I am very excited to share with you my interview with my Japanese mama friend Yuko. She is pregnant with her 3rd child (due next month) and I am always amazed how calm and carefree she is! I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to interview Yuko about how she is managing with her 3rd pregnancy and her plans for birth and tips for other mums.
Interview with Yuko
Mother of 2 young children (8 and 3 years old) and pregnant with her 3rd child in Japan
1.What kinds of food do you eat/avoid while pregnant in Japan?
Many pregnant women in Japan are encouraged to eat a balanced diet. Especially, soy products, fish, red meat, green and yellow vegetables, and mushrooms are recommended. Many people believe that traditional Japanese food which contains high protein with low fat is preferable for pregnant women.
On the other hand, many Japanese pregnant women are careful about eating raw food (e.g. raw seafood and raw eggs due to risk of food poisoning, and rare meat due to toxoplasma), some fish (e.g. tuna and Kinme-dai due to risk of mercury), and natural cheese (listeria). Some are also cautious about drinking coffee or tea for caffeine, eating instant food or candies for sodium and sugar, and avoid taking too much of them.
Generally speaking, the instruction in weight control while pregnant is strict in Japan. I’ve heard that’s because Japanese women have a tendency to develop pregnancy-induced hypertension and diabetes easily.
Personally, I don’t avoid any particular foods except for consuming too much alcohol or caffeine, but try to have a balanced diet. If you are worried about what to eat or what not to eat, I recommend asking advice to your own doctor.
2. How are you preparing for the birth of your 3rd child?
What’s in my hospital bag?
When you have a plan to give a birth at a certain hospital, they usually give you a list of what to prepare in your hospital bag. In my case, my hospital asks me to bring these things below.
- Underwear (including puerperant panties)
- Toiletries (Tooth brush, Cup, towels, Shampoo/Conditioner, and soap, moisturizer)
- Maternity belt (optional)
- Baby blanket and carrier (for the day you leave the hospital)
3. Who will look after your other 2 kids while your are in hospital?
I have an eight-year-old school child and a three-year-old kindergartner. My husband will take care of them while I’m in hospital. I know I’m lucky because he is supportive and also his company provides a rather flexible working time.
The 8 year old child will spend her after-school at her school program or go to some private lessons after school and then come home by herself.
The 3 year old will be at her nursery school until the evening and her father will pick her up. I have no idea what he will prepare for dinner, but I’m sure they’ll survive. Though she is an octogenarian, my mother also lives near my place, so in case of emergency, she may be a little help, too.
4. How will you survive the first month after birth?
I have a midlife pregnancy, and I know I need more rest than other younger moms. So, after my stay in hospital for one week, I will stay at a postnatal care center for another week. I did the same thing when my other two kids were born. They provide three meals a day, and the midwives or specialists take care of babies and moms whenever necessary. The cost is not that friendly, but definitely I need to stay there this time, too. My husband also plans to take a two-week paternity leave after I come back home, so I don’t feel too overwhelmed about the life after birth.
5. Is there any Japanese customs that you find helpful when giving birth?
I don’t know well about the customs in other countries when it comes to childbirth and any other related issues, I cannot compare. But honestly speaking, I have an impression that Japanese traditions/customs don’t seem to be adjusted to the modern society/life so much. Instead of that, we have been importing many better customs from other countries and cultures. (The postnatal care center is one thing from Korea, and the system of paternal leaves would be another from other modern countries.)
6. What kinds of diapers/milk formula are popular in Japan? (Particularly all the milk formula is Japanese brands, so many foreign mamas struggle to understand)
After experiencing a tragic case of producing poisonous milk formula in the 50’s, the Japanese government and many producers of milk formula are very strict on its contents and producing processes. I believe any milk formula you can buy at any store in Japan is strictly regulated, nutrient and safe enough. Here is the list of representatives of milk formula for new-born baby.
- Hohoemi from Meiji （明治 ほほえみ）
- Hagukumi from Morinaga （森永 はぐくみ）
- Sukoyaka from Bean Stalk Snow （雪印ビーンスターク すこやか）
- ICREO from ICREO (formerly Ezaki Glico Company)（アイクレオ）
- Haihai from Wakodo（和光堂レーベンスミルク はいはい）
From the summer in 2018, providing liquid milk has been finally approved in Japan, too. I have not tried them in Japan, but it will be a big help while traveling or at the time of disaster. If a big earthquake or other natural disaster happens, obtaining fresh water for milk formula (and diapers, too) will be difficult and many moms with babies will be in a big trouble. It would be good to get some in preparation for an emergency.
Here is the list of representatives of diapers which are available in Japan. I’m not very picky about diapers and cannot compare which is the best. I usually use the cheapest ones at Amazon!
- Pampers from P&G （P&G パンパース）
- Merries from Kao （花王 メリーズ）
- Moony from Unicharm （ユニ・チャーム ムーニー）
- Mamy Poko from Unicharm （ユニ・チャーム マミー・ポコ）
- GENKI from Ohji Nepia （ネピア GENKI）
- Goon from Ohji paper （王子製紙 グーン）
7. What will be the sleeping arrangements for you and your 3 children after your baby is born?
Many parents in Japan seem to use a baby cot until the baby gets big enough and parents would not suffocate her/him during their sleep. But if they already have some kids, it’s also often the case to sleep all together in futons with their new-born baby on the floor. Many mothers say that it’s easier for their mid-night breastfeeding if they sleep with the baby next to each other in futons on the floor.
In our case, we will use a baby cot and my husband will take care of the baby during the night for the first couple of months alone in his room. The reasons are to avoid the danger of the baby’s suffocation and dust inhalation on the floor. When the baby cries, he’ll change her nappy and feed her. I’ll sleep with my other kids in another room, but if I’m recovered enough, he’ll come to our room to wake me up for breastfeeding.
8. Wow! Your husband is really helpful. What milk will he use to feed the baby in the night?
We will use the cube-type milk formula (Hohoemiraku-raku Cube; ほほえみらくらくキューブ) because I don’t want my kitchen messed up with milk powder!
Thank you so much Yuko for sharing your story and your tips! I really appreciate it. Can’t wait to see your new baby! xoxo