South Korea, Winter Olympics, Writing for Wellness

Celebrating ballon : the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea; our approaching Valentine’s heartDay ; and the forthcoming second anniversary on The Neonatal Womb Warriors Blog. This year, Kat and I plan to share a bit more of our personal adventures, we continue to explore, cherish, honor and celebrate the amazing and inspiring partnership with our extensive Global community. Thank you, each and every one, for your strength, courage, hope, resilience and creativity.


Republic of Korea

The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from Friday, February 9, 2018 to Sunday, February 25, 2018. Welcomeearth.heart




South Koreans have the right to universal healthcare, ranking first in the OECD for healthcare access. Satisfaction of healthcare has been consistently among the highest in the world – South Korea ranked as having the world’s second best healthcare system in 2017 by Numbeo and was rated as the fourth most efficient healthcare system by Bloomberg.


   Preterm Birth in Republic of Korea: Rate: 9.2%     Rank: 108




For providers that want to access some basic information regarding Late Preterm Birth we discovered a free and accessible website offering pre/post testing and information that may be of value to physicians, residents, nurses, medical students, community health care and other health care providers. The site was created by Elizabeth McIntosh Chawla of Georgetown University School of Medicine. Please visit Physician Classroom @



Nurses are the heart and foundation of preterm birth care in many communities. See these Nurses seamlessly take action to protect the lives of their precious patients!

NICU unit nurses in South Korea reaction when the earthquake hit the hospital



Adult Survivors of Preterm Birth Have Smaller Airways

medscapeBy Anne Harding – December 26, 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The airways of adult survivors of preterm birth are smaller than those of their peers born full-term, which may help to explain their worse lung function, according to findings published online November 29 in Experimental Physiology.

Airway obstruction at rest is a “hallmark finding” in adults who had been born prematurely, Dr. Joseph W. Duke of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who helped conduct the study, noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health. On average, he added, premature birth is associated with a 20% to 30% reduction in lung function, with expiratory flow limitation (EFL) and reduced inspiratory volume during exercise.

Dr. Duke and his team used dysanapsis ratio (DR), an indirect measure that accounts for maximal flow, static recoil and vital capacity, to compare airway size in three groups of adults (mean age, 22 years): 14 who had been born at least eight weeks premature and had bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), 21 born at least 8 weeks premature without BPD, and 24 term-born controls matched by age, sex and height.

DR was 0.16 for the preterm adults without BPD, 0.10 for the BPD group, and 0.22 for the controls. DR correlated significantly with both peak expiratory airflow at rest (r=0.42) and expiratory flow limitation during exercise (r=0.60).

The researchers used two different equations to measure DR, with consistent results: DR was significantly smaller for the preterm adults with or without BPD than for the controls, and those with BPD had significantly smaller DR than those without BPD.

Given the findings, standard treatments for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which work by dilating the airways, may not be effective in these patients, Dr. Duke noted. “We need to do some studies looking at these traditional medicines to reverse airflow obstruction and see what effect, if any, they have on adult survivors of preterm birth,” he said.

He and his colleagues conclude: “The data in the present study suggest that smaller than normal airways explain, at least in part, the lower expiratory airflow rate in PRE (i.e., without BPD) and BPD. The present findings add important information to our understanding of the cardiopulmonary physiology of PRE and BPD.”



Listed in the Top 25 physician writers globally, Nawal El Saadawi is a leading Egyptian feminist, sociologist, medical doctor (psychiatry) and writer.

Writing and Trauma2 Minute Insights head



Want to expand your toolkit with the curative potentialities expressive writing can offer? Pick up a notepad and pen and step into Dr. Pennebaker’s informative Ted Talk:

The Secret Life of Pronouns: James Pennebaker at TEDxAustin-
Chair of the Department of Psychology at one of the largest universities in the country, Jamie delves into our use of language and how it can reflect — and reshape — our understanding of ourselves, our interactions with others and our underlying feelings of strength and empowerment.


Writing for wellness is basically a cost -free modality for healing from post-verbal trauma that most of our global community can access. Story telling and art journaling are other expressive ways to recognize, move and transition stagnant energies.

Center for Integrative Medicine -Writing for Wellness


More than 30 years of research have demonstrated that writing is an effective way to release stress and improve health and wellbeing. Through writing, you can activate your body’s innate healing potential and be an active participant in your own wellness and healing process. For those who have experienced trauma, illness, or other life stressors, you know the negative effect these can have on your body, your mind, and your spirit, not to mention your relationships, job, and priorities. Writing is a tool that can help us move through suffering by first exploring it. Indeed, Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, asserted that “suffering ceases to be suffering … at the moment it finds a meaning.” Writing is a healing modality that helps us let go of painful emotions and memories. It is also a wonderful way to search for meaning and explore new identities and pathways to wholeness.


