Jun 29, 2011

TPG Brunch - Views from TPG Members!


At the recent TPG brunch, we asked our members to share their experience of pregnancy in Japan. Some of the questions included:
1. What was the biggest difference you found about pregnancy in Japan, compared to your home country?
2. What was the biggest challenge for you about TTC / being pregnant / having a baby in Japan?
3. Do you have some words of advice for other pregnant or TTC women in Japan?
4. Which hospital are you going to? What is it like?
5. Where do you do your maternity/ baby shopping? Do you have some recommendations for other pregnant or TTC women in Japan?

Here are some of their comments!

Answers from A:
1. Biggest difference? A: I think this may depend on the doctor, however, I have found that I receive more ultrasounds/scans here in Japan than I did in the States. Another big difference is the length of stay in the hospital - which can be up to 5 days for a regular vaginal delivery.    

2. Biggest challenge? A: I think in general, getting around Tokyo is quite easy with the availability of public transportation, however, I have noticed as I get towards the end of my pregnancy, if you don't have a car, you need to plan carefully how/when you want to travel somewhere because you can find yourself getting tired at the end of the day. Luckily, taxi's can be found virtually anywhere if you get too tired for the trains/subways/buses or for walking.

3. Words of advice? A: Enjoy every minute of it and take advantage of some of the "pampering" available here - there are some really amazing places that are great for pregnant ladies (e.g. massage, acupuncture, mani/pedi's). Get involved with TPG activities and try to meet other women in similar situations!  

4. Hospital? A: I am giving birth at Seibo in Shinjuku. I have toured the maternity ward and am very happy with the rooms and services available for pre and post natal care for mother and baby. In general, the process as explained to me is as follows: (1) when you arrive at the hospital you will be placed in a "labor" room for the majority of your labor however, once the nurses have checked you and the baby after you first arrive, you are free to walk about, eat, watch movies, and basically get through your labor anyway you please; (2) when you are ready to give birth, they move you to a very spacious and well-equipped "delivery" room; (3) once delivered and you and your baby have been checked out by the doctor, you and your baby will be moved to your permanent room (there are both private and 4-beds available). Seibo basically allows and encourages as much interaction with baby as possible - so you have 24 hour access to your baby. If you need a rest, the nursery will happily take baby for as long as you need as well. 

5. Maternity/ baby shopping? A: I shipped most of our baby things from the US, however here in Tokyo I will likely use a combination of Babies R Us, Akachan Honpo, and Amazon Japan (perhaps Costco for diapers as well). I have found in general that baby items are more expensive here... Another good option is "2nd hand" items from other mother's (TPG is a great source for passing along this information). 

Answers from A:
1. Biggest difference? A: Japan doctors do a lot more ultrasounds than in the US, and the doctor does the ultrasound. In the US, usually a technician does the ultrasound scan and sends the results to a doctor, so often there is a delay of a few days before you hear any news. I was surprised that Japanese doctors don't recommend prenatal vitamins (just healthy eating and folic acid for the first 12 weeks), almost every doctor in the US will tell you to take prenatal vitamins.

2. Biggest challenge? A: No real challenges, apart from missing family and friends back home.

4. Hospital? A: We chose Aiiku hospital because of it's good reputation, close location to our home, and neonatal unit onsite. This hospital is dedicated to obstetrics/gynecology. The hospital is a little old-looking and could use updating. Also private rooms are not guaranteed and can only arranged at check-in. Partners are allowed to spend the night only if you can get a private room.

There are some doctors and midwives who speak English, but not everyone does. Dr. Sakamoto is fluent in English and delivers at this hospital. For prenatal checkups we've been seeing Sakamoto at the Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic, which is very convenient and the appointments are usually on-time. We had two checkups at Aiiku and seemed to wait forever in the waiting room.

5. Maternity/ baby shopping? A: Buying maternity clothes in Japan is almost impossible, so I buy all my maternity clothes online from the US: asos.com, destinationmaternity.com, gap.com. I bought most of my baby's clothes in the US as well and had them shipped to Japan. Our favorite stores in Japan are Akachan Honpo and Amazon Japan.

