Pregnancy Guide for Non Korean expecting mothers
What to expect when you are expecting? A question that pops up, the moment you realize that you have hit that road. On top of it, imagine living far away from your friends and family in such a dicey situation.
As a new parent myself, here I share my personal experiences and thoughts. And hopefully by doing so, I might be of help to the Non-Korean expecting moms living in South Korea.
Let me state it out in the very beginning: I went to one of the finest private hospitals of South Korea and had a well experienced, hands-on doctor to look after my case.
Kicking off with the brighter and highly applaud-able side: The South Korean Government is really supportive towards expecting parents – and not just to their own nationals. The government has made affiliations with certain banks, where you can go and apply for new mother’s card. The procedure and required documents list is provided by your hospital staff. What you get in return is a bank account and debit card issued to the expecting mother. I am not so sure of the exact amount, but its somewhere between 600,000 to 700,000 KRW. This card turns out to be a huge support in covering your medical expenses throughout the pregnancy.
Many of us are aware that medical cost in Korea is quite high. Try getting yourself the National Health Insurance. It is a little more expensive than other insurance programs, but then, in return covers a handsome chunk of your medical expenses.
Once your pregnancy test comes out to be positive, you are issued with a new mother’s notebook by the hospital. It has got all you will need to know in the coming 9 months of pregnancy: the tests you will be going through, your routine prenatal examination guide, examination records (updated with every visit), guidelines for all the trimesters and so on. The best part is, you don’t have to worry about any of the aspects. Just show up at the hospital on appointed dates, and rest will be taken care of by experts.
A little tip: Your doctor will recommend you to go through all the possible tests (including a few that might not seem important). Please don’t pass on any of them. All basic tests can be carried out by the Public Health Care Centers (better known as Bugan-su) as well, and that too, free of cost. So if there are any monetary issues, try getting them done from your nearest Bugan-Su.
After staying in South Korea for more than 3 years, one thing I can confidently state is that the people of this country are genuinely helpful. And if you are expecting, then you surely are in for a TREAT. Wherever you may be, whether its public transport or standing in a queue at a restaurant – you will be given space and priority by everyone.
If you are anxious about how things will be taken care of after delivery, try cheering yourself up by knowing that you may opt for postnatal care services, specially established for the foreigners. I am attaching brochure image of one such service organization down below:
And obviously, you always have the option of inviting your family member/s for assistance.
Moving on to the flip side: Though I don’t mean to scare anyone, but hopefully it will be of greater help.
In South Korea, they do all it takes to make you feel better without medication. And to top that, even if you want to take medication by your own choice – you can’t. You would hardly get an over the counter drug. Making reference to my case: My whole first trimester was over casted by extreme nausea and vomiting. Yes, it is a well-known condition but mine was an acute case. After doing all that I could to make myself feel better, I eventually went for the doctor’s guidance. Despite assuring her about the severity of my condition, all my efforts were in vain. I wasn’t prescribed any medication. Yes I was taken to the emergency room, put on a drip – but then sent back with a hope in my mind that I will get better with time. However, the moment the drip effects were over i.e. after around 24 hrs, I was in the same hopeless condition. And that’s not all. The whole trimester went in a non-lit room (as I got extremely photo-sensitive), along with non-stop vertigo and nausea. I couldn’t eat, nor could I sleep. But even then, wasn’t prescribed with any medication. Until I got so underweight, that the doctor was left with no other option but to finally prescribe me one. But by then, I had already underwent a whole trimester of torture.
So if you are staying, or have to stay in Korea during your pregnancy, try keeping a box of pregnancy safe drugs (that you might be needing) in hand. Get it from your home country, on recommendation of a family doctor or a medical professional – off course. But PLEASE do! You never know when you might be needing them.
South Korean doctors always try and keep an upper hand. No doubt they are much more knowledgeable than us, but there are times when nobody understands your condition better than your own self. And you may end up feeling like your say is not been given the required importance. Just make sure to put up your point of view a little firmly in such moments.
Communication barrier is one of the most common issues that non-Koreans have to face in South Korea. And sometimes you just don’t have any getaway, but just end up feeling helpless about it. Believe it or not, but this barrier may turn out to be a major problem creator during pregnancy. As in my case: Because of losing all my energies by not eating, resting and sleeping well during the first trimester; I had to face major blood pressure issues during second trimester. There was hardly a day, when low blood pressure didn’t cause a problem for me. What really worried me were a few fainting episodes in public places. I kept on mentioning about it to my doctor. And was told that it’s normal and nothing to be worried about. But then, during a hospital visit, I fainted while undergoing a medical test – creating a huge fuss between doctor and the attending staff. It was one of those very rare moments, when I could clearly see worry signs on my doctor’s face. The moment I started feeling better, the very first question I got asked was: has this ever happened before? And my instant reply was: that’s what I kept on telling you about.
The only suggestion I can make in this regard is, try communicating to your doctor and hospital staff using small sentences and very basic vocabulary. The rest, I guess is all about luck.
Do remember…like all other times, this too shall pass. Just keep small little pointers in mind, and hopefully you’ll be able to cope up with your pregnancy in an even better manner. And I can assure you, in all my goodwill…what you get in return will be worth MUCH MUCH MORE!
Happy PREGNANCY :)