Saturday, 1 November 2014

Samchilil 삼칠일: The Korean Confinement Period After Giving Birth

In Korea, women and their babies go through a confinement period after birth lasting at least 21 days. Stemming from Chinese beliefs, they think that a women's body is weak after giving birth and needs to recover. They think that old blood and wind needs to leave your body. There seem to be different rules about what you can and cannot do. Below you can find somethings that are said should or shouldn't be done.

Here are some things Koreans believe you SHOULDN'T do
  • Shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Wash your hair
  • Eat hard or crunchy food 
  • Have sex for 100 days
  • Turn on the AC, even during the dog days of summer
  • Read
  • Watch TV
Here are some things Koreans believe you SHOULD do
  • Only drink hot drinks
  • Eat lots of seaweed soup (miyuk guk)
  • Eat pig's feet
  • Bundle up
  • Keep the room warm
  • Resting a lot
  • Have people take care of you
  • Wear socks

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




Wednesday, 1 October 2014

International Baby Wearing Week

Women all over the world wear their babies. It's a way to re-create the womb for infants, help with bonding, and stimulate milk production. There are benefits for older babies and toddlers as well. Being close to your child allows them to feel safe and allows you to be with your child as well as do every day things, like making breakfast.

 Lillie Baby 6 in 1
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Wearing your child keeps them close so strangers can touch them or try to give them hard candies, which they commonly do in Korea. It creates your own protected space and you can even safely breastfeed while wearing your baby. Most of the time people won't even realize that you're breastfeeding. There are lots of other benefits for both parents and children.

Ring slings, wraps, soft structured carriers, and hipseats are some of the most common types of carriers out there. Here's a good article explaining about them. What you choose will depend on what's comfortable for you and your baby. YouTube has some fantastic videos out there for how to wear your baby. While they might look complicated at first you can usually get the hang of them after a couple of tries. If you have friends who wear their babies, ask them to help you out and show you which ties they like best.

Be sure to check out Baby Wearing International for more information as well as the latest on International Baby Wearing Week.


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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Sanhujuriwon 산후조리원: Traditional Postpartum Facilities in Korea

Updated 21 August 2017

Many Korean women go to special care facilities for a week or two after giving birth. Some hospitals and birthing centers have sanhujuriwons, so ask yours if they offer this services.

These facilities usually require you to sign up for the waiting list several weeks in advance; you can't just show up with your baby and enter the clinic. Many also require the newborn to be admitted into the postnatal clinic straight from the hospital so they can confirm that the baby is healthy. They also require the baby's vaccine records. If you are not getting your child vaccines or wish to delay vaccines, make sure you find out how to go about this. There is usually a way. If you have a cold you will probably not be allowed to stay at the clinic. If the baby has a cold, diarrhea, fever, etc at the time of admittance the clinic will not admit you nor baby to protect the other newborns.

Not all women like these places. Sometimes babies and moms are kept separate for the majority of the day. Family may only be able visit during set hours each day. Usually the father can visit whenever, but ask since rules vary. Rooms are often kept very warm. Moms are fed seaweed soup and given vigorous breast and body massages because they believe this will help with milk production and help get their bodies back into shape. Rooms are often kept super, super warm. Sometimes they have a small gift pack for the mom and baby as well. THe best thing to do is ask what your facility does. Other women love these places and say that they really helped them after giving birth.

Costs vary from about 2-5 mil won for 2 weeks. There are tons and tons of places to choose from. Here are just a few places. You can also put 산후조리원 in a Naver Map or Daum Map search and see what comes up near you. If you're interested definitely ask around for recommendations. Below you can find a few facilities, remember, there are many, many more out there.

Seoul
Gyeonggi-do

Busan 

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Friday, 1 August 2014

Happy Breastfeeding Month!

Updated 6 September 2017

The United States Breastfeeding Committee started National Breastfeeding Month on August 6, 2011. Countries all over the world celebrate WBW (World Breastfeeding Week). Whether you celebrate it for a week or a month, there are lots of activities you can participate in. There are events worldwide, such as the Big Latch On and Latch on America: A Cross Country Tour. Korea's no exception; La League League Seoul also participated in the Latch On.

 The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
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Recommended Websites

Facts and Figures

Recommended Material
Breastfeeding Made Simple
Buy from Amazon
 
Interesting Articles

Breastfeeding and Alcohol
From Gini Baker, IBCLC. The half-life of alcohol is about 90 minutes. Some people say 1 hour, others say 2 hours. That means it peaks at that point, then it starts to leave your system. There is NO need to throw away breastmilk. You do NOT have to pump and dump. Why waste breastmilk?

