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  • Living in Korea
  • Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Child education
  • Pregnancy and Childcare

Pregnancy and Childcare

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Recommended Checkups for Expectant Mothers

Checkups required for expectants mothers are listed as follows. Depending on the health of the expectant mother and/or her baby, the obstetrician may require additional tests.

Recommended and Required Tests for Pregnant Women

General examinations to be received by a pregnant woman : Blood test, urine test, ultrasonic wave test, and the procedures involved.
Blood test Regular blood test If you are pregnant, you must take a blood test (hemoglobin, platelet, red blood cell, etc.) to assess your health, and to identify any potential risks to you and your baby. At this time you will also be checked for diseases such as AIDS, rubella, etc.
Blood-type test Test for ABO blood type and Rh factor. If you are a pregnant woman with Rh-negative blood, you will be injected with Rh immune globulin at 28 weeks of gestation.
Syphilis examination Test for syphilis, which is a major cause of fetal death and fetal infection.
Hepatitis examination Test for hepatitis. Hepatitis B tends to worsen during pregnancy, and can be passed to the baby through the placenta, during childbirth, or through nursing.
Urinalysis Test for gestosis or diabetes by testing sugar and proteins,
and test for urinary tract infections.
Ultrasound examination Examination of growth development, location, size of the fetus and test for deformities.

General Practices for Good Prenatal Health

  • A healthy child needs a healthy mother

    If you are trying to conceive, make your health your primary focus. Consult a doctor and seek treatment for any health concerns you may have.
  • Do not take medications

    If possible, avoid taking any medication during pregnancy. Some medications can seriously impact the health and wellbeing of your child. The first trimester is an especially important time, since this is when your baby’s hands, feet, heart, and central nervous system are developing. In cases where medication is necessary for the health of the mother and the child (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, infection with prolonged fever, etc.), consult a doctor for appropriate dosage and treatment.
  • Refrain from alcohol and cigarettes

    Use/overuse of alcohol during pregnancy can cause a child to be born with physical deformities or even lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Given the severity of the risks, it is wise not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy. Cigarettes can hamper the growth of the child and cause a low birth-weight, which can lead to other problems. Women who are smokers are advised to quit before trying to conceive.
  • Pregnant women need to get enough calories, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

    Many women do not need to take nutritional supplements if they have a balanced diet. In a typical, healthy pregnancy, a woman will gain about 1kg a month for the first 4 months of her pregnancy, and about 2kg a month for the last 6 months of pregnancy, for a total of about 13kg in weight gain. Even if they eat a nutritious diet, pregnant women are advised to take iron supplements starting from the 5th month of pregnancy. Taking an iron supplement on an empty stomach facilitates absorption. Women of childbearing age should also get a certain amount of folic acid every day to prevent deficiency of Canalis neu ralis.
  • Stool becomes harder during pregnancy because the intestines move less than usual and are pressed upon by the expanding womb; as a result, many pregnant women experience constipation.

    To prevent constipation, pregnant women are advised to increase their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, engage in regular exercise, and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activities

    Pregnant women are encouraged to engage in regular, light exercise. However, if pregnant, you do need to avoid starting a new exercise or intensifying your current exercise routine. Also avoid dangerous activities such as heavy lifting or climbing tall ladders.
  • In a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, it is not necessary to restrict sexual activities until the last 4 weeks of pregnancy.

    However, women who are deemed at risk of a miscarriage or a premature birth may be advised to use condoms or abstain from intercourse.
  • It is possible to get a flu shot during pregnancy, regardless of the trimester.
  • If you are pregnant and must sit for long periods of times, move your lower body and legs as much as possible to facilitate circulation.
  • During pregnancy, edema (swelling) can often occur in the lower body due to pressure put on veins. Elevating your legs can help relieve some of this pressure and pain. Since edema can also be a sign of gestational hypertension, it is important to get your blood pressure checked if you experience edema in the latter half of pregnancy.