Many empirical studies have examined the effect of writing on health, revealing a host of benefits for the writer:

  • Better physical health
  • Fewer doctor visits
  • Improved sleep
  • Less pain
  • Positive mood
  • Stronger immune system
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Lower stress hormone levels
  • Physical and mental relaxation
  • And much more!

Additionally, research has also found that those who wrote about emotional topics experienced better grades, found jobs more quickly, and were absent from work less often compared to those who wrote about superficial topics, or just about the facts of the crisis. In each of the studies, those who wrote about superficial topics, without addressing their feelings, did not experience health benefits. This makes sense because when we suppress our emotions we intensify the experience of pain, setting ourselves up for illness and a difficult recovery. For many, the lasting improvement in their well-being far outweighs any temporary distress from writing about painful topics.


In addition to writing, we will be reading and discussing some select pieces of literature, such as poems and short stories. Reading these pieces will enrich your understanding of your own illness or trauma and provide new perspectives for your recovery process. In fact, these types of exercises have been called Narrative Medicine. Reading other’s writing is also a wonderful catalyst for your own writing.

When everything in your life feels out of control, including your own body, writing can help. It is one thing you still have control over. It is something you can do anytime, anywhere. It is a safe and private outlet.

No writing experience is necessary to experience the benefits.


This year Kat and I plan to share some of our personal perspectives as our global journey within the Neonatal Womb (Preterm Birth) Community progresses. Within the preterm birth community, each of our experiences are unique and unparalleled. We encourage you to share your story with compassion and sensitivity, even if only and most importantly with yourself!

Kat and I have both noted and at times we discuss an interesting reaction that preterm birth moms, from various economic and global communities, often exhibit when asked how the preterm birth parent experience was for them. In most cases we see their Soul (light in their eyes) make a lightening retreat, they visibly swallow a few times, and lower their eyes before speaking. When they do speak, their voices seem distant, and guardedly softer.  These are reactions perhaps a neuroscientist would be able to explain. My personal experience and research tells me that the journey of preterm birth for parents is often a very isolating experience, hidden for a multitude of reasons.

Our (Kathy) Story BeginsWriting for Wellness:

The snow had barely melted off the long steeply inclined driveway as I pushed the gas pedal, propelling me to the house where three of my children were waiting. Relieved and happy to arrive home safely, I anticipated the hot bath I prepared after dinner would feel so good to my cold feet. Almost six months pregnant with my second set of twins my body was swollen, sore and naked. Preparing to step into the tub my eyes were drawn to the floor beneath me. Frozen with horror upon seeing my mucus plug lying there, my heart dropped, breath stopped, and my labor pains began to play their dreadful rhythm. Unwilling and unprepared, my NICU journey began. 

Checked into the hospital that would serve to station the next three days of labor, I was told by hospital staff that the twins would not survive birth at 24 weeks gestation. Even so, medications to delay the birthing process were provided. For three days I researched funeral homes that would be willing to cremate the ever-small twin bodies. I washed my face compulsively in an attempt to keep my soul present through the tortuous process that possessed me.

On the fourth day of labor I was transported by ambulance to an alternative hospital that had a high level NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). There I was told by a Labor and Delivery resident that there was a slight chance the babies may survive. The young doctor asked what my feelings were regarding life-saving efforts in relationship to the very early birth of the twins? I had been exploring this issue deeply for days.  Looking directly into the resident’s questioning eyes I responded “I do not want to imprison a soul in a body that has no ability to function”.

Hours later the birth process reached its climax. Alone on the hospital gurney in the delivery room my son was born. The attending resident was in another room having a party with a beautiful woman, a Victoria’s Secret model per staff conversations, who had come into my room earlier appearing as an Angel of Death. As the party continued, I screamed for help, but it was several minutes before anyone from the Labor and Delivery team came to assist and provide care. My son, partially birthed, was unattended and I felt helpless. When the medical team arrived, Cruz was removed from my body, dying in the process or very shortly after. As Cruz transitioned, and to my complete surprise, his twin sister Kathryn arrived, her tiny voice shattering the silence. The NICU staff, arriving swiftly, surrounded Kathryn, taking over her care and much of her life for the next several months.

Eventually Cruz was brought to me for a brief encounter. Although grateful for the opportunity to hold him, I regret not being more present in those elusive moments. Over time, I have come to recognize the precious potential for healing that time spent with the deceased child may hold for the parents, and the emergent need for guidance and support the unprepared and overwhelmed travelers experience is those critical moments of the preterm birth journey.

