Monday, 20 May 2013

Emergency Childbirth

Every woman fears not making it to the hospital in time. Emergency childbirth is pretty rare that that will happen since most first time moms spend 18 hours on average in active labor (after 4 cm). What do you do if you aren't going to make it there on time? Sarah Vine has 5 rules.
  1. Get close to the ground
  2. Pad the floor
  3. Wrap the baby up
  4. Don't cut the cord
  5. Call the emergency number

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

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Milky Mamas Meetings (MMM) and La Leche League (LLL) in Korea

Updated 2 April 2016

There are a couple of breastfeeding support groups in Korea. They provide peer-to-peer breastfeeding support.

Milky Mamas Meetings
  • Seoul: 4th Thursday of every month at the Yongsan Family Health Centre on the 3rd floor in a brand new building right next to the Hannam Dong Jumin Centre (한남동 주민 센터) from 11am-1pm. More info can be found at MMKorea Nursing Support. You can also contact Melanie, Leila, or Sheila.

La Leche League
  • Osan: Tuesdays from 11:30-12:30pm: April 4, May 2, June 6. Thursdays from 5:30-6:30pm April 6, May 4, June 8. Details about their meetings can be found at La Leche League Osan. They also have a lending library. Contact Sharon for more info.
  • Seoul: Contact Joy for dates and times or check their Facebook page. Meetings are predominantly in Korean.


    You might also be interested in . . .

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    Wednesday, 8 May 2013

    Recommended Reading for Moms and Dads to be

    There are tons and tons of books out there. Here are some books that training organizations that work with child birthing professionals recommend.
    • BAI: Birth Arts International
    • CBI: Childbirth International
    • DONA: Doula Organization of North America
    • ICEA: International Childbirth Education Association
    • LLL: La Leche League 
    • TEB: Tender Embrace Birthing

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

    Tuesday, 7 May 2013

    Avoiding an Episiotomy

    Doctors here in Korea love these. They're not fun. An episiotomy is when the doctor cuts you. They say it'll prevent tearing and make it easier for the baby to come out. Truth be told, both of those are false. However, if you are cut you have to be stitched up meaning that the doctor can stitch you up tighter and it's easier for the doctor to stitch up a straight line than a jagged one.

    It's incredible that doctors are still telling women that episiotomies will prevent tearing. Try this. Take a piece of paper. Hold both sides and try to yank it apart by pulling outwards. See how much force you need to tear it? And it's paper, not muscle. Now take a piece of paper and make a small, tinny, tiny cut at the top. Now hold both sides and yank it apart. Much easier to tear it, right? It probably tore further than the first paper. The same thing will happen to you. If the doctor cuts you you're likely to tear even further than the cut he made and need more stitches than if you were to tear normally. If you tear normally you might not even need any stitches. You might not even tear at all.

    What happens if the baby won't fit? You'll tear, that's it. There are ways to avoid tearing, such as ironing the perineum, spontaneous pushing, Kegels, perineum massage, pushing for short bursts when you feel the need to push, and not having an epidural so you feel when to push. Here are some more ways to avoid being cut.

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

    Monday, 6 May 2013

    Avoiding Internal Exams

    It seems like every hour a doctor or nurse wants to check how far dilated you are. You don't have to agree to internal exams. Natural childbirth should be hands-off. They don't do much other than increase the risk of infection by introducing bacteria. They can also be quite depressing if you're not making progress fast enough. Doctors may diagnose you with failure to progress, which basically means you're taking longer than 12 hours to give birth. Most first time moms average 18 hours of active labor (which is after 4 cm).

    There's a cool way to see how far dilated you are without internal exams. It's called the bottom line and is 76% accurate. It's basically a purple shadow that starts at the top of the anus and moves upwards starting at 1cm until the mom hits 10 cm. There are more ways to find out how dilated you are. Check out Sarah Vine's blog to find out more.

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

    Sunday, 5 May 2013

    State of the World's Mother's 2012 Report

    Save the Children has a report that shows statistics about nutrition for the first 1000 days of a baby's life from a variety of countries. It's frightening to see that some first world countries, like the US have high infant mortality rates and low breastfeeding scores. You can see the report at the Save the Children website.

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

    Saturday, 4 May 2013

    Organisations That Certify Doulas and Childbirth Educators

    Updated 25 September 2016

    There are a lot of organizations out there, these are just a few. The list below doesn't include any college or university programs, and there are quite a good number of those! You might also be interested in what doulas do and how doulas set their fees. And here's a list of birth doulas in Korea.
    If you're looking for a birthing professional, try one of the sites below.

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

    Friday, 3 May 2013

    How Doulas Set Their Fees

    Updated 19 February 2016

    Birth doulas working in Korea charge between 100,000 and 4 million won (though many have special prices for families not able to pay their fees). Most doulas are around 700,000 to a million won. It might seem like a lot, but doulas do a lot. With that being said there are some free doulas and some doulas are normal charge do pro-bono work or may offer a discount depending on your circumstances. Here's a basic breakdown of what's involved. 

