My experience of Pregnancy and childbirth in Japan

While I confirmed pregnancy, without any confusions, we decided to stay back in Japan.  The new phase of my life was combined with some new experiences in Japan- Japanese hospitals, pregnancy care, other related formalities, birth, child care and bringing up a child in an environment that is totally different from our culture. But everything until now, I and my hubby were able to handle smoothly.  I have seen many foreigners’ experience about pregnancy and childbirth in Japan. When ever I had doubt, I used to read through their writings during my pregnancy period. After childbirth, I was also planning to share my own experiences. Hope someone can find something helpful or soothing while handling such a situation here.

1.How and where to buy the pregnancy kits?

Those who are ready to welcome a new member in your family will be looking for pregnancy kits which are the number one pregnancy checker which you can rely on. Pregnancy detection kits are available in all the drug stores. There are a lot of brands at slightly variable prices. The kits are called Ninshin Kensa Yaku(妊娠検査薬). As anyone in the world, I too believe in the quality of “Made in Japan” items. So every item is better enough for the expected use. These are some items I found in the drug store’s rack.

Some packets include only one kit while some others have two kits inside. And I selected the P- Check with two kits.

2.Finding an OBGYN/gynecologist.

Finding an OBGYN in Japan is a great task if you are looking for an English speaking doctor. I think you can find such a clinic/hospital if you are living in Tokyo, Osaka etc. But for me, it was unable to find such a clinic in my place. So, we went to Nakanishi Women’s Clinic in Tajimi once I confirmed pregnancy. If you are in a state of confusion in making a decision, please read this also.

3. About the monthly hospital expenses (Checkup coupons for monthly hospital visits)

Japanese health insurance will not cover the expenses of pregnancy and childbirth as it is not considered as a kind of illness. So, what all expenses we have during the pregnancy time, we must handle. And don’t be scared about it. Japanese government offers you a helping hand in this situation. The city/ward office will issue some medical examination coupons once your baby’s heartbeat is recognized. The OBGYN will issue a certificate after confirming the fetal heartbeat. The city/ward office issues the medical examination coupons on submitting this certificate. We have to bring these coupons and Boshitecho during our every visit to the hospital which will make your visits free of cost.

4. When it approaches the due date?

My due date was October 12. And from July onwards, there was check up in every two weeks duration which again reduced to one-week duration in the month of September. During my first visit in September, the midwife talked with me and hubby to give some advises and collected some information about us. We were given a handbook when we first visited the hospital with the check up coupons. In that book, every information from the first month till the delivery is written(In Japanese). But the midwife remembered every point in the correct timings. And in the 8th month, she gave us instructions about the things needed to be brought to the hospital once we come during the delivery time. Some items they will provide at the hospital. They asked us to pack up the needed things in a bag and set aside from now onwards. If the pain comes of a sudden, what we have to do is call the hospital and reach there with the packed up bag. If there is nobody at home to take the patient to the hospital, they will help arranging the ambulance service.

5. If some relatives from your country is coming to Japan to help you during and after delivery

If you are planning to take your mother or other relatives for helping you in childcare and households during and after the delivery, there is an option for taking temporary visa (3-month duration). For details, please see here.

5. Delivery and postpartum procedures

Once the pain comes, there is no need of rushing to the hospital(if it is nearby), because they are not going to admit you if you are at the starting point. Only if your pain is immense and your delivery time is very near they will admit you. My five days at the hospital is shared with you at ‘Baby and mom’s first days at Nakanishi Women’s Clinic‘.

The hospital cost: Of course, even if you are having a health insurance, Japanese hospitals are very very costly. You have been helped by the Japanese government with those medical examination coupons during your monthly hospital visits. And of course, they are going to offer you a helping hand during the child birth also. The Japanese government will give you a total amount of 420,000 yen as a gift amount once your baby is born. It can be either received by you in your bank account or they will pay it at the hospital. For me, it cost 510,000yen at the hospital on the fifth day when we said ‘Goodbye’ to the hospital with our baby. And we paid 90,000 yen from our wallet while the rest was paid by the govt directly to the hospital. If you are choosing a public hospital than a private clinic, I have heard that the cost will be around 420,000 yen only which will fall in the amount given to you as ‘gift money’ by the government.

Further medical examinations: After 7 days, there was a medical examination for the baby. There were many other new borns taken to the hospital during the time. They measured the height and weight of the baby. We were asked to further visit the hospital after a month. After a month medical checkup: During the after a month postpartum checkup, they checked my health conditions. And checked baby’s weight and height. By that, the entire formalities in the hospital were over.

6. Birth registration

We have to register the birth of the baby within 15 days at the City(Ward) office. The hospital will issue a birth certificate which we have to take to the city office(ward office) along with the Boshitecho. They will fill the first page of the Boshitecho and seal it which is the birth registration certificate.

7. Passport and VISA (If both the parents are foreigners)

The baby will be given Japanese nationality only if one or both of the parents are Japanese citizens. If both parents are foreign nationals, you have to apply for his/her passport based on your nation’s rules.

For us, as we are both Indian nationals. We were asked to apply for a passport of our bay within 30 days from the birth day of her. As soon as we registered her birth at the city office, we applied for her passport. The main issue for us was the Japanese birth certificate issued from the hospital. We were asked to translate it to English. We approached a certified translator and get our baby’s birth certificate translated from Japanese to English.  (For my Indian friends, please read How I applied for Newborn’s passport at Indian Embassy, Japan)

8. Vaccination and medical checkup for the baby

In India, a newborn baby will be given some vaccinations like BCG just after the birth itself. So I was wondering why it is not given here. We asked the doctor about the child vaccinations when we went there for my baby’s one week’s check up. He gave us the list of vaccinations and the preferred timings for each.

The papers for vaccinations were received by post when my baby turned 1 month. Each had the name and other details of the baby and a questionnaire(in Japanese). There was the list of hospitals from which we can take the vaccinations. And for my luck, all the vaccinations were available in the clinic near to my apartment. There is a list of timings when we are supposed to take each vaccination. But if we want to take in the order of our preference, we can talk with the doctor and do like that. Anyway, we decided to take it as per the doctor’s advice, in the Japanese way. For the details, please read ‘Vaccination programs and medical checkup for kids in Japan’.

There is medical checkup for the kids at regular intervals. The exact time depends on the cities or wards you are living. For my kid, there was a medical checkup in her 6 months, 10 months and 18 months of age. The next will be when she turns 2 years and 3 months.