Once Upon a Tanbo

Elephant in the Room

Posted on: May 23, 2009

Is me apparently… closely followed by BG.
Lets just say that today’s clinic visit was not all flowers, rainbows, and happiness.

I really liked my doctor in Kobe – who never gave me any slack about my weight or blood pressure. My new doctor (male) fit right into the sterotype of Japanese OBGYN that so many of my friends here that have had babies warned me about.

First let me say that I didn’t sleep well last night again – so I was already in a very grumpy mood to begin with. So… things start out well enough, I get my blood pressure taken (its gone down) I get my weight taken (its gone up – DUH)

The doctor talks to Ryohei and me for a little bit about how he doesn’t know if I am “nervous” or not when I am getting my blood pressure taken and wants to see if I have high blood pressure normally or not. I told him I got my two highest readings when I was moving and alone in Kobe and obviously under a lot of stress. But no – he wants us to go and buy a blood pressure checking machine so that I can check my blood pressure everyday for the next week or two to make sure its not “nerves.” HIGHLY considering faking this… I have elevated blood pressure… sorry doc… its not me being nervous.

Anyways next came the – should be – fun part, the ultrasound. “Oh your baby is very big” I’m almost 32 weeks and BG is about 2 kilo (a little over 4 pounds) and her “measurements” are 7 – 10 days ahead of the “Japanese average” SHOCKER. First of all both Ryohei and I were big babies… we were both over 3800 grams… so not a huge surprise that BG is going to be bigger than the avg 3000-3500 gram baby…


Oh but the best part is that the doctor scares the crap out of poor Ryohei about my weight gain. I’ve gained 16 kilo so far.. yes I’m not thrilled about it – but theres not much I can do really – I haven’t been overeating, if anything I’ve been eating less in the last month or two… and I try to take a 30-45 minute walk everyday that its nice out… so pretty much my body is just doing what it wants to do and gaining the weight it thinks it should. So the doctor tells Ryohei I need to “lose weight” – because you know its possible to do that when you are pregnant and have a baby gaining grams inside you by the day. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing ever. I could understand “try and gain less” but “lose weight.” Is he joking?? So I’m supposed to “lower my food intake” and “reduce salt.” Sure.. whatever… but when I’ve gained another 2-3 kilos at my next appt… then sorry guy its a genetic thing. (My grandma – gained about 25-30 kilos per baby and my body type is most like hers in my family)

Anyways poor Ryohei was distraught since the doctor told him that large mom and large baby can lead to delivery complications. I know that that is true… but large is ridiculously overstated… BG and I are right around the average for American standards.

So yah – not only that but they did all these stupid tests some of which I think I already had done in Kobe. But hey they got to charge us almost 2man for that great! Thats groceries for 2.5 weeks or so.. but whatever. I am so bitter and once again all my inaka hate came back as I cursed having to leave my nice female dr in Kobe and the nurses and everyone I knew… and come to this god foresaken place where apparently my opinion doesn’t count.

Now everyone will say – find another place… but at this point I really can’t. I had to reserve back in January for this place and its “the best in a 50km radius” So yah.. I’m stuck pretty much and not looking forward to it. How I miss the city with its wide selection of birth choices. I am not realy looking forward to giving birth there from my experience so far… and not looking forward to the weight lecture that is sure to come every 2 weeks from here on out.

Trying so so so so hard to reel back my Japan/Japanese thinking hate… I really am. But once again I am finding it hard to breathe here… I want my life back thanks… not the “recommended average Japanese life” that every single inaka-jin seems to want to shove down my throat.

Anyone wants to place bets until the next breakdown…?


18 Responses to "Elephant in the Room"

Damn Japan and the ‘pregnancy diet’thinknig . The staff at my clinic used to give me shit about gaining weight too and in the beginning it stressed me out, (I cried during one appointment) but I got sick of it and simply told the doctor that i am not Japanese and where I am from it is acceptable to gain weight. After that he just sucked in air through his teeth and said ‘hmmm, chotto….’ evertime I gained but never said anything else.
When the nurses gave me lectures about either eating less or only eating japanese food and how terrible it was that I ate pasta 2 times a week i got quite angry and challenged them about what italian people eat everyday and that rice is the same as pasta.
They’re not going to change the way they think, but it’s your body/baby and you know how you feel. Just keep going as you are, you’ll be fine.
God, 2 man for stuff you didn’t need to know!? I’d definitely fake the bloodpressure results.
Hang in there, I’m betting on no more breakdowns!!! Mini melt downs are fine.
Any ultrasound pics???

My advice… smile and nod! Not so helpful perhaps, but in my experience the doctor plays such a tiny role in the delivery of babies here that it is not really worth trying to become best friends with them. I would put my energy into training Ryohei to not react too strongly when you scream at him to “tell the doctor to just cut me open!” etc. – he can practice the smiling and nodding there….. The midwives are so much more important and in the end – as Corinne says – if you are feeling okay it is not worth worrying about.
Another piece of advice (you can stop reading now if you want to!) is to make sure you know about their “after birth” procedures. I was fooled into thinking that the first clinic I gave birth in would allow me to have my daughter in my room all the time etc., but was very much wrong! At least if you know in advance what their views are you can talk to them rationally before hand about it or just be ready to smile and nod through it when they do some of their weird things.
I guess everyone is different, but for me smiling and nodding and then doing the exact opposite has worked so far. Good luck!