    Hours: Most doulas are on-call two weeks before a women's due date. A typical first time mom spends about 18 hours in active labour (active labour is 4 cm). In addition to that a doula often meets with a client before giving birth and afterwards. They may help develop a birth plan as well. There are also emails and phone calls that are answered. Travel time to and from the birthing center and the woman's home is also part of it. There is also prep and research involved. All in all, many doulas spend about 40 hours with each woman.

    Knowledge and support: You're also paying for a doula's training, continuing education, knowledge of pregnancy, labor, birthing, breastfeed, and newborn care, their information and support. They can help you with birthing positions and often have other skills such as how to use a rebozo, reiki, massage, reflexology, photography, spinning babies, or aromatherapy. Doulas also offer unbiased assessments of your labour and present you with options.They also help with communication with the medical staff. Doulas are also with you throughout your labour. They greatly help dads, siblings, and family out and are on your side. They give up their family's needs for yours. They also prevent a lot of emotional, physical, and financial costs.

    Self-employment and business expenses: Doulas usually only see about half of what they charge. Many doulas are self-employed meaning that they have to cover their own pension, insurance, and taxes. Vacations and sick days are unpaid. If they have children, they have to pay childcare expenses. There are also normal business expenses such as office expenses, advertising (website, pamphlets, etc) phone, internet, transport and (gas, parking, etc). There are also doula-specific business expenses such as meals during labour, birth supplied (essential oils, birth ball, books and resources, massage equipment, hot and cold packs, flameless candles, etc), a stipend to their back-up doula, continuing education costs, and re-certification costs.

    Number of clients: Doulas usually only book a couple clients a month (2-6, with 4 being considered full-time) to make sure that they can attend your labour and be well rested when they do. They are usually on-call for 4 weeks for each client, two weeks before their due date and two weeks after.

    Time and Personal Sacrifice: Babies usually aren't born on schedule (unless they're scheduled C-sections) which means that doulas may miss important days with their family, such as Christmas and birthdays. Vacations and days off have to be carefully scheduled. Outside work might have to be cancelled. It's physically demanding work as a doula often cannot eat or sleep properly during a labour. They may also use their body to physically support a labouring women and may end up with bodily fluids on their clothes. They also might have to attend a birth in the middle of the night, go home and rest for a couple hours and then go to another birth. Doulas may get burnt out because they are overwhelmed by the commitment and lack of compensation for their time and dedication.

    Adapted from 

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    Thursday, 2 May 2013

    What Doulas Do

    As I childbirth educator, I recommend women get a birth doula (here's a list of birth doulas in Korea). You might also be interested in how birth doulas set their fees. Doulas help women before, during, and after giving birth as well as with breastfeeding and postpartum care. Birth/labour doulas help women during the birthing process and postpartum doulas help them afterwards. They do not offer you medical advice, but can help you explore your options.

    Doulas work for you and keep your goals for your birth in mind. Whereas doctors, who may schedule an emergency C-section for you because it's a Friday night. Doulas can act as a buffer between you and the doctor. While they are involved in your birth, they are also able to take a step back and are cool, calm and collected during stressful times.

    Many doulas are women and have given birth themselves. They know that women's bodies are capable of giving birth. Doulas can be used for anything from a drug-free birth to a C-section.

    Research shows using a doula during labour can provide many benefits 
    • 50% reduction in the cesarean rate 
    • 25% shorter labor 
    • 60% reduction in epidural requests 
    • 40% reduction in synthetic oxytocin use 
    • 30% reduction in analgesia (pain relief) use 
    • 40% reduction in forceps delivery 
    • Your baby is also less likely to be admitted to the NICU 
    • Women who have doulas are more likely to rate their birth experience positively. 
    Some studies even show that a doula is more effective than the hospital staff and the mom's family and friends. Need more reasons to hire a doula? Check out these top 10 reasons to hire a doula and these 20 reasons to hire a doula.  

    What does a doula do exactly? 
    • Provide comfort and empathy
    • Suggest childbirth education classes
    • Suggest birthing centers
    • Help you with your birth plan
    • Help you labor at home if you wish or meet you at the birthing center. 
    • Massage/touch
    • Breathing
    • Encouragement
    • Ideas for relaxation
    • Support you and your goals
    • Communicate with doctors and nurses
    • Suggest different labouring and birthing positions
    • Remind you to eat or drink
    • Remind you to go to the bathroom
    • Remind you of your birth plan
    • Take photos: check out these amazing birth photos!
    • Jot down notes for your baby's first year book
    • Ask the dad to cut the cord
    • Ask for the baby to be placed on the mom's chest
    • Help with breastfeeding
    • Offer birthing, newborn care, first aid, health, or breastfeeding classes
    • Have mom and baby groups
    • Do belly masks
    • Do prenatal massage
    • Offer pregnancy yoga
    • Have postnatal exercises
    • Do placenta encapsulations or placenta paintings
    • Help with postpartum issues
    • And much more.

