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Expecting in Tokyo Part 2

by spinshell

In our last episode we covered what expecting mums need to know in the early stages of their pregnancy. This time we’ll go more in-depth by looking at delivery options, registering your child, maternity and paternity leave, and getting out and active after the birth.


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When deciding how you want to give birth there’s certainly no shortage of options here in Tokyo.

Brett Iimura, Birth Consultant

You are in a country that has lots of choices. You can have the most medicalized birth, and on the opposite hand of the spectrum you can have a home birth. And there are lots of choices inbetween. And I don’t think a lot of foreign moms–and even Japanese moms– realize that they do have so many choices available to them.

Take note though that determining the birth style is something that should be done fairly early on in the pregnancy, as it can be difficult to find a midwife or doctor who will start working with you at a later stage.

The Matsugaoka Birth Center, Aiiku Hospital, Aqua Birth House, The Japan Red Cross Medical Center, and St Luke’s International Hospital are recommended by foreign women in Tokyo.

Matsugaoka takes a natural approach to childbirth. Here moms are taught to lead a pure and healthy life leading up to the birth, through a balanced diet and exercise. Moms can choose a water birth or a natural birth in a tatami mat room. But keep in mind there is no pain relief on hand in these situations.

Your delivery options will affect the cost of the birth.
Matsugaoka charges around 500,000 yen for the birth and a five-day stay. At a public hospital expect to pay around 300,000 yen. But if you want to go private, or if unplanned complications arise, your bill could be upwards of 1 million yen.

If you’re looking for some more trustworthy advice, try the Childbirth Education Center. Over the past decade they have supported over 1,000 expecting couples here in Japan.

Brett Iimura, Birth Consultant

I run Childbirth Education Center. We teach childbirth classes, parenting classes, baby basics, refresher classes, etc.

Iona Macnab, a Lactation Consultant in Japan is a blessing to moms who plan to breastfeed.

Iona Macnab, Blue Sky

When I teach… we use a toy, knitted “boob” and pretend that we are breastfeeding by positioning the “baby”. The (expectant) moms can try it out without ever having to expose their own breasts in a classroom situation. I do several things: I run classes and workshops for expectant parents. We talk about the different things that come up with breastfeeding: why to breastfeed, how to, things to look out for, etc. I go to people’s houses and help them after the baby’s born, or I go to the hospital and help them in the hospital. If parents are not getting enough help in Japanese from the midwives then they can call me (03-3425-2534). I also help mothers all over Japan by e-mail (iona[at]llljapan[dot]com), telephone and even Skype.

For breastfeeding moms, Iona recommends

Read as much as you can of the good breastfeeding books before you have to do it. Everybody focuses very much on the birth and it’s hard to think past to what’s going to come later. But it’s important to prepare in order to have a successful breastfeeding experience.

After your new bundle of joy has arrived you’ll have to register him or her at the city ward office, your embassy, and immigration. This is something you should look into before your due date as each country has a different policy and different time frames that each step must be done by.

If you’ve decided that you want to take maternity leave women here are entitled to one year, six weeks of which is paid.

For men, paternity leave is an option but your partner may be met with a blank stare if he requests it; current statistics show that only 0.56% of men take it.

Once things have settled down and you want to get out and active why not sign up for a postnatal yoga class with Dana or Dominica at Furla Yoga in Omotesando or Shizen Yoga in Kichijoji? You can even bring your baby along.

Dana Levy, Yoga Instructor

Both pre-natal and post-natal yoga help give mom awareness, breath, balance, center, strength, flexibility. Taking that time to bond with your baby is really important in those early days. New moms have a lot of stress, every day has changes and challenges and being able to stop, breathe, be calm in the middle of chaos… All those things we put to use in our yoga practise serve us as moms as well.

You could also attend one of the Yummy Mummies events to meet like-minded moms.

Pippa and Anna, Yummy Mummies Members

Yummy Mummies is basically a support group for international mums in Tokyo. The aim of the forum is to support, cherish, inform and look after mums and mums-to-be, whatever their age.

Having a baby in Japan, like any country, can be a tough but rewarding experience. Make it an enjoyable one by researching your options early, then get ready for your new life with your little on in Tokyo.
Quotes have been slightly altered for print. For the accurate quotations, please refer to the video.

Story by Karryn Cartelle
All Rights Reserved, Spinshell Inc.

Spinshell Reports are three minute episodes of useful information about visiting and living in Japan.

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Related articles:

  1. Expecting in Tokyo Part 1
  2. Tokyo Day Trips
  3. Finding Funnies in Tokyo
  4. Tokyo Design Scene
  5. Slow Life Tokyo

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