Answers from Ca:
1. Biggest difference? A: I feel very pampered being pregnant here as there are more doctors appointments, tests and a lot more scans here than in the UK. I have found it to be very reassuring and haven't felt worried about anything. It is really nice seeing the same Doctor each time I get a check up and being able to have all my questions expertly answered. It’s especially nice getting to see my baby on ultrasound at each appointment and fantastic to see her in 3D. Its also nice to know that I can have an epidural should I want one and will get to stay in hospital for a few days should I need to. This is not usually the case in the UK due to limited resources and staff shortages. However, the main difference is that here having a baby costs a fortune and back in the UK it is free.

2. Biggest challenge? A: Luckily I haven't had to face any challenges about being pregnant in Japan apart from I miss not having my mum around to help out.

3. Words of advice? A: I would recommend going to the TPG meetings every fortnight if you are pregnant as the information is really useful and it is a great opportunity to make friends.

4. Hospital? A: I am giving birth at Sanno Hospital as it is closest to my house. I feel very reassured that if my baby comes quickly (third baby) that there will be someone on hand to ensure the delivery runs smoothly. It seems very well organised and the staff are very friendly. There are a wide range of rooms to choose from too which is useful if you need more space if your husband wants to stay overnight with you and the baby.

5. Maternity/baby shopping? A: Personally, I found the choice of maternity clothing here to be quite limited. Also the size thing was an issue too as most clothes were too small or not to my taste. Therefore I did all my maternity clothes shopping in the UK and had it posted over. I have seen that many people sell nice maternity clothing on the TPG emails which may be of use to some people struggling to find maternity wear. I also visited a few baby stores and found that although you can buy many of the same baby essentials there wasn't as much choice as in the UK and it was a lot more expensive. Therefore we shipped everything over. However, babies r us and Akachan Honpo have many baby essentials. There are some nice toy shops in Roppongi Hills which also sell baby clothes. This is a good place to buy gifts for new babies too.

Answers from Fi:
1. Biggest difference? A: It seems that the level of care in Japan is much higher than in the UK. I have had numerous scans already, whereas in the UK generally women only get two during the whole pregnancy. The hospitals seem to be much nicer here too!

2. Biggest challenge? A: To start with I was worried there would be a language barrier, as my Japanese is not good at all. But this has not been a problem at all, all the medical professionals that I have met speak excellent English. I was also worried that pain relief might not be available, but I have found that certain things like epidurals are available if necessary.

3. Words of advice? A:You should try and meet other pregnant women through TPG meetings and events. It is good to be able to discuss things with them and get different opinions on medical options available.

4. Hospital? A: I am going to Seibo hospital. It was the only one I visited, and some other TPG members had recommended it. I haven't been to any other maternity wards, but I was very impressed with how clean it is, and there seems to be a lot of staff on duty - very different to my image of a UK hospital! It is a little old fashioned, but that's not really a concern.

5. Maternity/baby shopping? A: I am tall and have not found any maternity clothes to fit me in Japan. So I bought quite a lot on a recent trip to the UK, or I have had things delivered here. ASOS.com is great as they deliver for free. Baby things are generally more expensive here than back home, so I have bought from UK companies that ship overseas, or my mum posts things to me!  Akachan Honpo is quite good for necessities. If you don't read Japanese it might be a good idea to take someone along who can so they can help translate labels on toiletries/formula etc. Also Amazon Japan often have good deals on nappies, and they deliver.

Answers from Ch: 
4. Hospital? A: I am going to Jikei Hospital in Shiba. Pros - Always same doctor sees you and they are friendly and helpful. Cons - They don't do 3D ultrasound scan.

5. Maternity/baby shopping? A: These are the websites I often use for buying baby/maternity goods, they have good range and are very reasonable priced. Most of them are in Japanese so you may need to ask your Japanese friends help if necessary.

