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Giving birth in Japan vs. Giving birth in the UK

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  • Giving birth in Japan vs. Giving birth in the UK

    I am a British woman (British husband) living in Japan and we're currently trying for a baby. If we've got lucky this month, baby would be due around April 26th. My question is, what would you say the pros and cons are of birth in Japan vs. UK? Although the cost of the flights and cost of Japanese hospital probably cancel each other out.

    Japan: Pros - No flight, not as much hassle for visa and passport, continuous medical support throughout pregnancy.
    Cons - Expensive, long hospital stay for birth (1 week right?), probably no English-speaking staff during delivery (I'm not near a major city).

    UK: Pros - Cheap (free), English-speaking staff, more family support
    Cons - Getting there, possible hassles with baby's passport and visa and getting back into Japan.

    I could probably go back to the UK for 2 weeks (maybe 3 at a push) but babies often don't come on their due date so it could be a bit risky.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or anything else I missed?

  • #2
    Doctors usually advise against traveling in the 3 rd trimester, and most airlines prohibit traveling after 35 weeks, If I remember correctly.

    I don't think the idea of going to the UK just for the birth is realistic. There's a big window even for babies born full term, anywhere from 36 to 42 weeks. Since doctors advise against taking babies younger than a month on airplanes, you would need to plan on being gone for 2 or 3 months. Things don't always go as well as we plan, especially when children are involved. If you were intent on having he baby in your home country, I would recommend going by week 28.

    For what it's worth, I've had 2 babies in Japan, and the care was excellent both times. Pain relief is not usually available, but don't let that scare you too much. If I can do it, anyone can. I liked the long hospital stay. It gives you a chance to rest, which you will not be vale to do at home, and to get support from lactation specialists, which I was so thankful for! I've heard some hospitals are not as good about that, though, so now is the time for you to start researching different options. Good luck!

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    • #3
      Check which airlines let you fly when you're two weeks away from giving birth. Probably not many I'd imagine.

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      • #4
        My wife gave birth in a children's hospital that specializes in child care. She is a registered nurse (10 years in a children's hospital) and has a Masters in Midwifery so in effect was higher qualified than most everyone in the hospital save for the doctors yet she received substandard care. She went into labor around 2:30am. they woke up the resident doctor, he poked around for 5 minutes, told my wife gambatte and went back to sleep. For the next 5 hours my wife pushed and pushed but no baby. Around 7am the guy came back, nice and fresh, well he slept for the whole night, saw that there is no progress so out came the ultrasound machine and they determined that Bat junior was face up, he didn't turn as he was supposed to. So I asked for the solution and they said Cesarean section. Naturally I asked the guy why he didn't check the baby's position at 2:30 when my wife went into labor?! All of a sudden he didn't speak English. Then I asked when is the c-section happening? Well, maybe around 10am they said. I blew a fuse! It was a facking hospital specialized in prenatal, birth and after care yet they had no emergency staff, no ability to conduct any kind of surgery before 10am and after 6pm. What the fack??? So she pushed for another 2 and a half hour for absolutely nothing and finally they wheeled her in around 10am. When the baby arrived he looked like the kid from the movie Coneheads as babies' skulls are quite soft and he was stuck in the birth-canal for a long time so his head deformed. I almost got a heart attack and went looking for the night doctor to have a bit of a chat. Luckily (for him and for me in retrospect) he left for the day and my mother-in-law assured me that junior's head will go back to the usual round shape after some time.
        Of course I do realize it wasn't the doctor's fault really as the owners/administrators of the hospital decide what level of care they offer and obviously they didn't want to spend money for emergency staff.
        But that also shows how much concern they have for their patients.
        So if you choose to give birth here make sure you choose the hospital wisely.
        I would never ever have any major operation done in Japan. While the technology might be topnotch their skills are marginal at best. As my wife spent about two weeks there when Junior was too eager to come around month 7 I did observe the level of care.
        They are programmed machines, no personal service whatsoever.
        Also, you will have to have the birth certificate translated, then go to the British Embassy have it registered, apply for citizenship, etc. I am not sure about the British procedures but it would be wise to call your embassy and make some inquires.
        Last edited by blindbat; 2010-08-06, 10:42 AM.

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        • #5
          Thanks for your responses. I thought it'd probably be unrealistic. 2 to 3 months really wouldn't be feasible at all.

          I really don't have any idea about the care given in the UK, so I couldn't say if it's any better or worse than in Japan. My sister is due in Sept, so I'm sure she'll be able to tell me the score on that.

