What to Expect After Giving Birth in Korea
We’d made it. We had our bundle of joy and were no longer the expectant couple. We were now a trio ready to face the world… well sort of.
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First we had to register our babe here and abroad. For this post I will talk about some of the things we experienced in the hospital and afterward that I feel is pertinent information to be aware of. Take into account that we are a multicultural family here in Korea, I, the American, and my husband, the Korean national.
Make sure to ask and get both the Korean birth certificate, which is standard, and the English copy and make sure that all names are correct. They had only put my first name into their system at the birthing center, common since putting my full name in Korean would be much longer than the 3 syllable names Koreans commonly have. They then put that two syllable name onto our Korean birth certificate which we didn’t notice until later. We had to go back and get a new one because our district office would not accept this as it was different than the name they had on file for me. Also, get two copies while you’re at the hospital. Unlike the States where we keep our original birth certificate and copies can be made if need be, in Korea, the district office will take your Korean birth certificate for their files and to put your child on to your Korean spouse’s, if you have one, family tree. If you will want your own copy, which I recommend as an American who has my own and this will be your only documentation with all three of your names on it, father, mother and child, then get multiple copies at the beginning so you won’t have to go back to the hospital. If you move abroad at some point, you’ll want to have your birth certificates handy. Also, if you’ll be getting dual citizenship you need to make sure the English copy is stamped and signed by the doctor when you go to the embassy to use it as proof.
As I mentioned before, there is plenty of financial assistance made available to couples that are expecting and then have a child. A lot of this has to do with the low fertility rate in Korea and the government trying its best to help couples that have children so that a financial burden is no reason for a family not to have a child. After giving birth, the child must be registered at the district office and added to the Korean family tree. After registration, you are directed to another desk in order to fill out your bank information because you are now eligible for multiple assistance programs.
The first subsidy you are awarded is a one time ‘Congratulations you had a baby’ subsidy (출산축하금). The amount varies depending on how many children you have. Current amounts are:
- (첫째아 10만원)For the first child the amount is W1oo,000
- (둘째아 15만원) For the second child the amount is W150,000
- (셋째아부터 30만원)For the third child or more, the amount is W300,000.
The second subsidy is a monthly payout from birth until the child enters school (가정양육수당 지원). This amount varies from city to city and district to district. The following information is current for Mapo-gu as of November 2014 when we registered. You can check this website for up to date information for your location.
- 0-12 months = W394,000 per month
- 12-24 months = W347,000 per month
- 24-36 months = W286,000 per month
- 36 months until the child enters school = W220,000
You should automatically be directed to apply for these subsidies when registering your child at your local district office but, if you aren’t, be sure to ask about them.
You can get vaccinations at your hospital or at your nearest community health center. There are currently 14 vaccinations that are given for free including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, rubella, rubeola, Japanese encephalitis, varicella, influenza, typhoid. Know that these are free. Not every hospital will offer them for free but your nearest community center will. Our birthing center wanted to charge W70,000 for tuberculosis and all of the rest of the vaccinations would be free so we went to the community center near our house for TB so we didn’t have to pay. Also be sure to ask how they administer the shots. You’ve probably seen the children that have the scars on their arms from their vaccinations being shot with a gun-like instrument. You don’t have to get that. There are other options. Most likely after the vaccination, the mother and child will be directed to a room so that the child can be calmed if need be and you can watch for any changes in personality. Note that the father is often not allowed in the rooms that they have available for this. They ushered me into such a room quickly and made my husband wait outside but not before I opened the door twice to figure out what I was supposed to be doing in there and they had him explain.
This is the third in a four part series on pregnancy related topics while in Korea. Be sure to read:
And if you plan on staying in a post-natal hotel, check out: