Getting Pregnant in Japan – Part Three: Handy Internet Bookmarks

I'll do anything to learn a bit more about what my wife is experiencing...This is the third installment in a series about my personal experience of being pregnant in Japan (or perhaps I should say, of my wife being pregnant). Although I hope that some of the observations have value for gaijin of both sexes, I’m intentionally writing this series from my own perspective – a Gaijin Father / Japanese Mother. There is no topic better than pregnancy for old wives tales to prevail and I’ve been amazed by the seemingly endless views about pregnancy that differ between Japan and the West (where I’m from). While it is hard to argue that either view is right or wrong, I personally would have loved to have had a resource that taught me about both sides of the fence- hopes, expectations, taboo, you name it. That is the purpose of this series.

In the second installment I talked about my favorite reference books. I had hoped for a more balanced view of the world by buying a bunch of books on Amazon. I realized after about my 6th book that ironically I was getting a biased view of the world in a way that I had completely unexpected.

Nearly every “best seller” English book on the net is written by an American for Americans. While some of them make references to different ethnic groups within America, it is very difficult to find information about other parts of the world. (In fact a lot of the diet information assumes that the Mother lives on the American continent – an interesting topic which I hope to address in a few episodes time). To be very specific, if you want a book that refers to non-US countries, your best bet is to ask a friend/relative at home to send you something in the post.

With the hope of getting a slightly more balanced view of the world of pregnancy, I turned to Auntie Internet. While I’ve generally been disappointed by what I’ve found, there are a few sites that I’ve found to be particularly handy and think they are worth sharing with the stippy.com readership.

Mother Risk (www.motherisk.org) – Medication is a real contentious issue when it comes to pregnancy. Many people are so careful that they don’t want a pregnant Mother to take any medicine at all. But if you are the sick Mum, the answer might not be so simple. If your local doctor has prescribed something and you or your partner are not totally comfortable with it then look it up carefully yourself. Motherrisk is the best site that I have found so far. There are a bunch of other reference pages which give you the answer to a bunch of tricky questions, too – and better yet, it’s all in English. (Interestingly it is Canadian, not American!)

Japan Children’s Rights Network (www.crnjapan.com) – Perhaps this is the most important website that you could read if you partner is Japanese. While it is not directly related to your current pregnancy, it does a wonderful job of explaining to you the rights you will have as a foreign parent of a – for all practical reasons – Japanese child. Some of the stories are pretty scary that this page talks about but that’s no reason to close your eyes to the issues. With a bit of luck, reading it once early on will mean that you never have to worry about reading it again.

Asia xpat’s (tokyo.asiaxpat.com) – This was the last page in the world I expected to find a helpful resource on but believe it or not this site has more than just classifieds. Perhaps even more so if you are a gaijin female and pregnant in Japan (or another part of Asia) the Asia Xpat “Pregnancy & Fertility Forum” is a great network of people in a similar situation.

Mercury levels in various types of fish (www.epa.gov) – In a big fish eating country like Japan maybe it is no surprise, but it is quite hard to find information on which fish to avoid – in fact most Japanese books encourage their readers to eat more fish for the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. While there might be a case that Japanese caught fish have lower levels of mercury (I doubt it) the reality is that most of the fish sold at Tsukiji is carted in from around the globe anyway. Why risk the health of your young one. This is my favorite chart showing the mercury levels in a decent variety of fish although I’d love to see one adapted to the Japanese palete.

TamaHiyo (benesse.ne.jp). This is the official link to Benesse’s Tamahiyo page. Information on the latest Tamago Culb, Hiyoko Club, Gokko Club and more. (Japanese language)

Are there any other stippy parents out there? If you have some particularly benri (便利, handy) sites that you recommend to expecting parents (and me!) then please leave us a comment down below. It’d be great if this list grew into a database of sites that other Gaijin parents found helpful.