Answers from K:
1. Biggest difference? A: The biggest difference I found was in the tests done at 12 wks. In Australia it is common to have an NT scan and blood test at 12 wks to test for down syndrome, however in Japan it seems this is not done at all. Dr Sakamoto is the only doctor we could find who does the NT scan, however the blood test at 12 wks is apparently not approved in Japan yet. The earliest blood test that can be done in Japan is the Quad test at 15 wks (amniocentesis is also approved, but not many doctors do it). Dr Sakomoto can do all three - NT scan, Quad blood test, and the amniocentesis. 

2. Biggest challenge? A: Finding a ladies clinic to confirm the pregnancy and learning about Japan's system in the first few months.

3. Words of advice? A: Try to decide on a hospital asap. Japan has a wonderful schedule for the routine check-ups, and sometimes it can be difficult to make the transfer from a clinic or hospital to another hospital. The sooner you transfer the better. Even better if you can go to the one hospital from the beginning. It is not impossible to change though if you want to, even in the last trimester (if there is availability). I know of someone who found out she would require a scheduled caesarian, so she decided to change to a doctor who had extensive experience.

4. Hospital? A: We went to Rose Ladies Clinic for the first 3 months while we were deciding which hospital to go to. After looking at all the options online we decided to go to Tokyo Medical Hospital in Meguro. Our key priorities were that my husband can be present during labour and delivery, the cost, and that it was close to our house. The doctor speaks English which is great, so we have no problems communicating. The hospital is also quite modern and new which is nice. All three stages of labour, delivery and recovery (LDR) are in your own private room. After recovery for 2 hours, you are transferred with your baby to a share room or private room (private rooms need to be book in advanced and cost extra). They don't provide any pain relief at all (so no epidural or anything), which took me a while to consider, but in the end I decided to do my best with a natural birth. The hospital also doesn't provide the NT scan at 12 weeks, so we went to Dr Sakamoto for this check up at his Omotesando clinic.

5. Maternity/baby shopping? A: I have bought some extra long singlets, floaty tops, and maxi dresses from shops like H&M, Zara, and Banana Republic. My mum sent me some maternity stockings from Australia for work which have been great. For baby shopping we bought some cute things on sale at GAP - they don't seem to have newborn sizes, but they do have 3 mths onwards so we bought some of these for the baby to grow into. Otherwise planning to buy some baby clothes in Australia and bring them back to Japan.

Thank you everyone! We hope we can include more from TPG members in our upcoming meetings!

Jun 11, 2011

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Here are some great recipes by TPG speaker Susie Rucker.

Here is Susie's website:

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

2 cups water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 large cooked chicken breasts - cut into bite size pieces
1 large red onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Bring the water, bouillon cubes, and garlic to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the garlic clove and scrape the quinoa into a large bowl.

Gently stir the chicken, onion, bell pepper, olives, feta cheese, parsley, chives, and salt into the quinoa.

Drizzle with the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Stir until evenly mixed. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

Lentil, Goats cheese and Beetroot Salad

Recipe by Susie Rucker

3 cloves of garlic minced
1 ½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp dried tarragon
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ cups lentils washed and rinsed
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tbs extra virgin oil
4 tbs Dijon Mustard
! red or green pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups diced cooked beetroots
6 cups mixed greens (watercress, rocket, spinach)
½ cup crumbled feta
2 tbs coarsely chopped pecans

In a saucepan combine 3 cups water, garlic, lemon rind, tarragon and salt and bring to boil. Add lentils and simmer cover and cook for 25 mins, or until lentils are firm-tender.

Drain away any liquid remaining. In a medium bowl combine lemon juice, oil and mustard. Add lentil mixture, pepper, beetroot, coating wel.

Serve lentil mixture on a bed of greens and sprinkle with goats cheese and pecans.

Courtesy of Erica Angyl ,Gorgeous skin in 30 days

For added nutrients keep the beetroot raw and grate over the lentils at the end!

Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe

Recipe by Susie Rucker Nutrition
I have tried and tested many a recipe and this one seems to work best!

