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Giving Birth in Japan

October 10, 2016

Giving Birth in Japan

Having a baby here in Japan was a completely different experience from that of our first child in Germany. One of the biggest differences was the length of time that I was required to spend in the hospital after giving birth to our son. Even though I was healing nicely, since I had a c-section and our son was circumsized, we weren’t allowed to leave the hospital for a full week! Here is a little bit about Ryan and my experience in the Japanese hospital…

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A private room at Dr. Shoji’s costs 5000 yen/day {about $50.00 a day}, and comes with a private bathroom and a cot for the Daddy-to-be. The beds are firm, putting it gently, so I recommend bringing a soft mattress topper and extra pillows.

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There is a small television {although with only Japanese shows, we never used it}, and a small refrigerator, which comes in handy for storing pumped breast milk.

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On the wall opposite the hospital bed, there hangs a Japanese calendar. Other than an air conditioning unit, it is the only thing that hangs on the wall and what I stared at while laying in bed for a week straight.

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Upon check in, you will receive a bag full of postpartum goodies. There are pads and wet wipes, soap and shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, hair brush and hair tie, shower cap, cotton swabs, a cup, and a small hand towel. I ended up using the pads/wipes and towel, but didn’t need the rest since I had packed a hospital bag with all of my toiletries included. I imagine for those who go in to labor unexpectedly and may have forgotten to pack a go-bag, this set from the hospital would come in handy!

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The private bathroom has a shower/tub combo, toilet, and sink… everything you would expect from a bathroom. The hospital staff will come in daily to clean and replenish bath and hand towels, so there is no need to bring your own.

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If you don’t reserve a private room, you will be in a room with a couple ofter Japanese mothers and sharing the bathroom pictured above. It is what you would expect from any public bathroom with a number of sinks and bathroom stalls, with a separate bathroom to shower.

During my week at Dr. Shoji’s, the halls of the hospital were super quiet. I think there was only one other mother staying there at the same time, so paying for a private room probably wasn’t necessary. It’s a gamble, but you could end up alone in a room anyway without spending the extra money if the hospital isn’t busy at the time.

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Dr. Shoji’s labor room is a small, traditional tatami mat room with a hospital bed, heart rate monitor, and a birthing chair. I didn’t have the pleasure of utilizing this room since I was across the hall in his OR having a c-section, but it looks like it would work just fine. It’s simple and clean, which is exactly what you will probably want when laboring. I also think this would be the perfect place to have labor photos since its decorated in such a pretty pink color!

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Other than your hospital room, the nursery is where your baby will spend a lot of time. In addition to optional night watches, each day, the nurses will wheel your baby off to the nursery for their daily baths. They clean them, paying special attention to their umbilical chord and circumcision {for those who have a boy and wish to do so, that is}. I would usually use that time to get up and stretch my legs, take a shower, and have something to eat.

For the first couple of days post surgery, I was given three meals a day consisting of miso soup, rice water, jello or yogurt, and milk.

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Then as the week went on, the meals got progressively better. The next couple of days, I received breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with an afternoon snack. The meals consisted mostly of miso soup with tofu, rice in rice water, small salads, a small piece of fish or scrambled eggs for protein, and a small plate of fruit {including very delicious Japanese grapes… the best I have ever had}.

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By the end of my stay at Dr. Shoji’s, they were serving some pretty fancy hospital meals. For breakfast I had a bread basket with croissants and jam, fried eggs, baked veggies, creamy soup, and fresh fruit. For lunch and dinner I had a larger piece of protein, {usually chicken or fish}, solid rice, soup, salad, steamed veggies, and fruit.

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In addition to the milk or juice box served during meals, there was a water dispenser in the hall with hot and cold water {I used it often for hot tea}, as well as a couple of vending machines downstairs.

Overall, I would say the hospital food served at Dr. Shoji’s was pretty great! The only downside was the fact that the meals were pretty small and they didn’t serve my husband even in the private room, so he ended up picking up fast food or going down the street to 7-eleven for extra snacks.

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During our stay, we used a portable bassinet, as well as diapers and wipes, that the hospital provided. The bassinet had soft pads and blankets, and a name card attached to the front with our baby’s birth date, time, weight, and length. We didn’t need to bring any clothes with us to the hospital because Ryan was dressed in a baby kimono that we changed throughout the day as needed from a basket full of clean kimonos in the hall.

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When we were discharged, we were given Ryan’s Japanese birth certificate, birth announcements with his picture, a Japanese baby milestone book, a soft baby blanket, baby kimono, and an embroidered baby gown as a gift from the hospital. They are precious mementos we will be able to share with family and friends, and will cherish forever!

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The hospital had taken Ryan’s picture for his baby book and Japanese birth announcements, but it wasn’t until we came back for my six week postpartum check up that we saw his picture hanging on Dr. Shoji’s Wall of Fame! It’s amazing to see how many babies are delivered here each month, year after year, and now Ryan’s picture hangs on the September 2016 board, along with our friends’ new little baby girl, Siena Loraine!

More about their experience at Dr. Shoji’s coming soon!

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For a checklist of what to pack, growth charts, daily log, a list of baby milestones, click the PDF below:

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