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Pregnancy and Childbirth

01 Preparations for Having a Baby

Medical tests for couples who are planning for pregnancy
  • Tests and vaccinations are necessary before the pregnancy for the health of the mother and the baby.
Medical tests for couples who are planning for pregnancy
ClassificationReason for testPrevention
RubellaCan cause malformation on the baby when infected in the beginning of pregnancyIf the mother is not immune, at least one vaccination of rubella (MMR*) is required
Recommended to wait 3 months after vaccination
Hepatitis BWhen mother is infected with hepatitis B, an infant is likely to be infected at birth
  • If the mother is not immune, hepatitis B vaccination is required before pregnancy (total of three times on 0th, 1st, and 6th month)
  • When the mother is hepatitis B virus carrier, treatment for the child (infant) required immediately after birth
  • 2. Infant Health Management → Refer to Project to Prevent Newborn Babies from Having Hepatitis B in the perinatal Period
  • MMR: Mixed vaccine for measles, epidemic mumps, and rubella
  • Even if you had been vaccinated before, another vaccination is required when the antibody test is negative. Total number of vaccination cannot be more than 3.
Congenital Zika Syndrome
  • When the mother is exposed to Zika virus before birth of the child, it causes neurological deficit such as serious brain deformity, including microcephaly.
  • If you are from a country with ongoing Zika virus infection, postpone the pregnancy for 6 months (both male and female)

02 Recommended Checkups for Expectant Mothers

Checkups required for expectants mothers are listed as follows. Depending on the health of the expectant mother and/or her baby, the obstetrician may require additional tests.

Recommended and Required Tests for Pregnant Women
Recommended and Required Tests for Pregnant Women
Blood testRegular blood testIf you are pregnant, you must take a blood test (hemoglobin, platelet, red blood cell, etc.)to assess your health, and to identify any potential risks to you and your baby. At this timeyou will also be checked for diseases such as AIDS, rubella, etc.
Blood-type testTest for ABO blood type and Rh factor. If you are a pregnant woman with Rh-negativeblood, you will be injected with Rh immune globulin at 28 weeks of gestation.
Syphilis examinationTest for syphilis, which is a major cause of fetal death and fetal infection.
Hepatitis examinationTest for hepatitis. Hepatitis B tends to worsen during pregnancy, and can be passed to thebaby through the placenta, during childbirth, or through nursing.
UrinalysisTest for gestosis or diabetes by testing sugar and proteins, and test for urinary tract infections.
Ultrasound examinationExamination of growth development, location, size of the fetus and test for deformities.

03 General Practices for Good Prenatal Health

  • A healthy child needs a healthy mother
    If you are trying to conceive, make your health your primary focus. Consult a doctor and seektreatment for any health concerns you may have.
  • Do not take medications
    If possible, avoid taking any medication during pregnancy. Some medications can seriously impactthe health and wellbeing of your child. The first trimester is an especially important time, since thisis when your baby’s hands, feet, heart, and central nervous system are developing. In cases wheremedication is necessary for the health of the mother and the child (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure,infection with prolonged fever, etc.), consult a doctor for appropriate dosage and treatment.
  • Refrain from alcohol and cigarettes
    Use/overuse of alcohol during pregnancy can cause a child to be born with physical deformities oreven lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Given the severity of the risks, it is wise not to drink any alcoholduring pregnancy. Cigarettes can hamper the growth of the child and cause a low birth-weight,which can lead to other problems. Women who are smokers are advised to quit before trying toconceive.
  • Pregnant women need to get enough calories, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Many women donot need to take nutritional supplements if they have a balanced diet. In a typical, healthy pregnancy,a woman will gain about 1kg a month for the first 4 months of her pregnancy, and about 2kg amonth for the last 6 months of pregnancy, for a total of about 13kg in weight gain. Even if they eata nutritious diet, pregnant women are advised to take iron supplements starting from the 5th monthof pregnancy. Taking an iron supplement on an empty stomach facilitates absorption. Women ofchildbearing age should also get a certain amount of folic acid every day to prevent deficiency ofCanalis neu ralis.
  • Stool becomes harder during pregnancy because the intestines move less than usual and arepressed upon by the expanding womb; as a result, many pregnant women experience constipation.To prevent constipation, pregnant women are advised to increase their intake of fresh fruits andvegetables, engage in regular exercise, and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activities
    Pregnant women are encouraged to engage in regular, light exercise. However, if pregnant, youdo need to avoid starting a new exercise or intensifying your current exercise routine. Also avoiddangerous activities such as heavy lifting or climbing tall ladders.
  • In a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, it is not necessary to restrict sexual activities until the last 4 weeks ofpregnancy. However, women who are deemed at risk of a miscarriage or a premature birth may beadvised to use condoms or abstain from intercourse.
  • Flu shots are recommended for pregnant women, regardless of the trimester, because they are moreprone to develop complications such as pneumonia, if they are infected with influenza.
  • If you are pregnant and must sit for long periods of times, move your lower body and legs as muchas possible to facilitate circulation.
  • During pregnancy, edema (swelling) can often occur in the lower body due to pressure put on veins.Elevating your legs can help relieve some of this pressure and pain. Since edema can also be a signof gestational hypertension, it is important to get your blood pressure checked if you experienceedema in the latter half of pregnancy.
  • Vaginal secretion increases during pregnancy and is no cause for concern. The increase in mucussecretions is due to the change of hormones that happen throughout pregnancy.
  • Receive regular medical examinations
    Receive regular medical examinations as advised by your doctor. You should receive prenatal carethroughout your pregnancy by visiting an accredited medical institution. By doing this, you will beable to minimize any risks to you and your unborn child.
Useful Information
Korean Prenatal Care

