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What is a typical Japanese custom for giving birth?

Today we I have a Japanese guest!


In this episode we will hear about Midori-san birthstory and the Japanese habit about going back to your hometown for giving birth. She will also tell us about the special situation during Covid-19.


Midori-san, you live in Tokyo but for giving birth you went back to your hometown. I have heard from other Japanese women doing so. Is it something common to do in Japan?

It is common in Japan. It is really hard to do chores for pregnant women also after they give birth, to take care of their baby by only themselves is also difficult. In Japan still men will take paternity leave is a rare case like my husband does.

But I think covid19 changed this situation. If we decide to go back to our hometown to give birth to our baby, we have to go back to our hometown 1.5month before the baby is born. And we cannot see the husband after giving birth, because the husband will come from another prefecture. They need to come to that place 2 weeks before to certify they are not infected by covid19.

So, many of my friends changed to choose Tokyo’s hospital to give birth. And after 1 month check up, they go back to their hometown, or their mom came to help them after the baby was born.


So women go back to get support and how does that look like?

As I mentioned before, the most common reason is that the husband cannot help the wife so much because they cannot take paternity leave (note: by law Japanese man can take paternity leave, but it is seldom used, as it is not well perceived yet). The women often asked for help for their mom, though many Japanese young families live in small houses which means mom cannot stay with them. Also when we go back to our hometown we do not have to do our chores. Women can relax and take a rest in their hometown.

Women usually stay with their parent 2-3 months in total. Starting from week 33 the check-ups have to be in the hospital where you give birth.

My husband visited almost every weekend. But in this Covid-situation, it’s hard to visit so often.


Is going back home, typical for moms in big cities like Tokyo that the women go back to their hometown?

I think it’s not so different from Tokyo and other cities. It depends on each family situation.


Do Japanese women usually know the hospital where they will give birth and how do they search for the hospital?

When we notice pregnancy, we will start searching about the hospital and reserve it within 2 or 3month. In my case I asked some friends and family, because my family has lived in my hometown for a long time now, so they know the hospitals and can make good recommendations.


How was everything in your case? In my case my baby did not come even 1 week after the scheduled date. Finally, I stayed at hospital and I got induced.

My husband luckily made it and he helped me with rubbing my back.

But he was more nervous than me at that time and he asked me if he can listen to music to calm down. I was very surprised by his question, but I said ok, deijabou.

As he was so super nervous I decided to be very relaxed and concentrate on deep breathing instead of screaming.

It only took 5 hours for my baby to come I was very touched, finally I could see and hold her in my hand.

After giving birth, I stayed in my hometown. It was planned for about 2 months because some of my friend’s wedding party was scheduled. So my husband visited us every week or every other week.

Though it got hard to go back to Tokyo in March because of Covid19.

I could not go back to Tokyo until the end of the state of emergency and I had to stay at my parent’s house.

My husband could not meet our baby for about 3 months!! I am so sorry for my husband, but in beginning, we didn't know about Covid19. It seemed so dangerous to get back to Tokyo.

These days I sometimes regret that time. I should have gone back to Tokyo earlier for my husband and my baby. Spending time with our own family is the most important for us.

Baby understands about people around her, and the more we spend time together, the more she opens her heart.

My husband and my baby needed a long long time to make their relationship. If I could have a second baby, I will stay in Tokyo and call help to my mom to stay in Tokyo for some week.


Are there any other Japanese traditions you did?

Nothing special. I could not do any celebration because of Covid19 but we did a photo shooting for Anne’s six months. It’s not a tradition but a nice memory.

She was wearing a stuffed animal called Miffy for this shooting. Photo shootings are getting more and more popular in Japan for the 6 months or 1 year birthday.


Notes:

  • Midori-san’s favorite Japanese meal is Harako-meshi. It's a local food from her hometown. It is made by salmon and salmon roe with soy sauce based dashi and rice.

  • Her hometown is Zendai in northern east of Japan

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