Being pregnant in Japan
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
This is my first time being pregnant in Japan. I’m a 30 year old Japanese woman married and working full time. I live in Shinagawa and commute to Shinjuku 5 days a week by train. Today, I’m writing about what you can expect when you get pregnant in Tokyo.
1. Support from your ward When you become pregnant and it is confirmed by a doctor, you can get a set of coupons from your ward (Local City Office). In my case, it’s Minato-ku (Minato ward). You take the coupon to your doctor, and you can get a little bit of a discount every time you go for a check up. I was expecting to get some discount from my doctor, but the reality is that you don’t get much discount from this coupon. Maybe it depends on the doctor you go to, but in my case, normally I pay 6,000 yen for a normal check up. When you get your blood tested, it costs around 16,000 - 20,000 yen, so be prepared, and of course, if you do a pre maternal screening, it costs more.
2. Work life In my company, I can take days off pretty much whenever I want to, but some of my friends tell me that it's difficult for them to take days off. This really depends on the company you work for, as does the support you can get from your colleagues and your boss. You never know what's going to happen when you are pregnant. When I was in week 20, my doctor told me that I was in a risk of early labor, and because of that, I had to take a week off resting at home. Of course, I was still working, so in reality, it was difficult for me to take a whole week off all of a sudden, but luckily, my colleagues and boss were very understanding of my situation, and I was able to receive their support while I was out of the office. However, again, this really depends on the company you work for. I hope that you have colleagues and a boss who are very understanding.
3. Commuting by train Morning rush hour is chaotic in Japan. When a pregnant woman would come in front of me, I always gave away my seat, so I was expecting that somebody else would do the same for me. Well, no. It doesn't matter if it's morning or night, but people are not that nice on the train. Of course, there are some nice people, and if they recognize that you are pregnant, they give you their seat. However, don't expect this to happen so often because the reality is that they just simply ignore the fact that you are pregnant by playing with their phone or faking to sleep. This happens even when you are standing in front of the priority seat area. This used to piss me off, but I kind of got used to it. This is the reality on Japanese trains.
I was born and grew up in Japan, but there are so many unknown things left in this country, and I believe that's what makes Japan fascinating.