Ah I’m so sorry it didn’t go so well. I always thought we’re supposed to WANT a big baby, because that means they’re growing and healthy and strong, no?

Just do the smile and agree, but continue doing what you want/believe in thing I guess. Japanese doctors bother me too. The fact that they don’t “DO” prenatals even when I asked for them… the idea that I need to wear pants and socks all summer so the blood going from feet to baby doesn’t get cold… in summer?! I always get hassled too, about different things =(

If only we could do this in our own SANE countries eh… Oh, and don’t you love how nutritional intake and weight gain reccomendations are COMPLETELY different? That says something for sure. I think you’re doing fine. Almost there!!!

Oh Sara, I’m sorry to hear that your appointment today didn’t go very well. After everything you have been going through lately too 😦

I wouldn’t get too upset over it though. You know what Japanese doctors are like! Just nod your head at whatever they say without it letting it get you down. Everyone knows that while pregnant you gain weight and by American standards the weight you have gained is acceptable so I would at least tell them that. It might get them off your back a little.

I hope you don’t mind me commenting.

I just wanted to say that Japanese doctors are like this. I was told I was obese by Japanese standards in a check-up for work a week after I ran and completed a Japanese MARATHON. That’s 26.2 miles, in 4 hours and 40 something minutes. It’s nuts; they have a different scale or something.

And as for worrying an expectant mother- it’s insane. I have developed a really thick skin on this and tell the doctors where to go as I don’t think clinically obese people finish Japanese marathons. Tell them your average for Japanese standards and make sure this does not stress you or your baby out unnecessarily.

Sounds like you are doing great.

Best Wishes.

I would just ignore the doctors Sarah. If you can find some info from back home, like average expected weight gain for new mothers, for Ryohei to look at maybe you can convince him that foreign women are just different. I mean, most of us did not conform to Japanese/Asian women standards even before we got pregnant. I don’t think I’ve seen a scale read less than 50KG since I was maybe 12? But half the Chinese women I know are like “oh yea I weigh 45 kilos I’m so fat.” I gained probably about 20kg total while pregnant and while I wasn’t particularly thrilled with gaining that much, it didn’t make me any less healthy and I had a perfectly uncomplicated birth with absolutely no interventions. And I don’t know a single doctor who would recommend losing weight in the 3rd trimester, that’s ridiculous. Don’t let the doctor get to you, he’s an idiot.

Ditto to most of the above. Is true that the actual doctor doesn’t play nearly as an important role as the midwives in a normal birth.

I put on 12 kilos with Shou and got told to go on a diet, crunch ice all day etc. With Marina they said not quite so much about the 15 kilos I put on and now – wahoo, they haven’t said a thing in months and I have put on 16 too – and was beefier to start with. The bunster is apparantly 3300 grams already so I can’t see how your 2000 grams at 33 weeks is big.

Blood pressure – I registered 190 over something on their stupid machine one day. Just about cut my arm off. Of course when they did it manually I was normal. Today I was 115 over 54 which is the LOWEST I have been throughout any of my pregnancies. Can’t believe after your first visit he told you to go and buy a machine!! Just say is stress from living with inlaws.

Sucks that your doctor is a dickhead but seeing as its too late to find somewhere else then just think about what you want to find out over the next few weeks and then have a big talk with Ryohei so that he isn’t freaked into being freaked out by the doctor too.

Not long to go.


If you feel OK,that is all that matters.I had the Dr going mental at me for weight(both times!) then the nurses just rolling their eyes at him.As for the salt,they do say to cut down just to prevent water retention and it is a viable point.

As everyone says,it is the midwives and nurses who count as the doctor only comes in at the end.And by that time,you really don’t give a shit anyway as long as the baby comes out;)

Bah – humbug to the sucky doctor!

I know what you mean about no choice- around here for a while you were assigned a hospital by the city as there weren’t enough doctors to go around- Toto we ain’t in Tokyo anymore!

I don’t think you’re going to get the doctor on side philosophy wise (waste of precious energy, too!) but I would show Ryohei as much US info as possible to give him a second opinion. K thought all utterings and mutterings from my geriatric old fart doctor were akin to the word of God until I had my mum send me over a Maternal and Child Welfare Book from Australia and he realised there was more than one way!

Oh and I always found an ice-cream post checkup worked a treat on making me feel better. πŸ™‚

Don’t Japanese doctors go by the rule of BMI anymore? Sara, you look fine darling, and if you feel fine–, you walk– those are MAJOR points, that is exercise.

You can not use a Japanese BMI chart that is for Japanese for an women of European decent, or American- there are differences, skeletal, hip bones, etc, etc, even down to our hair shaft.

Any professional would know that. No matter how skinny I try to get I will always have J-Lo hips….

Okay, so I guess to offer you some of my homemade scones is out of the question.. shame on me, I am a bad influence.

