Once Upon a Tanbo

The ‘OMFG Japan’ Birth Class Story

Posted on: June 11, 2009

I was too tired to write about this earlier today but now that its past midnight and BG is currently on Act 1 of ‘Riverdance’ I am plenty awake enough to give you the details.

Let me just say that there is no exaggeration to this story. And its probably not as embarrasing and horrible as it was for me – but I think I can say with acertainity that this WOULD NOT have happened in a western country.

So anyways on Tuesday, Ryohei took the day off as planned (yay) and we drove up to my clinic for the compulsary birth class – 2nd half. I didn’t have the pleasure of attending the 1st once since I was in Kobe during weeks 20-24 of pregnancy. Quite a shame..

The highlight was that we got to walk by the nursery on the way to the class and admire the 3-4 newborns sitting in the window. So small and cute… I can’t believe I will have one. They made me all mushy and goo-ey inside.

Anyways the class started out normal enough… one of the hospitals midwifes had us watch a movie with the expected lady giving birth – just questions for those who have already had that pleasure… are midwifes in Japan usually that noisy?! Can I yell shut up at some point and stop the incessent “ganbare!” and “kuru na” (don’t come?!) that it sounds like they were saying. The last thing I want while I sacrifice my lady bits for BG’s sake is that… so please tell me that the off switch is an option. I’m not trying to pull a Katie Holmes silent birth but I would prefer a single “ganbatte” or “mou sukoshi” to a constant stream of high pitched chipmunk chatter.

Anyways sorry – side tracked… so we saw the video. Of course I cried when the baby was actually born, I looked around the room to see if anyone else was… (there were maybe 8 women in attendence, 2 besides me that had husbands with them) but no.. just me the silly gaijin was sitting there desperately trying to wipe up her tears before the lights came back up and I was exposed to all.

So after the video we had a talk explaining the hospitals procedures… fairly standard from what I’ve heard. Don’t think I get a choice whether to tear natural or be gone at with the scissors (sorry tmi) since it seems that 99% of first time births get the as the lovely Gaijin Wife says “choki choki.” 😦 Baby does get to stay with me after the first night though which is nice.

After the talk we had a break and then the second half… AKA hell started. We had a nutrionist “aka baba from the forumla/maternity suppliments company that the clinic uses” come in to harass us. I am not a huge fan of the “skinny culture” in Japan. Partly because I am not a part of it… even in my smallest days I would be nowhere close to the average 45-55 kilo flat shaped Japanese woman. And lets just say my smallest days have been behind me for quite a while now.. and with pregnancy weight I am entering the danger zone of apprx two Japanese women stacked together. (Please forget that now)

Anyways the nutritionist.. or “baba” as I will now refer to her. Gave us this “holy health survey” where we were to be told if our eating habits were up to par or not. Questions included things like

“How often do you eat liver?” – Never

“Do you think about the combinations of food you are eating?” – Umm… nope

“Do you drink milk” – Yes quite a bit, oh yay 2 points!

“How often do you eat snacks” – 1 a day… (Ryohei laughs at me…)

So in the end we had to tally our points. I had 10 out of 20 and the survey deemed me as “sukoshi warui” – needs a bit of work. Try and gabaru a bit more… sure whatever. I looked at the girl next to me.. she had 15 points – goody goody.

But no that wasn’t the end of it… I wish it was. Baba decides to call on each of us in turn to ask how many points we got and where we lacking. Oh yes.. after that my favorite question of the day “How many kilos have you gained while pregnant?” I was the second in line… the (tiny spout like Japanese) girl before me.

“I’ve only gained 3 kilos and I’m 34 weeks.” “Oh great job!! You are in excellent health”

Baba turns her eyes to me with glee

“And you Ms. Sara…” (and I directly quote) “How much fatter have you gotten… I mean, how many kilos have you gained?” In Japanese “Dore gurai futtota… aah.. nan kilo fueta?” Me: A lot. Baba: Yappari Me: But I lost a kilo recently and the Dr. said that was good… *rest of class laughs* Ryohei can barely contain himself with glee at my misfortune.

Anyways everyone else answered happily 4 kilos, 7 kilos, 10 kilos… uh oh… please watch yourself, 5 kilos… At least I prayed that it was over and Baba brushed into her lecture on how nutrtion was impotant and how we should all be drinking her companies maternity suppliment. Yawn yawn boring.

The came “Lets all calculate our BMI together – Get out your cellphone and then follow the simple math equation below and we can share them.” When she came towards me to get my score I used my JHS teaching experience perfected “DAME” (NO) and made the huge “X” symbol with my hands crossed in front of my chest.