75g Buckwheat flour
25g Whole wheat flour/rice flour if gluten free
2 large eggs/egg substitute
200ml of milk (or dairy free alternative) mix with
75ml water
2 TBS melted butter/coconut butter
****I like also to add extra ground nuts and seeds to mixture for added minerals and protein

A little extra butter to cook with

In a large mixing bowl sieve the flours. Then make a well in the centre and add the eggs, water and milk, slowly whisk ingredients together. Until a smooth batter is formed, then when you’re ready to cook the pancakes add the melted butter and stir again.

Add the ground nuts and seeds if desired.

Cook in frying pan using one to two tablespoons of the batter.


Try with Agave nectar and cinnamon so as not to upset blood sugar balance. Or natural yogurt with favourite berries with extra nuts and seeds as a topping!!

Jun 8, 2011

Japanese terms - shopping

Kaimono / Shopping Terms:

Where can I find the...?
....doko desu ka? 。。。どこですか?
Do you have...?
....arimasu ka? 。。。ありますか?
Is this suitable for newborns?
Kore wa shinseeji you desu ka? これ は しんせいじ よう ですか

Practical Items:

Diapers for newborns
shinseeji you omutsu
Wet ones/baby wipes
akachan you uetto tisshuu / akachan no oshiri fuki
Disposable diaper odour sealant bin
omutsu ire pakku / omutsu you gomi bukuro
Barrier cream (eg.petroleum jelly)
hoshitsu kuriimu / baria kuriimu
Changing mat/pad
omutsu kae matto
Cotton balls
kotton booru
Baby laundry detergent
akachan you irui no senzai
あかちゃんよう いるいのせんざい
Baby soap /shampoo
akachan you sekken / bebii soopu
あかちゃんようせっけん /
べびー そーぷ
Baby oil/baby lotion
bebii oiru / bebii rooshon
べびー ろーしょん
Baby bath tub
akachan you no furooke (basutabu)
あかちゃん よう の ふろおけ
Baby bath sponge
ofuro you no suponji
Bathwater thermometer
suion kei
Wash coth
taoru / zoukin
Baby brush
akachan you no kushi
あかちゃんようの くし
Swaddling blanket
akachan you no makimoufu (makinuno)
Diaper bag
omutsu kaban
bebii kaa
komoriobi / dakkohimo
Baby car seat
akachan you chairudo shiito
Breast pump:
chichi shibori-ki  
ちち しぼりき
tei-shigekisei / arerugi- busshitu no nai  
ていしげきせい / あれるぎーぶっしつ の ない

Sleeping items:

Crib,cradle or bassinet
yurikago, bebii beddo
Natural cotton bedsheets
men hyaku paasento no siitsu
Soft,lightweight baby blankets
yawarakai, karui akachan you moufu
やわらかい、かるい あかちゃん
Baby monitor
akachan monitaa / bebii monitaa


pajama / rompaasu
socks and booties
kutsushita, buutii
くつした / ぶーてぃー
scratch mittens
In winter: cardigan,warm hat.
kaadigan, attakai boushi
かーでぃがん / あったかいぼうし
In summer:light,summer hat
natsu you no boushi

Other useful resources for mothers and families

Babysitting and housekeeping services in Tokyo

Babycafe Japan: The Spot for Babies and Breastfeeding in Japan

Blue Sky Tokyo: For Mothers, Babies and Kids in Tokyo

Being a Broad: The Support and Information Network for International Women Living in Japan

Tokyo Families Magazine (the January/February 2007 issue’s focus in on having a baby in Japan)

Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo Mamans Group for French Speakers

Tokyo Mamans Group is a mothers group in Tokyo for French speakers.

Tokyo Mothers Group (TMG)

Would you like to continue joining meetings and social gatherings in Tokyo after the birth of your baby?

Why not join TMG after graduating from TPG!

TMG (formerly known as the Tokyo New Mothers Group) is a support and contact group for mothers in Tokyo. TMG is an English-speaking group, but members are from every corner of the globe and all walks of life.

