Newborns in Japan, Korea and the US

Our second child is now more than a week old, and we are adjusting to the new routine. The first week was really, really busy. We stayed in the hospital for 2 nights, 3 days so my wife could recover from surgery, and then we went home. Since then, I’ve taken over my wife’s duties around the home, and taking our daughter (“princess”) to school and such.

My wife noted that 3 days seemed really short in the hospital, especially for surgery. She’s strong and can walk around without taking any pain medicine, but it seems like in Japan, women who had delivered babies would stay longer in the hospital. I think this might be true with Korea as well, from what I heard, but I could be wrong.

The other big difference I’ve noticed is food. Our Korean friend, “H”, was really excited about our baby (she gave birth to her son 8 days after us, congratulations!) and made us a special Korean soup called miyeokguk (미역국) which Korean mothers take after giving birth. It helps recover the body, and also helps mom give milk to their new babies. According to her, you saute beef with garlic and soy-sauce then use it for broth. Then add lots and lots of seaweed (similar to Japanese wakame) and simmer for 1 hour. It tastes good, actually.

Our Japanese friends also gave us lots of okayu (お粥) which is a thin rice porridge mentioned in this old post. Because we had so much miyeokguk and okayu, my wife would sometimes just mix them together and eat. The best of both worlds. 😉

But that’s not all. Since we got home, my wife’s friends have been delivering us food almost daily. Homemade sushi, homemade chili, pasta, ebi-furai (deep fried prawns), etc. We’ve had so much food, we haven’t cooked much, which is great. Still, it surprised me a lot that people would bring so much food. I was really confused at first. I kept thinking “why are people bringing so much food?”.

I don’t Americans have a tradition of bringing food to new parents like this. My family did visit and brought some food though. My mom brought a big box See’s Candy chocolates (a family tradition) for my wife,1 but overall our Japanese/Korean friends have brought a lot of home-cooked, gourmet food.

But, I kind of realized why: according to my wife, new mothers in Japan often stay home for a month or with family. They don’t go out much until after the first month, so it’s expected that everyone around them take care of them. Again, I think this is true in Korea as well, based on what “H” told me.

This is somewhat different than American culture I think. Moms leave the house more often and might receive help only from the family. For example, my mother has been helping my sister, who had a baby in July (my first nephew), but I don’t think many other people are coming to help. Personally, I’ve been pushing my wife to get out and get some fresh air too, since 8 days at home seems too long to me. 😉

Anyhow, it’s interesting how different cultures deal with new births.

P.S. Upcoming blog posts maybe shorter than in the past. I thought about posting less often, but I like the idea of blogging often, even if the posts are shorter. Either way, the new baby is keeping us busy, so the blog may change a bit.

1 My daughter and I ate about 1/3 of those chocolates before my wife found out. We got in trouble. ;p


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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