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Giving birth in Japan: A lengthy yet salubrious hospital stay

By Fairuz Emran

Living as a foreigner in Japan has conveyed its own ups and downs but giving birth in Japan is probably one of the former that gaijin (foreigners) mothers can fully treasure. Though the procedure might differ now, following the Covid-19 ongoing pandemic, it is undeniable that the puerperal care and support provided through the hospital is persistently excellent.

A survey conducted by UNICEF stated that Japan is the safest country for newborn babies in the first month of their lives. The mortality rate of this group of infants is 1 in 1,111. The record seems to be the lowest in the world next to Iceland (1 in 1,000) and Singapore (1 in 909). Parents—especially new ones—can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the process of giving birth in Japan, followed by the confinement days, will be in good hands.

Making a healthy baby takes effort. It requires foresight and self-denial and courage. It’s expensive and demanding and tiring. You have to learn new things, change many habits, possibly deal with complicated medical situations, make difficult decisions, and undergo stressful ordeals.

Let mama rest

Childbirth—a sacrifice performed by women which lies somewhere between painful and excruciating on a scale—is enough reason for mothers to be treated with gentle care soon after delivery as they need ample time to recover and rest from the rigors of labor.

While 24 to 48 hours of postpartum hospital admission is considered a norm for regular delivery in many countries around the world, women in Japan can expect much more generous ward confinement in between five to eight days and even longer for cesarean delivery. To some, the length of stay might not be the most euphoric idea especially when you are at the most fragile period you have probably ever had in your life, yet the benefits behind this whole idea are beyond substantial.

Hands-on supportive guidance for clueless mamas


With a fresh little one being born comes the sine qua non to perform a new series of daily tasks—including but not limited to breastfeeding, changing diapers, bathing, and even holding. Though they all sound as easy as pie, when they involve a newborn, they are not really. Without proper knowledge and continuous practice, performing your responsibilities as a new mom can be a daunting task.

This is when the stay comes super handy as you will be preparing yourself with the help and support from the caring and sweet staff. And the fact that mothers with new babies tend to be magnets for unsolicited advice regardless of any culture, will make them appreciate the lessons and guidance rather at the most. At the end of the stay, there is no doubt that the mommies will be more equipped, if not already a pro.

Meal to heal

Well-prepared, nutritious traditional Japanese food—or more familiarly called 和食 (washoku, “traditional Japanese cuisine”)—that consists of minimally processed small dishes of simple, fresh and seasonal ingredients are being served several times a day for the healing mothers.

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

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I was very impressed with the care in Japan, especially with our first child, who was born in a small private clinic. We had a private room where I could stay with my wife and the baby for 5 days, exceptional meals and great care, they taught us everything: feeding, diapers, bathing, etc. The last evening we even had a farewell dinner, a full French course, including wine! And the best part is the the bill (private room, two people) was completely covered by the government money!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Our experience was very good too, all three times. Depending on where you live, the government payment may not completely cover the cost if you go the deluxe route and/or the little one emerges overnight (extra) and at the weekend (extra).

We live in the mountains but the clinic we used is by the coast, so for our youngest, I was able to take our other kids to the beach every day. It was like a little summer holiday. Our room had a six-mat sleeping space and its own bathroom, which was the only shower in the place a father could use. The cost exceeded the government money, but was well worth it and much better than staying in a nearby hotel. It's fairly common, but my wife struggled to breastfeed at first, and I can fully understand women in other situations giving up without the guidance she was given. It is assumed in Japan that the grandmother is sempai mama who knows everything, so a few days in the clinic post-birth for the mother can get her settled and help arm her against any outdated childrearing ideas her own mother or mother in law may try to force on her.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I chose a cheaper local hospital in the city, as paying for a private room was the equivalent to paying for a costlier than average hotel.

Staying in a room of 4, it's pretty rough when it comes to getting rest. You can imagine how each patient encounters issues during/after pregnancy, and you have a curtain separating you and offering a small semblance of privacy.

I had a C section at a hospital that specialized in natural birth, with no English-speaking staff, because I though I could get by on my conversational Japanese. Make sure your hospital has the epidural shot available. The treatment by most was really kind and the breastfeeding tips were very good, but after the C section I couldn't move quickly, and a problematic few of the nurses would get real snappy whenever I needed assistance.

The girl next to me from Nepal looked like she had it worse as she couldn't speak Japanese (her sister could though, when available), but they would aggravatingly try to ask her questions in Japanese anyway.

Mixed experience, but I'd recommend a hospital with access to an epidural and English services, only because you're going to need comfort and security of something doesn't go according to plan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Almost every hospital admission in Japan is for too long a period. I had to be an inpatient for some tests that could be done as an out patient at home.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"Almost every hospital admission in Japan is for too long a period."

