Being a mother in Britain has opened my eyes from a different perspective again. A few striking differences between Britain and Finland are the following. In Finland you never go to the pub with your baby (well I did, but not recommended…) otherwise you may end up face to face with social services. You hardly ever see babies or toddlers out having a dinner in a restaurant past 5pm. People are not helping you much with the pram in public places (experienced in Helsinki and getting terribly annoyed) and if your child cries you get horribly mean looks. On the other hand, women breastfeed everywhere. They take their boobs out and literally keep them out without covering them as breastfeeding is considered natural. In a family gathering, ladies breastfeed in front of all the men in the family whether cousins, uncles or grandpas. The whole state system supports women’s independence and ability to return to work as childcare is almost free (only 200 euros per month).
In London, everyone helps you in the public transport if you are with your pram. People help you carry the pram down and up the stairs. If your baby cries you get understanding looks and comments ”I don’t mind, I know, I’ve been there, babies cry”. People go to pubs with babies, have their Sunday roasts and parents can have a few drinks. On the other hand if you go to the restaurant you are placed into the furthest table so that no-one who is looking at the restaurant from outside can see there are babies. This happened to me today when I went to the City to have lunch with my husband. I was dressed very nicely and my baby was asleep and still we got the corner table….In London women don’t seem to breastfeed in public. You hardly ever see this. You may even get really bad looks when you do so. The only exception seems to be Islington borough that also labels itself as ”Breastfeeding friendly council”. Personally I was shocked at the baby clinic when almost all the ladies in the room where bottle feeding! In England nursery fees are up to 2000 pound a month and this makes it much more likely for women to stay at home. I find the idea of paying almost two grants for some stranger to look after my tiny baby horrific. How can I justify it to myself, I keep on wondering.
There are pros and cons in both worlds. Neither of them is perfect. I guess I am lucky that I have chance to experience both of them, their pros and cons. It would be interesting to hear how you English experience this and vice versa.