  • Vaginal secretion increases during pregnancy and is no cause for concern.

    The increase in mucus secretions is due to the change of hormones that happen throughout pregnancy.
  • Receive regular medical examinations

    Receive regular medical examinations as advised by your doctor. You should receive prenatal care throughout your pregnancy by visiting an accredited medical institution. By doing this, you will be able to minimize any risks to you and your unborn child.

Useful Information

Korean Prenatal Care

Koreans have long believed that the behavior and mentality of the mother during pregnancy affects the baby mentally, emotionally, and physically. This approach to prenatal care is called Tae-gyo. Traditionally, the pregnant mother is advised to exercise caution in everything she does, refrain from all negative thinking and harmful actions, and talk and act in a relaxed manner to ensure the birth of a healthy child. As part of this mentality, there are many limitations on what a pregnant woman can eat, think, and do. From the perspective of an expectant female immigrant, advice on prenatal care from the husband's family may seem like an invasion of privacy, and may also be very stressful. However, this stress may come from cultural differences, so it is useful to talk with each other to build a better understanding. The spouse is encouraged to actively participate in tae-gyo for healthy pregnancy and delivery of the child.

Maternity Services at Public Health Centers

All pregnant women (including marriage immigrants) can receive free healthcare from public health centers. High-risk expectant mothers* in particular should be sure to receive care from a public health center or other medical facility.

High-risk expecting mothers
Special care is required for pregnant women who are unusually young or old (under 20 years old or over 35 years old), have pregnancy complications such as preterm labor, birthrelated bleeding, or severe preeclampsia, or have previously given birth to a premature baby or a baby with a congenital defect.

Free Prenatal Test

Public health centers offer the following tests: early confirmation of pregnancy, urine examination (diabetes,protein), and blood tests (hemoglobin, red blood cell, white blood cell, serologic test of syphilis, hepatitis, blood type). Expectant mothers can receive testing by signing up at their local public health center. (Please note, tests offered may vary by center).

Childbirth Preparatory Classes and Education

  • Classes on breastfeeding, exercises for pregnant women, childbirth preparation, baby massage and other topics are available.
  • Some regions have institutions that lend out books, CDs, and videos related to pregnancy, prenatal education, and delivery.

    Prenatal education programs are run by the local government and may differ by region.

Support of Iron Pills

Iron supplements are provided to pregnant women 16 weeks or more into their pregnancy who are enrolled with the health centers.

Support of Folic Acid

For pregnant woman who are registered at a public health center, folic acid supplements are provided for the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Medical Expenses Support for Pregnant Women at High Risk

Support is provided for up to 3 million won in medical expenses not covered by health insurance for women in a high-risk pregnancy who are diagnosed with premature labor, birth-related bleeding, or severe toxemia of pregnancy after 20 weeks of pregnancy and admitted to a hospital.

  • Eligibility : A person from a household with an income less than 180% the national median income who has been diagnosed with three major high-risk pregnancy complications (premature labor, birth-related bleeding, severe toxemia of pregnancy) after 20 weeks of pregnancy and has received inpatient treatment
  • Content of support : 90% of the uninsured payment borne by the admitted patient (within the limit of KRW 3 million)
  • Application process : Complete the request form for medical expenses support for pregnant women at high risk expenses provided at a public health center or an obstetrician’s office. Submit the form to the nearest public health center in the area of your residence.
  • Required documents : one written diagnosis paper (including disease name and disease code), one confirmation paper of hospitalization and discharge treatment, one medical expenses receipt (separate submission for each hospitalization time), one birth report or birth certificate, one resident registration paper, one copy of health insurance card, a bill of patient’s share of the medical costs (premium), one copy of deposit account passbook (in the name of applicant for support), etc.

Nutrition Plus Program

This program seeks to provide the necessary nutritional supplements needed by pregnant women and infants who are at risk of malnutrition, and enhance the ability of these at-risk groups to independently maintain good nutrition.

