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.