    Do doulas replace dads? 
    No! Not at all. Dads are usually glad to have a doula there. Doulas provide guidance and are very experienced. Men may have a hard time seeing their partner go through birth and feel helpless when they can’t help. Doulas help comfort and guide a woman through the birth. Doulas do not take the dad’s place. Rather they take the stress out of the situation and allow the man to show his support for his partner.

    How expensive are doulas?
    Some people don't want to hire a doula because they think they will be too expensive. Honestly, doulas aren't as expensive as you might think they'd be. Most doulas in Korea charge about 800,000 to 1 mil won. You may think that's a lot, but on average they spend about 40 hours with you. They'll answer your emails, phone calls, and meet with you before and after birth as well as being with you during your entire labor.

    You have to also consider this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will only give birth to this baby once. And when you consider that hiring a doula decreases your chances of getting a C-section or epidural, you may actually save money if you get a doula.

    I honestly think that doulas are worth their weight in gold. Apart from choosing a birthing center/hospital that aligns with your way of thinking, hiring a doula is one of the best things you can do to get the birth you want.

    "Doulas: Professional Labor Support." Pregnancy & Childbirth. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2013.

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

    Wednesday, 1 May 2013

    Nannies, Babysitters, and Maids in Korea

    Updated 14 October 2017

    Below are some suggestions on things you should think about when hiring a babysitter, nanny, or maid. Here is also some info on how to choose a daycare for your child. I also wrote about daycares and childcare in Korea. If you need anything, the foreigner helpline for daycares is 1566-0223.

    Recommended Websites
    • babysitters and nannies.
    • Childcare Korea: has a list of all the day cares and openings.
    • Craigslist: lots of Filipina nannies available.
    • Duenghawon duomi: (use IE) pick up and drop off from school 등하원도우미.
    • Duomis: ask your jumin of gu office for more information.
    • Family Care: (use IE) there's a small annual fee to join and you have to speak Korean to use it.
    • iSeoul: has a list of all the day cares and openings.
    • GenieMom: (use IE) In Korean.
    • Gwangju and Jeollanamdo Nanny, Babysitter and Domestic Help Group: FB group designed to connect families with English speaking nannies, baby-sitters, maids, domestic helpers, etc.
    • KIN (Korea International Nanny) Service: FB group designed to connect families with English speaking nannies, baby-sitters, maids, domestic helpers, etc.  
    • Mom Sitter: college students. Average is about 10,000 an hour.
    • Naver Maps: make sure you search in Korean.
    • Nanny Job: all in Korean, but all the nannies who contacted me through it were Filipina. 
    • Postpartum care: There are many places. One example is shinsegae care.
    • Seoul Global Center (02-2075-4138) 
    • Y Care Help: nannies
    • YWCA: they offer a variety of services, such as doing laundry, babysitting, cooking, cleaning. 4 hours for 35,000 won or 9 hours for 65,000. They also have nannies.
    • 아기 동보미서비스: (use IE) is a government babysitting service. The Seoul Global Center should help you with it. It cost 5,000 won during weekdays and 6,000 won on weekends, holidays, and overnight.
    • Local Migrant Centers 
    • Local Community Centers
    Who Can Help
    The Seoul Global Center and the Migrant Centers have people who speak English. You can find their contact info in the post, useful phone numbers.

    You're usually going to be paying between 8,000 and 10,000 won an hour, some charge up to 15,000 an hour. If your nanny charges 10,000 an hour and you have her for 45 hours a week that's 1.8 mil a month.

    Sponsoring a Nanny 
    Please read up on how to hire a nanny. They take care of your most valuable possessions. Here is Korea, laws and rules aren't black or white. I called 1345 and asked what was needed and below you can find the four requirements. It all depends on the immigration office (Suwon is supposed to be one of the worst), the immigration officer, and whether it's a blue moon or not ;)

    Sponsoring a nanny is usually cheaper than paying per hour but you have to have a high annual income. Filipina nannies are about 800,000-1. mil (depending on experience). You'll need to find a nanny and process paperwork through the Korean embassy where they live as well as work with your local immigration office. It usually takes about 2-3 months.
    1. You have to make three times the annual income in Korea ($29,489) so that means you need to make $88,467. Some other people have said that's not true and either your annual income must be 3 times higher than the nanny's salary OR 3 times higher than 25 Million, which is the average income in Korea.
    2. You have to have a child under 13 years old or a sick spouse. 
    3. The nanny has to be between 20-58 years old. 
    4. The nanny has to have at least graduated from middle school. 
    You need these docs.
    1. Copy of nanny's passport 
    2. Certificate of nanny's diploma or degree
    3. Employment contract between employer and nanny (you can get a sample from the Flipino embassy or online) 
    4. Copy of your ARC (registration card) 
    5. Verification of your employment (your contract and a pay slip) 
    6. Invoice of your withholding tax (you get this from your employer) 
    7. Guarantee letter (can be retrieved on 
    8. Application form (can be retrieved on 
    Once you have all documents, you go to the Immigration office to apply for a visa. You can also go to or call 1345.  
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