Matt and I visited my co-teacher’s house Friday, where we got to meet her five-week-old baby for the first time. Little Yeon-ho is adorable, and my co-teacher enjoyed talking to me about differences in giving birth in Korea and America.
In Korea, women often pay to stay in a postpartum care facility for two weeks after giving birth. While there, nurses help take care of the mothers and the babies. The women are fed three meals a day, can have massages and have scheduled visits with their baby for feeding. Of course, they can also see the baby any time they want to, but they don’t have to be responsible for its care. They can also socialize with and meet other new mothers.
My co-teacher, Jenny, was shocked that American women typically head home from the hospital only a couple of days after giving birth when they have no complications.
Some other interesting customs that Korean women follow is not showering for three days after giving birth and not eating anything cold for up to two weeks. This is to protect their teeth, Jenny and her husband explained. Jenny even drank warm water rather than cold water and wouldn’t turn on the air conditioning even if she was hot. It’s also common to eat seaweed soup every day, which is good for helping to heal the body.
I could handle the seaweed soup, but not eating anything cold for two weeks!? And no air conditioning during the summer in Korea is just cruel. It’s like no air in Nashville.
When it comes to baby names, there are different customs in Korea based on order of birth, family name and religion. But I’m told many couples these days simply choose a name they like. However, Jenny’s husband and his family are Buddhist, so they left the naming up to a Buddhist monk. Her parents-in-law gave a money offering, and the monk named the baby based on his time and date of birth. She said the name is such an important part of a life, so that is why they chose to do that. The baby also takes the father’s last name. In Korea, women don’t change their last name when they get married.