Mrs. Sun, an immigrant from China by marriage, gave birth to her second child, yet she was still having a hard time taking care of her newborn in Korea. She was contacted by the Public Health Center of Gangdong-gu about the “Seoul At-home New Mom and Infant Care Program,” and she gladly accepted the offer of help. Nurses visited her home to check the baby’s health and development and coach her on safe postnatal care and breastfeeding.
The city of Seoul launched the “Seoul At-home New Mom and Infant Care Program” in July 2013 in three districts Gangbuk, Dongjak, and Gangdong as a pilot project. The program dispatches for up to 25 times nurses to the homes of impoverished new moms who are in need of desperate help.
Public health centers in the three districts contacted new moms in underprivileged households; so far, 1,861 new moms have registered for the service.
The “Seoul At-home New Mom and Infant Care Program” is also available during pregnancy. The at-home care service continues until a baby turns two years old.
Those qualified for the service include women from multicultural homes and low-incomehouseholds, new unmarried moms, pregnant women younger than 23, or those suffering from prenatal or postnatal depression or suicidal impulse. The service is divided into two categories depending on the status of new moms: “general care” is provided to all women qualified for the service, once or twice between pregnancy and four weeks of childbirth; “special care” is offered to all the women in particular need of assistance, for a total of 25 times within two years of childbirth.
Special care covers various issues including new moms’ psychological problems, communication with newborns, moms’ roles in babies’ different development stages, and suitable play for infants.
General care includes education and counseling for about an hour, covering topics such as breastfeeding, soothing crying infants, and infants’ sleeping habits. The service is offered once or twice depending on the need of new moms and infants.
The response to both general and special cares has been very positive during the first three months (July ~ October 2013) that the city government plans to continue the service and cover some new moms in the middle class, too.
Meanwhile, district offices arrange for new moms eligible for special care to receive other social welfare services, too, including the government-subsidized “new mom and newborn care services” offered by private businesses and various benefits offered by multicultural family support centers or social welfare programs operated by “dong” offices.