Birth in Japan – Hospital Stay
In Japan, the hospital stay can be anywhere from 4 to 10 days, depending on choice of hospital or birth clinic.
Extended days are usually for women who delivered via C-Section or who had a birth with complications. In the case of my birth clinic, I had a 4 day stay.
As with my prenatal visits, every thing that would happen throughout my hospital stay was meticulously detailed in my hospital handbook. Daily checkups for baby and me, blood tests, breastfeeding “classes”, baby care “classes”- nearly every hour was scheduled for us.
At first, I hated the idea of staying in the hospital after birth. What was I supposed to do for four days? I had only been exposed to the ~ American~ birth experience, where others are routinely discharged within 24-48 hours after giving birth. Even Duchess Kate was able to leave after giving birth, and she was royalty.
After my two hour rest in the LDR, baby came in for our first time nursing. Then, baby was off to the nursery, and I was escorted to my room, a private, Japanese style room.
Private rooms generally come with a per night extra fee. I wanted to have as much “me time” as possible and honestly was not into the idea of sharing space with others.
I wanted to be able to Skype, text, browse the internet, read, etc without disturbing my roommates.
I wanted my husband and mother-in-law to visit when they wanted without having to worry about disturbing others.
There was a misunderstanding with lights out and using shower. Apparently, I wasn’t to use the shower after 5pm and lights had be off by 9pm. I didn’t find this out until the second night.
Perhaps it was the hormones and butt pain, but I less-than-kindly let hospital staff know that there was no reason to have selected a private room and pay extra if I can’t use the shower or watch Netflix in my room.
Instead of resting after going to my room, I felt an immediate rush and was unable to relax. My room was like a hotel. I had a wardrobe, tv, bed, dresser, sink/vanity area, and a unit bath with a washlet toilet. There were several light switches, including an adjustable light above my bed, perfect for reading or late night web browsing slash YouTube binging. I even had my own thermostat. Perfect.
I unpacked my hospital bag, snacked on delicious olive oil and sea salt crackers, emailed my mom, caught up on the latest celebrity gossip on my fave trifecta of Oh No They Didn’t/Bossip/Mediatakeout.
I already told the nurse that I wouldn’t be going to the nursing room for the 6: 30 feeding, but I decided that I should rest. After all, it was a busy day. I put down the iPad, texted my husband goodnight, texted my mom about the delivery, and finally went to bed.
In the morning, I was in pain. My pain relievers had worn off, and I was feeling the after effects of my episiotomy.
I hobbled to the bathroom, ever grateful that I had a washlet toilet so that I could clean myself and get some relief from the warm water.
When I made my way to the nursing room for the 10:30 feeding, many of the other women looked and walked like they were in serious pain. I thought that I shouldn’t complain.
After lunch, my husband came to visit, and it was our first time to be together as a family. It was his first time to hold the baby. Apparently they didn’t let him hold the baby after delivery.
Day 1 went by without a hitch. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, so I was grateful for the hospital stay. But that quickly changed.
Before giving birth, I didn’t want to stay in the hospital. After giving birth, I relished the idea of being in the hospital. By the the second day, however, I was becoming restless.
I took to using the stairs from my 4th floor room to the nursery on the 2nd floor. I did stretches and cat/camel pose to pass time and to strengthen my pelvis.
Aside from exercise and walking up and down the hallway, there wasn’t much to do. I couldn’t go out even though there was a Daiso and 7/11 within a one minute walk radius.
From the third day, I opted to have baby stay in my room so I could get used to having her around me. I figured I better practice learning how to eat and hold a baby at the same time while I’m in the hospital.
On the last, my stitches were removed, and that was incredibly painful. The doctor said something along the lines of, “Well, Japanese women…” when I complained of the pain. I asked him very bluntly, “That doesn’t even concern me. Do I even look Japanese?”
A nurse who was in the delivery room with me cane by to console me. I appreciated her effort, but I was through with the hospital stay. Just let me go home already!
At noon, I was more than ready to check out. Finally, my hospital ordeal was over!!!
I brought pajamas that my sister-in-law gave me, but the hospital provided a very cute polka dot hospital gown. I also got special postpartum panties and matching nursing bra, a large package of nursing pads and nipple oil, several packages of special sanitary napkins for postpartum bleeding, and a bag of amenities that include slippers, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, comb/brush, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
As a parting gift, the hospital also gave me a package of diapers (Pampers), powder formula samples, discount coupons for pictures at a local studio, a large embroidered towel for baby, vouchers to exchange for personalized name art , personalized storybook, and baby photo calendar.
A picky eater, I worried about the food, but when pizza toast came out on the first day at 8am, I was relieved. Every meal during my stay was awesome. There was a wonderful variety of Japanese, western, and Asian dishes.
All meals are arranged in the order of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
My hospital required a ¥100,000 deposit at 8 months to reserve a room. My company’s health insurance paid the hospital ¥420,000 was paid directly.
I had a balance of ¥520,000. As I stayed in a private room, the additional fee was ¥12,000 per night. On the day of my discharge, I paid ¥13,000 out of pocket. Had I selected a shared room, I imagine that I would have received ¥30,000-40,000.
One thing about the hospital stay that impacted me greatly was seeing the preemies in their incubators. I always thought of myself as pro-choice, but seeing their tiny bodies fight so hard, all I could see was “life,” if that makes any sense. If given a chance, those babies WILL fight to live.
I also couldn’t imagine not being able to hold baby and thought those mothers were so strong.
I just had a baby, and it seems like everyone is asking when I’ll have another. My birth experience was fine so it seems like I shouldn’t worry about the next time, but it took a while to get pregnant. I’m not sure if I want to go through the emotional experience of the two week wait again. But, if I do get pregnant again, I’ll definitely consider going back to my hospital.