Sunday, May 3, 2009

Homebirth in Korea, Homebirth in Seoul, Homebirth in Bucheon, Homebirth in Incheon

Yes, there are homebirth options in Korea. I currently have contacts for an English-speaking homebirth OB in Seoul, an English-speaking midwife near Incheon and a non-English-speaking birth center in Bucheon that also does homebirths. Also, the OB in Seoul has contacts throughout the country, so if your area is not listed, contact him and ask.

If you know of anyone else, anywhere else, please leave a comment.

Dr. Chung. His clinic is in Gangnam and he will deliver at SoonChunHyung or your home. I've heard his homebirth fees are 3 million won, but you should double check that. I know several women currently with Dr. Chung and have heard of three women having great homebirths with him.

Ansan, 20 km South of Incheon (this section was written by one of the moms in the Expat Moms Club Korea who lives in Incheon and is using Rosa as her midwife:

Lisa (Canadian doula/childbirth educator) and Keunhae (English-speaking doula and childbirth educator and lactation consultant)explained that there ARE formally-educated midwives in Korea. In fact, they are often working as nurses in maternity wards. Keunhae said that she did know of a very experienced midwife with her own clinic to birth at and the midwife even assists breech births. However, Keunhae didn't usually mention her to foreigners because she doesn't speak English (but does speak Japanese) and her facility might be considered too Spartan (basically "a room and a stool"). My husband was weary and still skeptical, to say the least, that midwife colleges even exist.

Well, with some more web surfing, I found that to be a midwife in Korea, one must complete a 3-4 year nursing program and take an exam to become a registered nurse. After which, one must complete a one-year midwife training program offered at just a few hospitals. Then the student must pass a national exam and be licensed to be a midwife by the government.

Lisa said she had some contacts with midwives in hospitals and would check if they attend home births. In the mean time, she met a Korean midwife who has her own office in Ansan (20 km south of Incheon), speaks English and attends births in homes and her clinic. Here is her contact information:

Kim Okjin aka "Rosa" (all in Korean)
TEL 031-410-8597 HP 019-447-8231
Ansan, Danwon-gu, Gojan-dong 541-1
Dongseo Core 420 ho

So, I met Rosa at her clinic inside of an older shopping center a week ago. Her English is good enough for me but not very high. She spoke much more to my husband in Korean but partially because I wanted her to explain to him more about natural birth and reassure him of its normalcy.

I think that Rosa is humble about her position, too because she told my husband that if I birth a second child, he could be the midwife! While I may have the confidence of a newbie, Rosa says she has attended 7,000 births over her 25 years of practice, so I do value her attendance.

Her clinic is cozy and you take your shoes off as you come in. It includes a front room for office work, a home-like room for exams, sonograms and birthing, a toilet room and a room with a nice claw foot tub. I would be comfortable birthing there but since there doesn't appear to be any emergency medical setup I feel I might as well birth at home. The only medical intervention I would want, if necessary, would be a c-section anyway, so a hospital would be best for that.

I asked Rosa under what circumstances does she transfer her birthing clients to a hospital. She said she uses a Doppler to monitor fetal heart rate and if the heart rate becomes too high or low she would transfer her client. Once at the nearest hospital, mothers are under the care of the hospital staff, not Rosa.

Rosa's fee is 800,000. I'm not sure if this includes prenatal care, as I am already 35 weeks along. She can give you sutures if you have a tear, make birth certificates in Korean and English and administer vaccinations to your newborn if you request them (most of her clients don't want them). She will also visit you five days after the birth for a check-up.

Rosa also has natural childbirth information meetings at her clinic (in Korean). The next one is on May 23rd.

She said that I could have a vaginal exam that day, too (at about 38 weeks). I asked her why I should have an exam. I told her that I understand she could check my cervical effacement and dilation but that information would only be relevant to that day and wouldn't reveal anything about my birthing time. She said I didn't have to have an exam if I didn't want to. So I asked if there was any other reason why a vaginal exam would be useful and she said she would check the size of my pelvis and birth canal to see if my birthing would be prolonged. Sure, just as long as you tell me its beautifully spacious in there!

