Being a mother in Finland: a matter of good medical care

If I was a Finnish woman I think I wouldn´t be terrified about the idea of being a mother someday. But I´m Mexican. I am terrified. Mexico´s health care system doesn´t look after women who want to become mothers, especially poor women. In my country, women and babies are still dying due to poor medical care.

According to data from the World Bank, maternal mortality ratio in Mexico (the number of women who die from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births) was 47 in 2010. In 2013 this number increased to 49.

Finland has a different story to tell. Data also from the World Bank shows that 6 women died per 100,000 live births in 2010, while 4 died in 2013.

Mayra blogikollaasi

This year, Finland ranked second in the State of the World´s Mothers Report issued by the organization Save the Children. Basically, Finland is among the five countries in the world where being a mother is a pretty great, beautiful and SAFE thing. Why?

During our visit to the Maternity and Child Health Clinic in Helsinki, public health nurse Pirjo Langdon explained how the Finnish health care system serves mothers and babies. It is based in equality, which means that every woman – no matter what her economic or social background is – gets the same attention in her nearest hospital.

Yes, Finland has private hospitals, but according to the Department of Social Services and Health Care of Helsinki around 97% of Finnish families utilize maternity and child health clinic services, which are totally free because they´re tax funded.

Maternity clinics take care of mothers and their children, but also offer support to their families and promote healthy lifestyles.

Another cool thing about being a mother in Finland: for every birth, mothers receive a maternity package with some items for the baby – for free – or they can choose to take a 140 euro bonus. Guess what? Mexico City´s government will give similar baby boxes, too, from now on. I wish they would provide a better health care system and not only the maternity packages, though.

Also, mothers have 4 months of maternity leave and fathers have 54 days. After the maternity and paternity leave there is something called parental leave: around 158 days which can be taken by the mother or the father, or they can even share the days.

In Mexico, mothers have around 12 weeks of parental leave and fathers only 5 days. You read it well: 5 days. In my country, being a parent is still a “woman´s thing”.

Photos: Mayra Zepeda and Yumi Jeung

3 thoughts on “Being a mother in Finland: a matter of good medical care”

  1. It is amazing that caring for mothers and babies seems to be such a low priority for politicians. Even in the US, the mother mortality rate is an unacceptable rate of around 28 per 100,000, right up there with Iran and the Ukraine. I think the baby boxes are an amazing idea, and I wish the US would at least offer them to mothers on Medicaid, perhaps with the stipulation that they attend x number of prenatal visits. The baby boxes in Mexico (only in Mexico City, I think) is a small step in the right direction, but you’re right, the actual health needs to be addressed.

    At least the fathers have 5 days. In the US, fathers get bumpkis. If we are going to raise a healthy generation of children, this generation needs to totally rethink how they perceive pregnancy and childbirth.

  2. I am amazed to know about Mexican authority’s low concentration about pregnant ladies and their upcoming babies! During pregnancy each and every women should be taken care especially. There might be many kinks of physical uneasiness and sickness during this time and proper medical treatment only can protect both mother and baby. I hope Mexican authority look after this matter and save the mother and child.

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