What you should do is pump and save in small quantities of 20 ml. Then you put it in your freezer for about 3-6 months, depending on the type of freezer you have. Label it appropriately, like *drinking* or *alcohol*, whatever you want to help you remember.

The freezer helps break the alcohol (and milk) down. Then you can mix that milk with non-drinking milk. This does two things: the vessel (your baby) that gets the milk with alcohol will be bigger in three months than they are now, so it has less of an effect. Second, it's a smaller dosage. Whereas before your baby may have only drunk 40 ml now they're drinking 100 ml, so 20 ml is a smaller part of the milk.

Dads Can Help Too
Here are some photos of using feeding tubes to feed babies.
Korea vs. the World
I've written about breastfeeding in public in Korea and have mentioned breastfeeding in many other posts as well. Many doctors in Korea will tell you to breastfeed for only 100 days or only 6 months. Research has shown that if you don't breastfeed for at least a year you have to supplement with formula. As to the cut-off age, there really isn't one. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends at least a year. WHO (World Health Organisation) and UNICEF recommend at least 2 years. At least doesn't mean you stop then, it means the minimum you should breastfeed for.


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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Placenta Encapsulation in Korea

Updated 14 November 2017

Human placentophagia, or consuming the placenta, is something that I had never heard of before I got pregnant. Typically women do placenta encapsulation, but there are also women who consume the raw placenta in smoothies. There are people who swear that it works and has tons of benefits. There are people who say it's gross and that none of the pros have been scientifically proven.

I'm not a scientist and can see both the pros and the cons. The pros are that it helps with postpartum recovery, lactation support, and the prevention of fatigue and postpartum depression. The cons are that some people aren't certified to do it, some religions condone it, and some people can't bring themselves to do it.

There are certain organisations that can certify people to do placenta encapsulations, such as APPA, ProDoula, and PBi. Some birthing centers or doulas will do it. You can also do it yourself. Below are some resources you might find helpful.
I highly encourage you to read about placenta encapsulation. There are a lot of women out there who swear by it. The biggest drawback I see is that there have been no scientific studies about it. Here are some more articles and discussion both the pros and cons of placenta encapsuation.

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Big Latch On 2014 in Seoul, Korea

 Eat, Breastfeed, Repeat
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August is breastfeeding month and to celebrate there's going to be another Big Latch On. The dates are August 1 and 2. You can check out their Facebook page to find out time and location as well as see photos from last year's event.

If you'd like to show your support for Breastfeeding Awareness, look at the items below:

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.



Tuesday, 3 June 2014

NICUs in Korea

Updated 30 June 2017

Preemies are not the only babies put in the NICU. Even full-term babies are put in the NICU here in Korea. Below you can find out why and what you can do if your baby has to go to the NICU. You might also be interested in reading about hospitals and birthing clinics in Korea.

Western Culture
As an American, I would only go to the hospital if something is severely wrong, for example, I needed surgery or there was an emergency. Even with insurance, health care is very expensive. When I was little and had a cough, or runny nose, or stomach, my mom would keep us home from school and give us OTC medicine. If we had strep or pink eye, we'd go to a local clinic, the doctor would look at us, prescribe medicine and that was it. No IV needed. Americans pride themselves on independence and being tough. For example even when I've been violently ill due to food poisoning, I'm more likely to say I'm fine and don't need to go to the doctor. I know it'll pass and I'll be ok.

Korean Culture
Korean medical centers seems to error on the side of caution. Western medicine has become more popular and Koreans like big hospitals such as university hospitals. They believe that if you're sick you should go to the hospital, even if you have a cough or a sniffle. Hospitals like IVs. If you're at a hospital you'll see just about everyone with an IV or two in them, from infants to old people. Vitamin drips used to be more common than before with them automatically given, but now you have to ask for them.

Healthcare in Korea is very affordable. NHS is a good system and it serves the millions of people who live in Korea. Korean's have a group culture where there's focus on being independent and they're more likely to ask for help. When Koreans are dealing with foreigners I think that they're extra careful. They really, really don't want anything to go wrong. They want to take care of their foreign guests and give them the best treatment available. There's also the cultural side to doctors. Doctors are seen as all-knowing experts who should never be questioned. Their word is law.

