Culture Differences: Post-Natal Care and Nurseries

I got to talk to my language partner Daniel and his wife Chloe today. It had been a long time since I have been able to meet them over Skype. It was good to hear their voices. Our language skills have regressed over our lack of meetings and practice. :/ ㅠㅠ

Chloe and Daniel are expecting their first child by November 22. I am so excited for them! They will be fantastic parents. During our conversation, I had remembered something Daniel told me about the post-natal care for the mother and the baby in Korea. It’s quite different than the United States.

In the US, a mother has the baby at a hospital. The next day, the baby goes through tests to make sure he is healthy. By the third day, a mother and baby can be discharged and sent home.

In Korea, a mother and baby are sent to 산후조리원 (san-hu-jo-ri-won) where they stay for 1-2 weeks. The mother relaxes, learns breastfeeding, and rests. It is believed that if a mother does not rest after giving birth, she may develop postpartum depression. The practice of going to a sanhujoriwon stems from when new mothers would stay with their families after having their babies*.

A week at a sanhujoriwon can cost about 1,000,000 won ($1,000 USD). Daniel said his wife’s 2 week stay will cost about 2,500,000 won ($2,500 USD). He will be allowed to stay at the sanhujoriwon to sleep with his family, but I assume he is to go about his regular schedule during the day.

Another difference is the nursery. In the US, parents prepare the baby’s room, or nursery, months before the baby is born. This is called “nesting” and is considered an important process for the parents-to-be. The room can be simple with a crib and perhaps a changing table. Other nurseries have a theme and are wallpapered, accessorized, and color-coordinated.

In Korea, a child will sleep with his parents until he is 5-8 years old. Daniel said that some children will stay in their parents’ room until 10 years old. After that, a room is made for the children. I’m still fuzzy on some of the details such as how many beds are used and if the children sleep in their own bed but in the same room. Like I said, our language skills are tenuous.

*Extra information on sanhujoriwons from donga.com.

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