Words by Grace Sun
Birthing a baby in Korea can be a worrisome task. Pregnant or know someone that is? Birthing a baby in a foreign country can be an exciting but daunting task particularly if you are a foreigner that has decided to give birth in Korea. As we all know, choosing an obstetrician and hospital is a confusing task, and this is even more complicated in Korea with its often rigid childbearing practices and customs. Resident fashion writer and new mom Grace has done all the hard work for you – here’s her firsthand account visiting seven different doctors and hospitals in Seoul before birthing a baby here. This is intended as a guide only, so make sure you check out the clinics for yourself before deciding!
One of the best women’s hospitals in Seoul, CHA has a great reputation among both locals and foreigners. The international clinic is both helpful and efficient—the girls will sit in with you during all consultations with the doctor and explain anything you don’t understand. Not that you will need them to, though, as Dr. Cha speaks excellent English and you will have the option to see him at the Chaum Clinic, a luxury VIP clinic just for foreigners. CHA is also the only hospital that has its own cord banking system, which will store cord blood for 15-20 years. The postpartum care is excellent, with big private rooms and a delivery suite available.
Recommended for: those that want a great international clinic and the luxury of personalized service
Not recommended for: those that want more of a Western-style hospital system
Hospital located between Yeoksam Stn. (line 2, ex. 7) and Hakdong Stn. (line 7, ex. 4). The VIP clinic for foreigners is located in Cheongdam-dong.
Dr. Sung’s Obstetrics and Gynecology
An experienced doctor and the most-visited clinic by foreigners as all the staff speak very good English. Dr. Sung no longer does deliveries, so she will do your prenatal checkups up to 25 weeks and then refer you to a hospital based on your condition.
Recommended for: easy, foreigner-friendly and informative service
Not recommended for: building a relationship with your doctor during your pregnancy, as you will be transferred.
Located on the 2nd floor of the Hyundai Building in Hannam-dong.
Hosan Women’s Hospital
Hosan is a birthing clinic, which means it is well-priced and only does one thing – delivery. Dr Park speaks near native English and is on call 24 hours a day unlike doctors in other Korean hospitals. Some freedom is allowed within the system, such as allowing the husband to cut the umbilical cord after a c-section. Hosan also has a postpartum care center (sanhu joriwon)–for recovering mothers. Be aware, however, that this hospital is not equipped for certain emergencies such as blood transfusions and in such a situation may transfer patients to another hospital.
Recommended for: non-fuss mothers who want to attend a practical and economical birth center.
Not recommended for: high risk pregnancies, emergencies
Located a 5-minute walk from Apgujeong Stn. (line 3, ex. 2).
Medi Flower Clinic
If you are looking for a doctor that will give you the time, patience and care you’d expect from a Western doctor, then this is the clinic for you. You will find with some Korean doctors that they’re always in a bit of a rush to get rid of you, but that will not happen here. Dr. Chung is often described as a “mid-husband,” and he’s never too busy to discuss your concerns and questions. His birth clinic provides, without a doubt, the best and most homely birthing suites you will find in Seoul. An advocate of hypnobirthing and natural methods, the centre even has a luxury room with a water birthing tub. This is a doctor that will give you as much time as you need, allow you a lot of control over the whole process, and a caring hand throughout labor—all reliably rare in Korea. All this will cost you though. His fees are the highest on this list, so be prepared to pay a premium.
Recommended for: natural births, hypnobirthing, water birth
Not recommended for: high risk pregnancies
Located near Seoul National University Stn. (line 2, ex. 13).
CCheil General Hospital & Women’s Healthcare Center
Another top hospital for women. It has a great reputation but is crowded and lacks the efficiency in its international clinic that is essential for foreigners. Dr. Kim Moon Yong is an experienced doctor who speaks good English, and Dr. Han works in the international clinic. But beware as this is a very Korean hospital with strict procedures and policies that will often leave you feeling like you are just another number.
Recommended for: high-risk pregnancies, Korean speakers
Not recommended for: natural births
Located in Jung-gu, near Chungmuro Stn. (lines 3 & 4, ex. 1).
Visit their website: Cheil General Hospital& Women’s Healthcare Center
Soon Chun Hyang Hospital
Another general hospital, but one with a difference. SCH is probably the most run-down of all the hospitals here, but it’s one that truly wins foreigners over with its benefits. For one, water birthing is available. It is also the only hospital that will allow husbands to be present in the room during a c-section. There’s a good international clinic here, and Dr. Choi is a friendly and easy-going doctor who speaks great English. If you go with Dr. Chung from Medi Flower (see above) as your obstetrician, he can also birth at this hospital.
Recommended for: those that want a lot of flexibility and a hospital that is very used to dealing with foreigners
Not recommended for: those that want a prestigious and luxurious hospital
A 5-7 minute walk from Hannam Stn. (Jungang line).
St. Mary’s Hospital
A brand spanking new general hospital in Gangnam with a good international clinic and state-of the-art facilities. Dr. Shin is a kind and experienced man; private outpatient rooms are bright and have a view. It’s a rather busy hospital, but there’s a good system in place.
Recommended for: high risk, Caesarian births
Not recommended for: those that want a smaller, personalized hospital and women’s clinic
Located on the campus of the Catholic University of Korea, a short taxi ride from Express Bus Terminal Stn. (lines 3 & 7) and Seocho Stn. (line 2, ex. 7).
Don’t forget, there’s also other big names like Yonsei Severance Hospital and Assam Hospital, both with a good international clinic and worth checking out as well. Remember – do your research and ask questions. Your baby will thank you for it (in a few years).