- avoid certain food products as well as alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- notify your employer well in advance when you intend to go on family leave
- apply for the maternity grant, child benefit and other family benefits from Kela.
A pregnancy is confirmed with a pregnancy test. Maternity clinics monitor the wellbeing of the pregnant woman and the foetus during pregnancy. They also support and advise expectant parents on pregnancy and the prospective parenthood. If the pregnancy is unwanted, the alternatives may include termination of pregnancy, also called an abortion, or giving the child up for adoption.
If you have had sex and your period does not start as normal, you could be pregnant. The pregnancy must always be confirmed with a test.
If your periods are regular, you can do a pregnancy test as soon as you miss a period. If you have irregular periods, you should wait three weeks from when you had sex without contraception before doing the pregnancy test. If your period does not start as normal, do a pregnancy test even if you used contraception.
You can buy pregnancy tests at pharmacies and at many grocery stores. You can also have a pregnancy test done at a health centre or in school or student healthcare.
Some women have strong symptoms such as nausea at the beginning of the pregnancy. Some women may be pregnant for a long time without any symptoms.
If your pregnancy test has been positive, you can contact the maternity clinic. However, because miscarriages are common during the first weeks of pregnancy, there is no rush to contact the clinic.
It is a good idea to contact the clinic when your pregnancy has lasted between 6 and 8 weeks or your period is about four weeks late. If you are not sure about how long the pregnancy has lasted, you should contact the maternity clinic as soon as you have found out that you are pregnant.
You should pay attention to your lifestyle from the beginning of the pregnancy. Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are harmful to the foetus. You should also avoid several foodstuffs. You will find out about the foodstuffs that should be avoided at the maternity clinic. There is also information on the websites of the Finnish Food Authority and the National Institute for Health and Welfare.
If your pregnancy has come as a surprise, mention this when you call the maternity clinic.
Remember to inform your employer about the start of your maternity leave at a later stage of your pregnancy. Also remember to apply to Kela for the parental allowances and for the maternity grant, which is the maternity package. You can apply to Kela for child benefit once the child is born. You can find more information on family leave and benefits on the page Leave and benefits for the parents of small children.
Pregnancies are monitored at the maternity clinic. Your first appointment is usually made for week 8, 9 or 10. The father of the child is also welcomed at the clinic. The same applies to the other parent in a rainbow couple or to some other person supporting the mother.
The wellbeing of the pregnant woman and the foetus is monitored in connection with the appointments. If you are expecting your first child, it is recommended that you have at least eight appointments at the maternity clinic during your pregnancy. If you have already given birth before, you should have at least seven appointments.
The general ultrasound scan in early pregnancy is performed between weeks 10 and 13 of pregnancy. It is done to date the pregnancy and to find out the number of the foetuses. The second ultrasound scan, the structural scan, is usually carried out between weeks 18 and 21. It is done to examine the foetus's structures to see possible abnormalities. Further examinations are carried out whenever necessary.
During the pregnancy, one health check is available to the whole family and two medical examinations to the pregnant woman. Two home visits by a public health nurse may be available if you are pregnant for the first time.
Expectant parents receive support and advice on pregnancy and prospective parenting from the maternity clinic. The pregnant woman gets advice on nutrition, physical activity, sleep, rest and general health and wellbeing.
The clinic directs parents who are expecting their first child to family guidance where they receive information about pregnancy, giving birth and parenting. If they wish, parents who already have children can also participate in family guidance.
In addition to the maternity clinic, different organisations, associations and peer groups provide support and advice.
Sateenkaariperheet ry supports rainbow families who are expecting a baby. Yhden Vanhemman Perheiden Liitto ry helps expectant mothers who are on their own. Multicultural families can get advice from Familia.
Simpukka ry supports people who have experienced unintended childlessness. If your family is expecting twins or triplets, you get peer support from the Finnish Multiple Births Association. Supli, Suomen uusperheiden liitto ry, specialises in issues concerning blended families.
If there are problems related to violence or substance abuse in your family, you should talk about them at the maternity clinic. In addition, Nollalinja and mother and child homes and shelters will help you.
The Family Federation of Finland also provides support and advisory services. You can find information about pregnancy independently online in Naistalo at Terveyskylä.fi (in Finnish or Swedish).
Some foodstuffs may be harmful to the foetus. You should already find out about the dietary guidelines during pregnancy when you are planning a pregnancy or as soon as the pregnancy begins, at the latest.
You will get information about suitable nutrition at the maternity clinic. The Finnish Food Authority maintains a list of nutrients that you should avoid when you are pregnant. You will also find information about healthy nutrition on the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.
Miscarriages are common during the first weeks of pregnancy. If you have a spontaneous miscarriage during the very first weeks, it is not your fault and you cannot do anything about the situation. Check with healthcare professionals, for example the maternity clinic, whether you need any examinations.
If you are already a client of the maternity clinic and suspect that everything is not all right, contact the clinic or the maternity outpatient clinic immediately.
In an emergency, always call 112.
If the pregnancy is unwanted and you are considering an abortion, termination of pregnancy, contact the health centre or your own doctor. If you wish, you can also contact the maternity clinic.
According to law, a pregnancy can be terminated before week 12 of pregnancy if the pregnancy is a considerable burden considering the woman’s life situation, the pregnancy is a result of rape, or an illness of one of the parents would limit the possibilities to care for the child.
A pregnancy can also be terminated before the week 12 if the expectant mother is aged under 17, aged over 40 or has already given birth to four children.
If you do not find out that you are pregnant until after week 12, termination is possible in the above-mentioned cases up to week 20 with permission granted by Valvira. Permission for termination must also be applied for to Valvira if the foetus has been diagnosed with a developmental disorder in the examinations.
Termination of pregnancy is always a possibility when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.
If you think that you can give birth to the child but cannot or do not want to keep the child, you can give the child up for adoption. If a child who is born during marriage is given up for adoption, consent is required from both parents. If the paternity of a child born out of wedlock has been confirmed, consent from the father is required for the adoption permission.
Talk about your thoughts to give the child up for adoption at the maternity clinic. You and your partner are entitled to adoption guidance provided by the municipality or organisations free of charge. After the guidance, you can also decide to keep the child.
After the child has been born, you have a discretionary period of eight weeks. During that time the baby is in short-term family care. Written consent for adoption cannot be signed until the discretionary period of eight weeks has ended. If necessary, the discretionary period can be extended.
When you decide to give the child up for adoption, you cannot cancel the decision later.