They say your life changes when you have kids. I bet if you ask any mother, they will tell you the changes come on well before the actual birth.
After coming down from the initial excitement, the hormones and emotions swing into overdrive, and combined with all-day morning sickness, fatigue, frequent trips to the toilet, headaches and no sleep, the first few months of pregnancy can be quite daunting for any new mother.
Put a hemisphere between you and your familiar homeland, and pregnancy can be even scarier.
Living in rural Japan, or inaka, as they say in Japanese, can be even more frightening for the newly pregnant foreigner.
Your family and close friends are on the other side of the world, your husband off at work to save for the new addition to the family, the closest neighbors are the birds that squat by the rice fields and none of those foods you crave can be found on the local supermarket shelves.
Confined to the couch during your morning sickness, you discover just how bad Japanese TV really is and that maybe you do need that electric shower sponge on the infomercials after all.
Yeah sure, pregnancy out in the sticks can be tough for foreign women in Japan, but there are ways to survive.
Here are 10 Hot Survival Tips:
1. Find a good birthing clinic.
Avoiding the big public hospitals in Japan for your pre-natal visits will do wonders for your morale. A small, friendly birthing clinic will give you all the personal attention you need.
2. Bilingual Maternity Handbook.
Register your pregnancy as early as possible at your local city office. They should provide you with a bilingual maternity handbook, and if not ask to have one sent out.
This handbook will become invaluable over the next 9 months and the bilingual content will make communication with your doctor so much easier.
3. Make the most of your surroundings.
Just think how lucky you are to be surrounded by nature during your pregnancy as opposed to the concrete fortress of a city like Tokyo.
Take daily walks, swim in the river or at the beach during the warmer months, and practice Yoga in the open air. Keeping your body and mind fit and healthy is not only great for you, but for bubs too.
4. Eat locally.
One of the great advantages of living in rural Japan is the availability of fresh, local produce. For a pregnant mother and her growing baby, the nutrients and minerals gained from consuming local foods are invaluable. Talk to the locals and ask about buying your goods direct from the farms.
5. Join a pre-natal class:
Although you can learn most of what you need to know from books and the Internet, pre-natal classes are a great way to make new friends and meet other mothers-to-be with due dates close to yours.
Good birthing clinics will offer free classes, otherwise check with the local city office.
6. Ask for parcels from home.
Ask your family and friends to send you regular parcels with those food items you just can’t find in Japan. Get them to throw in some newborn goodies too; it’s nice to be able to relate with home and know your family is supporting you.
7. Use Skype.
Being able to contact your family and friends at home is vital for the pregnant mum. When/if the famous maternity blues kicks in, being able to talk to and see your family will give you the strength you need to keep going.
Remember, the baby picks up on your feelings and emotions, so staying strong is a must.
8. Enjoy onsen (hot springs).
Usually, one of the benefits of living in inaka is the abundant onsens. Despite what you may hear, soaking in the hot waters of natural springs is a fantastic way for your body and mind to relax during pregnancy.
Pregnant women do suffer from higher blood pressure, however, so know your body and don’t stay in too long.
9. Shop on Amazon.co.jp.
When the daytime Korean dramas and the night-time game shows have you just about packed and ready for a flight back home, a good book can be your saviour.
Thanks to Amazon.co.jp, ordering books on the web in Japan can be done simply, and in English. You don’t even need a credit card; just pay at the door when your book gets delivered.
10. Shop at Nishimatsuya.
Japan’s great chain maternity/child discount store. Found all over the country, you won’t have to break the bank stocking up for your new baby.
Pregnancy abroad in the sticks doesn’t have to come with a cup of blues. Make the most of your surroundings and reap the rewards for both you and your baby.
Already been through all of this? Read up on seven reasons to travel with your kids. Living overseas? Check out how to raise successful kids while living overseas.