What This Means for Westerns in Korea
When these things come together foreigners can have problems.
  • Error on the side of caution
  • Affordable healthcare
  • Group culture
  • Koreans taking care of foreigners
  • Doctors being perceived as all-knowing
If there's a minor problem with a newborn or the doctors think there might be a problem, the baby is sent to the NICU. One example is jaundice, which 80% of babies have. In the US they probably wouldn't put the baby in the NICU for jaundice unless it was severe. In Korea, they'd probably put the baby in the NICU even if jaundice was mild.

What You Can Do
Ask questions. If your doctor comes to you and says that your baby has jaundice and needs to go to the NICU don't automatically consent. You need to know what the bilirubin level is of your baby as well as what the normal range is. If your baby is only a little outside the normal range you might want to try alternative forms of helping jaundice, such as putting your baby in indirect sunlight and breastfeeding more often. If your baby is far outside the normal range you would probably consent to the NICU.

Ask other people. There are plenty of FB groups and forums and websites for parents where you can find answers. Internet searches can also help. Gathering information and getting firsthand accounts is useful, but in the end you will have to decide what's best for you and your baby.

If Your Baby is Taken to the NICU
NICUs usually only allow parents to come in two or three times a day for 20-30 minutes. That's it. Being completely cut off from you often isn't the best for you or your baby since babies thrive on physical contact, but that's the way it is. If you have a preemie, the father might not be able to hold the baby right away. Sometimes they only let the mother hold the baby until it gets bigger. It can be hard to see your baby in the NICU day after day, documenting their milestones can really help.

I know that Samsung is the exception to the rule and for the most part you have unlimited contact to your baby when they're in the NICU. People have said you can go from 9am-11pm.

Every person's situation is different, but you have a couple of choices if your hospital limits contact with your baby.
  • First, moms who cry constantly for a day or two and lament over how sad they are to be separated from their baby are often allowed to see their baby more often, like every couple hours. Sounds bad, but tugging at doctor and nurses' heartstrings can work.
  • Second, try to breastfeed as often as possible. Ask for your baby to be given expressed breastmilk. You may have to supplement with human milk fortifier. You will have to buy this online. It's hard to find in Korea and it's twice as much as what you would pay abroad.
  • Third, you might want to see if you can take your baby out of the NICU. This will depend on your baby's condition and what alternatives you have available.
  • Lastly, talk to other parents. Talking to others who have been in your situation will help you tremendously. Also ask for help once you and your baby get home from the hospital. You can try contacting doulas and breastfeeding counselors.

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

What Maternity Clothes You Should Buy

Maternity clothes can be hard to find in Korea. Before you start shopping, look at what you already have. At the beginning of your pregnancy you can probably wear your normal clothes.

Maternity Pants
Some people wear their regular jeans and pants and just use belly bands over them. You can use pant button extenders in the beginning to help add a few inches to the waistband. Yoga pants are good as well if you have those. If you have pants or skirts with elastic you might be able to wear those for a while as well.

Maternity Shirts
You'll probably want a few maternity shirts to wear you can only wear regular clothes for so long before you start to look like you're wearing a tent. Others go out and buy a bunch of tunics

Maternity Dresses
Be sure to buy one nice dress for maternity photos. You can always sell it later on.

Bras and Underwear
You might need to start sleeping in a bra. Get one specifically for pregnant or nursing women. You don't want one with underwire. Some women buy it all: down to maternity underwear. You'll need to decide what works for you.

Make a List
What works for someone else, might not work at all for you. Make a list of what you have and what you need before going shopping. Here's a list of suggested items you should buy for your pregnancy. Be sure to check out the articles about
Remember that after you give birth you're probably not going to get back into your regular clothes. While you will lose a lot of weight and water weight, most people say 9 months stretching out and 9 months getting back to normal. Even after 9 months you need to keep in mind that your body IS different than it was before. You were pregnant and gave birth and still might be nursing so there are lots of physical and hormonal changes taking place. Your body will never be the same. But that's a good thing. Change is good. You're a mother and you should be proud of the body you have. 

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Saturday, 3 May 2014

Common Baby Related Words in Korean

I'm not too proud of the fact that I don't speak Korean. Believe me, I've tried. I took some classes when I came to Korea and despite being in the lowest group at the Migrant Center in Suwon most of my other classmates were much better than I was since they were migrant workers and used Korean at work. As an English teacher, I didn't have much chance to practice. I'm not new to language learning either. I speak Spanish very well and my Chinese is much better than my Korean despite the fact that I lived there for only a year and a half. I feel like in China they applaud your effort more and actually make an effort to try to understand. Here in Korea, I usually get "no!" with arms crossed in front of their chest or have them switch to English.

