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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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