Updated guide to having a baby in Denmark

My updated popular guide to having a baby in Denmark and it is  available in my online shop as an interactive ebook.

Having a baby is one of the most exciting and scary things we do in life and that is when we are in our own countries. Having a baby in a new country can be even more daunting as you are navigating a different languages, process and culture. This was one of the reasons I decided to write a ebook guide to having a baby in Denmark (and it covers the first year too).
For many expat parents to be in Denmark this may be your first baby and you need a lot of help, advice and support in the journey through pregnancy and into that first year. Equally you may have other children but had them in your home country or somewhere else completely.

Almost nine years ago I had my son Frederiksberg Hospital. He was one of the last babies born there before they closed the maternity unit. As he was my first child I had no idea about anything really, not having been a particularly  maternal young woman and being one of the last of my friends to have a baby. I muddled through in some parts of my pregnancy and in others I was led by the medical team around me and the rest of advice from books, the internet and friends and family. I enjoyed my pregnancy and despite a difficult birth, my experience in the hospital here was also excellent. I found the first year a little tough but then who doesn’t?

Things have moved on a lot from those days all those years ago, both in the consumer landscape of Denmark to the services that are offered to pregnant women and young families. In some ways this makes things a lot easier but in others there is more information to find and to know where to look.

In preparation for this guide I thought about all the things I learned when I was pregnant and a new mum but I also had a great focus group of expat mums and mums to be who really helped me out, both endorsing the information I was including but also sharing with me the things they had found tough or information they had wished they’d had. So a big thank you to those women.

If you are expecting a child here in Denmark or have just had a baby then this guide will be an enormous help to you, I wish I’d had something similar myself all those years ago. If you would like to get hold of the guide you can visit my secure shop here.

 

How using the public library system saves me 4000 Kroner a month

I have always been a fan of libraries from my first experience of the mobile library which stopped at the end of my road in a little village in Kent to the smell of old books in a university library. I experienced libraries in a very different way when my son was little and we hung out in the fabulous children’s sections in Copenhagen libraries. But to me they are certainly more than books. Earlier in the summer there was a very controversial op-ed about libraries (now deleted) which rightfully got the library community raging.Over the last year whilst my son’s school has been located in a building an hour’s journey from my home I have started to use the library even more as a place to work on my laptop using the free wifi and the quiet but cosy environment. I get almost all my books I read from the library and apart from some very new releases, I have been able to find all of them , in English, in the central library catalogue.

It got me thinking about how much in the average month using the library saves me so I thought I’d share it here and may, if you are not a regular library user this may make you use them more.

I used to have a membership for a co working space and then changed it to a pay as you go use. It would be around 150dkk each time to use the space and wifi for the morning to early afternoon. I used the library for this now so I save 1800dkk per month. I can also use the printer at an affordable rate if I wish to.

I love to read and I used to spend a fortune on novels for my Kindle. As I have started getting these books from the library I am saving around 600dkk per month by borrowing instead of buying. It also means I can try books out without the pressure of having to like them as I spent money.

I bought a basic loom from Tiger ages ago and decided to give it a go over the holidays. I needed a bit of inspiration so looked the recommended books on Amazon and then got them from the library. Immediately I looked through them I decided this hobby wasn’t for me. So saved myself another 600dkk on books I don’t need.

My son saw a book in the bookshop of a museum he wanted to look at about Danish architecture. 400dkk was an eye watering amount for a book he would probably only read once but it was sitting there on the shelf of the main library so we booked it out. He had a happy couple of hours looking at it and he know where it is if he ever wants to borrow it again.

I love magazines especially interiors ones but at around 40dkk each it can amount up but I can spend my lunch time in the library reading the latest issues (you can’t borrow them in the issue month) so another 240dkk saved.

I had a meeting with a client and instead of booking a meeting room somewhere or spending a lot of money on coffees etc in a coffee shop whilst not overstaying our welcome I had it in a central library thus saving at least 150dkk.

So a sum total of 3,760dkk was saved. Now in many cases I was able to access things that I would make a choice about spending money on. I can’t afford to buy all those books every month so I would probably only by one and thus read less. Same with the magazines, I would make a choice of which one or two to buy. The book for my son would have been a no and he would have missed out.

Apart from the work aspect of using the library I think all the other ways I use the library and save money would be relevant to most people. Add in that there is access to the library after hours too you don’t need to be confined to using it at time difficult for you.

