as something that particularly needs to be focused on,” she argued.

Emma Pettersson Hernandez. Photo: Födelsevrålet/Marcel Gereben

In January, two Swedish midwives made international headlines when they launched a course instructing expectant parents on how to give birth in a car, as the pending closure of Sellefteå’s maternity ward would mean a journey of up to 200 kilometres to the nearest ward.

READ ALSO: Swedish midwives launch course on giving birth in cars

The Sollefteå maternity ward subsequently closed as planned due to cost-cutting measures, despite protesters occupying the building. Other stories to grab headlines include a Swedish midwife who went viral when she explained that there is no time to urinate or change sanitary products during night shifts at a Stockholm hospital, and instances of families being flown to Finland to give birth as an emergency solution to overcrowding at Swedish maternity wards.

READ ALSO: Swedish viral image shows tough side of being a midwife

READ ALSO: More mums flown to Finland to give birth

Earlier this year the Social Democrat-Green government promised a 500 million kronor ($57 million) funding boost to the maternity sector to be shared across the country in a lump sum, but campaigners have complained that is not enough.

So far around 2,500 people have registered interest in attending the Stockholm protest this Sunday, with hundreds more doing the same for the other events. Pettersson Hernandez hopes the demonstrations can prove just how many people care about the subject.

“The main goals with the marches is that political decision makers see how many people care about this across the country, that we’re not just a little group of angry mothers, but this has become a big movement. And it's an important societal issue that they have to get a grip of, not just ignore,” she explained.

“There's been a huge amount of engagement, both from the media and elsewhere, which is fantastic. People realise it's not just those having kids that are impacted, we're all impacted by this.”