If you are a first-time mom to be in Finland and you are an expat in here, I would understand that you might have questions in mind like what to do if you are pregnant. Do you know that Finland takes care of expectant mothers and families with small children? I have listed here step by step guide of the benefits for a family with small children, starting from pregnancy stage. This is based on my experience after having four children.
When you are pregnant:
- Check if you are included in the Finnish social security system called KELA. If you are these are the things you have to know. You can also check on their website more detailed information.
- Call for an appointment in your local maternity clinic (äitiysneuvola) usually they will have you checked earliest that you are on your week 10. They will take care of you and monitor your pregnancy very well. They will take care of all the checkups, what to do and what not to. They are available for you if you have questions even outside of your appointment time. If you are not included in Kela system, they will still take care of you in the maternity clinic, so no worry.
- You will get a certificate of pregnancy. When your pregnancy is about five months, this is I think the stage where you can say you are past the critical stage and now as officially pregnant. You will have this time a doctor appointment in a maternity clinic and he/she will give you a certificate of pregnancy. You will need that certificate for applying the maternity support and maternity allowance from Kela.
- Apply for the Maternity support, which you can choose between money worth 170 € (as of 2019) or maternity box. Maternity box consists of baby’s clothes, outdoor winter jacket, a warm blanket, baby’s first book, baby care like hygiene stuff. When I had my first pregnancy, I selected maternity box. It was like opening Christmas package once you receive it from the post office. When I saw what the content was really inside, I realize that the total price of this package, if you check, is actually more than that money. The box itself has a mattress and possible to be the babies first bed if you haven´t bought a new bed yet. If you had, then that box can be a bed for the baby that you can easily transfer from one room to another while the baby is still small. For example, if you are busy doing something in another room and you want to be close to your baby. This Finnish baby box actually had received international attention and some countries also started implementing the same for expectant mothers.
- Apply for maternity allowance. Maternity allowance is paid in a total of four months. It starts 5-8 weeks before expected due date until the baby is about 3 months. Remember to apply this latest 2 months before the expected due date. This is usually a normal amount of salary because Kela pays to your employer.
- Maternity leave. If you are a working expecting mom, you can already start your maternity leave 5-8 weeks before your expected due date. In this way, mom doesn’t have to worry to give birth while on the way to work, isn’t it? Like me, I drive going to work and back. It is not very convenient to have the delivery starting on the road while driving You can prepare yourself, your house, the baby’s room before welcoming the new member of your family. Remember to also inform your employer for your plan to have the leave at least two months before
- Check up in the maternity clinic become very often. During the last months of your pregnancy, the checkup in the maternity clinic becomes very often as twice a month to once a week. They will ask you of your plan to what kind of method you prefer during delivery and if you have a special request like having a family room or so on. You must at this stage have the phone number of the hospital where you are going to deliver the baby in case you will have to go in the middle of the night or you have to inform that you are coming. You can also call them anytime in case you have questions (i.e. if you think your water already broke or is it just a false alarm). Believe me, in my four pregnancies, I called them still because I have all the delivery started differently and they are the professionals who can give you advice.
- Pack your bag and necessary things to bring to the hospital. Do you know that during the normal delivery (this is from my experience) and the time you are in the hospital after giving birth, you don’t pay for your doctor or medicines? It is free and what they only charge is the room you are using before and after they transfer you to maternity ward which already includes whole day meal and 24/7 nurse service for both mom and babies. There is also supply for the baby´s clothes and diaper the whole time you are in the ward. Being said that, it is important to bring the maternity card, your personal hygiene items, clothes what you & the baby will use when you are going home. When you are going home, it is a must to have the baby´s car seat with you.
When you have a small baby/children in the family
- Going home with the baby. After the baby turns 2 days old, in normal delivery, they usually let the mothers and the baby go home if the checkup results for the baby is all normal and okay.
- Home visit from the maternity clinic & child health centre. When you are already home, after a few days you can call the maternity clinic and inform that you are out of the maternity ward. They probably know that of course but they will set a time for the home visit. Yes, they will be visiting you and the baby at home. They will check both the situation of the two of you, how is the baby’s development, the weight and all important details. In my case, there is about 2-3 times home visit. The last home visit is going to be the babies nurse from the child health centre (
lasten neuvola). This child health centre will be the one continuously monitoring the baby’s development from newborn until the age of 6 years old. At school age ( from 7 yrs old) they will have a school nurse who monitors their development yearly.
- Certificate for parental Allowance. After about 6 weeks after giving birth, you will have to go to the postpartum checkup, in this stage, the maternity clinic nurse will give you a certificate that you need to send to Kela for your parental leave allowance which is about 70% of your salary. You don’t have to send it right away if you don’t want to, but remember to send it at least a month before your maternity leave ends. You can stay at home longer? That is true, after maternity leave, when the baby is about 3 months old, you can stay at home to take care of the baby for about another 6 months. That alone already being said, from the maternity leave + parental leave, you can stay at home already 10 months or until the baby is about 9 months old.
- To apply for daycare. When the baby reaches the age of 9 months old, the parental leave is ended. You either go back to work or stay at home still to take care of your baby. If you decide to go back to work, you will need to apply for your babies daycare, either private person (
yksityinen) or the government daycare which can be the normal daycare (päiväkoti) or the family caretaker perhepäivähoitaja, I am not really sure what is the direct translation of this but this is the same as daycare but kids are being taken cared at home of the child caretaker with a max of only 4 full time kids+1 part-time. Or stay at home and apply for home care leave. If you decided the other option which is to stay at home with the kids, it is possible to have a childcare leave from work until the youngest is 3 years old. This can be done either the mother or the father of the child and even an option to have a part-time work with the only max of 30h/week. I will not take deeper to that part-time working because I haven’t been doing that, so I can´t say much about it. If you want to stay at home, you can apply from Kela the child care allowance. You can get this as long as the baby hasn´t been granted a government daycare place.
Families are well-taking care in Finland, that is why it is one factor why this year Finland is once again ranked as the happiest country in the world. Working place is also supporting families with small kids. You can keep your permanent work position until you come back even you have been at home for 3 years on child care leave.
I hope that this information is helpful and if you think that there is something I forgot or anything you want to ask, don’t forget to comment. I mentioned that this blog post is written based on my experience, there can be different from yours. You can always go and check in the Kelas webpage for more details, they have phone numbers where you can contact them in case you have a question in mind about the family benefits.
Thank you for reading this post.