I’m a daddy again. My wife gave birth to a little girl two weeks ago. All of her next of kin have been notified, so I can tell you. All is well with mother and child. I thought it would be useful to write down some of the thoughts that I had leading up to, during, and following the birth. For some ex-pats, it might be difficult to imagine what having a child in Japan could mean. (It might be difficult to imagine what it could mean to a Japanese person in Japan for that matter.)
First, the pre-natal care situation here is great. When the woman finds out she is pregnant, she gets a full set of tests and a handbook in which the records, mostly medical records, for the child are kept through infancy. One unfortunate bit is that, since pregnancy is not an illness, everything after this is out of the realm of insurance. The parents pay it all. However, after the child is born, the child gets free medical care for the first three years of their life.
Second, there are well-trained midwives in Japan who can help you with delivering naturally. Most children are born in hospitals, but we chose to have our kids with a midwife. She is 94 and still delivering babies. She guesses that she has delivered 4,000 babies in her career. It all happened without drugs or cutting. It was great for us, though I’m sure that there are people whose circumstances dictate a hospital birth.
One other nice thing is that the money for the birth itself will all come back through insurance. Since we didn’t have the baby in a hospital, and so didn’t have to pay for the “machine that goes ping” (a little something for you Monty Python fans out there), our return will just about cover everything.
Japan is a good place to have babies, and so far, a good place to raise them, if you are ever diligent and ready to take over when the existent system doesn’t quite do things the way you think they should be done.