Midwives in Iceland on Strike Skip to content

Midwives in Iceland on Strike

Midwives in Iceland began their first in a series of strikes at midnight last night. No meetings were held between the negotiation committee of the Association of Midwives and the Ministry of Finance last night.

“We noticed that the Minister of Finance declared in parliament [yesterday] that he hoped an agreement would be reached before the strike. He should have known better than anyone that no negotiating meeting had been scheduled,” chairman of the Midwives’ Association Gudlaug Einarsdóttir told Morgunbladid. The two parties are planning to meet today.

“It is very uncomfortable to lose the safety involved in having a midwife ready at the healthcare center during the last weeks of one’s pregnancy,” said expecting mother Líf Gunnlaugsdóttir.

“It is a peculiar feeling, a certain unpredictability from not knowing what kind of services will be available,” agreed another expecting mother, Margrét Jóna Ísólfsdóttir, whose due date was September 1.

“They are always emphasizing that you should relax during the last weeks of the pregnancy, then the birth will go more smoothly, but that is not an option when you’re faced with this,” commented Gunnlaugsdóttir, however adding that midwives have her full support in their fight for better wages.

Despite the strike there will always be a midwife available in the most densely-populated parts of the country although services for pregnant women have been reduced to a bare minimum. At the national hospital, Landspítali – University Hospital (LSH), the so-called “Nest,” a special maternity ward with single rooms and more services, has been closed.

“There are three rooms for giving birth in the Nest in a relaxed atmosphere. Now it is not open and I had planned to give birth there,” Gunnlaugsdóttir said, adding that she is worried that LSH will be crowded because delivery rooms outside the capital region have closed due to the strike.

At LSH the Nest and the maternity ward is closed, although delivery rooms apart from the Nest are open, and no midwives from the Midwives’ Association are working in the gynecology ward.

There was no service for pregnant women in Selfoss and Keflavík in south and west Iceland last night or this morning and no service at Húsavík, Siglufjördur and Egilsstadir in north and east Iceland.

In other parts of the country midwifery service is limited.

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