Nutrition Plus Project : Who can receive Nutrition Plus support, subsidy details, and how to apply.
Type Aid Information
Eligibility
  • Infants (under 6 years old), pregnant women, women who are nursing
  • Criteria for residential districts: corresponding public health center that has the jurisdiction over participants’ place of residence
  • Income level: less than 80% of the minimum cost of living by household size
  • Malnutrition factors: anemia, low-weight, poor growth, or poor nutritional intake
Aid Information
  • Provision of nutritional supplementary foods Food such as rice, potatoes, eggs, carrots, milk, black beans, dried laver, seaweed, canned tuna fish, tangerines, etc. is provided free of charge based on the participant’s nutritional needs.
    (However, for households earning 50%~80% of the median income, 10% of the supplementary food expenses must be paid by the participant.)
  • Description: Nutrition Education and Counseling
    • Individual counseling, group education, and home education are provided in conjunction with supplementary foods
    • Counseling/education is conducted at least once a month
How to Apply
  • Reception office: public health centers
  • Necessary Documents
    • Documents showing the number of family members: Copy of Resident Registration and the Certificate of the Family Relations
    • Documents showing income level: Receipt of health insurance premium payment, health insurance card, document proving eligibility for basic living support or support for the quasi-poor (if applicable)
    • Other documents: Documents proving pregnancy or childbirth: Maternity Handbook, Medical Certificate & Opinion (before childbirth) or Birth Certificate (after childbirth)

This program is available at public health centers nationwide except for in Ongjin-gun (Incheon) and Ulleungdo (Gyeongsangbuk-do). Please visit or call your local public health center for more information

Gynecological examinations (congenital anomaly test, etc.) may be received at 'Raphael Clinic' (raphael.or.kr, 02-763-7595), a medical service organization that provides free medical treatment and aid for foreign workers.

Giving Birth

Pregnant women can give birth at an OB/GYN clinic or hospital.
Birthing options and procedures should be discussed before labor to avoid any miscommunications. Two of the most common ways to give birth are vaginally and via c-section.

Vaginal Childbirth

  • Vaginal childbirth is whe n the child comes out through the vagina without the help of medication ormachines. The perineal region may be cut to make the birth easier.
  • In some cases, such as when the baby is long overdue, a woman may be induced. With your first baby,labor may take about 10 hours, while labor for a subsequent baby usually takes up to 5 hours.
  • Vaginal births may be painful, but they have a shorter recovery time and are known to be the best method. Also, a vaginal birth results in the shortest hospital stay, usually only 2 to 3 days, and is also the most economical.

Caesarian Section (C-Section)

  • When natural childbirth is not an option, a c-section must be performed. This procedure is used when a vaginal birth is deemed as too risky to the mother or child such as in the cases of advanced maternal age, a narrow pelvis, or a breeched birth.
  • A c-section is a type of surgery and may lead to complications. For this reason, women are encouraged to pursue a vaginal childbirth unless a c-section is absolutely necessary.
  • A c-section requires a hospital stay of approximately one week after giving birth and is more costly than a vaginal childbirth.

Prenatal and childbirth translation and interpretation services can be requested by contacting the Danuri Helpline (☎1577-1366) or your local multi-cultural family support center or, public health center.

Maternity Leave Before or After Childbirth, and Childcare Leave

Employees who are pregnant are eligible for maternity leave before or after childbirth. Parents can also take advantage of the childcare leave system (reduced working hours during infant care) when raising children under 6 years of age.