TMG aims to provide a social and support network for not only new mothers and mothers new to Tokyo, but all mothers living in Tokyo through a wide variety of parenting resources including regular meetings, events, practical advice and useful information.

TMG is a wonderful chance for you and you child to participate in activities around Tokyo and meet other mothers and their children.


Note: Post updated June 2013

Aika Cardin Photography

An English & Japanese speaking natural light photographer based in Tokyo specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, children and family.  Maternity photos at your special location and the first days of a newborn’s life can be captured in the comfort of your own home to make all these special times here in Japan to be remembered forever. Your miracle will be captured in a stunning and unforgettable way.  
Tel: 080-4941-6528

Rika Takei, Flor-Photography
Japanese & English speaking commercial photographer based in Roppongi, Tokyo.
Specializing in pregnancy, new-born and family portraits. All our staff is female and we offer a professional make up artist as part of our service. Please visit my studio.

Genevieve Sawtelle - Romp Photography
An English speaking photographer based in Tokyo, specializing in lifestyle, newborn and portrait photography. Incorporates quirky, fun and unconventional images to create your own personal art.
Tel. 080-4381-7667

Keith Tsuji Photography
English/Chinese speaking photographer based in Tokyo. I am a lifestyle photographer specializing in portrait photography, kids, couples, family as well as wedding ceremony. 
Tel. 080 4478 5853


Anatole Papafilipou- Tokyo Photo Studio
English speaking Photographer based in Tokyo. Location and Studio photo sessions available.
Specializing in Maternity/Newborn/ Family/ Couples
Tel. 090-2912- 1745

37 Frames
English-speaking Photographers based in Tokyo
Specializing in Portrait Photography - Families/Babies/Maternity
Offer a "Baby Frames Collection" 
Tel. 044- 870-8103

Emma K. Sato - Gom Photography
English-speaking Photographer based in Tokyo/Yokohama area.
Specializing in - Maternity / Newborns / Families
Tel. 045-777-4827

Solveig Boergen- starphotography
Newborn, Baby and Child Portraiture.
Experienced photographer based in Tokyo. English/Japanese/German is spoken.

Kerry Raftis, Keyshots Photography
Keyshots.com K.K owned by Australian Female Photographer Kerry Raftis specializes in capturing the Miracle of your pregnancy in a variety of poses both in their studio conveniently located in Tamachi, Minato-ku and as well as offering location sessions either in your own home or favourite local park. Various packages are available with a 10% off discount on double bookings for both Pregnancy and New Born sessions.Keyshots.com offers a Pro-lab local printing service, custom birth announcement design and  Photoshop Art Series collections. Please email Kerry Raftis at: kerry@keyshots.com or call the studio on Tel: 03-6426-7739 All sessions by appointment - studio sessions available weekdays or weekends. Office Hours for Bookings - Tues/Weds & Thurs 11am ~ 6pm. www.keyshots.com

Jun 4, 2011

Fertility Resources in Tokyo

Note: This post was updated March 2014

Acura Acupuncture Clinic
Director Taiken Jo and Yoko Onishi are providing fertility enhancement  by acupuncture and moxibustion (a mild heat treatment) treatment in  English from Eastern Medical points of view.
 (03) 5469-0810 for appointment. 

Fertility Clinic Tokyo
Frontier Ebisu 1F, 3-13-11 , Higashi Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0013
Very popular therefore very busy.
Dr. Odawara speaks fluent English and is also the director of the clinic.
Phone: 03-3406-6868. Website is in Japanese only. 

