15 (Sat) April 2012
Engawa + Sake Nigirizushi
at Hosan Postpartum Recovery Center
-Sinsa, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
After a week in the maternity ward, W has been transferred to the hospital’s postpartum recovery center (PRC), same building, different floor. PRC, or sanhu joriwon (산후조리원), is a cross between hospital / hotel / home, staffed by doctors and nurses, the primary purpose being to provide a restful environment, as well as medical services, for a new mother to recover in the days immediately following childbirth. The baby gets some attention in the process. The period of stay ranges from 1 week at a minimum, 2 weeks on average, sometimes up to 3 weeks, 4 weeks max; W will be there for 2 weeks.
Typically, the mother stays in a single occupancy room, one of several arranged like in a dormitory. Though the size and amenities vary depending on price, the standard room is made up like a stdio apartment, including bed + baby crib + closet + dining table + side table + refrigerator + computer + TV, and maybe sofa + spare bed for guests, plus private bathroom + shower/tub.
Meanwhile, the baby is kept in a separate neonatal room, usually on a different floor, along with other babies. At the mother’s discretion, the baby may be brought to the bedroom for feedings and taken back afterwards, perhaps for supplemental bottle feeding if necessary, either with pumped/stored breast milk or formula. She may request the staff to feed the baby via bottle at the appropriate intervals during the night, allowing her to sleep all the way through. Of course, the mother may choose to keep the baby for as long as she wants and for whatever reason. The staff also takes care of bathing the baby, laundry, diapers, etc.
Meals for the mother are prepared and delivered to the room 5 times a day (see 3.096 Postpartum Recovery Meal).
During the afternoon, classes are provided on a variety of activities, including yoga, arts & crafts, and maybe child rearing if time permits. Massage and skincare services may also be available, depending on how fancy the PRC.
Conceptually, the PRC represents the culmination of (i) a long-standing belief that the physical trauma of pregnancy will result in longterm pain/disability, unless the mother follows a strict treatment regimen, including the consumption of seaweed soup 5 times a day, as noted above; and (ii) a recent push to institutionalize/outsource various aspects of private life previously dealt with at home, and to do it in style if possible. Though the general practice of postpartum care goes back decades (centuries?), formal PRCs didn’t exist prior to 2000. Even though the industry is now firmly entrenched in the mainstream, the facilities are typically designed/marketed/price/regarded as something of a middle/upperclass luxury. Most Koreans would probably agree that staying in one would be nice, and perhaps beneficial, if they have the time and dough to spend on it. Most Koreans would likely agree that PRCs are way too expensive, costs ranging from 1.5 to 5 million won per week – I would guess that our room is about 2 million won per week, though I’d rather not know. Still, as far as I’m aware, economy-level PRCs (e.g., multiple occupancy rooms, self-service meals) are exceedingly rare – might as well do it at home.
So long as it holds off 3AM-feedings for the next couple weeks – though admittedly, I won’t really be involved in that either – I’m all for the PRC, money be damned. But most important, given all that W has been through during the last 8 months, it’s a small reward. Thank you.
(See also FOODS)
(See also PLACES)