Seeing Kathryn, a few hours older, all 1 lb. 8 oz. of her, I first witnessed “BIG” technology on a tiny baby. Covered with fine black hair, sporting a body with no butt, unformed ears, and fused eyes the infant proclaimed her presence. Encased in glass and metal, bejeweled with IV’s, a large intubation tube, and attached to all sorts of strange medical life support equipment, Kathryn was exquisitely beautiful.

Following his brief journey into life, Cruz disappeared for a week into the mystery of death and hospital convention. My questions regarding his whereabouts were only vaguely addressed. Due to his small size Cruz journeyed with a larger, unknown body through the cremation process. Within the tiny bag of ashes a perfectly shaped hip bone confirmed his existence.

And so our NICU journey continued…



Effects of Kangaroo Care on Neonatal Pain in South Korea

Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, Volume 62, Issue 3, 1 June 2016, Pages 246–249,             Young Sun Seo Department of Nursing, Eulji University Hospital, Daejeon, 302-799   South Korea


Blood sampling for a newborn screening test is necessary for all neonates in South Korea. During the heel stick, an appropriate intervention should be implemented to reduce neonatal pain. This study was conducted to identify the effectiveness of kangaroo care (KC), skin contact with the mother, on pain relief during the neonatal heel stick. Twenty-six neonates undergoing KC and 30 control neonates at a university hospital participated in this study. Physiological responses of neonates, including heart rate, oxygen saturation, duration of crying and Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) scores were measured and compared before, during and 1 min and 2 min after heel sticks. The heart rate of KC neonates was lower at both 1 and 2 min after sampling than those of the control group. Also, PIPP scores of KC neonates were significantly lower both during and after sampling. The duration of crying for KC neonates was around 10% of the duration of the control group. In conclusion, KC might be an effective intervention in a full-term nursery for neonatal pain management.




Our Warriors are competing in the Olympics!

The SUN – By MARTIN PHILLIPS, Senior Features Writer- Updated: 11th July 2017

‘the toughest fighter’

Wayde van Niekerk was fast from the start … he was born 11 weeks early, says gold medalists’ mum.

The sprint sensation was born three months premature and on Sunday, 24 years on, secured his 400m crown with a world-record time

SPRINT sensation Wayde van Niekerk always was keen to get over the finish line fastest. The Olympic champion was born three months premature and on Sunday, 24 years on, secured his 400m crown with a world-record time.

Wayde was born three months early but fought through. His mum Odessa Swarts was in Rio to see her boy storm home in 43.03 seconds — a feat not lost on someone whose own record-breaking athletics career was stifled by South Africa’s apartheid system. But from the moment Wayde joined Bellville Primary School in Cape Town, Odessa knew she had a future champion on her hands. At a school whose motto is “where children become winners”, Wayde hit the ground running. Van Niekerk says he’s blessed to be Olympic champion.


Wayde Van Niekerk’s Story

Published on Aug 17, 2016- After winning Gold at the Rio Olympics in the 400m race, and breaking a 17-year world record, Wayde has become a beacon for inspiration in South Africa. Check out his story of triumph as he thanks God, his mom, dad and coach for helping him reach this pinnacle.



Exploring “writing for wellness” as shared in our blog this month has had a positive impact on my personal journey. Seeking to express my internal feelings regarding my early birth in addition to my experiences volunteering/working in the neonatal care environment as an adult has produced an outcome of greater self-awareness. Experiential journaling has allowed me to gain physical and visceral release through the action of placing what is held internally on an external source.

Warriors, please consider using the tool of journaling to identify whatever questions and concerns that surface for you in relation to your birth and life journey. Expressive writing may assist you in gaining new-found insight into who you are or connect you in new ways with your family. Expressive writing may bring clarity to your understanding of your personal experience as a neonate, separate from the stories you have been told. Parents, family members, providers, and friends all have deeply personal stories to share in relation to the preterm birth experience. We all move through the trauma of the preterm birth journey together yet independently. The walk may be lonely and difficult, and putting one foot in front of the other may be a miraculous demonstration of choosing to love over fear. Journaling may provide us with an opportunity to be fully present for ourselves. Whether sharing something painful, joyful or routine, writing provides an opportunity to create space that is uniquely ours.

Surfing Haeundae in Busan / 부산, 해운대에서 서핑을~!


Dynamic Busan (부산/부산시/부산광역시/Busan City Official)-Published on Jul 3, 2013


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