Kiba Koen Clinic
Kamai Building, 2nd Floor, 2-17-13 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0042
Kiba Park Clinic is a recently opened reproduction center for both female and male infertility which fulfills all your infertility needs in one center. No need to run all over Tokyo having endless tests done. Kiba Park Clinic offers you and your partner all the facilities related to male and female infertility in one ultra-modern reproduction center. Located one minute from Kiba station on Tozai Line. Dr. Takeuchi speaks great English and the website is completely in English with map directions too. Prices are listed only on the Japanese language page. 
Telephone 81-(0)3-5245-4122

Miyazaki Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinic
1-1-5 Motoakasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0051
Dr. Miyazaki is an OBGYN who specializes in fertility treatment (and I believe high risk pregnancies). He also speaks fluent English. His number is 03-3478-6443. More info about his clinic can be found in the following link (Japanese only): 

Shirokanedai Sugeta Acupuncture Clinic
Shirokanedai 3-17-2 Daigo-Matsushima Bld.101, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0071
Acupuncturists in Japan also provide fertility treatment. Yuko Sugeta is a licensed acupuncturist in Shirokanedai and speaks fluent English. She has treated a number of women for infertility. Her number is 03-3447-4189. 
No known website.

Sugiyama Clinic 
1-53-1, Ohara, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 156-0041
Very popular, therefore very busy
Dc Nakagawa speaks fluently english and is very kind. 
phone: 03-5454-5666

They also have a clinic in Marunouchi

The Tokyo HART Clinic
1-22-2 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0011
Specializes in fertility treatment and Dr. Goto speaks fluent English. They are normally very busy so do call in advance for an new patient appointment. The number is 03-5766-3660. Once a patient is 8 weeks pregnant HART will refer you to another OB doctor. They do not deliver babies. The website listed is in Japanese only.

Tokyo Infertility Support Group
The Tokyo Infertility Support Group offers support and information to English speakers who are trying to conceive, and meets once a month over dinner at a restaurant. 
For more details, contact: tokyoinfertility@gmail.com
No known website.

Sanno Hospital (Fertility Resource Center)
They help both with general fertility issues and also with issues that may be encountered when trying to conceive in later years. Highly regarded by both local and foreign communities. A lot of the staff speaks English and they have translation services available. 

Woman's Clinic Jinno
Kokuryo(near Chofu) on Keio Line
Dr. Jinno speaks fluent English and is the only doctor working there. The staff speak some limited English but one nurse speaks a little English. Phone: 042-480-3105. Website is in Japanese only. 

Preparing for Your Newborn

Note: This is a previous TPG post from 2007 that we are re-posting. 

Preparing for Your Newborn, by Dr. Che, Pediatrician

Of course you are excited about the arrival of your new child. And of course the child is going to be sound and healthy, a beautiful girl just like Mom or a handsome boy just like Daddy. It is important to relax, not worry too much and keep oneself healthy. There are plenty of books and magazines available, but they can often be confusing for the new parents. Some articles could be polar opposites of the other. Many discuss the forest and wilderness of child birth and child rearing. Here attention is paid to the individual ‘tree’! No matter how trivial the question may be to the experienced, but not so to the novice, no snappy answers no matter how stupid the question may appear to be. In this article, the little, minute, points which were brought up by parents-to-be will be discussed. The purpose is to help you relax, solve small problems and not to confuse you. 

Dr Che has been a pediatrician for many years and over ten thousand moms and dads have listened to him! 

Professionals are not always in agreement on specific child-rearing and feeding recommendations. Consult your physician or nurse if you receive conflicting information. The material in this guide is based on literature from the Department of Health from the Sates of Hawaii, California, New York, OHME General Hospital and Dr Che’s own personal experience with his wife and children. 

Mothers Diet
Eat a balanced diet. Avoid gaining too much weight. Try to avoid salty foods as they may raise blood pressure unnecessarily. Try to fortify your meals with calcium. Although supplements might do the job, it is best if you can have a glass of milk every morning. If you cannot tolerate cow’s milk for any reason, substitute it with fish if you can. Consult your obstetrician for advice. 

Mother’s Medication
One must be very careful with oral medication. Always alert your obstetrician and your baby’s pediatrician if you must continue to take oral medicine. Some drugs of concern are anti-thyroid medications, anti-malignancy medications, and anti-epileptic medications. Most antibiotics do not have any effect on the baby, but you must alert your doctor if you have to take them. Most drugs for URI are safe too. Some blood thinners and anti-cancer drugs should be terminated, at least temporarily before conception. 

