Pregnancy in Germany compared to Finland

Oh no, it seems that I missed once again some blog posts in the past weeks. Running your own business and having to prepare for a second child is certainly time-consuming. With the birth of our little baby girl approaching I want to share some info regarding how different the whole pregnancy process was for us thus far here in Germany compared to Finland. I must admit that both my wife and I have forgotten already a great deal about the pregnancy in Finland so I hope I get it still more or less right.

Puffed up Nathan

Back in 2013 my wife went for a pregnancy test to her “normal” doctor. The same doctor she always went when she had the flu, needed stitches when one bunny ripped her ear or for some allergy check-ups. She had taken the home pregnancy test before but she just wanted to be sure about the result. After her doctor confirmed that she was pregnant she gave us an information flyer and told us which steps to take next. For one we had to contact Neuvola, which is something like a guidance centre/ midwife centre. I believe that Neuvola is something which every country should have! There the mother gets all the pregnancy check-ups and information before giving birth. After the child is born all the doctor visits are being done in that center and the child is “being taken care” (checking the development, helping with questions etc.) untill going to Elementary school. That is certainly an all-inclusive package and it is all for free in Finland.

Nathan chillin on the groun in our Finnish Apartment back in 2014

The only other thing we had to do was to inform Kela, which is the Finnish Social Insurance Institution. Why contact the Social Insurance Institution? Well Kela is so much more than just that as it also handles retirement pay, child benefits, unemployment benefits, sickness benefits, health insurance and student benefits. We had to inform Kela when the child would be born and a few months before the due date we received the famous baby box. That box has everything needed for the first month and it gives parents a good idea what to buy later on. The box itself can be also used as a crib for the first weeks. The total worth of the box is around nearly 600-800€ by my estimation and it is yet another thing which is entirely free in Finland.

By just informing Kela and Neuvola everything was pretty much set and we did not have to contact any more places for “registering” our baby. After Nathan was born we simply had to give the birthdate, confirmation of life birth etc. to Kela so all correct information would be in his file. I believe that is all we had to do but perhaps some Finnish person might add to this in case they stumble upon this article.

Just one hour after being born in Finland

Now I come to our endeavour here in Germany. Already now, way before our baby girl is born, everything is very much complicated. Let’s start with the simple part as my wife went to her gynecologist in order to confirm the pregnancy. After that all further check-ups were done at that gynecologist. Thus far it all sounds still very similar to the Finnish Neuvola however now I come to the differences. We needed to find also a midwife for us (who we will meet for the first time next week). We went for the easiest option and made an appointment at the local hospital as it has a midwife section. There the midwives are of course working at the maternity ward however they also are self-employed as midwives in order to give information for expecting mothers, come to your home every few days to check on the new born (the frequency changes later on when the child is older) and helps the mother getting back into normal life. Already now we have the gynecologist my wife needs to visit every few weeks and we have to take care on our own to have a midwife.

A surprised Monk

The midwife is also important in order as she takes care of the paperwork needed for the hospital when giving birth. It is not so much but it gives the doctors and midwives at the hospital all necessary information about the mother and the unborn child so nothing goes wrong (for example allergies to certain medications). Now I come to the part with the health insurance. This was in Finland automatically done by contacting Kela. Now as we live in Germany, a country where digitization is something for the unknown far away future, we have to go everywhere on our own as no bureau here gets information automatically. So the health insurance we need to contact before the birth so they can already give the needed documents for us to fill out once the child is born. Besides going to the health insurance we also need to go later on to the registration office with all kind of different documents in order to “register” the child officially. It may not look so different but trust me, it is a huge change for us compared to Finland were everything was so easy and worked nearly automatically.

Baby in a bucket

You can see that we favor the Finnish way much more but Germany got also a few good points. In Finland we had two ultrasound check-ups to make sure that the baby is fine. In case we wanted a 4D Ultrasound for some better pictures and get 99% certainty about the gender we would need to pay around 200 Euros. Here  in Germany my wife has every 2-4 weeks ultrasound check-ups and we had also those 4D ultrasounds twice already and paid only 40 Euros for it, as you can see it is a big difference compared to Finland. I’d say the perfect system would be a mix of both of them but you can’t have everything in life. Both countries offer with their health care systems very good methods which are for free and everyone living in those countries receives those benefits.