7 thoughts on “Getting Pregnant in Japan – Part Three: Handy Internet Bookmarks”

  1. It might not be quite the kind of page that you’re talking about but I came across a site a couple of months ago that might be of interest to you.

    kreuzungsstelle

    It’s a site with a bunch of essays written by “half” children out there. Everyone is always too keen to have an opinion about the topic (you know the old “shouldn’t they be called “doubles” because they have the best of both worlds?”) but it is rare that you actually get the chance to hear what the actual children in international marriages (like yours) themselves think about the whole fuss. This page has a bunch of essays from them. Red, how worried are you about bringing up a “half” in Japan?

    There are also a bunch of essays on what it is like to be a gaijin in Japan which are a good read (and a refreshing perspective).

  2. That’s an interesting site, Gourmet. One of my professors at University did a lot of study into the social problems that children of mixed marriages face. He talked alot about the mental damage that calling someone a “half” can have. That site just sums it up. It is quite eye opening to read the words of actual children in that situation. I really can’t understand parents who call their own children “half.” I hope that I never do that when I have mine.

  3. If you are pregnant or have young kids in Japan then there is only one place to go shopping. You must check out Akachan Honpo (link) Nishimatsuya Chain isn’t bad either but we swear by the Honpo.

  4. Completely agree with Satuma-Jill and Gourmet. Half is an appalling term – far worse than gaijin in my opinion. It ought to be as unacceptable as the English “half-caste”. What about the term “mikusu” (mix), which I’ve heard occasionally?

  5. I think this site is more relevant for gaijin Mums (than Dads) in Japan:

    Tokyo Pregnancy Group

    They have regular meetings for future Mums in Tokyo and also invite speakers, like Brett Iimura from CEC (link) to come and speak. The site also has information on which ob/gyns speak English.

  6. Red, I’ve got a one year old little girl who is the apple of my eye. But, I was a bit taken aback by a few things about having her here in Japan.

    One, your wife will most likely (95%) not be offered anesthesia no matter how much pain. Sucks to be her, eh?

    Two, your in-laws and extended family will expect you to keep working and have your wife go live with them for the first month or more. From my random polls this expectation seems to be stronger for country folk than city folk. I was having no part of this tradition as the in-laws live 2.5 hours away and there was some tension with grandma because of my refusal to follow this notion.

    Three, your bed will get smaller with three in it instead of two (especially hard for big guys like me). I definitely don’t get as much sleep as I did prior to baby-hood.

    Four, your mother-in-law will have some odd and definitely un-scientific opinions about things you’d never anticipate. My mom-in-law has some great qualities but she constantly keeps covering up our daughter no matter how hot the temperatures are. Even when the temps are 25-40 C she will put towels or jackets on our little girl to defend her from getting a cold. As is natural in such situations, my daughter sweats profusely leading to daddy loudly complaining…. And, so it goes in one form or another whenever we’re together. Now that our daughter is a year old it’s definitely eased up but still hangs out there.

    Five, be aware that vacations or trips together have been changed forever. You’ll be saying things like “what kind of child’s menu do they have?” or “that restaurant doesn’t have baby seats” or “she’s looking tired maybe we’d better put her to bed (at 8:00 at night)” or “we should schedule our flight to arrive earlier so we can put her to bed at a decent hour” or “um, do we have to breast-feed here?” and so on… Nothing huge but taken together definitely doesn’t free you up for a nice late night on the town with the wife.

    Six, be aware that some of the weird cultural/moral idisyncracies that us gaijin notice in the Japanese education system are begun even at the earliest of ages. For instance, the whole military style standing at attention will be taught to your children at daycare and kindergarten. In fact, women who stay home with their kids will almost default to sending their kids to daycare even though they could keep them home. I think it’s a low self-esteem issue as they don’t think they can teach their kids well so they’d better hand them over to the “professionals”. Of course, there will also be the different methods of discipline debate but that happens anywhwere.

    Well, hope that provides some grist for the discussion mill. Love to hear about others’ experiences on these topics…

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