Pregnancy in Korea

Annyong, Lindsay here!

Just came in from my morning hike along the mountain–literally located directly behind our apartment building. That is one of the many wonderful things about Korea, the mountains. And one of the many reasons we love our apartment so much (despite the mogi war we continue to fight!)

As I’m now in my third trimester of pregnancy and am carrying a medium-sized bowling ball beneath my shirt, it is no secret that I am pregnant. I am no longer running, which I miss incredibly. But I have taken to uphill walks and hikes along this mountain in the backyard. And I know this break from running will be good in the long-term. Come 2011, I will be a regular Forrest Gump around these parts. Can’t wait!

But back to my hiking. It’s funny the response I have gotten from Koreans. Traditionally, they believe exercise, running, or anything strenuous is bad for the baby and could cause miscarriage. But, being the active person I am, I am not about to sit around and let my bowling ball become one of those even larger exercise balls.

While only the women respond (men simply ignore me, per my liking), there are a few who gasp and whisper to their lady walking friends. But these are few and far between, actually. The majority of the ajumma (older women in Korea) smile, cheer me on, pat my shoulder, and shout a loud hello every morning when we see each other. This morning was no different. Most of the morning walkers were gathered together, huddling around a picnic of roasted chestnuts and steaming tea in an exercise pavaillion and in no time at all had called me over. With a warm hello they grabbed handfuls of chestnuts and thrust them out to me

Here are a few other perks I’ve enjoyed while being pregnant in Korea:

  • I always get a seat on the bus! I take two buses every day to and from work. Sometimes, it’s standing room only. But one look at me and my bowling ball and I am promptly pulled to a seat, given up usually by an older woman who has been there.
  • Government perks. Since I’m pregnant in a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world, I get some nice benefits. As part of the national insurance plan, every pregnant woman in the insurance system gets a “beautiful mom” card, issued by a local bank, which pays the majority of my doctor visits. I would tell you how much I’ve paid so far on doctor visits but it would literally make you American moms sick. 
  • All the excitement, none of the hype. When I first told my OBGYN back in the states that I was planning on getting pregnant in Korea, she was the first to cheer me on. “People have been having babies for even longer in Korea,” she was quick to say. “And you won’t have to deal with all the hype.” This was so true. It’s all of the necessities here, none of the silly stuff. My doctor is as practical as they come, and rarely gives me any direction or instructions. Common sense, he says. And lots of kimchi, of course, will always be healthy for you and baby. Last week at our doctor visit, we asked what we should pack for the hospital when the time comes. Our doctor looked at us like he had never heard the question before. “Ummm, baby clothes?” he responded.

9 thoughts on “Pregnancy in Korea

  1. C.W. Bush says:

    I love the idea of a Beautiful Mom card. It's so Korean.

    Good on you for staying active too. I'm looking forward to getting back to the wide open spaces after the big city.

    Like

  2. Victoria Solomon says:

    Hi! I'm a fellow insanely avid hiker and resident in Seoul. I'm also pregnant (just three months), and I was just googling info about hiking and pregnancy! Cheers to you for hiking! I was very curious about the response people give to you in Korea. It's nice to hear that it's positive. I'll find out myself in a few more months I guess. Good luck to you!

    Like

  3. Whit and Lindsay says:

    Hey Victoria,
    Congrats!! Glad to meet others going through this same exciting time!
    I have gotten nothing but good responses from Koreans on my pregnancy. I mean, don't get me wrong, the staring doesn't start–only accelerates! But Koreans seriously have taken me under their wing. People patting me on the shoulder, pushing me down in their seat on the bus, and even just smiling at me and my huge belly.
    And the kids I teach at school? They LOVE it. New questions every day. Will the baby have blue eyes like you? Can we help pick out a name? etc. etc.
    It's endless fun!

    Like

  4. J says:

    Hi! AS a newlywed getting ready to move to Korea to teach, I LOVE reading your blog! My husband and I are considering starting a family while over there and I was wondering- how did you break the news to your family?? Literally the first thing my mother said to me when I told her about going overseas was “You can't have my grandchildren over there!!!”

    Any advice/suggestions would be appreciated! 🙂

    Thanks again for the awesome blog!

    Like

  5. Whit and Lindsay says:

    Hi J,
    Thanks for the comment. Glad you and your husband will be heading this way. Korea has been such a fun adventure for my husband and I.
    As for having kids here, both families have been great about it. It helped that my parents came to visit our first year here and saw that it was not actually a scary place.
    My parents will be coming back for a month to spend the first month with the baby. So we are excited to get them here again!
    We told our families through Skype (surely the best invention since sliced bread). So we were all on video.
    Good luck to you and your husband. Enjoy your travels and hopefully see you sometime in this hemisphere!
    –Lindsay

    Like

  6. April says:

    Hi,

    I am full of so many emotions I dont even know where to begin. This is my third year in Korea, but recently my fiance (he's Korean) found out that we were pregnant. I am so thankful he can help, but I need some western support in Korea. I am dying to go back to things I am use to. I have been looking for advice online, and I found your blog. I love my fiance too much to leave him and go back to America to have this baby, but I am miserable being pregnant here. I feel that everything is so different and I am having trouble always defending what my sister tells me. For example, just today my coteacher asked me how I was doing with everything. I told her about how tired I have been lately, and oh how I have had mood swings. I am 10 weeks pregnant now. She then said “well Korean woman believe in studying during pregnacy so they dont ever get angry or have mood swings… maybe it was the hormones but I wanted to punch her. I know you must be so busy right now, but if you could give me some advice or anything it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    April

    Like

  7. April says:

    Hi,

    I am not sure if you recieved my post. I will write it again just incase. I am 10 weeks pregnant in Korea. I am on my third teaching contract, and 6 weeks ago my fiance and I found out that I was pregnant. It was a huge shock. My fiance is Korean, which is nice, but I need some western support in Korea. I am so tired of hearing… well Korean women do it this way… Just today my coteacher asked how I was doing with everything… I told her how tired I have been lately and I hated the mood swings that I was getting. She then stated “well Korean woman study during pregnacy so they dont have those mood swings and get angry.” I am sure she was just trying to help, but its hard being surrounded by everything so different. I love my fiance too much to leave him here and go to the states to have my baby, but I am having such a hard time. I know you must be busy, but if you could give me any advice that would be great. I need to find other woman going t hrough the same thing.

    April

    Like

  8. Camillionaire says:

    This was really nice to read. My boyfriend and I have been talking about going to Korea soon, but we were also considering trying to get pregnant. I am worried about insurance issues if we are not married. Do you know anything about this or know where I could get some information?

    Thanks!

    C

    Like

  9. Jessica says:

    Obviously it's been a while since you wrote this. I was wondering… were you teaching in Korea and how did being pregnant affect your contract?

    Like

Comments are closed.