Thursday, June 6, 2013

Giving birth in Finnish

A friend of mine is due in three weeks, and I promised her that I'd put together some useful sentences for the hospital.

When the baby is coming, forget Finnish and focus on listening to your body and the midwife, kätilö. Here are some typical sentences you might hear in the delivery room, synnytyssalissa:

  • Nyt meni lapsivesi. - Now the water broke. 
  • Hengitä syvään. - Take a deep breath.
  • Rentoudu. - Relax.
  • Nosta tätä jalkaa. - Lift this leg. 
  • Älä ponnista vielä. - Don't push yet. 
  • Kuuntele. - Listen. 
  • Ponnista nyt. - Push now.
  • Pää näkyy jo. - I can already see the head.  
  • Vielä kerran. - One more time.
  • Se meni hienosti. - That went well. 
  • Haluatko leikata napanuoran? - Do you want to cut the umbilical cord?
  • Otatko kahvia vai teetä? - Will you take coffee or tea? (After the baby is nursed, washed and swaddled, it's time to have a family snack.)

If everything goes well, you'll have plenty of time to practice Finnish with the nurses, doctors and your possible roommates at the maternity ward, vuodeosastolla: 

  • Anteeksi, mutta voitteko olla hiljempaa? - Excuse me, but could you be more quiet, please? 
  • Minä yritän nukkua. - I'm trying to sleep. 
  • Kuinka sun synnytys meni? - How was your labour?
  • Voisitko auttaa minua? - Could you help me?
  • Anteeksi, tuli vähän sotkua. - Sorry, we made a little mess. (A little mess came.)
  • Saisinko jotain särkylääkettä? - Could I have some pain medicine, please?
  • Voisitko olla vauvan kanssa sillä aikaa, kun käyn suihkussa? - Could you be with the baby while I take a shower?
  • Onko kaikki kunnossa? - Is everything ok?
  • Saadaanko me mennä kotiin tänään? - Can we go home today?

Some useful verbs:
  1. synnyttää - to give birth
  2. syntyä - to be born
  3. imettää - to nurse
  4. röyhtäyttää - to make someone burp
  5. röyhtäistä - to burp
  6. kuolata - to drool
  7. puklata - to vomit the milk you just had
  8. pissata - to pee
  9. kakata - to poo
  10. riisua - to undress
  11. pestä peppu - to wash the butt
  12. vaihtaa vaippa - to change the diaper
  13. kylvettää - to give a bath
  14. pukea - to dress up
  15. kapaloida - to swaddle
  16. haukotella - to yawn
  17. aivastaa - to sneeze
  18. itkeä - to cry
  19. nukahtaa - to fall asleep
  20. nukkua - to sleep

Here's what inside of äitiyspakkaus, the maternity package. Check out the names of the baby clothes and notice that some of them can be a bit confusing, especially the pants department:


  • sukkahousut - tights with the sock part (sock trousers) 
  • leggingsit - tights without the sock part
  • potkuhousut - basically a piece of clothing that has everything but the sleeves. Used with a onesie or a shirt, has snaps or buttons on the shoulders. (kick trousers)
  • puolipotkuhousut - tights with the sock part, but looser than sukkahousut. (half kick trousers)
  • pöksyt - a cute word, means any kind of pants. Origins form the Swedish byxor.

  • If this was useful, you might also like my post Being pregnant in Finnish.

    5 comments:

    1. Kätilö is one word I didn't need to learn anymore, since my wife is one :D

      Also, you're thinking of "burp" not "burb". Burb doesn't mean anything, unless you count the colloquial usage of " 'burb " as short for "suburb".

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    2. Mahtavaa! Tuli tarpeeseen, näitä kelaillaan aina doulahommissa, kun rämmitään englanniksi. Keräilin ensimmäistä englanninkielistä keikkaa varten sanastoa ja tuli vastaan muun muassa termi "cone head", joka on aika kuvaava.

      ReplyDelete
    3. How cool! I'm not a mom-to-be, but let's say we're planning.. and I don't speak any Finnish.. I do, though, hope that most doctors and midwives speak (some) English..

      ReplyDelete