Canada: land of ‘free’ healthcare and guaranteed paid maternity leaves. We like to lord it over our neighbours to the south — USA is one of a very few countries that doesn’t mandate some type of paid leave for new moms — but before we get too smug we might want to look to the north. Well, north east to be exact.
A new report from Save the Children ranks the best and worst places to be a mom. There were 179 countries in the study and the rankings were based on five components: maternal health, children’s well-being, and education, economic, and political status.
The Top 5 for 2015 are Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden respectively. Canada might not be where it would like to be, squeaking in at No. 20, but it still ranked higher than the U.K. (24th) and the United States (33rd).
If Canada, and any country below the number 1, wants to climb the ladder we could try adopting some of these practices from the Top 5.
- Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden offer maternity and paternity leave ranging from 52 paid weeks to a mix of paid and unpaid leave up to 3 years. Now that’s some bonding time.
- In Norway, health care is public and all pregnancy services are covered by the National Insurance Scheme. During pregnancy and birthing, Norwegians prefer natural methods of care and treatment such as massage, physio, acupuncture and yoga rather than just giving drugs. Skilled maternity professionals work with the body to allow it to do its thing rather than intervene. But they also have state-of-the-art facilities and up-to-date practices so it’s really Mom’s preference.
- If you give birth in Finland, count your lucky stars. The government gives you what’s essentially a maternity starter kit filled with clothes, sheets, toys and a mattress (that can be kept in the box and used as a bassinet!). The whole point is that they want all their children, no matter what their background is, to have an equal start in life. It may be a small, helpful gift but it’s one of the reasons Finland has one of the world’s lowest mortality rates.
- And Iceland is just the best place to be a woman, in general. The country has the greatest equality between men and women, taking into account politics, education, employment and health indicators so being a mom there can only be that much better.
Let’s do it Canada! Number one is just 19 spots away!