Koreans have long believed that the behavior and mentality of the mother during pregnancy affects thebaby mentally, emotionally, and physically. This approach to prenatal care is called Tae-gyo. Traditionally,the pregnant mother is advised to exercise caution in everything she does, refrain from all negativethinking and harmful actions, and talk and act in a relaxed manner to ensure the birth of a healthy child.As part of this mentality, there are many limitations on what a pregnant woman can eat, think, and do.From the perspective of an expectant female immigrant, advice on prenatal care from the husband'sfamily may seem like an invasion of privacy, and may also be very stressful.
However, this stress may come from cultural differences, so it is useful to talk with each other to build abetter understanding. The spouse is encouraged to actively participate in tae-gyo for healthy pregnancyand delivery of the child.

04 Maternity Services at Public Health Centers

All pregnant women (including married immigrants) can receive free healthcare from public healthcenters. High-risk expectant mothers* in particular should be sure to receive care from a public healthcenter or other medical facility.

  • High-risk expecting mothers
    Special care is required for pregnant women who are unusually young or old (under 20 years old or over35 years old), have pregnancy complications such as preterm labor, birth-related bleeding, or severepreeclampsia, or have previously given birth to a premature baby or a baby with a congenital defect.

(1) Free Prenatal Test

Public health centers offer the following tests: early confirmation of pregnancy, urine examination(diabetes, protein), and blood tests (hemoglobin, red blood cell, white blood cell, serologic test ofsyphilis, hepatitis, blood type). Expectant mothers can receive testing by signing up at their local publichealth center. (Please note, tests offered may vary by center).

(2) Childbirth Preparatory Classes and Education

  • Classes on breastfeeding, exercises for pregnant women, childbirth preparation, baby massage and other topics are available.
  • Some regions have institutions that lend out books, CDs, and videos related to pregnancy, prenatal education, and delivery.
    • Prenatal education programs are run by the local government and may differ by region.

(3) Support of Iron Pills

Iron supplements are provided to pregnant women 16 weeks or more into their pregnancy who are enrolled with the health centers.

(4) Support of Folic Acid

For pregnant woman who are registered at a public health center, folic acid supplements are provided for the first 3 months of pregnancy.

(5) Medical Expenses Support for Pregnant Women at High Risk

Support is provided for up to 3 million won in medical expenses not covered by health insurance for women in a high-risk pregnancy who are diagnosed with any of the 19 major high-risk pregnancy complications and admitted to a hospital.

  • Eligibility: A pregnant woman whose family income is less than 180% the national median income who has been diagnosed with any of the 19 major high-risk pregnancy complications* and has received inpatient treatment
    • Premature labor, birth-related bleeding, severe toxemia of pregnancy, premature rupture ofmembranes, abruptio placentae, placenta previa, threatened abortio, hypamnios, oligoamnios,antepartum hemorrhage, incompetent cervix, high blood pressure, multiple pregnancy, diabetes,hyperemesis gravidarum with metabolic disorder, renal disease, cardiac insufficiency, intrauterinegrowth restriction, intrauterine and adnexal diseases
  • Allotment: 90% of the whole payment and uninsured payment borne by the admitted high-risk pregnant women (within the limit of KRW 3 million) (except for higher ward fee and special meals)
  • Application process: Prepare the required documents. Submit the form to the nearest public health center in the area of your residence.
  • Required documents: One written diagnosis paper (including disease name and disease code), oneconfirmation paper of hospitalization and discharge, one medical expenses receipt, one detailedstatement, one resident registration paper, one copy of health insurance card, a bill of medical costsand a payment confirmation, one copy of deposit account passbook (in the name of applicant forsupport), etc.