I am a nervous person in general, walking and running help me maintain stress levels– just keep walking, and don’t diet, eat when you feel hungry–

I had fried cutlet curry… thought I deserved it after doing aerobics for 40 min… but feeling guilty..

I wish I could offer more advice on the others particulars = )

Sarah, I agree with everyone who’s posted so far. The doctor does play the smallest role in a regular delivery so I agree that the smile-and-nod-but-do-your-own-thing is the way to go. The midwives and nurses are the women/men you will be seeing the most of.

I had high blood pressure in 4th month so the doctor told me to cut out salt…which I wasn’t even eating anyway, but I just nodded and kept doing what I was doing, and when my bp went down the next visit, he said that I was doing good with my salt intake. Right-o.

If you can, find out about after-birth procedures as Jo said. And then when they’re not to your expectations, nod and smile and then do what you want to do.

Thinking of you!

It’s never too late to change doctors. My sister-in-law changed at 38 weeks because she hated her doctor.
I found that any place with a reputation as “the best” wasn’t what I wanted, too old-style Japanese. Is there a midwife clinic near you? My midwife has a connection to θŒ‚ζœ¨η”£ι™’ in Nagaoka city- is that anywhere near you?

Hoken centres and community centres often have blood pressure machines free for use, and sometimes you find them in hospital or clinic waiting rooms as well, so maybe you can find something and don’t have to buy a machine. A lot of people have hospital-induced high blood pressure, so I think he’s only ruling it out.

When my doctor told me the baby was big, I just gave him a ‘yeah, and the sky is blue’ look. I KNOW this baby is big, it’s stretching my tummy! I told him my sister and sister-in-law had 4.2kg babies, so I wasn’t worried. As the others say, smile and nod.

Same with diet, and the salt thing, which is overstated here I think. Go with Kuri’s method! And take Jo’s advice – get a blow-by-blow account of what happens after, any possible separation from the baby, bath when and by whom, scheduled feeds, rooming in, shots, tests, breast massage, etc.

I want to put your mind at ease.
I will try at least.
Olivia was born in a Sasebo, Really 'country' compared to here… Zushi…
She was born in a 'clinic' setting, not a hospital.
It was a Japanese Man, and his practice.
(He lived in the 5th floor mind you).
Anyways, i am Large for American woman, at 5 foot 9 and size 9 shoe… ok, need i go on? DD boobs! ok… got the picture?

He told me i should gain ZERO Weight During the entire Pregnancy. I saw him @ 9 weeks… and throughout the birth.
I was steeeeeeeeeaming mad after appt #1~~~!!! hated the man!
Told me "no chocolate cake, no fried chicken" in the BEST English he could come up with!
No joke!
And, guess what, i dont even eat those things!

Anyways, i just put it behind me, and said … breathe!
So, .. i just BLOCKED out his comments, and went and enjoyed my pregnancy.
He always made comments about my weight, … but i think in the end, he let up.
I mean, does he want a Mad, Angry Prego Lady on his case? No!
Olivia was born at exactly 8 pounds and 21 inches long. (39 weeks 5 days) VERY big for a Japanese Clinic birth.
We were both Happy & Healthy.
My hubby is 6 foot 4 and so we are very tall people.
So, our kids are big (as my son was also born @ Exactly 8 pounds and 21 inches… same!!)…
The point is, … this will be over soon and You will be fine! πŸ™‚ Your pic's show you to be on the SMALL Side of an America Woman, 4 real!
So, take it easy on yourself!

I was much bigger then you are… (looked like i was having twins!) and gave birth in the countryside of Japan… with a MAN who has no concept of Weight and Pregnancy.
Things will work out!
No worries, ok?

Oh, and we ‘roomed in’ after she was born.
She was right by my side! πŸ˜‰

I was told by one doctor when I was pregnant with Harry that I should gain an absolute maximum of 6kg.

I just looked him in the eye and said that seeing as the WHO guidelines give a MINIMUM of 9kg I would be ignoring his ignorant and dangerous advice (yes, I used those words.) The nurse was tittering behind him as I said it and then as I left she whispered that he only came in on Mondays, so to avoid that day for future appointments.

When they go on about “healthy Japanese food” I usually bat my eyes innocently and ask very sincererly exactly How Many Grams of tempura I should eat each day? Or tonkatsu? Or white rice with all the food value removed? Or ramen? Yes, I have done that too….

What a lot of wonderful sempai mamas on here to give you advice! I’ve never delivered a baby here so I can’t speak to that. I really like Heather’s advice about an ice cream after the doctor’s appt πŸ˜‰ I’m sort of a sucker for ice cream!!

I feel your pain. D had a simliar freak out at around the same point in my pregnancy when I gained 2kgs between appointments and had slightly high salt levels. I didn`t worry about the weight thing (as I lost 15kgs in the first 24 weeks and only gained about 6 of them back by the end of my pregnancy so they were all making a fuss about nothing!) but I did listen to the salt thing and tried to eat less salty stuff. This meant eating alot less Japanese food because of all the miso and soy sauce involved. Gives you a good excuse to request western food! LOL! (((HUGS))) from me though, is tough when they tell you off for nothing other than being different to the typical J woman.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: