This is Dita the wife again ^^. A lot has happened since the last post and this one, including a new year, a new life for me as a Ph.D student, including a new nickname for our baby that is growing strongly, steadily, and kindly inside my womb: Ali. My husband has called the baby ‘Ali’ long before we knew that the baby was indeed a boy (for us, Ali is a boy name) and there is a big possibility that we will go with that name even after the baby comes out to the world.
I write my pregnancy experience here in order to freeze the memory and I hope it can be a little help for non-native Japanese mamas who are experiencing pregnancy in Japan. For the note, I live in Machida, Tokyo along Tokyu’s Den-en-toshi Line and my hospital name is Showa University Fujigaoka Hospital (nicknamed Showa Byouin) located in Aoba-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa (map below). My pregnancy started around the latter half of 2017 and I will give birth around the spring of 2018. (coming soon!)
As for the hospital, I simply chose Showa Byouin because my fellow Indonesian mothers who live in the same neighborhood and have experienced pregnancy here in Japan suggested me to do so. Hmm.. not directly suggested Showa Byouin, actually, but after several discussions, I concluded the matter with this thinking process shown below, and then I decided that Showa Byouin might be the best choice for me. However, as the discussions continue even after I chose the hospital, other options came out as well. Showa Byouin might be the best choice for me, but for someone else, it might be better to go to other place.
More on Hospital Choice
I had a talk about my pregnancy with my labmates in the university and they were surprised to know that I am receiving treatment in a hospital and even will give birth there. For them, it is more natural to have both in midwife clinics because usually the location is nearer to their homes, it is more intimate/personal, and (I suppose after other discussions) the overall result is a more pleasant but still economical choice. I talked with one of my Indonesian sister (not blood-sister, just like a very good friend) who gave birth in a clinic: the location is very near she just need to take a bus for a few minutes, when she gave birth she can stay there together with her husband and child in a private room, and all of them got meals delivered. The treatment and child-delivery price was indeed expensive, but if you count together the cost of transportation and the food for the husband and kid, it might be reasonable. However, this sister was able to do so because his husband speaks a fluent Japanese so there is no problem to set them all up. It will be a lot different case if nobody speaks (fluent) Japanese because midwife clinic whose service available in English is very rare.
However, if you like more facilities and might need special care that cannot be delivered by common midwife clinics, with good Japanese fluency, you can go to the public hospital such as Machida Municipal Hospital (nicknamed Machida Byouin here).
Later on, I found out that Machida City (it is in Tokyo, which is not a city, but actually equal to a prefecture) has a volunteer-based interpreter service, where a volunteer translator will be able to accompany you during treatments for your pregnancy.
However, I didn’t know about this service before, so I directly opted for an English-speaking doctor that I can meet in Showa Byouin. I didn’t choose Aiiku Hospital (Aiiku Byouin) because I think I don’t really need premium care (they indeed provide a lot of choice for the treatments and they are famous for treating imperial family as well) and I want to keep my budget low.
However (again), later on I came to know that it is better to go to a hospital within your own prefecture because each government has decided on the standard cost for the pregnancy treatment and the subsidy is usually matched to that cost, so you basically pay nothing. However, it will be different from prefecture to prefecture, and in my case, I need to add some hundreds yen every time in order to close the gap, because I am Tokyo resident commuting to a Kanagawa (private) hospital.
Hospital Registration and Pregnancy Confirmation
I went to the hospital (Showa Byouin if you still wonder) after doing two times of self-check with test-packs. First, I came in the afternoon to the front desk. Fortunately, they have English-speaking staff there. She asked whether I had confirmed the pregnancy to a midwife/doctor prior to this visit or not and I said I hadn’t. They said it was already afternoon and they were no longer open for new registration that day, so the choice was to come again in the morning when they were open or went to a nearby clinic to have my pregnancy confirmed (and they referred me to one). Unfortunately, the clinic was closed so I had no choice other than coming again in the morning (the next day? I forgot).
For the new registration, I needed to bring an ID card (zairyu card) and hokensho (insurance card, mine is the mandatory one from the government). I had to fill some forms and then they gave me a patient registration card (shinsatsu card) together with a schedule of the treatment that day. Because I hadn’t been professionally confirmed as a pregnant woman, I need to go through a transvaginal ultrasound to confirm the existence of the fertilized egg attached properly to the wall of my uterus. It was very awkward for me to do the test but the pregnancy confirmation accompanied with the black-and-white photo of the fertilized egg was one of the best thing I’ve ever experienced.
