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"
www.okbirth.com (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.