The final thing I love about the library I use in Folehaven is the wonderfully friendly staff who work there and the little community of other regular users like myself.

Want to see more about how the library system works here? I have two videos (Part one and part two) to give you a great introduction.

Skoleklar – Check list for the new school year

Three years ago my son was going into the 0 Klasse and starting school for the first time. I recall at the time being surprised that there were so many things we needed that the school had assumed we simply knew about. In many cases people did know but there were a lot of people who didn’t so today as we are just a few weeks off the new school year starting I thought I’d pull together a list here. Now some schools may ask for other things and maybe not all of these but this is a good, basic starting point. There will be a lot of promotions in shops I have mentioned over the coming weekend and week so it’s a good time to get a bargain and also to ensure the shops don’t sell out before you have kitted out your child.

1 A rucksack

This needs to be size appropriate for your child and be large enough to carry a homework folder (if you school gives homework), a pencil case, a packed lunch (if your child isn’t having school lunch or it isn’t available in your school) and a water bottle. Good places to find rucksacks include Bog og Ide, Neye and perhaps Bilka. Popular brands here are Ergobag, Jeva, Satch, Lego themed bags, Eastpak and of course Fjällräven. You don’t need to buy these brands but they are the ones you will see around, also at the start of school they don’t need a huge, expensive bag. You can expect a good quality rucksack to last them a few years.

2 Sports bag

Your child will probably need a basic sports kit including shorts/track bottoms, T-shirt, sock and non marking trainers for inside use (this last one came as a surprise to me so you many want to double-check this is what is expected at your child’s school, it is dependent on the type of gym floor they have). Also a small bag for the kit. H&M is a great place for inexpensive sports kit.

3 Water bottle (and lunch box)

You can see these in any supermarket at the moment and there are various promotions around.

4 Pencil case

This is not necessarily a necessity but you will find that most children in the class will have them at the start or begin to get them. You don’t need to spend a fortune on these but again a good quality one such as one from Ergobag will last. Many come already kitted out. However both Flying Tiger and Søstrene Grene have both pencil cases and all the pencils etc sold separately and this is a cost-effective way of getting a good set together. Bilka also has a great ‘back to school’ section. In general lead pencils, a set of basic colour pencils, an eraser, ruler and pencil sharpener is all you need at the start of their school career.

5 Waterproof clothes and boots

If your child is moving up from børnehaven you will know this already but kids here are sent out at break times whatever the weather so need to have a waterproof suit and rubber boots at school to wear when needed.

6 Indoor shoes

Likewise school like to keep the wet outside so may ask your child to have a pair of indoor shoes to wear inside, certainly our school does. You can find these in shoe shops – Superfit is a popular type (you can find them on Zalando.dk as well as shoe shops) but there are other brands.

7 Change of clothes

Your child will be expected to have a complete change of clothes at school in a small bag.

8 Name tags

There will be loads of new kids in the school as well as the existing students and clothes can get lost very easily so make sure you have put your child’s name and class in all their clothes. You can buy stick on labels or just buy a fabric pen (from Panduro or Bog og Ide) and write it yourself. Remember these fade or fall off with repeated washing so keep an eye on them to make sure they are still identifiable.

I would recommend that you go out this weekend or during the coming week to make sure that you aren’t (like I was three years ago) running around frantically only to find a lot of things sold out.

Good Luck!

 

 

Going to the dentist in Denmark

Going to the dentist is one of many people’s most hated activity especially when you end up with a bill at the end of it. Today I thought I’d write a quick guide to dentistry in Denmark. You can’t fail but to notice the vast number of dentist (tandlæge) all over the place. Many have wonderfully gaudy neon teeth lights in their windows. It is often hard to know which dentist to visit so asking for recommendations is a good idea.

Dental care in Denmark is not free under the public health but 40% of the cost of treatment is covered by your yellow card. The bill you are given by your dentist will already have this deducted. It is possible to take out separate dental insurance (tandforsikring). Here is an example of a company offering this it but of course there are others.

Dental treatment and services have set prices and you can see the costs on the dentist’s website or asking at reception. The Sundhed website is a good starting place to find out how much your treatment is likely to cost. If you are looking for cheaper treatment you can go to the Department of Odontology at the University. You will be treated by students under supervision.

You need to make an appointment in advance and make sure you bring your yellow card. A no show or late cancellation will result in many dentists charging you a fee.

