February 2009


After having a baby, the mother is often showered with gifts.  Usually the gifts are really for the baby and not for the mother.  Not so with the “push present” ~ typically some jewelry.  When a son is born it’s Korean tradition for the in-laws to gift the baby mama.  Mother-in-law selected a jade frog ring to symbolize luck.  I picked the present from baby daddy, a sapphire and diamond band ring.

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Having a baby in Korea as a gyopo is both difficult and easy.  There is no such thing as an all-natural birth. Having fewer options means you won’t feel guilty for having the epidural.  But it also means that an episiotomy is always done. Family visits come fast and furious, so try to be prepared.

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Thankfully, while staying at the hospital hotel (insurance typically covers 2-3 days) there are sitz bath rooms for temporary relief from the pain downstairs. It’s like a antiseptic bubble bath for your butt ~ fun!

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Hospital food is actually quite good.  Seaweed soup is the centerpiece of every meal because it renews the blood, the skin and stimulates breastmilk flow.  Everything is low-sodium, non-spicy and low in fat. Food is delivered five times a day to get you in the habit of eating that way as a nursing mother.

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For those who don’t like Korean food, there will be a kitchen in your room or on your floor, equipped with basics to warm up food brought to you.

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Tips:

* Also pack a bag for the baby daddy.  Everyone tells you to pack for the baby mama, but he’ll be at the hospital for days as well.

* If you have a laptop bring it along.  Baby daddy can work on an electronic birth announcement while waiting hours for dilation.

* Breastfeeding for the first time? Schedule a breast massage before they turn to stone as the milk comes in.

* Hire an ajuma to take care of you and the baby in your home.  It will cost 50,000W – 120,000W per day.  It is worth so much more.  Ask recent mothers for recommendations, contact the YWCA in Seoul or talk to the people looking at newborns with you at the hospital.