After ranting in my last post about breastfeeding "double speak" in Japan, I decided to offer some positive information for those thinking about giving birth and raising infants here. I have certainly encountered some very positive experiences as well, and these deserve to be mentioned. I am taking a bit of precious time (so little I have now) while my baby sleeps. Here goes:
Japanese OBGYNs are patient during induction
As mentioned last post, my induction lasted 4.5 days. The doctors were willing to try one method, give me a break, try another, give me a break, and so on and so forth until my daughter was finally ready to come out. Specifically, they did:
Day 1: Balloon catheter
Day 2: Oral prostaglandins (until 5 p.m.)
Day 3: IV prostaglandins (until 5 p.m.)
Day 4: IV prostaglandins (until 5 p.m.)
Day 5: IV pitocin, waters broken by doctor (until birth)
In America, they probably would have skipped all or all but one of the prostaglandins stages and broken my waters the first or second day. I probably would have been cut open as well. Let me say that I am so glad I was not cut open. I feel great now, and I owe that to the fact that induction succeeded.
Adequate time to recover in the hospital (but this can be negative)
In my case, I wanted to leave the hospital, because of the aforementioned formula issue, but lots of women find it comforting to stay in the hospital 4-5 days after childbirth to get all the help and checks they need.
Pediatricians who operate at low-cost in neighborhood clinics
Our pediatrician lives and works a five-minute walk from our apartment. He is also very nice. Enough said.
State-subsidized pediatric visits
All pediatric visits cost 300 yen, maximum. Yep, that's right, 300 yen, about $4 at today's exchange rate. One-month, three-month, one-year, etc. checks for growth are FREE.
Free home visits from midwives and state welfare agents
A very lovely woman from my ward came by to check on my daughter and me, asked me about my mental health, answered questions about breastfeeding and other concerns I had, and very lovingly explained services available in my neighborhood, which leads me to...
State-subsidized home helper service
For 1600 yen for two-hour blocks, up to four hours a day, I can hire someone to do housework and/or watch my baby while I am in the home during the first four months. This service extends to one year for families with multiple children.
Basically, I feel Japan offers some very nice services for child-raising that I thought I'd praise here. I'm still mystified by the formula/breastfeeding issue, but am glad for the opportunity to highlight some positives.