After a year in Korea, I started my second MA and then I got pregnant and in my spare time just wanted to sleep. After having a baby my priorities changed. As a single mom living in Korea with no family other than a second cousin down south, I've become very good at miming what I want or knowing who to call if I really need help. I realise that speaking Korean would help me, but I've also come to realise that in this day and age of smartphones and translators literally at the our fingers it's not the end of the world if you don't speak Korean. My cellphone contains a dozen numbers, such as Global Centers and Migrant Centers. Here is a complete list of useful phone numbers and websites for foreigners living in Korea.

In addition to calling, you can also use translation apps if you have a smartphone, which most people in Korea have. It's not going to be 100% correct, but it's better than nothing.

You can also prepare a list of common words and expressions and just carry it with you. Mama Seoul has a list of some Korean words and expressions on her blog.


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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.



Thursday, 3 April 2014

7 Things to Do to Get the Birth You Want

Updated 25 November 2017

1. Choose your caregiver wisely and find someone who has similar ideas about birthing as you do. Here's a list of hospitals and clinics around Korea that foreigners have recommended. This is a consumer report about birthing centers and hospitals and C-sections in Korea (It's in Korean. Try using Google Translate to translate it from Korean to Japanese and then Japanese to English. That provides the best results.) 1 is the top score and 5 is the lowest. Those that have fewer than 30 births per month aren't rated. If you want to avoid a C-section, look into places that are rated 1 or 2. Morning Calm Birthing Services has a useful chart in English that allows you to easily compare hospitals and birthing centers. Tender Embrace Birthing also has a list of all the routine prenatal checks and tests that are done in Korea.

2. Have a birth plan and make sure your doctor signs and stamps it. Here are some sample birth plans for Korea.

3. Educate yourself about options. Knowing what's out there will help you with what to expect. Watch positive birthing videos such as Organic and Orgasmic Birth or The Business of Being Born. Learn how to avoid the ring of fire when the baby is crowning. Look into using hypnosis for child birthing. Check out HypnoBirthing® and Hypnobabies®.

4. Have your partner back you up. Your partner should be there to support you and help you out when needed.


5. Get a doula. They're worth their weight in gold. While some people say that they're expensive (800,000 - 1 million is the average in Korea) research has shown that those with doulas have fewer epidurals and C-sections, which also cost money. Not to mention that there are priceless benefits such as there being a decreased chance of a forceps delivery and the mom feeling more positive about the birth. Here are some more benefits to having a doula and here's a list of doulas, breastfeeding counselors, and childbirth educators in Korea.

6. Labor at home as long as possible. The clock is your worst enemy. Once you go to the hospital the countdown begins. Many Korean doctors prefer babies to be born within 12 hours. The average for first time moms is 18 hours of active labor (active labor starts at 4 cm). That being said, trust your gut instinct. If you ever feel that something's wrong, faint, or have a lot of blood, go immediately to the hospital.

7. Be prepared to negotiate. You may not be able to get 100% of the things you ask for so be prepared to give and take a little with the medical staff. They may want you to get an enema and an episiotomy. Decide which one is more important to you. For example, you could agree to getting an enema provided that they do not do an episiotomy.


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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Paternity Leave in Korea

Updated 5 September 2016

Yesterday I wrote about maternity leave in Korea. You have similar problems with maternity leave as with paternity leave. Although some employers will balk at offering you paternity leave, legally you are entitled to get it. Some employers will simply tell you no out of ignorance while others will tell you no despite the fact that they know the opposite to be true. Sometimes they will try to tell you that Saturday and Sunday count towards paternity leave. Whether or not you fight it is up to you. Here's what the laws say as far as employment insurance go. Here's some information in English.

Legally you are entitled to 5 days paid paternity leave. You get 5 days. Some places only give 3 days since they don't know the law recently changed "Act on Equal Employment and Support for Work-Family Reconciliation Article 18.2" (Paternity Leave) and became effective August 2012.

Keep in mind that while legally you are entitled to paternity leave, they may decide that you can't get it at all, or that you have to pay for a replacement, or that fighting for paternity leave may cost you your job.

Additional Time Off: Parental leave
You can take up to a year off as unpaid leave (though here it says they get 40% of their base salary with a max of 1 mil won) known in Korea as childcare leave "육 아휴직". You can legally take up to a year of unpaid leave while your child is under 6 (72 months) providing you've been with the same employer more than a year. There is a grey area surrounding teachers who are on a one year contract that have been renewed.

Paternity leave advice on EPK!