Maternity Leave Before or After Childbirth

Qualifications
Any female employee working at a business with more than 1 worker regulated by the Labor Standard Act can request and go on maternity leave regardless of type of labor contract (permanent position,temporary position, etc.)
Period of maternity leave before or after childbirth
  • For regular deliveries, employees may apply for 90 days of leave around the date of childbirth.
  • Employees must use 45 days of the leave or more post delivery.
    1. 1. When a worker has experienced an abortion or a stillbirth;
    2. 2. when a worker is 40 years old or older; or
    3. 3. when a worker has submitted a medical certificate of a medical organization documenting the risk of an abortion or a stillbirth, the worker may take the 44-day leave which is available before delivery at the early stage of pregnancy.
  • Pre-birth and post-birth maternity leave is granted to employees of certain businesses; the leave expires if the employment contract expires during the leave.

    As of July 1, 2014, women who give birth to two children or more at a time (twins, etc.) receive 120 days' perinatal maternity leave. The period of leave after delivery must be 60 days or longer.

Wages during maternity leave before or after childbirth
  • During perinatal maternity leave, perinatal maternity leave salary will be provided.
  • Major corporations provide 100% of the employee's regular pay for the first 60 days, and the remaining 30 days are paid through unemployment insurance (maximum KRW 1.5 million per month)
  • Small and medium enterprises provide 90 days of pay through unemployment insurance (maximum KRW 1.5 million per month). In the case of prioritized target businesses of support (small and medium-sized business), the salary for 90 days' leave will be paid by unemployment insurance (up to KRW 1,350,000 per month), with the company paying the difference between regular wages and perinatal maternity pay for the first 60 days.

    As of July 1, 2014, major conglomerates pay 100% of the regular wages for 75 days in the case of multiple births (twins, etc.); the salary for the remaining 45 days will be provided by the unemployment insurance (up to KRW 1,500,000 per month). In case of small and medium-sized companies, the unemployment insurance provides perinatal maternity pay for 120 days (up to KRW 1,500,000 per month).

How to apply for wages during maternity leave before or after childbirth
  • Workers who intend to receive wages during maternity leave must get a confirmation document from their company and submit it along with a maternity pay application to their local employment center.
  • Necessary Documents
    1. 1. Documents received from the company: confirmation of maternity leave, payroll, document that can confirm wages such as copy of employment contract, etc.
    2. 2. Documents received from the homepage of the Ministry of Employment and Labor, or Employment Center: application form for maternity leave

Miscarriage or Stillbirth Leave

Qualifications
  • In accordance with the Labor Standards Law, a female employee who is employed by a business with one or more employees may apply for leave, regardless of her type of employment contract (regular workers and part-time workers).
Duration of Stillbirth and Miscarriage Leave
Vacation time due for unsuccessful pregnancy : This chart shows the vacation times afforded in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth at week 11, week 12 to 15, week 16 to 21, week 22 to 27, and week 28 into pregnancy.
Within 11 weeks of pregnancy up to 5 days of protection leave is granted from the date of miscarriage or stillbirth.
12-15 weeks of pregnancy up to 10 days of protection leave is granted from the date of miscarriage or stillbirth.
16-21 weeks 30 days from the date of stillbirth or miscarriage
22-27 weeks 60 days from the date of stillbirth or miscarriage
Week 28weeks~ 90 days from the date of stillbirth or miscarriage
Allowances for Stillbirth and Miscarriage Leave
  • The same standards are applied to allowances for stillbirth and miscarriage leave as those for maternity leave.
  • Large corporations pay allowances for the initial 60 days of the leave, and the employment insurance pays allowances for the final 30 days of the leave (maximum KRW 1.5 million per month).
  • For employees of small and medium-sized corporations, the employment insurance pays allowances for 90 days of the leave (maximum KRW 1.5 million per month).
How to apply for wages during leave due to miscarriage or stillbirth

Workers who intend to receive wages during the leave must get a confirmation document from their company, and submit it along with an application leave and a copy of medical records of the miscarriage or stillbirth to their local employment center.

Parental Leave

Workers can take a leave of absence for a year to raise a child or children ages 8 or younger, or in the second grade of elementary school.