Children, who have a CPR number, are entitled to free dental care and orthodontic treatment. You will get an automatic appointment to your eboks for your child when the check up is due. Whilst they will allocate you a dentist, usually based in a local school, you can ring and ask to go to a different public dentist if it is more convenient to you. For example they will give you an appointment at one close to your home but you may prefer the dentist based in your child’s school so they miss less time out of class for the appointment.

For emergency dental treatment there are a number of emergency dentists and you can find their details here.

 

Understanding parking in Copenhagen

Parking in a new city can be daunting as no one wants to get a costly fine or have their car booted or toured. Some new  apartment complexes have parking provided but this is not common place and you may need to pay an annual fee for this. There are a number of public parking houses where you can take an annual subscription but there are usually enormous waiting lists for these places.You can buy monthly or yearly passes for the zones in the city or pay as you go using an app or one of the machines in the street. This link from Copenhagen Kommune gives you all the information you need and they also have a section about parking in Frederiksberg, where the rules are slightly different. There are a various apps you can use to pay for parking (mentioned in the link above) and you can add more time to your parking without having to return to your car in many cases.

If you are looking to get a residents’ parking licence (you need your CPR for this even if you are buying one for a .guest) this is the link for Copenhagen ,the one for Frederikberg and the one for Gentofte.

You will need a parking clock in your car (these are easily and cheaply available from petrol (gas) stations but you can, of course, get fancy ones too. When you are in a time restricted area you set the clock to the arrival time.

There are some parking rules you need to follow which may not be obvious, if you don’t want a parking ticket in Copenhagen.

Finally if you need a disabled parking licence search for Handicapparkering on your Kommune’s website.

 

 

Public Holidays and Danish celebrations

Before Christmas I created these printables for the key dates in the year in Denmark. I wrote about Store Bededag on Monday and it seemed a good time to share these printables again to ensure no one misses a date!

Click on either image to download both posters!

I’m currently working on my next newsletter due out at the end of the week. Click here if you want to be on the mailing list for it

Free resources just for you

People, rightly, have so many questions about how things work in a new country, even some months after they have moved there. I have published tons of information posts here but as the nature of a blog means they get replaced by newer posts, I made all the resources posts into downloadable pdfs over on my Dejlige Days Welcome website. As I write new posts here that are relevant they will be added.

Pop over and have a look, I bet there is the answer to a question you have there. Also if there is something you would like more information about either send me an email, comment on Facebook or post below in the comments.

 

What can you get in the pharmacy?

Pharmacies in mainland Europe can seem very different to those in the UK and North America. One thing that many people from outside Denmark observe is that there are a lot fewer OTC (over the counter) remedies available. I often recommend to clients to makes sure they bring a few month’s worth of both prescription medication and the OTC meds they regularly take. It is also advisable to have your original packaging and the know the generic name for the medication as this can help both your doctor and the pharmacist in finding you the right stuff here.I thought I’d do a quick run down of what is available in the pharmacies (apotek in Danish) here.

  • Dental care products include for dentures
  • Feminine hygiene products such as intimate soap and sanitary products
  • Sun cream
  • Baby products including breast pumps and accessories, nail scissors, washes, zinc cream, nappy cream, dummies, formula and bottles etc but not nappies.
  • Dressings, bandages and plasters (band aids). If you need a special size dressing say for a surgical wound ask at the counter as they often keep these in the store room and if they don’t have them they can get them in for you.
  • Sports injury remedies such as heat cream, heat pads and supports
  • Bug repellents and bite remedies including devices to remove ticks
  • Head lice hair washes
  • Pet medications
  • Contraception
  • Pregnancy test kits
  • Health screening test kits such as lactose intolerance, ovulation and clamydia.
  • Vitamins, minerals and health supplements
  • Fancy French and Scandinavian beauty products but not make up

Behind the counter there are a number of OTC medications but nowhere near as many as in other countries. The pharmacists are very knowledgeable but there are many medications you will need to see your doctor for.

The main groups of OTC medications include:

  • Throat and cold medications
  • Nasal sprays for various ailments (these are popular and effective)
  • Hayfever and allergy medications
  • Stomach and indigestion remedies
  • Pain relief – for children there is both liquid paracetamol and also suppositories
  • Smoking replacements such as gum and patches
  • Weight gain products
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Antiseptic creams

General rule of thumb, if you can’t see something just ask as they may still have it.

