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Baby shopping is one of the most exciting preparations for parenthood pregnant couples can make — if they are financially comfortable. For parents-to-be who are living in poverty, the obligation to gather a crib, clothes, and other basic products for their little one represents something quite different.
Baby gear may be nothing but a blip on the radar when you look at the costs of raising a child over 18 years, but that is concerning rather than encouraging if you've got no idea where it will all come from. Should you go into debt? Ask around for hand-me-downs? Do without yourself so your baby's basic needs can be met? And that's only the start. How about the cost of prenatal care and labor and delivery?
The maternity package comes in a colorful cardboard box, and contains everything from baby clothes to cloth diapers, and from bath products to bedding. Then, there are breast pads and.... condoms.
Disposable diapers and baby bottles were part of the maternity package the Finnish government makes available to every mother — regardless of her socioeconomic status — not too long ago as well. But the Finnish government wants to look after the environment too, and would like mothers to breastfeed, so these products were scrapped. Most innovative of all, the cardboard box itself has a small mattress in the bottom, and doubles up as a crib that many mothers use.
Mothers who don't want the box can opt to receive a maternity grant of €140 instead, but the box is worth much more.
The maternity package provided to all Finnish mothers for many decades now provides a fitting metaphor for the Finnish Welfare State. It is a state that prioritizes families so much that Finland is officially the best place in the world to be a mother.
What Is The Mother's Index?
The 14th Mothers' Index was published by Save The Children in May. It is part of Save The Children's annual State of the World's Mothers report, and this in turn serves to demonstrate the link between the well-being of mothers and children. “Any report on the state of the world's mothers is by definition a report on the state of the world, full stop,” Save The Children says.
The Index ranks 176 countries according to five indicators of a mother's overall well-being. Only a few countries — like North Korea and the Palestinian territories — for which not enough data is available, are left out of the Index. The remaining countries are ranked according to:
Maternal health, namely the maternal mortality rate
The mortality rate of children under five
The number of years of formal primary and secondary education women are expected to receive
Income, more precisely gross national income per capita
The political status of women, measured by the number of women that participate in government
Great progress has been achieved in the world since 1970. The number of children under five who die has decreased by more than half, despite the fact that the population has more than doubled. Yet, there are still plenty of problems.
Three million newborns die on an annual basis, while 6.9 million children will die before their fifth birthday — often from preventable causes. Meanwhile, 287,000 women die in childbirth every year. How does your country measure up against other countries in the Mothers' Index?