past, cultural notions of pregnancy in Korea have been
significantly different in comparison to Western-style health care.
Interviews conducted with Korean women and family, by members
the HCC NURS 254 class, Group 1, indicate that tradtional
of prenatal care continue to co-exist with a more
purpose of this webpage is
to explore Korean culture, with regard to pregnancy. We are
way promoting a Western healthcare model, over more traditional Korean
prenatal pregnancy practices or beliefs. Viewers of this
should consider that Korean culture has prospered for several millenia,
long before the notions included in contemporary Western healthcare
practices were even considered.
Comments (based on our
interviews) are listed below and are not meant in any way as
for prenatal care. If you think you are pregnant, it's very
important to contact your health-care provider and schedule an
Mahalo from the HCC ADN Class of 2009
malaise and missed menstrual periods appear to be universal indicators
possible pregnancy. South
is an industrialized country and has access to many of the
over-the-counter medicines & preparations that we have access
to in the U.S.
way for a Korean woman to determine whether or not she is pregnant is
self-administer an over-the-counter test. An ultrasound
are prohibited by law from telling prospective parents the gender of
due to a cultural preference for male babies.
In traditional settings, a pregnant woman's mother-in -law or sister
has a dream;
also the Chinese doctor can tell if you are pregnant by feeling
(he can detect an extra heart beat). Dreams are a very
traditional element of pregnancy. There will be a dream; a
mong" by a sister, mother, or mother-in-law. The baby's
determined by what is seen in the tae mong (see below).
Others About a Pregnancy
A pregnant woman
in Korea, might tell her
husband first, when it has been confirmed. A pregnant woman's
mother might also be the first person to know.
pregnancy out of wedlock carries cultural stygma (may result
abortion - a doctor might be the first person to know).
Pregnant women in Korea often go to
their OB/GYN doctor
and are prescribed a regimen of prenatal vitamins.
prenatal care is given by the woman's mother, or mother-in-law.
The pregnant woman may also go to the Chinese doctor for
and other traditional medicine.
Determination of Baby's Gender
Dreams - The baby will be a boy, if the tae
tiger, dragon, a fruit with a seed in it, or a strong, muscular animal.
If the tae mong shows a bird, snake, ring, or a flower, the
will be a girl. The kind of pulse the Chinese doctor feels
also indicative of the baby's gender.
sour foods/fruits indicate the baby will be a girl; carvings
for meat or sweet foods indicates a boy.
Physiological signs - If the
mother has a pointed stomach
and no morning sickness it will be a girl; if the mother has a rounded
with morning sickness then it will be a boy.
Presence of Significant
Nowadays in Korea,
husbands will go with
their wives to appointments, and may be present during
Traditionally, males were not allowed in the delivery room,
where the baby was born. Mothers-in-law also play significant
roles throughout the pregnancy and during the delivery.
Also (traditionally), while mother gives birth, the father
is responsible for hanging a special rope made out of some kind of
people know that a child was born, and to stay away from the home.
not allowed to cross the rope or come to the home (no visitors) for 100
the child is born. After that there is a celebration when they will
baby to everyone else.
Ensuring the Baby's
pregnant women would not go to the funerals for fear the
unborn child might be harmed by an evil spirit or ghost (cause a
miscarriage) The pregnant woman should not exercise - there is a fear
that the baby may be not safe during exercise. This includes
heavy lifting. Eating healthy food is important. It was
believed that if the mother was frightened during the day, she would
have bad dreams at night. This would interfer with the mother's
ability to get enough rest and/or relax. Scary
movies were also considered to have a negative effect on the mother's
ability to rest and/or relax. A pregnant woman should listen to
good music as this was considered to encourage relaxation. In the early
she shouldn’t ride in an
airplane, or on a bike, to protect against miscarriage.
Avoid Korean herbs
at the begining of the pregnancy, stay
strong spices, don't eat ugly food (i.e., irregular shaped fruit,
etc...); Eat seaweed soup 1-2 weeks prior
to birth (helps clean blood out). Traditionally, pregnant
women don't work in the dirt or touch dirty things.
with irregular shape, or surface are thought to cause similar
characteristics in the baby (For example, if you eat chicken skin while
pregnant, the baby will have bumpy skin when born; if you eat duck the
child will have webbed feet). Eating blemished, or
fruit will cause the baby's face to be ugly at birth.
Traditionally, a pregnant woman would also keep her belly
covered, and not wear pants (abdominal restriction might
harm to the baby).
Traditionally, women who experience
complications during pregnancy
believe they are somehow at fault, while younger generations believe
there are physiological/metabolic causes for problems. One of
interviewees indicated that her mother and sister experienced "tae
dreams in which they saw things that indicated the gender of the baby
they carried but she did not have the "tae mong" dreams. She
also said she
followed some traditional beliefs during her pregnancy, but not
Note: Information for this webpage was obtained from a very small
sample (we interviewed just a few people). South Korea is
subdivided into many smaller regions, each of which may have their own
regional views and beliefs about prenatal care.
appreciate your feedback!
Please email us
to the Transcultural
November 5, 2008
Pregnant Women (2 separate photos) by John M. Warner.