Paternity leave advice on AFIK

Paternity leave advice online

General Legal Advice
  • American Embassy Lawyer List
  • Ask Korea Law
  • ATEK had a huge list of lawyers on their Legal Resource page but no longer exists and I don't know how to find the cache of this.
  • Korea Business Central
  • Korean Laws in English
  • Labour Board: 1350 and 031-259-0203
  • Legal Office for Foreign Teachers (LOFT) Facebook group. Be sure to check out the files.
  • List of Lawyers (LOFT) (Legal Office for Foreign Teachers)
  • Immigration: 1345. They're open from 9 to 5pm, but closed for lunch between 12-1pm. Press 1 for Korean, 2 for Chinese, and 3 for English. Have your ARC ready because you get faster service if you enter your ARC number. 
  • Kangnam Labor Law Firm
  • KLAC (Korea Legal Aid Corporation) 
  • Practical Advice for Legal Situations (PALS) on Facebook. Be sure to check out the files.
  • Seoul Bar Association on Mondays from 2:00 to 5:00 PM has free legal advice. To get there take the subway to Seocho Station on Line #2 to Seocho Station (224) and go out exit 7. The office is behind the Hyundae Gas Station. Tel: 3476-8080.  
  • Seoul Global Center: 02-2075-4138. They have lots of useful info about living in Korea. They can also exchange driver's license for Korean ones for Canadians. 
  • Union TNC, Seoul, Jongro-gu, kyong eun dong, SK Building, 1st floor, Office 113. (Its by Anguk Station).Tel: 02-318-5274; Email:uniontnc@gmail.com 

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




Monday, 17 March 2014

Maternity Leave in Korea

Updated 5 October 2016

I've heard a couple versions about maternity leave, so I'm going to list them all from what I've heard is most likely to least likely. Laws here seem to change all the time. I would personally error on the side of caution. Here's what the laws say as far as employment insurance go. Here's some information in English and here's a five point summary of maternity leave.

You are entitled to shorter work hours if you're in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or if you are 36 weeks and beyond.

Version 1
Any woman (including foreigners) who has been at her job for at least a year prior to giving birth is entitled 90 days paid maternity leave (60 days are at full pay and 30 days are at partial pay, which is around 1.8 mil.). She gets 120 days if she has has multiple (i.e. twins or more). She must fulfill both of the following requirements:
  1. She's worked a year before she takes leave.
  2. She's paid into the unemployment scheme for at least 180 days (I'm not sure if you can make back-payments). The employer pays her and the ministry reimburses her employer.
Version 2
Any woman (including foreigners) is entitled 90 days paid maternity leave (60 days are at full pay and 30 days are at partial pay, which is around 1.8 mil.) (she gets 120 days if she has has multiple (i.e. twins or more) as long as:
  1. She's paid into the unemployment scheme for at least 180 days (I'm not sure if you can make back payments). The employer pays her and the ministry reimburses her employer.
Version 3
Any woman (including foreigners) is entitled to 90 days paid maternity leave (60 days are at full pay and 30 days are at partial pay, which is around 1.8 mil.) and there's no time requirement for work or paying into the unemployment scheme. She gets 120 days if she has has multiples (i.e. twins or more). One of two things happens:
  1. If she's paid into the unemployment scheme for at least 180 days (I'm not sure if you can make back-payments), then she'll be paid from that. The employer pays her and the ministry reimburses her employer. OR
  2. If she hasn't paid into the unemployment scheme, then her employer has to pay out of pocket and there's no reimbursement. 
The Reality
Unfortunately, few women actually take the entire time. Just like with paternity leave in Korea, some employers will simply tell you no out of ignorance while others will tell you no despite the fact that they know the opposite to be true. Many women have been forced to leave their jobs or have gotten fired for being pregnant in Korea. Whether or not you fight is up to you. Many Korean women don't take maternity leave, but rather quit and become stay at home moms. Or if they do take maternity leave, they don't take the full 90 days. Legally your boss has to allow it, however, I have known people who have . . .
  • not been renewed
  • not been paid during maternity leave
  • been made to pay their replacements
  • lost their jobs (legally they can't fire you for up to 30 days after birth, after that it's fair game)
Bottom line: Have a back-up plan or two.

Additional Time Off: Parental leave
You can take up to a year off as unpaid leave (though here it says they get 40% of their base salary with a max of 1 mil won) known in Korea as childcare leave "육 아휴직". You can legally take up to a year of unpaid leave while your child is under 6 (72 months) providing you've been with the same employer more than a year. There is a grey area surrounding teachers who are on a one year contract that have been renewed.