(6) Nutrition Plus Program

This program, implemented by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, seeks to provide the eligiblepregnant women and infants nutrition education and counseling, as well as supplementary food toreduce their risk of malnutrition and independently maintain a nutritious diet.

Nutrition Plus Program
TypeAid Information
Eligibility :
Infants (under 6 years old, under 72 months after birth), pregnant women, breastfeeding women
Criteria for residential districts :
corresponding public health center that has the jurisdiction over participants’ place of residence
  • For couples of international marriage, at least one of them must have Korean nationality.
Income level :
80% or less of the minimum cost of living by household size
Malnutrition factors :
anemia, low-weight, poor growth, or poor nutritional intake
Aid Information
Provision of nutritional supplementary foods
Food such as rice, potatoes, eggs, carrots, milk, black beans, dried laver, seaweed, cannedtuna fish, tangerines, etc. is provided free of charge based on the participant¡¯s nutritionalneeds. (However, for households earning higher than 65% of the median income, 10% of thesupplementary food expenses must be paid by the participant.)
Description: Nutrition Education and Counseling
  • Individual counseling, group education, home education, and online education are provided in conjunction with supplementary foods
  • Counseling/education is conducted at least once a month
How to Apply
Reception office :
public health centers
Necessary Documents
  • Documents showing the number of family members : Copy of Resident Registration and the Certificate of the Family Relations
  • Documents showing income level : Receipt of health insurance premium payment, health insurance card, document proving eligibility for basic living support or support for the quasi-poor (if applicable)
  • Other documents : Documents proving pregnancy or childbirth: Maternity Handbook, Medical Certificate & Opinion (before childbirth) or Birth Certificate (after childbirth)
This program is available at public health centers nationwide except for in Ongjin-gun (Incheon) and Ulleungdo (Gyeongsangbuk-do). Please visit or call your local public health center for more information.
  • Gynecological examinations (congenital anomaly test, etc.) may be received at 'Raphael Clinic' (,02-764-7595), a medical service organization that provides free medical treatment and aid for foreign workers.

(7) National Vaccination Support Program for Influenza for Pregnant Women

A program that provides flu vaccinations for pregnant women to prevent infections by influenza in pregnant women and fetuses

  • Target : Pregnant women (can be vaccinated regardless of weeks into pregnancy)
    • For those who can submit documents that can prove pregnancy (Maternity Handbook, etc.)
  • Aid Information : One influenza vaccination
  • Vaccination centers : Public healthcare centers and designated healthcare organizations
    • Vaccination is available at public health centers or designated healthcare organizations regardless ofaddress. For designated healthcare organizations, please visit the website of the National InoculationProgram ( Vaccination management for my child Find medical institution (Alsoavailable via mobile app)

05 Giving Birth

Pregnant women can give birth at an OB/GYN clinic or hospital. Birthing options and proceduresshould be discussed before labor to avoid any miscommunications. Two of the most common ways togive birth are vaginally and via c-section.

(1) Vaginal Childbirth

  • Vaginal childbirth is when the child comes out through the vagina without the help of medication or machines. The perineal region may be cut to make the birth easier.
  • In some cases, such as when the baby is long overdue, a woman may be induced. With your first baby, labor may take about 10 hours, while labor for a subsequent baby usually takes up to 5 hours.
  • Vaginal births may be painful, but they have a shorter recovery time and are known to be the best method. Also, a vaginal birth results in the shortest hospital stay, usually only 2 to 3 days, and is also the most economical.

(2) Caesarian Section (C-Section)

  • When natural childbirth is not an option, a c-section must be performed. This procedure is used when a vaginal birth is deemed as too risky to the mother or child such as in the cases of advanced maternal age, a narrow pelvis, or a breeched birth.
  • A c-section is a type of surgery and may lead to complications. For this reason, women are encouraged to pursue a vaginal childbirth unless a c-section is absolutely necessary.
  • A c-section requires a hospital stay of approximately one week after giving birth and is more costly than a vaginal childbirth.
Prenatal and childbirth translation and interpretation services can be requested by contacting the Danuri Helpline (☎1577-1366) or your local multi-cultural family support center or, public health center.
본 저작물은 '한국건강가정진흥원'에서 '2020년' 작성하여 공공누리 제4유형으로 개방한 '한국생활가이드북'을 이용하였으며, 해당 저작물은 '한국건강가정진흥원,' 에서 무료로 다운받으실 수 있습니다.