Taiwanese mothers living in Finland tell us what it is like to give birth in Finland as a foreign woman.
The two of you living between cultures requires flexibility – even in the maternity hospital. This is the experience of a mother of two from Taiwan Lei Huangillawhose children were born at the Helsinki Women ‘s Clinic and the Jorvi maternity ward in Espoo.
“Going to the shower and eating cold food right after giving birth are forbidden in our culture,” she says.
So Huang went to the shower after giving birth, but put his shoes on his feet. When the midwife offered her fresh juice, she took a thermos from her bag and drank warm water.
Pregnant the current mother needs support no matter where in the world she is.
In East Asia, so-called postpartum confinement is a traditional practice. This includes taking care of the mother for one month after giving birth. However, mothers with an immigrant background may not have a family of their own around them, and Finnish customs and instructions may seem foreign.
For this purpose, many mothers with a foreign background living in Finland were interviewed. Everyone said they followed some traditional customs that belonged to their own culture.
Huang recalls that her Finnish husband was involved in every maternity clinic visit. Huang was unsure whether he understood the caregiver correctly. Although the staff at the clinic in Espoo were friendly and tried to describe the results of the inspections in English, there were still many words that did not make sense to him.
“The knowledge that your baby is healthy is one of the most important things for every expectant mother,” Huang says.
When the couple got married, they asked Huang’s mother if she would be willing to come to Finland to help after the birth.
For a month and a half, Grandma took care of all the housework, cooking, washing the baby, and soaking.
“Mental support, a sense of security and you can be sure everything is fine,” Huang lists the good aspects of his mother’s presence.
In the new at home you can easily feel lonely. Such is the experience of a Taiwanese Yi-Ping Liaolla.
When Taiwanese Liao moved to Finland with a Finnish man she met during a student exchange, she announced her results in a local Taiwanese group.
She was answered by Lei Huang, and the women’s first meeting place was a grocery store. Huang said what foods found in the store can be used in Taiwanese cooking.
Huang knows how important the support of his own community is, and he has helped many Taiwanese mothers living in Finland.
Among other things, Huang makes food and sends it to the mothers who gave it up: hours of soup cooked from bones and Chinese herbal medicines and a ginger drink sweetened with icing sugar.
“There is no such diet anywhere in Finland,” says Huang.
First childbirth is a great physical and mental challenge for all mothers. A foreign care culture combined with a language barrier adds to mothers ’worries.
Therefore, for the birth of her first child, Liao and her Finnish husband left for Taiwan. Liao was allowed to give birth not only in her home country, but also in the Taiwanese way of monitoring the last months of her pregnancy.
“At about seven months of pregnancy, I was transferred to one doctor in the hospital for examinations. After that, I only met this doctor, ”Liao says of her experience in Taiwan.
Liao’s first child was large at birth. The doctor had already said during pregnancy that childbirth could be difficult. The parents decided that the maternity ward could be ready for caesarean section. According to Liao, the whole process and childbirth experience was comfortable, and the baby was born as planned by caesarean section.
Liaon considers that in Taiwan, traditional care also takes into account the mother’s concerns after childbirth. Liao spent 20 days after giving birth in a private treatment center.
Treatment centers are usually located near the hospital. The room at the treatment center is like a luxury hotel: it has a double bed, a sofa, a TV and a separate bathroom.
“For example, a hairdresser will help wash your hair. There was a naming class where an expert advises the baby’s name to justify in Chinese astrology. And an hour taught how to make breast milk soap by hand, ”Liao says.
Breast milk soap is a soap made from breast milk that is used to bathe a baby.
Couple thought that after the experience with the first child, the birth of the second child would take place in Finland.
During her second pregnancy, Liao already said at the clinic that she hoped for a cesarean section. He was surprised that his wishes did not materialize.
During childbirth, it was found that the baby’s heart rate was too fast and the mother had a fever. Suddenly, an unknown doctor came and quickly prepared to undergo a caesarean section.
It was the biggest shock Liao has experienced in Finland and a big difference compared to the fact that in Taiwan she deals with only one doctor during her entire pregnancy and childbirth.
Another after the birth of the child, Liao’s current hometown of Kylmäkoski had a harvest time, and normal life resumed quickly.
Liao’s husband went to work in the field. Recovering from the surgery, Liao prepared food for the man and others working in the field while caring for two children.
How does a Finnish husband react to the differences between the two cultures?
She said: “Finnish women are very courteous!”
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