Maternity leave advice on EPK!

Maternity leave advice on AFIK
Maternity leave advice online
General Legal Advice
  • American Embassy Lawyer List
  • Ask Korea Law
  • ATEK had a huge list of lawyers on their Legal Resource page but no longer exists and I don't know how to find the cache of this.
  • Korea Business Central
  • Korean Laws in English
  • Labour Board: 1350 and 031-259-0203
  • Legal Office for Foreign Teachers (LOFT) Facebook group. Be sure to check out the files.
  • List of Lawyers (LOFT) (Legal Office for Foreign Teachers)
  • Immigration: 1345. They're open from 9 to 5pm, but closed for lunch between 12-1pm. Press 1 for Korean, 2 for Chinese, and 3 for English. Have your ARC ready because you get faster service if you enter your ARC number. 
  • Kangnam Labor Law Firm
  • KLAC (Korea Legal Aid Corporation) 
  • Practical Advice for Legal Situations (PALS) on Facebook. Be sure to check out the files.
  • Seoul Bar Association on Mondays from 2:00 to 5:00 PM has free legal advice. To get there take the subway to Seocho Station on Line #2 to Seocho Station (224) and go out exit 7. The office is behind the Hyundae Gas Station. Tel: 3476-8080.  
  • Seoul Global Center: 02-2075-4138. They have lots of useful info about living in Korea. They can also exchange driver's license for Korean ones for Canadians. 
  • Union TNC, Seoul, Jongro-gu, kyong eun dong, SK Building, 1st floor, Office 113. (It's by Anguk Station).Tel: 02-318-5274; Email:uniontnc@gmail.com 

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




Monday, 3 March 2014

Walking Out Hours After Giving Birth

Over two years ago I went to Rosa's clinic where I was going to give birth and asked how long I could stay after giving birth. Rosa told me I was allowed to stay a maximum of 8 (eight!) hours, but that most people stayed between 6-8 hours. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. I couldn't understand being forced to leave so quickly after pushing a human out of my body.

I then asked if they had any wheelchairs to wheel me out on after giving birth. Now it was Rosa's turn to look at me strangely as she told me I had to walk out.

Having second thoughts
I don't know. I'll be honest, at that point I was starting to think that I was getting into something that was over my head. I mean, come on, women usually stay 3 days after giving birth vaginally, 5 days if it's a C-section. And even then they're wheeled out.

Finding out about options
I started doing more research and eventually took a birthing class with Karen. I found out that not only was it possible, but it was something that most women around the world do. Think of women in the past, who were attended by women and who thought of birth as a natural process, not a huge medical procedure. (I do recognise the fact that not all babies can be born without any medical intervention, however, I think that the medicine profession has taken over the birthing process far too much) Think of the women in the Far East who leave the rice paddies, squat, birth their baby, and walk back to the paddies with their baby on their boobs. Or women who birth in the middle of a birthing pool in their living room surrounded by their whole families. They can do it, so why can't we?

Contrast that with what many women face as a reality of being strapped to the bed, not able to move, hooked up to a number of drips and drugs, being shouted at to push while the machines beep in the background, the doctor barely looking at you as he cuts the cord and leaves. It's all so impersonal, so cold. It's not the intimate, spiritual, and emotion journey that it should be.

My daughter's birth
I found a great doula, Casey, who helped me every step of the way. Stacy also attended my birth since she was shadowing Casey at the time. Although I didn't get the exact birth I wanted due to things beyond my control (my water broke 3 weeks early due to emotional shock), I was able to avoid most interventions and did walk out of the clinic a little less than 8 hours later.

I can't describe the high I felt. It was amazing. Even though I had been in labor for about 53 hours and spent the later 18 hooked up to pitocin I felt wonderful. I'd never felt so alive and full of energy. Not only did I walk out unassisted, but I was pretty much painfree other than the tugging I felt from the stitches. I wanted to walk out holding my daughter, but Rosa wouldn't let me. Still being able to walk out instead of being wheeled to the car was an incredible feeling.

The problem we have to deal with
Unfortunately we have Hollywood and the media to thank for our distorted views on birth that is so ingrained on us after years and years of watching tv. The number 1 surgery performed in the US is a C-section. Approximately 1 out of 3 babies in the USA (and Korea) are delivered via C-section. This number far greater than the WHO recommended rate of 10%-15%. which is about the same as the C-section rate in Korea. Sadly, many of these C-sections are unnecessary. One way to avoid C-sections is to stop unnecessary interventions.