You must be careful with the dosage of some drugs because there may be a postpartum change in metabolism. 

Your Parents & Your Partner's Parents
The Grand Parents may be very excited about the arrival of the new child. They would love to tell you what to do. They might be telling you a little too much too. They might want to tell you certain things that might not suit your intentions. They might insist on purchasing goods and clothes not suited to your taste. Your parents may be telling you the exact opposite of what your partners parents are telling you. If in doubt, remind your partner that you are going with your parents suggestions unless there is a definite social consequence. Bringing your parents to the child’s doctor is one idea. It has worked well in the past. 

Birth Weight, Feeding and Weight Gain
Usually a baby is born after forty weeks uneventfully weighing about 6lbs 9oz, (3000g) and is 20 inches (50cm) tall. If the child eats well, sleeps well and smiles a lot (especially while sleeping!), he or she will gain an average of 30g per day or about 1000g in a month. Whether the child is breast or bottle fed will be the parent’s choice. Nutritionally there will be no major difference as formula milk has improved dramatically over the last thirty years, although, most obstetricians; midwives and pediatricians strongly recommend breast feeding. Do your best to breast feed and if you have to discontinue don’t feel guilty about it. It is very important for the mother to feel secure about herself in order to comfort the newborn. Always ask for help if you have any problems or questions. 

Japanese nurseries will be kept at a temperature of 25 degrees year round. The babies usually wear only one piece of clothing. When you bring the child home, even in the winter, a room temperature of 20 degrees is adequate. Newborns tend to have cold hands and feet, but if you are worried about the child’s temperature touch the abdomen and check the baby’s activity. If you feel comfortable and the baby seems comfortable you do not need to adjust the room temperature. Babies frequently find over-heated rooms more uncomfortable than cooler rooms. You do not need to dress your baby with layers and layers of clothes. Your child will need room to wriggle and move too. The child will want to check out his fingers and toes, so save socks, mittens, gloves and shoes for special occasions and outdoor use only. 

If you are really really lucky you might be able to sleep a few hours each night, but it will be highly unlikely. Most babies will wake every two to four hours for feeding. This will most likely continue until the child is six months old. But going through this rough ordeal enable the child to implant gratitude to his/her own mother in the subconscious level of the child’s mind. Your hard work and effort will be rewarded later on. Don’t try too hard to do all the chores around the house, if you need to catch up on your sleep. Sleep while your baby sleeps. 

Make sure you are comfortable with the baby. If your positioning is simply not comfortable, the strain on your lower back will be significant. Keep the environment clean and hazard free. When the baby is small you can always consider a clean sink as an alternative to a baby bath. Keep the water lukewarm. Your baby will not appreciate water that is too hot. The baby’s skin is very sensitive to heat and pain. Have an extra wash cloth or gauze for the baby to hold on to while he/she is in the water. Almost all baby products these days are very safe for your baby, avoid using adult products. There is no need to bathe the baby for a long time. Always dry the baby thoroughly and quickly with a clean towel. 

Your baby’s skin and eyes (sclera) may turn yellow in his first few days. It is usually caused by Hyperbilirubinemia, a state in which the baby’s liver is not efficient enough to handle the entire metabolism of yellow coloured bilirubin, which is essential for the child’s digestive system. If you child is dark-skinned, attention must be paid to the white part of the eye and the colour of the child’ stool. Because Japanese babies are usually ‘yellow’ skinned, jaundice of the neonate is fairly well followed up. 

Ensure you tell your obstetrician or paediatrician if there is a family history of unusual blood types, hereditary blood disorders, liver, biliary duct and pancreatic diseases. 

A breast-fed child may have a prolonged period of jaundice compared to formula fed babies, but the condition is physiological and most often benign. If the baby spends the first seven days of his life uneventfully, it is usually safe to say that jaundice related congenital metabolic problem will be ruled out completely. However, a late onset liver disease because of a mechanical obstruction of ducts coming out of the liver is still possible if the stool colour is unusually white or has a green-grey tint. 