They gave me an English document that detailed the future treatment of my pregnancy (including the expected due date, future physical examinations along with the cost, and how-tos in case of emergency). I brought that document to the municipal office (in my case, it was shimin senta, like a branch of the city hall) and they gave me an envelope full of handbooks (in Japanese, unfortunately), vouchers, maternity keychain (the magical cutie pink who lets you got a seat in a crowded subway) and most importantly, coupon from the government for pregnancy treatments. I was supposed to receive Maternal and Child Health Handbook (boshitechou) as well, but as I prefer the language to be English/Indonesian (they have Indonesian version, sugoi!), I offered to get it myself to the City Hall. All for free!
Towards the final trimester of the pregnancy, I was required to attend an interview with a health expert hired by the government in order to monitor the health of my pregnancy. Basically they were asking about my health condition, the baby condition, and whether I had depression/psychological problems related to the pregnancy. Alhamdulillaah I was healthy and happy, so they had no particular notes for me. Afterwards, they even gave me a set of shopping voucher as a congratulatory gift for my upcoming delivery! Alhamdulillaah~
Pregnancy Treatments and What to Expect
Basically the treatments after that was a regular practice of this routine:
- Came to the hospital, scanned the shinsatsu (check-up) card in the registration machine, and then got a number for that day’s treatment including the places that we need to visit.
- Usually the schedule includes the urine check and sometimes blood check in Lab, so I went to the Lab and got a cup for my urine. If I needed to get a blood check, they would give me another number to queue for the blood sampling. After that, I went to the toilet to sample my urine and then submitted the sample in the place provided. Usually the check the protein and sugar level in my urine.
- I weighed myself and also measured my blood pressure in the machine provided near the ob/gyn department. I wrote the data in the maternity book (boshitecho) and then collected the book to the ob/gyn department reception. Then, I waited to be called.
- After treatment, which usually included an USG treatment to see the baby condition and consultation with the doctor, usually I gave one of my coupon from the government to the nurse, where she would help me writing the content. The doctor would also give me the schedule for the next treatment.
- I went to the payment desk (integral for all service for the hospital) with my shinsatsu card and written coupon. Then, I will get a number to pay myself in the machine provided.
Below is the timeline for my pregnancy treatment so far.
The usual treatment includes urine check (for protein and sugar level), USG (after 8 weeks, I heard), and consultation with doctor. This is subsidized according to each prefecture policy. Also, the bold text in the special treatment (thorough USG, where the doctor can tell you what is the gender of your baby) that also have subsidy coupon available from Tokyo government. I stopped in week# 34 because it was the last time I had treatments.
Hospital Admission Procedures
Sometime during the pregnancy treatments, I was given an envelope full of documents to prepare for hospital admission. The paperwork itself should be finished within 32-37 weeks of pregnancy, because normally baby will be ready to be delivered after 37 weeks.
Some information that I got about the delivery process was that Showa Byouin will prioritize natural birth and will likely to do induction after week# 40 of pregnancy (they were asking for the agreement for that, though). The subsidy provided by the (Tokyo) government for natural birth would be around JPY 420,000 while for C-section, if it was done due to necessities, will be treated as a necessary additional treatment so they will cover more (I heard).
Some documents that you might have to fill (unfortunately in Japanese):
- Patient’s (your) basic information, including: contact person (minimal 2 people), food preferences (I’m Muslim, so I avoid non-halal meats, liquors, and their derivatives)
- Whether you would like to receive your subsidy yourself and then pay to the hospital or the government will wire directly to the hospital
That is all I know at the moment about my pregnancy journey here in Japan. I hope for your kind prayers for the health of my child and the safe delivery that will be coming soon!
References (in Indonesian):
- Blog of Indonesian family having their first child in Kawasaki, Kanagawa (husband part 1, part 2, and part 3; wife on pregnancy and newborn baby stuffs)
- Blog of Indonesian family having their first child in Yamato, Kanagawa (wife trimester 1 part 1 and part 2)
Further Reading (in Japanese):