Qualifications
  • Both male and female workers can apply for parental leave if they have worked for the same company for more than a year, and they have a child 8 years or younger in age, or in the second grade of elementary school.
  • Childcare leave is aimed at preventing male and female employees from quitting their jobs due to lack of childcare and to help them maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Duration of Childcare Leave

The maximum duration of childcare leave is one year.

Childcare Leave Allowance
  • Regular wages are not paid during childcare leave, but an allowance of 40% of the monthly regular wage (maximum KRW 1,000,000, minimum KRW 500,000) is paid throughout the leave, so as not to leave the employee without any income.

    If a mother takes childcare leave and a father takes childcare leave for the same child, 100% of the average monthly wage (up to KRW 1.5 million) is paid for the first three months of the childcare leave of the father. (If the order of leave is reversed, the wage is paid for the month of the childcare leave of the father).

  • Other than childcare leave allowances, incentives are provided to employers (KRW 300,000 per month for companies subject to preferential support) as well as alternative employment subsidies (KRW 300,000 per month for large companies and KRW 600,000 for companies subject to preferential support).

    Additional KRW 100,000 is given to companies subject to preferential support when employees take childcare leave for the first time within the companies (Incentive No. 1)

How to Apply for Childcare Leave Allowance
  • Submit your application for childcare leave allowance to the business proprietor 30 days prior to taking leave.
  • Workers who intend to receive allowances during childcare leave must get written confirmation from their company and submit it along with an application to their local employment center.
  • Necessary Documents
    • 1. Documents received from company: confirmation document for childcare leave, payroll document that can confirm wage such as employment contract (copy), etc.
    • 2. Documents received from homepage of the Ministry of Employment and Labor or Employment Center: application form for childcare leave

Working Hour Reduction during Childcare Period

Workers who have children 6 years old or younger (only applies to children born after January 1, 2008) who are not yet in elementary school, can apply for reduced working hours (15-30 hours a week) during the childcare period

Subjects
  • Both male and female workers can apply for reduced working hours if they have worked for the same company for more than a year and have a child 6 years old or younger who has not yet entered elementary school.
  • Reduction of working hours during the childcare period aims to improve employees’ work-life balance, ensure career stability and progression, increase company loyalty, and prevent a decline in the quality of work.
Usage period
  • Reduced working hours can be applied for up to a year. However, that 1 year includes parental (maternity or paternity) leave, so if you already used parental leave for a year, then you cannot apply for reduced hours.

    If employees opt to apply for reduced hours instead of applying for childcare leave, the duration will be extended to up to two years. (It will be effective from October 2017)

    Duration of shortened working hours for childcare = the number of days of childcare leave (up to a year) unused x 2

Wages during reduced hours for childcare
  • During the working hour reduction period, wages are paid by business owner for corresponding working hours, and allowances proportional to reduced time are paid from employment insurance.
  • As in childcare leave, government incentives for childcare leave (KRW 200,000 per month (KRW 100,000 for large companies)) and incentives for recruiting temporary employees (600,000 per month (KRW 300,000 for large companies) are given to employers to encourage the use of the reduced working hours benefit.
How to apply for working hour reduction allowances during childcare period
  • Workers must apply for working hour reduction 30 days before the reduction in hours is applied.
  • Workers who intend to receive allowances during working hour reduction period must get written confirmation from their company and submit it along with an allowance application to their local employment center.
  • Necessary Documents
    1. 1. Documents received from the company: confirmation document for working hour reduction during childcare period, payroll documents that can confirm wage such as copy of employment contract, etc.
    2. 2. Documents received from the homepage of the Ministry of Employment and Labor or Employment Center: application form for working hour reduction allowances during childcare period

      When workers are pregnant, they can take a leave before or after childbirth. In addition, workers who have a child (or children) ages 8 or younger, or are in the second grade of an elementary school or below, can take a parental leave (working hour reduction during child nurturing period).

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