Destination Guide | Tokyo Japan

Having a Baby In Japan

General Overview

While the prospect of having a baby in Japan might seem daunting to the new expatriate, most old Tokyo hands will tell you that they'd rather give birth and bring up their children in Tokyo than in their home countries. Why? Japan holds the lowest infant mortality rate in the developed world. Additionally (and unlike in the West), antenatal care for both mother and unborn child is intensely monitored to ensure that all progresses optimally. While the language barrier can make the process a little more difficult, rest assured that Tokyo boasts many obstetricians and hospital staff who speak excellent English, as well as other languages such as French and Spanish.

Pregnancy in Japan

First Steps

Pregnancies in Japan are confirmed in the same manner as they are in your home country. Conventional pregnancy home test kits (ninshin hantei yaku) are readily available in drug stores or chemists. It is strongly advisable to make an initial visit to your GP to confirm your pregnancy with a blood test. At that point he or she will be able to offer you information on how to proceed with selection of your obstetrician. Curiously, in Japan a pregnancy is not dated from the date of conception, but rather the first day of your last menstrual period.

Pregnancy Support Group

For the non-Japanese speaking new mother-to-be, the Tokyo Pregnancy Group will be an indispensable resource. It is an informal group which offers support and a wealth of information, and is run by women who are currently pregnant. It meets at 10:00 every second Tuesday, and each session is held at a different member's house. Most members in this group develop baby circles after they have given birth - a wonderful source of friendship in those early, grueling months. The group website has useful links for people who offer antenatal and neonatal services, and is well worth viewing.

Pregnancy Registration at your Local Ward Office

Once a pregnancy has been confirmed by your physician, or indeed if you arrive in the country already pregnant, you are required to visit the health counter of your local ward office to register your pregnancy. Typically, registration does not take more than 15 to 20 minutes to complete, and particularly in Minato ward, the administrators speak English so the process is very simple.

When registration is complete, you will receive a notebook (Boshi Kenko Techo), or more commonly (Boshi Techo). This notebook will be an extremely important source of documentation for your pregnancy, and for your child's first five years of life - particularly as a record of vaccinations. For this reason, be sure to ask for an appropriate bi-lingual version (Japanese and Mandarin/Korean/English/Portuguese/Spanish, depending on your ward), so that all the recorded information will be readily accessible by both your doctor here and abroad. You will be asked to produce it at all antenatal, neonatal, dental and pediatric examinations, and physicians are obliged to enter all details for your benefit.

You will also be presented with a Mother and Child Health Bag, containing antenatal checkup application forms, information concerning antenatal classes, a birth certificate and other pertinent materials. Forms offering free urinalysis, anemia, syphilis and hepatitis B antigen tests, at public facilities will also be included, as well as information on classes concerning daily activities during pregnancy, childbirth and nursing. Classes are also offered to expectant fathers (Parents' Class). These free offerings may have limited appeal however, for the reason that all are typically conducted only in Japanese. Should you have more queries on services offered by your ward office, please contact them directly, or contact your relocation specialist at Santa Fe.

Relevant links and information:

Minato Ward:
Phone: 03-3455-4772

Setagaya Ward:
Numbers on site

Shibuya Ward:
Phone: 03-3463-1211 ext. 2489~90

Chiyoda Ward:
Phone: 03-3291-3641

Meguro Ward:
Phone: 03-5722-9503

Shinjuku Ward:
Numbers on site

By the end of your first trimester, you should have registered your birth with your local ward office, and have your handbook with you for your first antenatal appointment.

Gynecologists/Obstetricians

Choosing your obstetrician is an important process, and to a large extent your decision will turn on how you wish your your pregnancy to be managed. If you wish to have your birth choices catered to as far as medically possible, it is advisable that you select an obstetrician who has experience caring for foreigners, and is therefore accustomed to and understands foreign preferences and requests.

There are many bi-lingual obstetricians in the Tokyo area. The most popular ones tend to treat most of the expatriate population, and deliver children in central, foreigner-friendly hospitals. Following is a list of some of the more well known practitioners:

Dr. Bliah (French and English)
Tokyo Medical Clinic, Mori Bldg 32 2F, 3-4-30 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
Phone: 03-3436-3028

Dr. Sayoko Makabe (English)
Kanda Daini Clinic, Umeda Bldg. 2F, 3-20-14 Nishiazabu
Phone: 03-3402-0654

Dr. Miyazaki (English)
Maeda Hospital, 8F, 1-1-5 Akasaka Mitsuke
Specializes in amnio testing and complicated pregnancies.
Can deliver at other hospitals, such as Aiiku, and accepts Japanese Health Insurance.
Phone: 03-3478-6443

Dr. Aikou Okamoto (English)
Executive Clinic, Delivers at Jikei Hospital Women's and Children's Center
Nishi Shimbashi 3-19-18, Minato-ku 105-8471
Phone: 03-5405-1095

Dr. Oshiba (English)
Resident OBGYN
Sanno Hospital, 8-10-16 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 107-0052
Phone: 03-3402-3151

Dr. Hideki Sakamoto (English and Spanish)
Tokyo Medical Clinic, Mori Bldg 32 2F, 3-4-30 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
Delivers at Seibo, Sanno Hiroo and Aiiku Hospitals
Renowned for epidural guarantee.
Phone: 03-3436-3028
Special mention should be made of Dr. Sakamoto, who is particularly popular with the foreign community and speaks fluent English and Spanish. He runs a private consulting practice out of the Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic, but also sees patients at other clinics in hospitals on a National Health basis.
A Ph. D graduate of Nihon University, he is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Additionally, he holds an OBGYN fellowship at Yale University (1981-1985), is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Society of Cancer Research, and the Japan Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Yanaihara
Tokyo Medical Clinic, Mori Bldg 32 2F, 3-4-30 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
Phone: 03-3436-3028

Dr. Saito (English)
St Luke's Hospital, Resident OBGYN
Phone: 03-3541-5151

Dr. Kinoshita (English)
Seijo Clinic, Chair OBGYN Department of Juntendo University Medical School.
Delivers at Kinoshita Hospital.
Open-minded, flexible and willing to arrange an anesthesiologist for epidural.
Phone: 03-3482-1702

Dr. Adachi (English)
Aiiku Hospital, 5-6-8 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Head of Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Phone: 03-3473-8321

Hospitals and Birthing Clinics Aiiku Hospital
Phone: 03-3473-8321

St. Luke's International Hospital
Phone: 03-3541-5151

Sanno Hospital
Phone: 03-3402-3151

Jikei Hospital, Women's and Children's Center
Phone: 03-3433-1111

Seibo International Catholic Hospital
Phone: 03-3951-1111

Japan Red Cross Medical Center (Red Cross Hospital)
Phone: 03-3400-1311

Hi-Born Clinic
Higashi Fuchu
Aqua Birth House
Setagaya
Phone: 03-3427-1314

Maternity supplies

You shouldn′t really want for much while pregnant in Japan. Maternity and labor supplies are readily available, and support undergarments are far superior to their Western counterparts. What few items you may miss will be readily available for order on the Internet. It's worth noting however that Japanese clothing sizes aren′t always appropriate dimensions for western physiques, so many Westerners tend to shop abroad for their maternity clothing. A selection of good sites which ship to Japan are listed below:

Blooming marvellous
Mothercare