She is also familiar with Hypnobirthing.

One of the EMCK moms got this info from a couple (wife was Korean) who birthed at this Birth Center.
There is a birth center with midwives, but no one speaks much English. They have prenatal exercise classes and really involve the husband and will do homebirths if you want.


Amynf said...

Hi. I am a doula and I ran across your blog a while back while looking for other doulas in Korea. I am in Dongducheon. I would like to pass my contact info on to you if you don't mind. I just wanted to get your permission first. I also wanted to say you are doing a great job of getting all this information out so that woman can learn all their options. Thank you!

Mama Seoul said...


E-mail me at mamaseoul at gmail dot com

You will want to get in touch with Keunhae Park and Lisa Fincaryk. They are doula/childbirth educators/lactation consultants in Seoul that the foreigners use. Both speak Korean and English and have contacts in a variety of places. They can also help research.

I will post your info on my blog and twitter. I am trying to build up the natural childbirth resources in one place so it is easier to find.

Mrs. Sims said...

I am American and my husband and I are moving to Seoul Korea for 3 years. We have discussed having a child while we are there; I would love some contact information of some midwives in that area. How many English speaking midwives have you been able to find? I want to thank you for your blog, my husband has been a bit leery having a child in another country and your blog along with your links has really helped inform us on our options.

Mama Seoul said...

The contacts in this post list the English speaking midwives we know about. The Birthing in Korea site (run by doula and childbirth educator, Lisa Fincaryk) is the best way to find a current list of midwives. Many midwives in Korea work on L&D floors of hospitals, but there are some who work in birth centers and in homes. If you want English speaking, I would recommend Rosa, since many expats have used her and she speaks the best English of the ones we know.
Dr. Chung speaks English and it a great option for homebirth or hospital birth, but he is more expensive.
Here is the link to Expat Parents forum, for expat parents or parents-to-be. It will be a great resource when you get pregnant:

Good luck and keep in touch!

Mama Seoul said...

Mrs. Sims,

I tried to post a comment on your blog but it wouldn't let me. I have some info on traveling with pets. The health certificate is supposed to be filled out by a USDA certified vet and then stamped and signed by the State office so you need to Fedex it with a prepaid return Fedex envelop to get it back on time. The rabies shot needs to be within the last year but greater than 30 days old. Go to your state office for more info:

Here is another article:
Just be glad you aren't going to Japan!

e-mail me directly for more info:

mamaseoul at gmail dot com

Mrs. Sims said...

We just got to Seoul 3 weeks ago and turns out I am pregnant already! I haven't gone in yet and we just found out 4 days ago from a home test, but I think I may be about 8-10 weeks so I'll be contacting some local hospitals and those you listed to get price ranges.

Mama Seoul said...

Congratulations! Let me know how things go.

Mrs. Sims said...

Thank you for your list but unfortunately they are all 45min + from where I'm living in Seoul. Looks like I'll have to find something closer, I know we get 50% off the Severance hospital but that is still expensive.

Mama Seoul said...

This is a list of homebirth providers. They will come to your house for the birth. Dr. Chung will also attend births at SoonChunHyung (SCH) in Hannamdong.

You can go with a provider at the International Clinic in SCH as well.

Severence is probably one of the worst places you can go. It is extremely strict and has lots of mother and baby unfriendly policies, like mandatory overnight in the nursery, no husbands in the OR if you have a c-section, you have to stay in the bed during labor.

As a first time mom, you will probably have a lot of time when you go into labor before you actually give birth, plenty of time to make it across town to a better hospital. It is often the instinct to pick a hospital based on what is closest, but there really are huge differences.

Lisa Fincaryk can make some suggestions if you e-mail her.