I have had 5 operations in Japan and really liked how I went home exactly when my body was ready to go home and not when the insurance company decided.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I've gone over it a dozen times on this site so I won't go much into it again... but while, probably, most Japanese hospitals/birthing clinics will provide you with a good experience, mine was traumatizing from start to finish. I dealt with PPD and PTSD from the experience and was in therapy for years afterwards. Just thinking about getting pregnant or giving birth in Japan again can trigger a panic attack for me.

If you're a woman (especially a foreign woman) giving birth in Japan, please make sure your 100% comfortable with your doctor. If you feel negatively about your treatment, say something. If the rules of the hospital feel too restrictive or even mysogynistic, say something. If you feel you're being treated cruelly/unfairly by staff, say something. Change doctors. Change hospitals. I know it's hard but I "shoganai'd" enough during my pregnancy that it basically destroyed my mental health for years and disturbed the early relationship I had with my baby so much that I contemplated suicide multiple times a day for a few years.

Above all, if you're financially capable, get a private room that will allow your spouse to come and go as you need them too.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I dealt with PPD and PTSD from the experience and was in therapy for years afterwards. Just thinking about getting pregnant or giving birth in Japan again can trigger a panic attack for me.

Those are very different problems, ones that started long before the pregnancy.

Japanese hospitals are top class, some people just feel entitled to more.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

@Vince Black

That's my own experience.

I even prefaced my point by saying you're more than likely to have a good experience than a bad one, but just to be on your guard.

And postpartum depression, by definition, starts after you've given birth.

The PTSD was from being in labor for 10 full days, denied pain medication and a dozen other medical consequences that could have been avoided by the doctors and midwives listening to me.

Oh and a botched c-section sutures that led to internal bleeding and a second surgery to fix - that was only discovered after I kept throwing up from the pain and my doctor brushed it off as me being "pain intolerant".

...... and a million other things.

Presumably you've never given birth so you have no right to call me or any other mother "entitled" for wanting to be treated with common decency.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@Vince Black

What a disgusting way to think. Genuinely.

Women don't have traumatic births or get PPD because they're mentally unstable.

I honestly hope you're not married because clearly you neither understand the effects of pregnancy/childbirth on women and obviously have no empathy for people in circumstances different than your own.

Incredible that a comment like that can remain on this site without question.

9 ( +9 / -0 )


Vince Black has no idea what they're on about.

They would never understand the pain, the various procedures and all that could go right or wrong. Thanks for sharing your experience. Keep continuing to heal.

8 ( +8 / -0 )


Thanks, mate.

It's just infuriating to see over and over again that if you didn't have a perfect pregnancy/childbirth than something is wrong with you. Must be your fault. You're mentally unstable. Pregnancy is a crazy ordeal even if everything goes perfectly right and yet people (men no less) think it's perfectly reasonable to pass judgement on something they'll never experience.

My daughter is 6 and I still cant lay on my left side because of the painful scar tissue from my botched emergency C-section. I suppose somehow that's my fault as well.

And people wonder why women are having less children.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I’ve heard from quite a few friends who gave birth here that when asked for a C section, they got the “why can’t you have a “normal” delivery” treatment. They had normal pregnancies so weren’t twins, emergencies, etc. Did anyone else get this treatment?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Why on earth would anyone enjoying a normal pregnancy ask for a C-section?

No self-respecting, responsible physician resorts to the scalpel when it isn’t necessary.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Save the gaijin, was it a large religiously run hospital in outer Tokyo area? I'm similarly traumatized. Appalling lack of care.i honestly thought neither me or baby would survive it

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fear of giving birth naturally, Cleo, is a thing. It's not a competition. A woman has a right to the birth she needs and wants. After my first disaster birth I wanted a section and got what I needed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fortunately, both of our childrens' births were in Japan, and went well. It was a good experience.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A woman has a right to the birth she needs and wants

Needs and wants are not the same.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Britta H

Yes, it was a religiously run hospital in Tokyo.

It came highly recommended at the time.


I'm not necessarily in favor of elective C-sections as they're more dangerous but there's very few places in Japan that offer an epidural or any pain relief at all so I can appreciate the sentiment of someone not wanting to repeat the process if they had a traumatizing natural birth. Then again I had a traumatizing C-section so...

I wanted another child, but I don't see it happening. If I did I would want to avoid the doctor as much as possible and have a VBAC but that's not possible in Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When it comes to my body, my future sex life, my baby's safety,my wants were a need. I wasn't going to be torn apart twice and terrified.

Im sorry you suffered too, save gaijin. It took me 5 years to have another. Hold on in there. That hospital is a horror show.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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