Earlier I wrote that our travel (and life) plans changed after I got pregnant. This time I would like to tell you a bit more about our (my) experiences of being pregnant and giving birth abroad. In case you are considering giving birth in Finland or while traveling, I hope it helps you. You can also read a short summary of my Canadian experiences here.
Table of Contents
- Being pregnant and giving birth in Finland
- Pregnancy care in Finland
- In the most northern Finnish hospital
- How much does it cost to give birth?
- How much does it cost to be pregnant in Finland?
- Would I choose it again?
Being pregnant and giving birth in Finland
We decided on giving birth in Finland for several reasons. The first: healthcare is relatively cheap. There are no envelopes with money that you pass to the staff to get taken care of. And you get plenty of food and service for the price.
Second, we speak a bit of Finnish and they speak rather okay English. The communication didn’t have major barriers.
And the last reasons, but as crucial as the others: the facilities and conditions are excellent – nothing similar to the hospital horror stories from Hungary. OK, not every hospital is that terrible in my home country, but I didn’t want to experiment. I was looking forward to a happy delivery and didn’t take the risks.
Pregnancy care in Finland
If you live in Finland, you receive all the examinations, two ultrasounds, and basic doctor visits and test for free during pregnancy. The healthcare system works well. You can book times online for most of the lab tests, and you don’t have to wait long times in queues. You’ll get a schedule of the expected appointments in the beginning (unless you are in another country like we were). You will have an appointed maternity nurse based on your address. She will be responsible for you and you can ask all your concerns and questions from her in person or on the phone.
As we moved to Rovaniemi only in the fifth month, I had 3 visits there and had nothing to complain about. My nurse spoke good enough English. The last few months went fast and one morning I just ended up in the hospital instead of the next visit to the nurse.
The famous Finnish baby box
Another perk of the Finnish healthcare system is the worldwide known and envied baby box. A box where newborns can sleep to secure their first weeks at home. (It has a mattress at the bottom). And that’s not all. The box contains a lot of clothes for the first months (including woolen items, and outdoor clothing for the winter) and other necessities such as a sleeping bag, bedsheets, thermometer, scissors, talcum powder, creams, diapers, rugs, etc.
We received the box a couple of months before the expected delivery date, so it gave us enough time to do shopping without rush. I don’t need to tell you, the baby box was a huge help! A soon-to-be-mother like me will be anyway overwhelmed with the information, and it ensures, she will have everything essential by the time the little one is born. This box gives an equal start in life for all babies in Finland.
For the second baby, we decided not to take another box as we kept the previous one and its content, and everything is still in very good shape. In this case, we received a smaller monetary aid from the state (probably third than the value of the box!).
In the most northern Finnish hospital
Rovaniemi is the most northern hospital in Finland. Mothers from the whole Lapland come here to give birth, but still, it is a rather calm and quiet hospital as not so many kids are born here. On average 2-3 infants come to the world per day. While Finland’s population is around 5.5 million, Lapland has less than 180 000 inhabitants. The low numbers of birth are not surprising.
I am not going into details about that special night and day (more like night, day and night), but I was pleased with the hospital conditions and also with the food. It was tasty and plenty. Finnish hospitals are family-friendly. Karol could stay with me all the time during the delivery. If you wish (and have one), your doula can be with you as well.
Karol spent many, many hours at the hospital visiting us. Usually, you stay 3 days with your newborn there if everything goes well with both of you. Dads can spend 10 hours each day with their families. Other close family members (siblings and parents) can visit in a specified 2-hour time-frame.
Spacious, clean and well-equipped rooms and facilities
I had a two-person room, but one night we were there alone with the little baby, the other bed stayed empty. When it was a busy time, some ten moms were in the whole ward divided into 4-5 rooms. Almost like a hotel. 🙂 We also had 3 showers and 4 toilets on the corridor, never had to wait to visit them. Our room also had a sink, a changing table, diapers and clothes for the infants, scale, creams, thermometer and other necessities. In case we needed something else/more, we found them in the corridor in a closet.
And of course, the premises and rooms were cleaned daily, the cleaners emptied the trash bins and replaced the clothes and pads. We also had a big TV in the room, but we never used it. Actually, I haven’t noticed it until Karol pointed it out. I must have been exhausted.
And as an extra, Rovaniemi hospital had a great view and we could observe the helicopter landing from our window.
Family room for an extra fee
Besides the 2 and 3 person rooms, there was one, so-called family room. It is like a hotel room. The dad can stay all the time with the family, not only during the visiting hours. He also receives food at the same time as the mom. It is practical for couples who live far away from Rovaniemi and would need to rent a real hotel room to be able to visit the hospital.
Meals, clothes and other practicalities
Considering the practicalities, I received warm meals 3 times a day (breakfast includes porridge, lunch, dinner), plus there was a coffee break with cookies after lunch and sandwiches before the night. Juices, salads, and desserts were also included in the meals.
Clothes and sanitary products were available for babies and moms. I could call for help anytime (day or night) by pressing a button, and in one or two minutes, a nurse came to help. I had always a dedicated nurse, but in case she was busy, somebody else assisted me. The system is positive and supportive of mothers and newborns. For example, I received all support, advice, and encouragement for breastfeeding too.
As far as I understood, these are the Finnish hospital standards. Felt good, but at the same time, I was isolated as the mothers didn’t speak to each other. Not in the room, not in the common space. Everybody sat with their baby next to a table, as far as possible from others, and ate the food. I was surprised by the low number of visitors as well. Two or three daddies (some with kids) showed up during the visiting hours and no distant family members that I could spot.
How much does it cost to give birth?
As a Finnish resident, you can give birth a bit cheaper than just a visitor. I had to pay roughly 40 € for each day I spent in the hospital. The fee varies by cities, but only a few euros. You can choose a hospital here even if you have nothing to do with Finland (e.g. you are traveling), you just need to pay a little bit more.
The family room costs about 100 € per day, including the food for the dad. Cheaper than a hotel!
I received all the care I needed, didn’t need to pay for procedures or medications any extra. I had delicious meals and we got help and advice all the time.
How much does it cost to be pregnant in Finland?
UPDATE (2019): Two years passed since my first pregnancy, and it’s time to add some updates to this post regarding costs based on my current experiences during the second pregnancy. I still have Finnish healthcare coverage (KELA), and I am a permanent resident, so the prices are based on these prerequisites.
What is free during pregnancy care?
– You will see the nurse at the maternity clinic for free roughly once in every month.
– You will see a doctor at the maternity clinic twice
– You will have two free ultrasounds at the hospital
– You don’t need to pay for giving birth (all the medication and procedures are provided for free)
– Extra appointments in the maternity clinic (to nurse, doctor, etc)
What do you need to pay for?
– Daily fee for the hospital (for example) after giving birth. ~ 45€ per day
Other extra costs that may apply
– 2-hour consultation with a midwife at the hospital. You can discuss with her basically anything. If you have any fear or concerns about the birth or anything related, that’s a must: 40€ per visit
– If it happens that you are taken to ER it’ll cost you about 40€ per visit and 20€ for the ambulance ride. The hospital daily fee applies if you stay in the hospital after the ‘initial visit’.
– anything extra you need/want, for example, private/state healthcare visits, extra ultrasounds
Would I choose it again?
If I had to choose, I would again opt for Finland to go through with the end of pregnancy. Despite some minor language issues (but they always looked for somebody to help to communicate if there was a problem), everything went smoothly. Earlier I got questions why not to give birth at home (Hungary). I hope I explained it above.