When you arrive at the pharmacy there are usually two buttons to choose from to get a ticket – Recept for prescriptions and Handkøb for other purchases including OTC medications. You wait for your number to come up on the screen (you can read more about queueing in Denmark here)

You won’t get a paper prescription from your doctor but it will be on the system. You present your CPR card and they can see all your current prescriptions. If you have no preference of the pharmaceutical brand you can ask for the cheapest one and this may not be the same one each time but will be the same active ingredients.

You will be charged a subsidised price for your prescription. The more you spend of prescription medications in a 12 month period the greater the subsidy. I take a regular and expensive pain medication and now my all prescriptions are free. You always have to pay a set amount for contraceptive pills.

If you are on the not for profit Danmark Sygeforsikring insurance system (see here for more information) you get greater subsidies if you are a member of the above scheme.

You can find our local pharmacy by putting in your postcode here  (the box saying døgnapotek means 24/7 pharmacies).

You can also return any unused medicines to the pharmacy for them to dispose of responsibly (you don’t get any money back).

 

Good sources of information and how to navigate ‘fake news’

We all know these days that Twitter is where you see breaking news first but as it has been shown a lot of this is misleading or downright untrue (this is a great podcast about this). The internet is chock full of untruths and well as facts and it is important that we are savvy and critical in how we consume what we see online especially in places such as Twitter and Facebook where there are many fake accounts, bots and trolls out there ready to mess with reality and democracy.

Forums online can be brilliant sources of information and resource sharing but they can also spread fake news or information, either intentionally or accidentally. If you are looking for concrete information going to the source is the best way. This may sound obvious but it is not. Recently there was a thread about the forthcoming strike and lockout here in Denmark. There was information being given willy nilly based on things people had heard rather than what the facts were. When asked for a source of one of the inaccurate comments, the original commenter was silent. If you are planning to share information you have, especially about current affairs etc it is always a good idea to share a link to the original source so readers can decide for themselves. If you find it hard to find that link then perhaps the information is not accurate.

There are organisations all over the world working to combat fake news, raise awareness of how to spot it and push for people to be much more discerning about what they read and share.

Here in Denmark I would say the best sources of news are DR.dk, The Local Denmark (if there is an error in their information by mistake (which rarely happens) it is always acknowledged and amended) and Politiken.dk. Yes, two of these are in Danish but that is what Google Chrome is for. Of course news outlets have editorial policies but this has always been the case, but they also have codes of conduct to adhere to in relation to fact checking

If you are looking for information about any aspect of bureaucracy or public information – go to the source as your question is unlikely to be unique so will be addressed via websites or by telephone or email.

Above I shared a brilliant infographic produced by The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA),  which the public libraries here have been displaying and it is the perfect guide to dealing with fake news. Here is the link to it in English and Danish in case you fancy printing it out to display.

 

Car Sharing in Copenhagen (and other parts of Denmark)

It is hugely expensive to own a car in Denmark. Over the last few years the idea of delebiler or car shares have become very popular. I expect you have seen the little white electric BMWs all over the place? The schemes are great for many people living in urban areas only need cars for casual or occasional use. There is a variety of subscription services available depending on your needs and location. You need to ensure you have a valid drivers’ licence to drive in Denmark.

Drive Now

This is the one we use and we are very satisfied with it. We tend to get a car if we need to go to a DIY store, Ikea or for a day trip that would take a long time on public transport for example a class party on the other side of town.

Drive Now are in Copenhagen and use electric cars. There is a registration fee (at time of writing this is 89dk) and they have a variety of options – hourly package, pre paid minutes or a monthly package. Insurance and parking fees are included in the hire.

You use the app to see the location of your nearest available car and how much charge it has. You can reserve it for a short time whilst you get to its location. There are some restrictions about where you can park the car during your rental time but the app explains it all. Half the cars also have booster seats in them for children (you can see this on the app or in the window of the car)  and they also all have ISO fix so you can bring your own baby seat if you wish.

See their website for more details.

Lets Go

This car sharing scheme has cars in Copenhagen, Århus and Odense and offer both fuel and electric cars. There are various subscriptions from a free one (only pay insurance) up to monthly ones. See their website to see what suits you.

Green Mobility

This scheme also offers a variety of packages which all include insurance and parking fees. A plus point for this one is they offer a 24 hour package as well as casual use. They run electric cars. See their website for more information.

GoMore

This is a portal to connect people with people rather than a car sharing site like the ones above. You can rent a private car or get a lift (or offer them to others)