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Iceland – Maternity and Giving Birth

Iceland is a country in the North Atlantic, known for its stunning landscapes, geothermal spas, and high quality of life. When it comes to giving birth, Iceland offers a range of options and services for pregnant women. In this article, we will explore the most common options for giving birth in Iceland, the process for registering a birth, and the attitudes and legislation surrounding abortion.

Giving Birth in Iceland

Most births in Iceland take place in hospitals, with home births being less common. According to the Icelandic Directorate of Health, in 2020, 98% of births occurred in hospitals. There are six hospitals in Iceland that offer maternity services, with three located in Reykjavik, the capital city, and one in each of the other major towns.

Pregnant women in Iceland receive regular prenatal care from a midwife throughout their pregnancy. Midwives in Iceland are highly trained and have a key role in providing care and support for pregnant women. They offer guidance on nutrition, exercise, and preparation for childbirth, and are available to answer questions and provide support throughout the pregnancy.

In addition to midwifery care, pregnant women in Iceland have access to a range of services, including ultrasound scans, blood tests, and genetic counseling. The Icelandic healthcare system is publicly funded and provides free healthcare for all residents, including maternity care.

Registering a Birth in Iceland

In Iceland, births must be registered with the National Registry within 6 months of the birth. The process for registering a birth is relatively straightforward and can be done online or in person.

Here are the steps to register a birth in Iceland:


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  1. Obtain a certificate of live birth from the hospital or midwife who attended the birth.
  2. Visit the National Registry website and create an account.
  3. Complete the birth registration form online or in person at a National Registry office.
  4. Provide the required information, including the names of the parents, the baby’s name, date and place of birth, and any other relevant information.
  5. Submit the form and any supporting documents.

Once the birth is registered, a birth certificate will be issued. This certificate is an important document that is required for a range of purposes, including obtaining a passport and enrolling the child in school.

Attitudes and Legislation Surrounding Abortion in Iceland

Abortion is legal in Iceland up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Women have the right to access abortion services for any reason within this timeframe. After 22 weeks, an abortion can only be performed if the woman’s life or health is at risk, or if the fetus has a severe abnormality.

Abortion services are provided in Iceland’s hospitals and are publicly funded. Women who choose to have an abortion are required to attend counseling before the procedure to ensure that they fully understand their options and the potential consequences of their decision.

Iceland has a relatively progressive attitude towards abortion and reproductive rights. Women have the right to access contraception and are encouraged to take an active role in managing their reproductive health.

Giving birth in Iceland typically involves hospital-based care, with midwives playing a key role in providing support and guidance throughout the pregnancy. The process for registering a birth is straightforward and can be done online or in person. Abortion is legal in Iceland up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, with women having the right to access these services for any reason within this timeframe. Overall, Iceland offers a high standard of care and support for pregnant women and new mothers, with a strong focus on ensuring the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby.


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