During World Breastfeeding Week, I did a three part post on Instagram to follow up this post I wrote around the time baby was three months old.
This post is an updated version to that Instagram post.
Breastfeeding in Japan – My Experience So Far
I’m grateful that my experience here (so far) has been positive. Breastfeeding is pretty much normal in Japan, and everyone assumes that you will nurse. During my hospital stay, all the moms were on a nursing schedule. We also had daily nursing classes. The nurses were incredibly hands on (literally!) during my 5 day stay. That for me was my first exposure to feeding in public. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to get over the awkwardness of unbuttoning a nursing gown and trying to balance a delicate newborn baby.
Because it’s so “normal” to nurse here, that must be a lot of pressure for women who can’t or don’t want to. I’ve met plenty of Japanese moms who aren’t shy about telling me about their experience nursing or the difficulties they encountered. Even strangers give me their opinion on nursing!
In these 6 months, I’ve been able to nurse in public with no problem. I love baby wearing, so it’s a big reason why I’m able to nurse in public. It was easy to hold her close to my chest underneath a cape in winter. Now that baby is older, we go out by stroller. It’s a struggle to take her out of the stroller, put her into the Ergo Baby, then nurse. Plus, it’s so humid in Tokyo, it would be too uncomfortable to have her pressed against me. One touch nursing tank tops + button down & cache-cœur make it incredible easy to nurse discretely in public.
While I have no problem nursing in public, I do enjoy Japanese nursing rooms when they are available.
Japanese nursing rooms
If you haven’t heard, there’s a population crisis in Japan. The birth rate is declining while the population is graying. Basically, people aren’t having enough children. You could say it’s because of the lack of daycare, which makes it hard for moms to get back in the workforce. Maybe it’s the crazy long work hours. Or, maybe it’s because less than 5% of men take paternity leave (and I’m being incredibly generous with that statistic.) Maybe it’s the price of goods and services. Whatever the reasons, there’s not enough babies to offset the decline in population.
All of these reasons makes it seem like Japan is not a very kid friendly country. However, for all the flaws to be exposed about Japanese society, there’s one thing that Japan gets right about babies: nursing rooms!
However, for all the flaws to be exposed about Japanese society, there’s one thing that Japan gets right about babies: nursing rooms!
I’m simply obsessed with how awesome the nursing rooms are in Japan. They can be found in most department stores or other family friendly locations. Can you believe there’s even an app to help find the nearest nursing room and changing station in Japan?! The rooms are huge, have plenty of diaper changing beds, vending machines, sinks, bottle warmers, etc. Nursing is done in small rooms sectioned off by curtains.
They are also the perfect place to take kiddies to calm down, have a snack, relax, and so on.
This video was taken at Ikspiari, the Disney “mall” at JR Maihama station on the Keiyō Line. Check out the Cheshire Cat inspired Sofa!
You may remember my post about my date with baby, going to Kasai Rinkai Park and Iksiapri mall. I took the above video of the nursing room in Ikspiari, It’s located on the first floor, near the food courts, tucked in nicely in a corner that tricks you into thinking that the room is smaller than it actually is.
Here are a few more nursing room photos:
Nursing Rooms in the US
The nursing rooms here are far more advanced than the (few) nursing rooms that I encountered back home in the US. My first nursing room was the one in Washington Dulles Airport. The nursing room was quite shocking– it was not friendly to nursing moms at all.
First, it had a pass-code activated lock with a sign that said “Contact the service desk for code.” Luckily for me, my Japanese carrier Softbank, bought Sprint, so I was able to use my phone in the US without any roaming charges whatsoever (as long as I am on the Sprint network). It was easy for me to call the service desk, but for travelers who could not call on their own or who don’t speak English, how could they use the nursing room?
Once I entered, I wasn’t impressed with the nursing room, especially when compared to the one at Narita Airport. I was also surprised that the nursing room is not a shared space; there’s just one room that has a mirror, trash can, sink, sofa, and changing table. Again, mothers who need to nurse would have to wait for who knows how long or give up and walk until they find another nursing room.
The second nursing room that I encountered was located in Columbia Airport. Rather than being a pass-code activated lock, I had to go to the service counter desk to retrieve the key. The airport is under construction, so the interior was very clean and modern; however, if I’m dealing with a diaper blowout or a hungry baby, I don’t want to have to fuss over hunting down staff who aren’t at the service counter desk.
I only experienced 2 nursing rooms in my one month stay; maybe there are better rooms in the US. It’s tough reading about incidents where moms have to “cover up,” or that they feel shame for nursing in public. It’s not even close to perfect her in Japan, but I’d like to see some Japanese style nursing rooms Stateside. Not so that nursing moms can hide from the public, but because the rooms are just awesome. They also provide a wonderful opportunity to strike up a conversation with other moms
Thoughts on Breastfeeding
World Breastfeeding Week/Month lines up with baby becoming 6 months old. My husband and I went to a baby weaning class at the local health department. It was more of a cooking class than a lecture. We also got to try out different recipes for babies who are 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year old.
She’s already gone from soup like meals to meals that have the consistency of a smoothie. I can’t believe that It’s weird to think that it will be all over soon. I love her face when she’s nursing, the way her little mouth moves, how she holds on to me, how she reaches out to touch my face, my mouth, my nose. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and latches on immediately.
I wish I could say I chose to breastfeed because it’s a great way to bond, but I’m just cheap and lazy! Seriously though nursing hunger/thirst is no joke, and I’m always trying to fill up without going overboard. .
It hasn’t always been this fun. I hated nursing at first. First, it was painful. All baby wanted to do was nurse, nurse, nurse. I felt like a cow. I just wanted to go for the bottles. The first month I was really angry.
Then one day, I just went with the flow. ..
Instead of wishing she’d sleep so I could get some sleep, I binged watched all of the Netflix Marvel shows. I’d watch an episode, baby would sleep. Then I’d watch another episode. By the time that episode ended, I thought, “Well, she’s gonna wake up for her next feeding so might as well watch the next episode of Daredevil.”.
Since then, It’s been a wonderful journey of struggle, and I don’t want it to end. Or, so I say until she bites me with her gums! And what’s up with all the nipple play? I’m constantly telling her that I am not a toy, and she just laughs it off!