Newly updated guide to having a baby in Denmark

I have updated my popular guide to having a baby in Denmark and it is now 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.

 

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)

Mælk uden mælk (Milk without milk)

If you have been travelling around Copenhagen this last week or so you will no doubt have spotted a huge advertising campaign by Arla called Mælk uden mælk or milk without milk. With limited Danish this campaign can seem a little baffling – in fact I was a little confused so headed over to the Arla website to find out more.The slogans on the campaign is Milk without milk, free from calcium, protein and vitamin B12. Another says Lose the milk beard and the rest of the goodness. They will be running ads in real life on the metro and bus stops (amongst other locations), via social media and their own website.

Arla is Denmark’s largest food business and their research says that 7 out of 10 Danes think it is a good habit to drink milk but they want to open the debate about food myths and pseudo science and how this impacts on what people think is and isn’t healthy and at the same time promoting milk. They say that every third Danes gets their health information from ‘Dr’ Google and 52% of Danes think it is hard to keep track of what is healthy as there are so many health ‘trends’ on line and in social media. They believe (as I do) that the best way is to eat a varied diet and to use your common sense. The company are quoted as saying that ‘facts are under pressure’. We all know that in the time of alternative facts (thanks to Trump) and suspicion of experts (with a nod to Micheal Gove), it is hard to keep track of what is fact or not.

If you are interested in reading more about the campaign pop over to Arla’s website for the campaign and also their press release about it. There are also loads of useful and interesting article about milk. Google Chrome does a decent translation of the information.

I want to say this is not a sponsored post and the campaign does not necessarily reflect my own views  but I thought as I was curious about the advert others may be too.

10 ways to save money in Copenhagen

Did you see my infographic about saving money in Copenhagen? So far several thousand people have so it seems that saving money in Copenhagen is a big issue. You can see the infographic here  plus there is a chance to sign up to my mailing list to get loads more information. I value your privacy and I don’t share any email addresses and I promised not to spam you!  You can also unsubscribe at any time (but hopefully you won’t want to!)
In this longer post I have updated a list of ways to save money living here in Copenhagen. This piece was originally published on The Local Denmark but needed updating….
In 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 Worldwide Cost of Living survey found Copenhagen to be the tenth most expensive place to live in. We all know that things are more expensive here. I have long since stopped comparing how much things cost here versus other countries but instead concentrate on how I can get my kroner to work the best for me here.
Here are my top ten ways to save money:
1. Shop around
The obvious one is to take a little time to shop around and find the best deals on your everyday food and household needs. Over the last five years there has been a big rise in what can be described as budget supermarkets that sell many of the same branded products as other supermarkets but at a cheaper price. Shops such as Netto, Aldi and Lidl are the best ones to check out for good prices and deals. For household and personal care products Normal is well worth a visit.  Another tip is to shop in the small neighbourhood greengrocers where you can pick up interesting fruit and vegetables that are sold by the weight and not prepackaged, meaning that you can buy only what you need and save money at the same time. The new concept shop, Wefood, in Amager sells food that can’t be sold in the supermarkets and is at least 50 percent cheaper. Follow them on Facebookto see what they have that day.
2. Buy generic medication
Medication is pretty cheap here in general and you pay a varying cost for your prescription drugs rather than a flat fee like in the UK.  Always ask for the cheapest version (generic) of the medication you need, both across the counter and on prescription, if you want to save money. There is also a scheme for eligible medicines that can be subsidised on a sliding scale which starts after you have spent around 100 kroner. There are grants for very expensive medicines.  To find out more about this eligibility you need to speak with your doctor.
3. Brew your own coffee
The coffee shop culture in Copenhagen is huge and the prices of a cup of joe can vary wildly across the city, as can the quality. But a lot of supermarkets sell a great selection of beans and have a grinder there for you to use. One bag of my favourite coffee from Irma (Monsoon Malabar in case you are interested) costs about the same as two lattes from a reasonably priced coffee shop. Invest in a cafetiere, a milk frother, and a decent insulated travel mug and you can enjoy a decent cup without the price tag.
4. Buy secondhand
Before you spend big bucks on an electrical item, furniture or bike (just to name a few examples) check out buying secondhand options such as Den Blå Avis or one of the many online selling, giving or swapping forums. A good time to do this is around May and June when a lot of expats are on the move and selling off their worldly goods before starting again in a new country. It is obvious to say (I hope) but make sure you exercise caution on deals that seem to go to be true and take proper safety precautions when meeting with strangers to buy things.
5. Save on kids’ stuff
Flea markets start at the beginning of spring and run through autumn and as they say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The best thing for me about flea markets is the sheer amount of baby and kids’ stuff you can find, normally good quality. Get to your local flea market early for the best choice and bargains. Also don’t be put off if it is a bit wet as many stallholders will still show up and there will be less competition for the goods. Mødrehjælpen shops across the city are also great for baby clothes and toys.
6. Beers al fresco or old school
Beers can be astronomically expensive here, especially in the city centre and hipper locations. If you are not bothered by secondhand smoke, or the fact the regulars may stare at you at first, check out your local pub or kro. Drinks are definitely cheaper in these places. The other option in the sunny months is to grab a six pack from the supermarket and enjoy a drink in one of the many parks or waterside areas in the city and watch the sun go down. Unlike countries like the US, it is perfectly permissible to drink in a public place, just don’t get loud and lairy and take your cans home or pass them on to one of the many people wandering around collecting them to make a few kroner.
7. Year passes and free culture
There are a lot of opportunities in the city to be cultured Some museums will offer times free entry during certain hours, so check out the websites of the places you are interested in. Another way of saving money on culture and recreation is to buy a year pass (årskort). The best examples of great value ones are Tivoli and Copenhagen Zoo. Most places you only need to visit twice and you have made your money back and then every time after that it’s free! With these passes we find we take more advantage of places and enjoy them without feeling like you have to see everything at once to justify the entry price.
8. Buy Christmas gifts and winter clothes in August
Many shops, especially Bilka, have big discounts in the summer on children’s toys and winter clothes. Every year for the last three Bilka has run a 25 percent sale on all Lego in August. If you child is a Lego fanatic like mine then this is the time to put on your Santa’s hat and stock up. This is also the time to get the best prices on winter clothes and it pays to act! Winter clothes come in early in Danish stores and once they are gone they don’t seem to be restocked.
9. Make use of libraries
The library network in Copenhagen is huge and all you need is a CPR number to make the most of the borrowing services. Wifi and other facilities are available to anyone. You can use the central website to search for books (and there is a great selection of English language titles) and then request to have to the books delivered to your local library for collection and return. Libraries also have kids’ play areas and many organise free events and talks. Usually these are in Danish but the Copenhagen Cultural Network organises English language events for adults and children in a few locations.
10. Savvy public transport savings
Copenhagen may have the world’s most expensive single-trip tickets, but there are plenty of more costly alternatives to paying as you go. The best way to save money on transport, if you use it regularly, is to get a monthly pass with unlimited travel within your selected zones. A Rejsekort will also save you money on individual journeys if you don’t travel everyday. Another tip if you are travelling out of the city to visit a museum is to see if they are part of a DSB discount scheme which saves you money on travel and entry – Louisiana is the best example of this. Finally if you are planning to use intercity trains in Denmark there are limited cheap tickets under the DSB Orange scheme which can save you an enormous amount of money if you book well in advance. Also if you are travelling in a group of three or more passengers you can take advantage of a mini group ticket which again saves you money.