Last but not least I have to mention that we got a little present from the Finnish community here in Germany. Finland has this year its 100 year anniversary and it also started a huge knitting fever in Finland and for Finnish people living abroad. After emailing the Finnish community here we received for our baby girl hand knitted socks held in the colours of the Finnish flag (blue and white). Surprisingly the person who send us the socks is even the mother of a guy I know from way back when I had my Confirmation Camp in Finland (2001 or 2002). It is not the same as a Kela Baby Box but it is a nice gesture of the Finnish community and our girl will wear those socks next month!

How is the whole “process” in your country?

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15 thoughts on “Pregnancy in Germany compared to Finland”

  1. Good thing to know these points!
    It’s so different to read something as relevant as this from a man’s point of view.
    I can’t say anything about Pregnancy and giving birth here in Germany but from all your stories, I could say that of course, in Europe, as first world countries have an edge for the healthcare and insurance system compared to Gulf countries.
    In my case, I had a complicated birth to my daughter in an induced labor for almost 3 days and had to go for an emergency caesarean operation that only costs us 30 kuwaiti dinar! ( around 92Euros). If its on private hospital it could cost us 4000-5000 Euros!
    I chose to be in this hospital because in Kuwait, if your situation gets complicated, you will be turn over to the Gov’t hospital. That’s how crazy it is!
    On the positive side, our health insurance gave us great benefits, both Me & my daughter had a year of post- natal/neonatal medical care, absolutely almost free. I got my prenatal care on private one so that is very costly!
    The downside of giving birth there is that your husband/relatives can’t be with you.. I mean I am totally alone all through it.
    Men/Husband are not allowed in the maternity hospital.
    They can only visit their wives after giving birth on visiting hours. That’s how Muslim does it. That whole process was quite an experience for me.But all in all, everything ends well.

    I’m sure you are all excited for the coming of the Little Girl..take care of your wife, and Best of luck in all preparations! Please let us know once she comes!
    I’m sure you are going to miss “decent sleep” on the coming months :-)))

    1. In China the husband can come also to the hospital however he is not present during the labor. Usually the mother or the mother-in-law is present at that stage and the mother is often not allowed (even by the midwives and doctors) to take the baby into her arms!
      Anyhow I am just happy that we live here in Germany which offers a high quality health system similar to Finland. The town we live in is also great as the hospital is one of the main ones in the state with top staff and equipment for any kind of complications while giving birth, besides that maternity ward is in the new section of the hospital which was just completed a couple of years ago 🙂

  2. No idea on the process in Australia but it will hit the wallet quite a bit… There is always public vs private health care here and private is preferable but it is much more costly. Anything to do with health is a very personal thing, and you hope you will get the right fit with the medical practitioners.

    The Kela box sounds like one big goody bag for the new addition to the family. The box as a crib sounds impressive. It must be really that big :O

    1. The box is really huge and filled to the brim with important things for the baby.
      Here they also have public and private healh care however the private one got too expensive during the past years (I would need to pay over 600 Euros a month for it!!! whileas for the public one I pay for me and my family together only 180 Euros). The private care has a lot of benefits such as shorter waiting times at the doctor, some doctors only accepting private health care customers etc but in the end the public one is still very good here, at least in our case

      1. Private health care in Germany sounds the same in Australia – pay a lot more, but more attention to you and your health when you need it. In Australia, public healthcare always comes with long lines and sometimes you even need to take a day off from work just to go see the doctor.

        If you want to visit the doctor like say today, most places will charge you $90 in one hit – which you can claim about one third of it back. I can only imagine going to the public hospital on a random day here is much worse.

  3. Good stuff. I’m sure some folks would find this information very valuable. I’m thinking of expats. Finland sure does sound amazing. Hope everything continues to go smoothly. Sending love and hugs from Cambodia 🙂

  4. Those Finnish baby boxes are famous. There’s a big push to have them in the United States, but since the Republicans only care about babies before they are born, it’ll never happen.

  5. Far, far, faaaaarr more complicated here in India. And all depends on whether you have a salaried job with insurance, your own health insurance or nothing.

    Everything comes with different levels, costs, with most hospitals and docs quite creative in adding all sorts of charges. And the paperwork? Oy vey! Don’t get me started… all of this witnessed 2nd hand as I’ve bypassed the whole parenting thing.

    But did just get another taste of the health care environment here recently! One of these days should write about it – quite a cultural contrast with Canada!!! And most certainly Finland and Germany too I would expect. 🙂

    All the best!!

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