          I'm not overly attached to going back to the UK or anything, I was just curious if there was anything I should know, but by the sounds of it, staying in Japan seems to be the far better option.

          Again, thanks for your info

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          • #6
            Christ!! just pick a rice field and squat!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Angelfish View Post
              UK: Pros - English-speaking staff
              This is debatable. My wife is Japanese but we live in Japan now. She gave birth to our first child in the UK in a reasonable NHS hospital. However, the English proficiency of the non-English staff was poor. As capable as staff they were, their poor English was quite distressing for my wife (whose English is very good and much better than most of the staff in this particular experience).

              Of course, if you go private or will be giving birth outside of Greater London, this shouldnt be an issue!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by blindbat View Post
                Also, you will have to have the birth certificate translated, then go to the British Embassy have it registered, apply for citizenship, etc. I am not sure about the British procedures but it would be wise to call your embassy and make some inquires.
                That bit's not correct. The birth certificates of our two children, both born in Japan, did not need translating when I registered their births at the British embassy.

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                • #9
                  Pro- If you have the child in Japan it will be able to go to and from Japan until the child is 25 (or was it 20??). You are British, so there is no problem going to and from the UK, but it is always good for a young person to have a second citizenship in their back pocket.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nynapaj View Post
                    Pro- If you have the child in Japan it will be able to go to and from Japan until the child is 25 (or was it 20??). You are British, so there is no problem going to and from the UK, but it is always good for a young person to have a second citizenship in their back pocket.
                    This is not correct. Unless one parent has Japanese citizenship, the child will not get Japanese citizenship.

                    OP- for what it's worth, I think Japanese prenatal care and birth practices are the best in the world. I really recommend a midwife clinic. Please PM me if you would like a list of midwives.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rich dude kryptonite View Post
                      This is not correct. Unless one parent has Japanese citizenship, the child will not get Japanese citizenship.
                      Really!? Being born in Japan gives the kids no rights more than if the kids were born abroad??

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nynapaj View Post
                        Really!? Being born in Japan gives the kids no rights more than if the kids were born abroad??
                        Correct. America gives free citizenship to all newborns not japan.

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                        • #13
                          Indeed. The UK no longer gives citizenship based on place of birth either. Born in the UK does not guarantee British Citizenship. If the father or mother is British born, yes. If the father became British through naturalisation, maybe.

                          My wife (Japanese) just gave birth to our first child and the hospital in Osaka was great. Staff were friendly even though nobody spoke English. I was present for the whole birth, supporting my wife. Nobody spoke English. We had no problems whatsoever. We arrived at 4am and were taken care of very well by two excellent nurses, with child arriving around 9am. By that time there had already been four births delivered during the early hours.

                          Being kept in the hospital for 6 days is great also. My wife just couldn't get the breast-feeding right, and she got a lot of expert guidance and comfort from the staff. In those 6 days she went to two or three morning workshops in the maternity block. One on breast-feeding, one on bathing, etc. When she wanted a shower or was feeling a bit overwhelmed she could take the baby to the nurse station for an hour or two, drop him off and get some decent sleep in. She loved it. Also she could chat with the other new-moms in the ward about this and that. All very supportive. Baby got daily check-ups for example jaundice, hearing impairment, fever, toilet frequency. Mother got time to recover from the (natural) birth. She also got three nutritious, large meals each day, free nappies, free breast pads, free baby clothes, free soaps and stuff from sponsors.

                          The maternity ward was also very secure, with all visitors requiring a magnetic swipe card to gain entry to the ward. No one except the father could enter the bedroom area. Father could stay 24 hours.

                          Finally, if you have been paying the government health insurance, the birth will cost only about 50,000yen. The government/city will pay the other 400,000yen. After the birth, make sure you register for Child Allowance (currently 13,000yen a month) within 14 days.

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                          • #14
                            Even if you don't live in big city there seems to be loads of private clinics around. Pop in to them, pich up a brochure and explain your concerns. I'd be surprised if you couldn't find one where someone spoke passable English.

                            I'm a man but my wife had our first two kids in a hospital and our second two in a private clinic. I can't think of any problems, really the care was excellent.

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                            • #15
                              Sounds like mostly good news for birth in Japan. Thanks for all sharing your stories.

                              I've Googled my city for birth clinics and there seems to be a very nice looking one close by, so if I get lucky, I think that's the one I'll be checking out.

                              From the sounds of it, Japanese maternity is a lot better than UK maternity care, so I think I'll definitely stick with it over here.

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