Korean Immigrant Women's Lived Experience of Childbirth in the United States


  • Jin Young Seo,

    Corresponding author
    • Correspondence

      Jin Young Seo, MS, WHNP-BC, RN, School of Nursing, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 201 Wende Hall, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214.


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  • Wooksoo Kim,

  • Suzanne S. Dickerson

  • The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.



To understand Korean immigrant women's common experiences and practices of utilizing health care services in the United States during childbirth.


A qualitative interpretive phenomenological research design.


Recruitment was conducted through advertisement on the MissyUSA.com website, which is the largest online community for married Korean women who live in North America.


A purposive sample of 15 Korean immigrant women who experienced childbirth in the United States within the past 5 years was recruited.


Data were collected using semistructured telephone interviews and were analyzed using the Heideggerian hermeneutical methodology.


During childbirth in the United States, participants faced multifaceted barriers in unfamiliar sociocultural contexts yet maintained their own cultural heritages. They navigated the unfamiliar health care system and developed their own strategies to overcome barriers to health care access. Korean immigrant women actively sought health information on the Internet and through social networking during childbirth.


Korean immigrant women selectively accepted new cultural beliefs with some modifications from their own cultural contexts and developed their own distinct birth cultures. Understanding a particular culture and respecting women's traditions, beliefs, and practices about their childbirth could help nurses to provide culturally sensitive care.