Saturday, 28 November 2015

How to Become a Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, or Childbirth Educator in Korea

Natural birthing has really taken off in the past few years in Korea. Doulas have become more and more popular among both foreigners and Koreans. Doctors are seeing the benefits of doing less interventions if possible and are even opening up new natural birthing clinics. In addition, they are realizing the importance of childbirth education for both moms and dads. Breastfeeding is lagging a bit behind due to beliefs and culture, but there are still staunch proponents of breastfeeding infants and toddlers. Here's some information to help you enter the birthing profession.

Enroll in a Course
Many people go through CBI (Childbirth International) since the requirements can be met while living overseas. CBI doesn't require doulas to renew their certification either. There are other options as well, such as DONA. You can find a more comprehensive list here.

Join the Korea Doula Facebook Group
Once you enroll in a course you can join the Korea Doula group. It's for childbirth educators, breastfeeding counselors, birth doulas, and postpartum doulas. People come from a variety of backgrounds and live all over Korea, though most are in Seoul. Be sure to message one of the admin and explain why you want to join.

Joining the group will allow you to connect with other doulas and shadow their births so that you can fulfill all the requirements for your certification. You will also learn how much to charge, legal issues about working as a doula, contracts, how to choose a back-up doula, and more. There are fewer breastfeeding counselors and childbirth educators than doulas, but you should still be able to get observe classes if necessary. The group is very close-knit and helpful.

Get Clients
There are a number of Facebook groups where you can find clients. Some forbid advertising, so be careful. You might be able to PM people. Word of mouth is definitely the best. Once your name is out there, people will start to recommend you.

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

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Getting a Breast Exam in Korea

Breast exams aren't normally a part of a woman's annual exam in Korea. Some obgyns will do them, but most don't and you might have to go elsewhere. I'm sure you already know that you should be doing monthly BSE (breast self exams). In Korea they recommend Asian women to start getting mammograms at age 40 and western women to start at age 50.

I went earlier this year because I found a lump in my left breast. I went to the doctor in the US and they said it might be a cyst and were worried because it was big. They also found one in my right breast. I don't have American insurance and the mammogram alone would have run me $1000 and they said it could take a few weeks for the results. I decided to just wait until I got back to Korea.

Once I got back I went to SCH (Soonchunhyun) Hospital in Hannam near Itaewon. With NHS the mammogram was only about 23,000. NHS covered the other half of it. The sonogram was not covered and it was 170,000.

I had heard that mammograms were extremely painful, but it really didn't hurt that much at all. It was uncomfortable because my whole side and face was pressed up against the machine but it really didn't hurt. They took two X-rays of each side: one horizontally and another diagonally. It was fast and over in minutes. I now regret having had a mammogram now that I know how harmful they are and that there are facts against using them. The sonogram was painless. They just put some gel on you and run the machine up and down your breasts and in your armpits. I got the results right away and they were negative: no cysts, nothing.

If you're looking to get a breast exam you can try going to a large hospital near you. You can also call the Global Centers and they can tell you if there are any small clinics near you that offer this service. If you find anything it's best to go ASAP.

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

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Many Benefits of Infant Massage

Updated 5 September 2016

Massage has been proven to have many benefits both mental and physical. These benefits can be extended to infants, toddlers, and children as well. It's never too late to start massaging your baby. Some parents make it part of their bedtime routine. Infants aren't able to sit still for long and massages may only last five minutes or so. However, even this short time provides lots of benefits.

Born to Play has free handouts about how to give infant massage. You can watch a short infant massage at the end of Thalasso Bain Bebe par Sonia Rochel which is based on the principles of Fredrick Leboyer, famous for his book, Birth Without ViolenceSome birthing professionals might offer baby massage classes or be able to recommend someone who does. You could also try asking at your hospital or clinic. You can always learn how to massage your baby yourself

According to the IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage), Loving Touch, and Infant Massage USA, infant massage can help by stimulating, relaxing, providing relief, and helping with bonding. Below you can find some of the mental and physical benefits of infant massage. Buy from Amazon

Keep in mind that as with other massage therapist specialisations, there is no licensing, certification, or verification to teach infant massage. Those who are already massage therapists are legally allowed to call themselves infant massage therapists. Those are aren't massage therapists can only legally call themselves infant massage instructors and cannot touch other people's babies. They can only demonstrate on dolls or their own baby. 

Mental Benefits
  • Promotes bonding through eye contact, touch, voice, smell, movement, and thermal regulation
  • Assists with verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Develops trust
  • Stimulates the senses
  • Provides a special time that shows love, respect, compassion, and being valued
  • Helps with moods
  • Reduces stress hormones
  • Stimulates mind and body awareness
  • Reduces crying
  • Enhances brain development by sparking neurons
  • Stimulates learning and concentration

Physical Benefits
  • Stimulates circulatory, hormonal, digestive, and immune systems
  • Stimulates coordination and balance 
  • Improves the flow of oxygen
  • Stimulates muscular growth and development
  • Relieves gas, colic, constipation
  • Assists with bowel movements
  • Relieves growing pains
  • Relieve teething pains
  • Improves sleep and regulates their sleep-wake cycle
  • Improves flexibility and muscle tone

Benefits for the Parents or Caregivers
According to Loving Touch, here are a few of the benefits the parents or caregivers get by massaging their baby.
  • Promotes bonding through eye contact, touch, voice, smell, movement, and thermal regulation
  • Encourages pre-communication
  • Helps parents feel more confident in their parenting abilities
  • Eases stress, especially for working parents who are separated from their babies for extended periods of time
  • Helps parents learn and respond to their baby's cues
  • Provide one-on-one quiet time
  • Creates a routine
  • Gives fathers a way to interact with their babies

Online Classes
Here are some online classes to learn how to become a baby massage instructor.
Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.

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