More Resources for C-sections
You can change all that
There are a number of things you can do to get the birth you want. It's your birth, you should be able to choose what you want to do. Walking out shortly after giving birth is totally a possibility.


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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.



Monday, 17 February 2014

Breastfeeding in Public in Korea

Updated 5 September 2016

I was recently asked what Koreans think about breastfeeding in public. I have to say that only once have I had an issue with it. I have no qualms about breastfeeding in public and have done so on the subway, bus, and even walking down the street cradling my daughter when she was sleeping. My daughter's almost 2 and a half and I'm still breastfeeding. In Korean age she's 4 and I think that some Koreans believe that breastfeeding until Korean age 2 is ok, but after that it's not.

Breastfeeding Lounges
Many department stores, immigration offices, some restaurants, as well as some train stations will have breastfeeding lounges. They can run from basic to very nice. They'll have things such as changing tables, microwaves, fridges, cribs, wipes, and even scales. Here's a map of breastfeeding lounges throughout Seoul. This is not a complete map.

Problems with Breastfeeding in Public
Which brings me to the one time I have had an issue with breastfeeding in public. We were on the subway and I started to breastfeed her and an old lady asked how old she was and I said she was 3. She proceeded to do the flapping hand thing and say something about age 2. So I did the flapping hand thing as well and told her to go away. She in Korean and me in English. I don't understand Korean, but I'm pretty sure the jist of it was that my daughter was too old to breastfeed according to her. Even though I nursed my daughter until she was almost 4 (western), I did it less and less in public as she got older.

Koreans are Open to Breastfeeding
Many older people will actually tell you to breastfeed. I remember being on the subway when she was a baby and them telling me that she was hungry and that I should feed her. I've also been assisted by a random ajumma in the sauna with latching. It can be annoying, all the unwanted advice you get. It's just cultural. They do it to Koreans as well. They're trying to help and they mean well.

I have found that nursing seems to be more talked about with the older generation. And by that, I've found that they want to give you advice. But that might be a generation gap issue with older people offering more advice in general, ex, your baby's too cold, or too hot, or too whatever. 

There are nursing rooms in subway stations, department stores, zoos, kids' cafes, immigration offices, and even some of the new subway trains have them. They're very nice, some have multiple rooms with changing areas, nursing areas, sink, microwave, etc. Some are more basic and just have a table and chair.

Koreans' Reactions to Breastfeeding
I know that some women try to cover up and use nursing covers. Those seem to work for the first couple of months and then babies want to see what's going on and will push it off. There are other options, such as nursing in a wrap or carrier, or using your hand or scarf to cover up a bit. Just like you wouldn't like eating under a blanket, many babies don't like it either.

I've heard of some good come back from women who are told to cover up. Some are nicer than others. One of my favorites is when I woman is offered a blanket and she tells the person thanks, but she doesn't need it and they're welcome to use it to cover their eyes if they'd like to.

I have never, ever been stared at. When people realize you're breastfeeding they tend to divert their eyes and look away. There are many, many articles about breastfeeding in public, or nursing in public (NIP) out there. Here's one from Double Think called Every Argument about NIP Debunked. It has photos, so you might not want to view it at work. I personally like the warrior photo.

Breastfeeding Legalities: legally during the first 12 months after giving birth you are either allowed to come an hour late, leave an hour early, or given an hour two 30 minute sessions to pump at work. Here is some useful links. All docs are from 2011.
The Acts for Equal Employment have all maternity, paternity, and childcare laws. However, laws are not always followed here. You may be given a closet to pump in or told to go to the bathroom.



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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Monday, 3 February 2014

HypnoBirthing® vs Hypnobabies®

Updated 14 November 2017

When I was pregnant, I looked into many different types of child birthing classes and two hypnosis classes kept coming up. Below you can find out the pros and cons of each of these methods. While HypnoBirthing® and Hypnobabies® both try to allow the mother and baby to have a natural, peaceful birth, there are still a few differences between the two programs. Some of this information is based off Birthing Naturally and Pregnancy, Birth, and Babies. If you're a professional intrested in the process of getting advanced hypnotherapy training, check out the hypnosis and childbirth online certification.
 
