A framework for conceptualizing prenatal care

Question 1(CM)

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Tae-Kyo is a comprehensive view that implies a framework for conceptualizing prenatal care that encompasses multidimensional aspects of prenatal care culture which has a powerful influence on Korean perinatal beliefs and practices and as a result, pregnancy is highly ritualized in Korean culture. TheTae-Kyo philosophy shows the importance of children’s development from the very beginning of life and indicates the moral and social responsibilities of pregnant women, family members, and communities in delivering healthy babies. Once a Korean woman has conceived, she is supposed to follow Tae-Kyo which includes various prenatal care rituals and behavioral taboos. Tae-kyo is a set of traditional prenatal self-care which originally starts from being prepared as a parent even before the conception. It has been observed by many childbearing women in Korean culture. It is important for a Korean woman to appreciate beautiful things in life and avoid certain taboos. Examples of this includes avoiding handling unclean things or killing any live creature, to avoid childbirth complications or other misfortunes in the family which may occur. In following the tradition many also may bind their bellies with binders from 5 months gestation and do indulge in great physical activity to avoid a large baby. Under this practice woman refrain from eating particular foods like ducks, scaled fish, crabs, squids to avoid the baby taking on features likening to those foods, (Lee 2015).
During pregnancy Korean women tend to stay away from certain foods and also make an effort to incorporate more of certain other foods to their diet. The more dominant foods consumed during pregnancy are rice, kimenchee, noodles or fresh fruits. Those foods to be avoided are crabs, chicken, coffee, and spicy foods. Fruits with blemishes were avoided because it is believed to cause the infant to have skin complications and/or a mean face. Postpartum food choices include seaweed soup and rice to enhance lactation and help the mother heal by cleaning the blood because of they contents are high in iron. It is also recommended that in their postpartum period new mothers avoid cold foods and beverages because they would negatively affect their physiological healing process, because they are believed to lose heat during labor and thus need to replace that heat with hot oral intakes to avoid arthritis and other chronic diseases, (Purnell 2013).
The cultural attitudes toward drinking among Koreans is reflective of their social structure, lifestyle, and traditions. Though Korean when tend to be light drinkers, their male counterparts often times drink heavily, a tradition passed down from fathers to son. Culturally alcohol consumption is incorporated in even business as they believe that reactions, decisions and choices are more organic as inhibitions are laid to rest after drinking. Because of heavy expectation in the culture it may appear to also be a coping mechanism causing high alcohol prevalence, (Purnell 2013).
Culturally congruent strategies a healthcare provider might use to address Jay’s drinking include helping Jay with coping strategies other than alcohol. Culturally Korean’s often feels great pressure to success and be able to meet the needs of their families and Jay’s job stress combined with increasing family is causing him to use alcohol. Also it important to educate Jay about what alcoholism is because he may not find his drinking to be problem as many Koreans, especially Korean birth tend not to deem strong alcohol use as alcoholism if it doesn’t cause physiological and psychological addition and degeneration, (Purnell 2013).
Lee, Kyoung-Eun (2015). Korean Immigrant Women’s Taekyo Practices in the United States as a Traditional Prenatal Self-care Division of Nursing Science, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea. Korean J Women Health Nurs. Accesses July 29 from
Purnell, L. (2013). Transcultural health care: A culturally competent approach. (4th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Co.

Question 2 (RMI)
Korean Cultural Practices and Health Care
Culture shapes and influences health belief systems and has significant impacts on the traditional health care behaviors of patients, especially how women distinguish and decipher health care practices when it comes to the expectations of their cultural communities and childbirth experience. For instance, after conception in the Korean culture, the mother is expected to adhere to tae-kyo, which is a set of behavioral taboos and conventional prenatal self-care practices or rituals (Lee, 2015). Observing tae-kyo involves figuring and appreciating beautiful things in life and refraining from committing specific taboos, including only eating clean food and touching clean items to avoid bringing misfortunes to the family or enduring difficult childbirth.

Certain aspects of tae-kyo are similar to the allopathic recommendations for prenatal care while others are not. For instance, both Western prenatal practices and tae-kyo emphasize the importance of the relationship between the mother and the baby. As such, both cultures engage in activities, such as playing music for the baby, reading and talking to the baby, and mediation, among others to fortify maternal-fetal attachment (Lee, 2015). Even though the objective of tae-kyo is to promote the health and well being of the fetus and the mother; it has some risk practices such as having pregnant women wear tight abdominal binders or work physically hard toward the end of the pregnancy to increase the chances of having a small baby (Purnell, 2013). Also, tae-kyo forbids the intake of pain medication during childbirth since pregnant mothers are not supposed to evince pain during the process of delivery. The Korean culture expects them to be strong, silent, and direct their energy toward chi during delivery. While some discordances exist, the fact that tae-kyo strengthens maternal-fetal connection necessitates its inclusion in the recommendations for prenatal care.

Based on principles of tae-kyo and the Korean culture, food choices vary during pregnancy and postpartum, in terms of the intended recipient and function in the body. During pregnancy, the pregnant mother only consumes unblemished foods and avoids crooked or broken pieces of cookies, fruit, and vegetables. They believe that such food choices will have a positive impact on the physical appearance of the baby. On the other hand, after delivery, the focus shifts from nourishment of the baby to the mother in terms of food choices. For instance, the mother consumes seaweed soup for four weeks after delivery to clean her blood her from the toxins emanating from childbirth and contract her uterus (Purnell, 2013). They also do not eat crunchy or hard foods or drink cold drinks since their gums and bones are tender from childbirth.

According to the study undertaken by Cho (2016), drinking is a critical part of the corporate culture in South Korea, so much so that Confucian norms are infused in the practice. Their drinking etiquette involves a person never having an empty cup, thus fostering binge drinking as the norm. Moreover, the refusal of a drink is contemplated as a rejection of one’s generosity. In this regard, South Koreans perceive the drinking of alcohol as the easiest way of formulating relationships and alleviating stress. Based on these practices and norms on drinking, it is no surprise that Jay began taking alcohol as a way of coping with his stress.

An excellent example of a culturally congruent strategy that a health care professional can utilize to address Jay’s drinking is patient education on the serious impact of heavy drinking. There is a preference to shun the problem of excessive alcohol consumption in the Korean culture to the point where it is considered as common or normal (Ryu, Crespi, and Maxwell, 2013). Clarifying and changing this practice is crucial to enabling Jay to see the adverse impacts of his alcohol intake. Moreover, the medical practitioner can offer alternative ways of stress alleviation that are acceptable in the Korean culture as a viable substitute for drinking.


Cho, T. (2016). A sobering look at South Korea’s drinking culture. Retrieved 29 July 2020, from

Lee, K. (2015). Korean immigrant women’s taekyo practices in the United States as a traditional prenatal self-care. Korean Journal of Women Health Nursing, 21(3), 241. doi: 10.4069/kjwhn.2015.21.3.241

Purnell, L. (2013). Transcultural health care: A culturally competent approach (4th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

Ryu, S., Crespi, C., & Maxwell, A. (2013). Drinking patterns among Korean adults: Results of the 2009 Korean community health survey. Journal of Preventive Medicine & Public Health, 46(4), 183-191. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.2013.46.4.183

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