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  • Vicky

Choosing a maternity hospital in Tokyo

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

I remember how hard it was looking for a maternity hospital in Tokyo as a foreigner - especially as we "freshly" moved to Tokyo and hardly knew anything. As I would like to help moms-to-be who are in a similar challenge, I share in this blog post my experience of 3 maternity hospitals and one birth center:

Now if you prefer watching instead of reading, check-out our video about that topic.


Please note that the following information are based on my own experience and research. Rules / prices might change in the future.

Before choosing a hospital, I recommend deciding on your must-haves and nice-to-haves:

  1. Language: Is English a must-have for you or do you / your spouse feel comfortable in Japanese?

  2. Spouse: Is the present of your spouse during check-ups, labor and the five / six obligatory days in the hospital after delivery a must-have for you?

  3. Epidural: Do you insist on an Epidural?

  4. Distance to your home: Tokyo is huge. At a certain time, your belly will get bigger and starting from week 30 your check-ups will be every two weeks, later even every week. So, you might not want to change trains two or three times and spend a lot of time in very crowded trains. (note: some hospitals, i. e. Red Cross offer a semi-open system, which allows you to have part of your check-up at your local medical facility)

  5. Price: Since pregnancy / delivery is not covered under the Japanese health insurance you will have to pay for the delivery and partly for the check-ups. If you don’t have a private, international insurance provided of your or your spouse employer, you might want to compare prices of the hospital.

Please note: A lump-sum of max. ¥ 420.000 will be provided to you after birth. For your check-ups you will receive a Mother and Child health handbook (boshi-techo(母子手帳), see picture below) from your local ward office which gives you a discount of 50%. There are also a few other extra coupons for dental check or yoga at the hospital if provided. You end up paying, depending on the examination around ¥5.000 to ¥10.000 (already deducted sum) for each check-up. Please keep all receipt for tax declaration as there is a chance you get some money back.



Now let’s look at the facilities:


Aiiku Clinic / Hospital, in Minatu-Ku

I experienced Aiiku hospital as THE hospital for internationals. Also, the Japanese prince was born in 2006 at Aiiku. Famous Dr. Sen and Dr. Sakamoto are probably the very untypical Japanese doctors that know their international pregnant patients’ expectations more than any other doctors in Japan. Of course, their English is more than outstanding and also the nurses who are there during your check-ups. This is also helpful when you call the clinic i.e. change appointment/ urgent matters and somebody picks up the phone who actually speaks and understands English. Another plus is that you don’t have long waiting hours- usually you should be done an hour later.


Please note: check-ups are at the Aiiku Clinic. Delivery will be at the Aiiku hospital which is about 4 km/ 2,4 Miles away from the clinic.


Epidurals are provided.


Prices:

  • ¥ 1,550,000 delivery accompanied by Dr. San or Dr. Sakamoto (including the room fee in a standard single-room)

  • ¥ 2,000,000 delivery / C-Section accompanied by Dr. San or Dr. Sakamoto (including the room fee in a standard single-room)

  • approx.. ¥ 780,000 delivery accompanied by a random doctor who is on duty (including the room fee in a standard single-room)

Please note: Prices vary depending on: room type, use of vacuum for the birth, delivery on holidays/weekends/nights, epidurals etc. see detailed list below:


Red Cross Hospital (Nisseki), in Minatu-Ku

The Red Cross Hospital is another very renowned hospital also popular and known for foreigners and moms to be.

Compared to the Aiiku Clinic (not hospital) it is a lot busier and bigger with a lot of departments. When you are at the ground floor there is right to the reception area a little séparé with two evaluators just for the maternity department on the third floor. This is to protect pregnant woman from other ill patients of the hospital. (Note: 1st floor in Japan = ground floor). On the third floor you will find a big receptions desk, a quite large waiting area and on the other side also some newborns with their parents. Most of the time when I have been there, the midwives at the receptions did not speak English or just less than the basics which was eventually enough to agree on the date of the next appointment but not more.. Sometimes they would call a midwife who could speak a little better English.


There were around 20 doctors cabins – all very small and without windows. The doctors I saw did not speak English or just bits and pieces. In my case, they did not care too much about it. The good thing was that they made sure a midwife attends who speaks some English, sometimes very good, sometimes just enough. Unfortunately, for me at my first appointment they didn’t take a lot of time to look at my German maternity book to understand the blood test I already had made in Germany. So, they made the tests again which - of course - we mostly had to pay for at the end and the bill was quite high. This didn’t happen at Aiiku where they had a detailed look at the German maternity book (most of the medical definitions are Latin and thus expressions are similar).


The blood test was taken in the main building on a different floor where you wait with all other patients from the hospital. What I found inconvenient was that at every visit I spend a half day at the hospital (at least 3 or 4 hours). It is not like you wait the whole time. They keep calling you for different things: filling out papers, blood pressure + urine + weight measurements, another face to face just with the midwife, then finally again the doctor, then again reception, new appointment, the bill and finally you can wait in the waiting line on the ground floor to pay your bill at a machine. Hopefully, you don’t have questions to your bill because most likely you won’t find the answer.


