I had my first pregnancy appointment last week at Nisseki (Red Cross) Hospital and booked in for a VBAC birth. It was the first time for me to go to such a big hospital (so many people and the maternity ward was super busy!), so here is a video and a list of steps that I went through for the appointment and birth registration.
1. Make appointment by phone
You first need to call Nisseki (Red Cross) Hospital on the phone to make an appointment. You will need to do this in Japanese, so if you can’t speak Japanese ask a friend to help you. They will ask you lots of questions such as:
- Is this your first time to Nisseki? If you have been there before, you will need to provide your registration number.
- When was your last period?
- How many weeks pregnant are you?
- Are you transferring from another hospital/clinic? If so, you will need to ask your doctor for a referral letter, which explains the scans and blood test results, your due date etc.
2. What to bring
Once you have made the appointment, they will ask you to bring the following:
- Health Insurance card
- Referral letter (if transferring from another hospital)
- Profile – Japanese and English versions available on the website. Download the profile, print and fill in all the sections BEFORE your appointment. This will speed up the process when you have your appointment.
- Reservation number – this is a 3-digit number they will give you over the phone. When you arrive at the hospital and go to the “First visit” counter on the 1st floor, they will ask for your name and your reservation number.
- Mother and Baby Health Handbook (Boshi Techo)
- Yellow discount tickets (from your city or ward office)
3. Hospital Registration
When you arrive, go to the “First visit” counter on the 1st floor. If you can’t find it (like me!), ask the Information Counter at the entrance and the ladies will help you. I went to this information counter about 10 times! They were very patient and friendly and showed me where to go for each step.
At the “First visit” counter, you will need to fill in a piece of paper with your name, address, and phone number. Give them this paper, plus your insurance card, referral letter, and your reservation number. You will need to wait about 15min (depending on how busy it is) while they process your information and make your hospital card for you. They will then give your new hospital card, plus a pink folder containing your appointment information and your referral letter.
4. Go to Maternity Ward on 3rd Floor
There is a special elevator that takes you directly to the Maternity Ward on the 3rd Floor. This elevator can only be used by people going to the maternity ward – there are a lot of sick people in the hospital, so they make every effort to keep the pregnant women and newborn babies separated from the rest of the hospital. This special elevator is located around the corner from the First visit counter – of you can’t find it, ask the staff at the Information Counter.
5. Maternity check-in counter
Show all your documents including your profile to the Maternity Ward front desk. They will then give you an instruction sheet, available in both English and Japanese, explaining the next steps of your appointment. The first thing you need to do is measure your blood pressure, weight, and take urine sample.
6. Measure your blood pressure, weight, & take urine sample
Around the corner from the front desk is a small room with 2 blood pressure machines, scales for measuring weight, and across the corridor is a toilet with window for submitting your urine sample.
- Blood Pressure & Body Weight
When you take your blood pressure (put your arm in and press the green button), a little ticket will come out of the machine with your results on it. Write your name and body weight on this ticket.
- Urine sample
In the same room as the blood pressure machines there is a small table with urine sample cups and blue and pink post-it notes. Pink post-it notes are for “First visits”, and the blue post-it notes are for the check up after birth. If this is your first pregnancy checkup at Nisseki, write your name on the PINK post-it note, stick it on your cup, take your urine sample and put it in the window of the bathroom. Also put your printed ticket showing your blood pressure & body weight in this window with your urine cup.
7. Meeting with midwife to check your documentation & profile
You will need to wait a while until the midwife calls you for checking your documentation and your profile.
8. Doctor checkup
You will need to wait about 2-3 hours for the doctor checkup.
You would have received a pager at the First Counter when you arrived – this pager will buzz and light up when the Doctor is ready to see you. When this happens, go to the number on the screen and wait outside until the Doctor calls you in. The pager is written in Japanese, so if you have any trouble just ask the staff at the maternity ward front desk for help.
- What to bring
Give the doctor your documentation, boshi techo (Mother & Baby Health Handbook), and your yellow discount ticket (make sure you write your name and address on these yellow tickets BEFORE the appointment).
- Abdomen circumference & uterus measurement
If you are already 20 weeks, the midwife will measure your uterus. She records this information in your Boshi Techo (Mother & Baby Health Handbook).
- Baby scan
Doctor will do ultrasound scan to check your baby.
This is your chance to ask the doctor all your questions and discuss your birth plan. Make sure you have all your questions prepared and written down – the doctors at Nisseki are super busy so they like to speed through the appointments. It helps if you have everything written down to make the appointment as efficient as possible.
After your doctor’s appointment, your folder will be handed to the maternity ward front desk. Stay in the waiting area until they call you. They will give you your bill and then you can go to the 1st Floor to pay at the automatic paying machines. If you can’t find them (like me), ask the Information Counter for help.
10. Register birth and foetal ID
Lastly, you will be required to book in for delivery at Nisseki. You will need to submit 3 documents:
- Birth registration application form – this includes your selection for room type (private room or share room) for after your baby is born
- Foetal ID application form
- Insurance form
Nisseki (Red Cross) Hospital is popular for giving birth in Tokyo – they provide an amazing level of care and also have available water birth, VBAC, allow doulas during natural birth, and husband is able to attend both natural and caesarian birth. It is a long wait for appointments – usually have to wait 3 hours! But they have a pager to call you when the doctor is ready, so you can hang out at Tully’s on the 1st Floor and relax while waiting:)