What to expect when expecting a baby in Japan - Waku Waku

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What to expect when expecting a baby in Japan


What to expect when expecting a baby in Japan

Getting pregnant and expecting a baby is a challenge no matter which country you live in. However, every country has its' policies and mentality. Here is how it was for me in Japan.

Zhaniya Toktassynova

Zhaniya Toktassynova

Published on 30 Nov 2021, 12:00

When I got pregnant, I also found out that we are moving to Japan. I got excited but also felt thrilled of so many uncertainties. First thing I did was checking the hospitals, of course.

As I mentioned in my previous article about giving a birth, I figured out that there are Public hospitals with no English speaking staff and Private hospitals (but more expensive ones) with English speaking doctors. And we decided to check them all once getting to Tokyo.

I researched a lot, and discovered that it worth to get registered to the hospital earlier, because specific due date may simply get booked by someone else. But it involves mostly famous Private hospitals, as they has less capacity and more demand among foreign mothers-to-be.

Tokyo Metropolitan Hospital
Tokyo Metropolitan Hospital

After settling down and finding some international friends, we were advised one Public hospital which belongs to the ward we live in and reaching there takes just 20 minutes by taxi.

Therefore, we decided to register there and I never regretted that decision. We visited our ward office, where we filled many papers (if you come to Japan you fill in endless papers) and were granted a coupons (a discount for gynaecologist check-ups).

A small but very nice detail was a badge given by ward to tag it on the bag, so that people in the train or metro could give a sitting place or help anyhow.

Pregnancy badge
Pregnancy badge

I was invited for scheduled visits to the gynaecologist. In the second trimester, it was every month, and in the third, every week. There, at the appointed time, you take tests, then you wait for your turn to the doctor. The most concerning point for me was communicating with the Japanese-speaking doctors.

But luckily, in our residential complex, where I also attended Japanese courses, you could ask the administration for the services of a volunteer translator. We expected that they would only help us the first day in the hospital, and maybe it will be a student.

But no, she was quite an elderly woman (I assume around 55-60 years old), and she also insisted to come and translate until the birth. A very nice and kind lady, despite her elementary level of English, we were glad for her help.

So, each appointment was same routine, analyses, consultation with a doctor, ultrasound. Ultrasound was done with the best equipment with 3D-4D, though it does not check the organs in detail, just the general measurements and the state of the fetus throughout pregnancy). And every time the same procedure.

Since I just arrived to the country of sushi and I loved it my whole life, I was so curious to ask my doctor if I can eat it (it is well known that pregnant women are not recommended to eat raw fish).

So he said that I can eat it, but carefully. It wasn't quite reassuring for me, so I just decided to wait till birth. I've heard though that Japanese women eat it anyway throughout the whole pregnancy.

Long-awaited sushi after delivery
Long-awaited sushi after delivery

At the end we always go to cashier and make a payment. The state gives a discount for appointments, somewhere between 30-40% of the total cost of each appointment. First appointment costed us $ 100, that amount was decreasing by the end of pregnancy, and by the last months, we paid nothing.

Maternity ward
Maternity ward

In the last month we had a conversation about the birth plan and preparation for delivery, what to carry with us, how to prepare mentally and I was always asked about the psychological state (which, by the way, is also asked now at the baby's visits, about the mother's condition and her morale state, if I am not depressed, etc.).

Then, we were asked if we would like to receive a lesson on childbirth and a tour of the hospital and maternity wards (of course in Japanese). We agreed and chose a date. Although we did not ask, our kind translator lady insisted that she would come.

In this lesson, there were 4-5 other couples with us. There were recommendations and instructions such as:

  • What to do during contractions, how soon to arrive at the hospital
  • The help of the husband in labour (they showed the breathing technique and we were repeating them like first graders xD)

They taught us how to hold the baby and what to do after birth. Then, we went to look at the birth wards and, in general, the premises with the equipment. In general, the experience was useful and informative (I wrote about delivery in my previous article Giving a birth in Japan).

Overall, the whole pregnancy went smooth and pleasant partially thanks to Japanese doctors, their professional and adequate approach.

Zhaniya Toktassynova

Zhaniya Toktassynova

I am from beautiful country called Kazakhstan I am married and we have an adorable child who was born in Japan, Tokyo My specialty is Tourism Management, that is why I love to share all my experiences of cultures and traveling destinations,and I’m happy to share with my current experience in Japan

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