20 May 2012

Finnish maternity package

My maternity package finally arrived!! Ever since I moved to Finland almost 13 years ago and my SIL received her maternity package for their first child, I have looked forward to the day I would be pregnant and get my own maternity package from KELA (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland). This has been a long time coming, but it has finally arrived! 

As I wrote in my last post, the mail notification came on Wednesday afternoon, but Mr Siili and I didn't get home until 7pm. I know that our local post office is open until 8pm, so I rushed to go get it before they closed. What I didn't count on was that they would close early on Wednesday because Thursday was a national holiday (Ascension Day). So, I had to wait until Friday after work to pick it up! And then I waited some more until Mr Siili got home from basketball practice to open it. Torture, I tell you!

What is a maternity package you ask? It is basically a starter kit with almost everything a new mother (and father) would need for their child to come into their life (adoptive parents can get this too). There are onsies/bodysuits, pants, shirts, leggings, romper suits(?), sleeping bag, towel, hairbrush, book, toy and more! All the stuff comes in a big sturdy box (that can be used as a crib). 

A new maternity package is published each year. The items in the package are mostly the same from year to year, but the colors change. My package contents are from the year 2011 (2012 won't be sent out until late summer/early fall as they had so many of the previous year still).

To receive this package, the mother needs to fill out a KELA form, attach a certificate from the doctor stating that the pregnancy has lasted at least 154 days and that the mom has been seen by the doctor before the end of the fourth month of pregnancy. (If you don't go to the doctor before then, I don't believe you are entitled to this benefit, free.) This box of stuff is valued around 350€ or so I've been told. If you decide you don't want the package or if this isn't your first child and you still have everything you need, you can opt to receive a money benefit instead (although the amount is less than the package itself). Also, if a Finn is living abroad, they can buy one of these packages to be sent to them.

A quick history of the maternity grant:
This maternity package and/or cash grant for Finnish mothers has been around since 1938. Although, in the beginning this grant was meant only for low-income mothers. By 1949, all mothers were able to apply for this grant. Each year, around 60 000 grants are awarded by KELA and of those 40 000 are in the form of the maternity package. Most all first time mothers choose the maternity package and those mothers (first time or not) who don't choose the package, can receive 140€ in cash. The colors of the package are neutral so that the clothes can be used for boys and girls alike.

Now I can't wait until we move (next weekend) so that I can wash all of these clothes and start putting them where they belong on their shelves and in drawers.

Below are the pictures I took of my box. If you want to see professional pictures, with descriptions of each item, click the link in the first paragraph of this post.
The box with the blanket, sleeping bag, snowsuit (mittens & booties in the hood) and light suit.
Everything else still packed in the box.
(Mattress at the bottom of the box not pictured anywhere.)
Knitted suit (left) and romper suits (no idea what these would be called in the US).
More romper suits.
Play suit, leggings & sweatpants.
Hats of all types, mittens (with the smiley face) socks and 2 cloth diapers of different brands.
Bib, duvet for the blanket (top center), towel, washcloth, muslin squares, etc.
Book (Little Reindeer's day), toy, condoms (for mom & dad), thermometer, hairbrush, nail scissors, bra pads, lotion (I love this lotion: non scented and not greasy, but soothes the skin) and a toothbrush.