HypnoBirthing®
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HypnoBirthing® Pros
  • Created by Marie Mongan, M.Ed., M.Hy. in the late 1980s, it was the first course to use hypnosis for childbirth.
  • Many women say that the information that they learn in the course can be used for other parts of their lives. 
  • It's more effective for home births than hospital or clinic births.
  • Many women find that it's very helpful for them in the early stages of labor.
  • There are many HypnoBirthing® practitioners and it has a strong following. 
HypnoBirthing® Cons
  • Since it's based on the idea that childbirth should be painless, coping techniques aren't provided. 
  • Because women don't learn about pain or interventions, they are often given unnecessary interventions.
  • Benefits and risks of different birthing options are not discussed.
  • Many women find that HypnoBirthing® doesn't work at the end of their labor.
My Conclusions about HypnoBirthing®
I do know a handful of people who have studied HypnoBirthing® and while they said that it did help at the beginning of their labor, it didn't prepare them for the end of their labor, making them feel that they had failed and had nothing to fall back on. Now this is quite normal, for women to expect one thing and get another. It's always good to have a plan and a back-up plan. The problem with HypnoBirthing® is that it only provides one plan that everyone is supposed to follow.

HypnoBirthing® has its own set of words that you have to learn. There is no pain or contractions, but rather discomfort, sensations, and waves. I think that it's good that it tries to get rid of all the painful, negative images about birthing that we've been bombarded with all our lives. I also do know that it is possible to have a peaceful, pain-free birth. However, many women experience sensations that they are not prepared to deal with. Due to this, they may end up feeling bitter about their birth experience.




Hypnobabies®
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Hypnobabies® Pros
  • Created by Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHt. Cl., who originally was a HypnoBirthing® practitioner and felt that the course was missing key information.
  • They offer a home study option.
  • They use powerful hypno-anesthesia techniques (medical hypnosis, like what people have used for surgeries) such as eye-open hypnosis with the finger-drop technique.
  • Moms prefer it because it's more effective and provides a more rounded and more comprehensive view of child birthing, such as back labor and how to deal with it.
  • There's more material that is updated frequently based on feedback from people who have used their course such as consumer information, recorded material, scripts for partners, and a quick reference guide.
Hypnobabies® Cons
  • There are fewer instructors compared to HypnoBirthing®
  • Classes are longer. There are six 3-hour classes compared to five 2.5-hour HypnoBirthing® classes.
  • Home study courses  aren't the same as having an actual teacher. 
  • Some people say that it strongly resembles HypnoBirthing®.
My Conclusions about Hypnobabies®
I think that Hypnobabies® is much more comprehensive than HypnoBirthing®. They teach about stages of labor and what coping techniques can be used for each stage. They compare expectant management to what active management techniques that many doctors use. They give women facts and allow them to pick and choose what they like to create their own birth plan. They recognize that different women want different things.

The fact that they also offer a home study course makes it a better option for people in Korea who may not be able to attend face-to-face classes with an instructor. Hypnobabies® recognizes that they don't have all the answers and due to that they use their customers' feedback to update the course.

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My Recommendation
I personally would recommend doing the home study option from Hypnobabies®. There are only a few HypnoBirthing® instructors and there aren't any Hypnobabies® instructors.

If you're looking for HypnoBirthing® classes, they can be found on my list of instructors as well as on the HypnoBirthing® website.

By doing the home study option from Hypnobabies®, you can work at your own pace in your own home. It's recommended that you start in your second trimester. You can start later, but keep in mind that it's a 5 week course and that babies come early. After you finish the course, you will want to review every day or so in order to keep the information fresh in your mind.



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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwifery Center

A pioneer in the field of natural birthing, Ina May Gaskin MA, CPM, PhD (Hon.) is the nation's leading midwife. She shows us how we should learn from how our ancestors birthed, without fear and trusting in our bodies. She recognises that there is a strong mind-body connection and the majority of women can birth without interventions.

Despite her low tech facilities on the Farm Midwifery Center, she has beat her high tech counterparts achieving low rates of interventions, morbidity, and mortality. She also has high rates of delivering twins and breech babies vaginally and even babies with shoulder dystocia.

An author of a handful of books about birthing and breastfeeding, as well as a recipient of many awards, she is out to change the world and help women birth without fear. Her website contacts articles, books, and videos and are backed up with statistical data.

Her book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is a fantastic read since childbirth is explained in layman's terms, but also contains tons of medical references that you can show to your doctor to help back you up. Her TED talk is a powerful, moving video about reducing fear during the birthing process. The fear-pain-tension process is something that has to be eliminated and becoming informed is the first step you can take. Other videos that you might like to watch are Orgasmic Birth and Organic Birth and the Business of Being Born.  There's also a sequel, called More Business of Being Born, which has four parts.
  1. Part 1: Down on the Farm
  2. Part 2: Special Deliveries
  3. Part 3: Explore Your Options
  4. Part 4: The VBAC Dilemma



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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.




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