We’ve all heard that Nordic countries consistently rank high when it comes to many measures of wellness—happiness, health, quality of life, life expectancy, education, and the list goes on.
Finland has consistently ranked in the top 10 of the best places to be a mom in the Save the Children State of the World's Mothers report (SOWM report) for each of the 16 years that the index has been compiled. The Scandinavian country that ranked 1st in 2013-2014 has been praised for the long paid maternity leaves, good healthcare and daycare systems and the high priority given to maternal and infant health, resulting to its low infant and mother mortality rates.
The SOWM index is an annual report by the Save the Children USA, which compiles statistics on the health of mothers and children and uses them to produce rankings of more than 170 countries, showing where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships. The health of women and children, educational attainment, economic wellbeing and the political participation of females in each country were all taken into account.
The index ranked countries according to five indicators of a mother's well-being: maternal health (the risk of maternal mortality); children's well-being (the mortality rate of children under five); educational status (number of years of formal schooling a woman receives); economic status (gross national income per capita); and political status (the participation of women in national government). Finland was followed closely by its Nordic neighbors.
In Finland, mothers and babies enjoy top-notch, low-cost healthcare. They also receive free checkups after birth, both for moms and kids. For 75 years, every new mom receives the famous baby box - a starter kit full of clothes, sheets, toys and essentials such as bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
This maternity package is a tradition that started during the 1930s, meant to give all children in Finland an equal start in life, no matter where they're from. The box itself doubles as a bed for the baby, and they say this has helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.
However, there’s much more to Finland’s success when it comes to family and child well-being than a simple maternity care box. Here are some:
1. There are very minimal costs in childbirth In Finland, in fact, families just pay for the rooms, approximately €30+ a night. Everything else is free- from the clothes that your babies will wear, to the meals, maternity pads, diapers.
2. Mothers are also guaranteed four months of paid maternity leave. Fathers get almost two months of paid leave, and then couples get another 5-6 months of leave to share between them. The country encourages parents to spend time with their babies.
3. Finnish mothers or fathers can also choose to stay at home to look after a child under 3 years of age. They can receive child home care allowance or the family may claim private day care allowance in order to work. When a child turns three, parents may take partial care leave, working for fewer hours per day or week to spend more time with the child. Both the father and mother can take the partial care leave at different times.
4. The benefits don’t end in the baby years in Finland. Furthermore, there is a child benefit payment for Finnish children under the age of 17 that’s paid monthly, and single parents get higher child benefits.