As part of the festive programme of Finland celebrating its 100 years of independence, the Embassy of Finland in Riga donated maternity packages to 10 babies born in Latvia. The first seven babies, born on the 100th Independence Day of Finland, the 6th of December 2017, received packages at Rīgas Dzemdību Nams maternity hospital at an event on 8 December 2017. Five of the families are from Riga, one from Ogre and one from Langstiņi.
Another three babies, born during the month of December 2017 in Latvia, were the lucky winners of a lottery, which the Embassy of Finland in Riga organized through social media. The families who won in the lottery are the Šmits, the Petrovs and the Grīniņš families from Riga.
The maternity package contains around different 50 items, such as clothes and care products for the baby and accessories for the mother. Everything is gathered into a cardboard box which is designed to be a bed, including mattress, blanket and sheets. Many Finnish families use the box as the baby's first bed.
"This is a lovely initiative, especially for first-time parents, because there are a lot of things you don't know in the beginning. It's nice to get useful things for the baby, prepared by specialists. I think that there is a lot we can learn from Finland, and it would be very valuable to introduce something similar in Latvia", says baby Inese's mother Ilze, one of the recipients of the package.
It has been 80 years since the Finnish Maternity Grant scheme was launched. During and after the war, the Maternity Package was an essential support to families living with very little and in meager conditions. The living conditions have since improved, but the Maternity Package continues to be a valued and popular piece of Finnish social security. The Maternity Package has helped put Finland among the countries with the world's lowest maternity and infant mortality rates.
"One of the key elements in building a successful society has been to take care of peoples' well-being – even in difficult conditions. Everyone deserves an equal start to life. This is the key idea behind the Finnish Maternity Package, which is given to all expecting mothers in Finland who have been to a health check before the end of the fourth month of pregnancy", said Ambassador of Finland Mr Olli Kantanen, speaking about the importance of the Maternity Package to the development of the Finnish society.
Every year, 40,000 maternity packages are distributed to expecting mothers and adopting parents. Finnish mothers can choose money as a maternity benefit instead of the box. Still, more than 90 percent of the mothers expecting their first child pick the box.
Since the original Maternity Package is part of the social security system of Finland, it cannot be purchased or given as a present. Therefore, the packages that were donated were provided by the Finnish company Nordic Birth Basket www.nordicbirthbasket.com/en/ . The project was realized in cooperation with the Finnish company Neste www.neste.lv/lv .
To learn more about the Finnish Maternity Package, please visit the website of the Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela www.kela.fi/web/en/maternitypackage .