Baby’s Excretion 

If the baby is breast-fed, the child passes stool very frequently and it is often loose and sometimes watery. If the baby is formula-fed, the child will probably pass stool less than three times per day and the stool is usually almost solid. However, there are exceptions to the rule. As long as the baby is passing stool at least once a day your baby is not considered constipated. It is important to watch the colour of the stool. A greyish white stool passed more than once, might indicate a liver disease. A bloody stool, as opposed to a blood streaked stool, may denote a lower bowel problem. Tarry stool may indicate an upper gastrointestinal problem. 

Your baby may pass a pink /orange stained urine. The stain comes from urate (uric acid in salt form) and is a physiological phenomenon for the baby. It may happen on and off until the baby is about six months old, but it is benign and needs no medical attention. A more serious bloody, urine stained diaper will turn brown (tea coloured) when left for 20 minutes or more, whereas urate stained urine will not change colour. 

If in doubt save the stained diaper and consult your physician. 

Shape of Head
Often the shape of the baby’s head is distorted because of pressure in the womb or during birth. Unless there is an underlying trauma causing profuse bleeding the baby’s head will return to a normal shape, especially after the child is able to support his neck and head at about the age of four months. There is no need to force a baby to stop turning to one direction or support the head with cushions so that he cannot freely turn as he pleases. Being uncomfortable will just cause the baby to cry. 

Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord will usually fall off within one week. The healing process should be uneventful if it is kept dry and the diaper is kept out of the way and not allowed to irritate the area. Some children may develop umbilical hernia, a benign protrusion from the belly button. 90% of these, no matter how large, will spontaneously correct itself by the time the child is one year old. Do not apply pressure in an attempt to enhance healing because it is not only pointless, but it may cause infection. 

Consult your doctor if the umbilical cord does not heal well or if the hernia is large. 

Japan has an unusually different immunization schedule for children. It is often unsatisfactory to almost all counties in Europe, America and Asia. It is strongly recommended that your child follow the schedule for his/her own country. Catching up is not easy and not knowing that the child’s immunization is incomplete may often create problems enrolling the child in the school system, including university entrance.

Screening Tests
The newborn blood tests (Guthrie Test) can find disorders that may cause serious health or developmental problems if not treated early. Babies with these metabolic disorders may look normal at birth even though they may be getting very sick. If found and treated before the symptoms appear they may lead a normal healthy life. 

In Japan, a refusal to have these screening tests has no penalty, but the tests are usually routine for all neonates born here. The tests should be done before the baby leaves the hospital and at the latest by the time the child is thirty days old (preferably before the baby is two weeks old). 

Only a few drops of blood on a special sheet of paper are required. The test paper will be sent to the approved laboratory (there is only one in Tokyo). Most health insurance covers the newborn test.
Because the test is highly sensitive, but not necessarily highly specific, some babies will need additional testing if false positive results are given. The screening results will be sent to the doctor’s office where the blood sampling was done. You should discuss the results with your doctor without delay. 

The following disorders are screened: PKU (Phenylketonuria), MSUD (Maple Syrup Urine Disease), Galactosemia, Congenital hypothyroidism (Cretinism), Hypermethionemia & Homocystinuria.
Haemoglobin disorders and histidinemia are no longer screened in Japan, if desired a separate test should be requested. 

A baby will be able to control his pressure build up in his ears after 30 days of age. It may not be a good idea to fly before this time, no matter how short the flight. Almost all pediatricians will agree. Ask your doctor what to do if the child needs to fly. Trains and buses pose no problem. 

Baby Car Seat
It is required by law both in Japan to provide an appropriate car seat for the baby. 
Never use the car seat in the front. Airbags pose a serious threat to the baby. 

Paperwork & Passport
Check in advance what is required for registration. Japanese authorities accept a birth certificate from the hospital as an official record. Look for a baby studio which can handle baby portraits for use in passports. Most passports require two passports with white background, with the baby facing the front with eyes open. 

If your baby eats well, sleeps well and smiles a lot the child is in good shape! After all you are the parents, how could anything go wrong?!