“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any”. (Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer)
In the highly hierarchical (and at times seemingly illogical!) Korean medical system, it is common for expats to feel lost, and laboring women have to deal with an added layer of vulnerability. Stress and fear are contagious, and the most supportive of partners can feel overwhelmed when faced with the reality of the birth process, thus transmitting that stress and fear to the labouring mom. Birth can be unpredictable in any country and any setting, but it is especially crucial for expat parents to approach labour with calm and confidence, and arm themselves with knowledge, understanding their options and having effective communication exchanges with their chosen caregivers.
Whether you are planning a natural, unmedicated birth, or you prefer to keep your options open and take full advantage of medical forms of pain relief, a childbirth preparation course will provide you with the tools that will allow you to go through labour and birth confident and serene, and deal with unexpected situations should they arise, ultimately leading to a positive experience.
The class environment is informal and relaxed; couples are invited to attend together and participants are given plenty of opportunity to interact, ask questions, and practice skills and techniques. You will learn the basics of labour and birth, watch and discuss videos showing different birthing experiences, practice positions and relaxation techniques that can be helpful during labour, and learn all about the reality of giving birth in South Korea. Then, we will focus on the new addition to your family, exploring the basics of breastfeeding, diaper changing (with hands-on practice for dads!), sleeping, bathing, and comforting a baby in distress. We do so with the help of Dunstan Baby Language, a system that helps you identify the different cries newborns make and allows you to respond to your baby’s needs sooner and without stress.
Our Prenatal Education Course consists of a total of 16 teaching hours, divided into four 4-hour sessions, and taught by a certified Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula, and Childbirth International Trainer for doulas and educators, with over seven years of experience living in Korea. Our classes are tailored to the needs and concerns of the participants, so no two courses are ever exactly the same.
Class One: Preparing for Birth
This class is usually taught in the second trimester, as the expectant parents finalize their choice of birthing facility. Topics include:
- The cornerstones of a healthy pregnancy, labour, and birth: nutrition, exercise, posture, and mental attitude;
- Identifying your goals and expectations for birth and finding the right care provider;
- Effective communication with your Korean medical team.
Class Two: Labor and Birth
This class focuses on the actual process of labor and birth, from the first signs that something may be happening to the moment you meet your baby. Comfort techniques and positioning are practiced hands-on with individual feedback from the Educator. Topics include:
- The normal physiology of labor and the role of hormones;
- How to know when you are in labor and decide when to go to your birthing facility;
- Sensations Vs Emotions of labor: the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle;
- Comfort techniques and relaxation tools: massage, positioning, counterpressure, heat and cold therapy, vocalization, breathing, visualization and relaxation skills;
- Common interventions in Korea and drafting a birth plan that works for you;
- Medical pain relief options: how epidurals work;
- The basics on C-sections;
- Decision-making skills to deal with the unexpected.
Class Three: Breastfeeding with Dunstan Baby Language
This class focuses on breastfeeding, with hands-on practice on positioning, and provides an introduction to Dunstan Baby Language by exploring the sounds baby makes when hungry. Topics include:
- Tuning in to your baby with Dunstan Baby Language;
- Breastfeeding basics: anatomy and hormones, supply and demand, latching and positioning;
- Bottle feeding, formula feeding, and pumping;
- Common breastfeeding challenges and how to overcome them;
- How to ensure a good supply.
Class Four: Newborn Care with Dunstan Baby Language
In this class we focus on the first few days and weeks after baby joins the family, from postpartum care for mom, to diaper changing and sleep techniques. We also continue to explore Dunstan Baby Language and discover the sounds babies make when tired, gassy, or uncomfortable.
- The first few hours after birth and the Fourth Trimester;
- After-care for moms and common postpartum issues;
- Sleep basics: how much sleep do babies need, regressions, scheduling;
- The importance of burping;
- Colics: why they happen and relief options;
- Changing and bathing a baby (with hands-on practice);
- Tuning in to your baby with Dunstan Baby Language;
- Finding time and space as a couple after baby is born.
Our Prenatal Education Course costs ₩650,000, covering attendance for both mom and her partner (or another supporter), handouts, and light refreshments*. In an effort to support the Planet, our handouts are provided in digital format and we encourage our class participants to bring their tablets or notebooks. Printed handouts are available at an extra charge.
Classes are held in Busan and anywhere there is demand for a minimum of three couples.
If you live too far away from one of our main locations, travel a lot, or simply prefer completely individualized childbirth classes in the comfort of your own home, our Private Classes are perfect for you. The topics are the same, but they are covered in fewer hours, and can be even more easily adapted to your specific needs. Private classes cost ₩85,000 per hour, and there is a minimum booking of two hours. A full 8-hour course can be purchased at a discounted price of ₩650,000.
For second-time parents or couples giving birth in Korea for the first time, Refresher Classes are also available; these include a debriefing of previous births, a recap of coping techniques for labor, an overview of how to make decisions leading to the birth you want, as well as strategies for preparing siblings for the new arrival, and are priced at ₩350,000 for four hours of teaching.
Fees include participation for mom and her partner or other accompanying support person, handouts, and email/phone/text support whenever you have questions. For travelling classes, transportation fees may apply.
*Parents birthing abroad, planning a cesarean birth, and/or not planning to breastfeed can join individual classes at a price of ₩200,000 per class.