Red Cross wasn’t my favourite hospital because of the long waiting time, impersonal atmosphere and the little English they spoke - especially difficult when you call by phone.

BUT, I know from many moms-to-be that they like it there and I got the feeling they and their midwives are quite renowned also among Japanese. The Red Cross is also often used as a back-up hospital for Birth Centers or smaller hospitals for complicated cases which the small facilities cannot take care of.

Epidurals: not provided

Breastfeeding is strongly supported; waterbirth possible


Prices:

  • ¥ 610,000 natural childbirth with 6 days stay

  • ¥ 600,000 childbirth with Cesarean section and 7 days stay

Please see the price list for details below:




Seijo Kinoshita Hospital, in Setagaya-ku

Not feeling really comfortable at Red Cross, we arranged an online consultation with Brett Imura from the Childbirth Education Center. Brett is very experienced and knows a lot of maternity hospitals in Tokyo. We would never come up the Sejio Kinoshita Hospital without Brett because it is just to not that famous and big as the other I mentioned priory.

When I called the hospital, they transferred me to a lady who spoke VERY good English. She gave us the possibility to either come to the hospital to have a look and further information or to make an appointment for the check-up right away. So, we took an appointment to have a look at the hospital (for free). The appointment took about an hour and it was with the same young lady we had on the phone. She showed us the hospital and explained the check-up procedure. She also showed us all the different room categories for the after-delivery-stay and she even showed us the labor room. She took the time to answer patiently our questions (and you know, we Germans like the details..) We really appreciated it. We liked the intimacy of the hospital, so we wanted to sign up for it.

We had our first check up with an English-speaking doctor, actually with the director Kinoshita. He is very fluent in English and very friendly. They have about 9 or 10 obstetricians. When you schedule your appointment, you can choose between English-speaking (not every day available) and only Japanese speaking doctors. Even if you get a Japanese doctor there is usually somebody in the house who can translate. However, they cannot guarantee that there will be English-speaking doctor or midwive during your labor.

They also offer yoga classes (pre- and postnatal) twice a week which some of them are with an English-speaking teacher. The cost is ¥ 500 per class and you can also use your boshi-techo to pay less.

Also, a nice celebration dinner is offered after your labor.


Epidurals are provided

Price:

  • ¥ 760,000 Natural birth

  • ¥ 800,000 Forceps Delivery / Vacuum Delivery

  • ¥ 790,000 Cesarean section

All prices listed are for shared rooms. Please find price list below for private rooms and additional fees:



Seijo Kinoshita Hospital costs details

Interesting to know: Because it is a rather a small clinic and they don’t have all departments (like virology, neurology) they might transfer you to a bigger hospital when there is a major complication during delivery or in case you already have some kind of medical history that they can’t deal with, they might not let you sign up at the hospital.


Because of the circumstances of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and especially the announcement of the State of Emergency starting on April 7th, 2020 a lot of hospitals in Tokyo started to ban husbands from not only check-ups but also from delivery and the obligatory 5 day stay in the hospital after birth.

The same happened to Seijo Kinoshita. Thus, I needed to begin my search once again for a new facility. This was difficult as every hospital participated on that ban. Glady, I remembered the consultation with Bret Imura: back then she mentioned a birth center (birth house) which I did not take care about as I wanted to have a “real” hospital. But now, with no other option left, I decided to give this idea a chance.

Surprisingly, the Matsugaoka Birth Center - like other birth centers - were still willing to allow husbands during labor and 30 minutes visits a day afterwards.

When you come to Matsugaoka you will feel like visiting your elderly aunt. It is, for Japanese standards, a bigger house with several rooms. Downstairs you have the kitchen with certified cooks who pay a lot of attention to vegetarian, healthy food without any additives. Behind the kitchen you can find a bigger sink - which I first thought belongs to the kitchen - which is actually accessible for everybody to wash the newborns. Downstairs there are two delivery rooms which look like usual Japanese living rooms with tatami mats on the ground. We were told that every room in this house could be used for delivery, so we should not be worried about overbookings. Upstairs there are four very simple rooms for the moms and their newborns, usually also spouses can spend the night. Toilette, sink and shower are shared. For the shower there is a timetable.


Matsugaoka is everything what you can accept of typical birth center: run by just midwives (cooperating with hospitals in case of emergency or medical complications), no medicine, no epidurals, inductions or episiotomy. Instead, they offer natural pain control, messages, compressions etc. In order to sign up, you have to be in good health condition and your blood type should not be Rh+.

There are about 10 midwives employed, four of them full-time and four of them also speak English. About 5-10 moms deliver their babies each month.

A variety of preparation classes are offered:

  • yoga

  • yuru exercises

  • aroma therapy

  • reflexology

  • cooking

  • breastfeeding

  • Japanese acupuncture

Some of these are free others not.


Overall, I got the impression that everybody is very caring and lovely. Giving you all the time that you need and answering all your questions you have.

Epidurals are not provided

Price

  • ¥ 510,000 natural birth incl. 6 days stay + 20% / 30% when delivering at night or weekends

...the detailed price list was in Japanese and unfortunately I did not copy it. :(




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