Oh… and as the last hurrah… after the class we were given tea and Baba watching me eat asks Ryohei. “So where is she from?” “America” “And what does she speak?” “Japanese…” Umm… hello lady I was just talking to you and obviously understanding your pathetic attempt at trying to sell us manufacturedΒ  health goods…

Anyways that is the OMFG Japan birth class story. I hope its as amusing and shocking as I found it as the experiencee. I had a bit of a “I miss home” day after that… not to the point of tears but to the point of… why the hell is there no such thing as privacy here. It didn’t help when we got home and Ryohei’s mom had made whole roasted fish – the kind with eyes still attached and everything and some… soup with big chunks of chopped up onion (my biggest pregnancy related turnoff)

Looks like I may be well on my way to losing more weight at the next appt! If I had some access to cheese I could turn it around fast though…


44 Responses to "The ‘OMFG Japan’ Birth Class Story"

*hugs* oh man! sounds like a nightmare.

at this point in my journey through life, i just tell people it’s none of their business. i was lucky in that the pre-birth classes at my clinic was run by one of the midwives, and nothing beyond a ‘how is a recommended diet in american different that japan?’ question, everything was quite nice.

after birth, however, we got the nosy formula company rep and i wanted to punch her in the nose. not that i ever would, you understand, but she was so annoying!

sorry to hear about the choki choki. *shudder* one of the finer points at my clinic: no episiotomy unless absolutely necessary.

Hahah… yah I was about as close to violence as I have been here in Japan… she was just very very snotty. The midwife was very nice though – which gives me high hopes that the actually stay in the clinic will be enjoyable(?)

Oh man…someone would have ended up with a fist in the face if that had been me. It’s not none of their damn business what you eat or how much weight you’ve gained. Really, that’s between you and your doctor (though from what I hear, they can be overly critical too). And god forbid you gain weight while carrying a baby. Sheesh. lol, I have so much to look forward to when I have kids!

I’m glad to hear you’ve survived at least!


Yes I have survived! Blast the old school Destiny’s Child πŸ™‚
The weight thing here is soooo embarrasing… but I suppose for Japanese they get used to it early.. I’m pretty sure the school healthy checks anyone can see what anyone is…

Privacy… not in the land of rising sun thanks! πŸ˜› Haha – I’m kidding. For what its worth my first Dr. in Kobe was very very understanding about the weight issue. So there are some “gaijin body type” friendly doctors out there as well.

Damn, you did well I would have either cried and gone on a cake binge to make up for it or bitch slapped her up the side of the head.
The emphasis is just sooooo different here eh. I know it sucks but just try and put up with it and then after BG is born you’ll be free from all that crap.
Ewwww I hate the whole eye fish!!!!

Yah – I actually lost my appetite for a bit afterwards.. mostly because I was so put off. Don’t worry – I raided my cookie stash later to make up for it!!

And yes – fish eyes… ew ew ew ew why?!

Sounds like a “fun” expereince =/
I rolled my eyes at at least 60% of everything I was told at my class. Thank god for North American info filled books? Just keep going at your own pace.

The good thing about the choki choki is that apparently you don’t notice it happeneing… or so I’m told!

LOL – I ❀ the internet.. I knew pretty much everything that the midwife was talking about from reading my weekly updates from places like baby center etc. Now that I know the choki choki is coming… I guess I can at least mentally prepared for it… well.. eventually…

Seriously if men gave birth do you think they would allow scissors down there?!

I had the good ol’ choki, choki when I gave birth to my son 4mths ago even though I specially stated in my birth plan that I didn’t want it. Truthfully though after 14 hours of labour and 3 hours of pushing they could have cut off my right leg and I wouldn’t have minded! Oh and in the end like Khea said I didn’t even notice it, my husband had to tell me what they’d done.

Good to know!! That makes me feel better – I think its just the mental image right now that is giving me the heebie jeebies!! But I suppose in the thick of things it won’t really be on the top of my “to be concerned about” list.

My tongue in these sort of situations gets me into trouble and I’m sure that I would have said something considered inappropriate – whoops! Kudos to you for keeping your cool. Thankfully you’ll soon be all done with that group mentality nonsense!

Thanks!! I really really thought about it! But I’m more of the Flight school than the Fight one… I really really really wanted to hide in the bathroom for most of the second half tho. If my husband wasn’t there i may have done just that.

I so don`t want the choki choki. But then again I don`t really want something so big coming out of somewhere so small either. When my husband teases me about it, I ask him how he would like a mikan coming out of his finer bits. That makes him stop.

As for the weight, as long as you feel you havent gained too much (ie 100lbs +) you will be more than fine I think. Just tell any busy body that you would rather have a healthy baby than one that was way too small and sickly. You are willing to sacrafice your body for the sake of the little one. I`m surprised no one yelled at the only gaing 3kg girl.

Of course, if your like me (naturally wide hips), just say you will have less of a problem delivering a baby due to natural birthing hips.

LOL Melanie… that comment on your blog and now this!! You make me laugh girl πŸ˜€

I am also a member of the wide hips club!! Hoping they will prove to me their virtue after years of disgust trying desperately to fit cute and sexy jeans over them.

Thats exactly what I am hoping. If I have to deal with (hopefully) 70+ years of ill fitting pants due to these hips, they better come in handy the few times (maybe once if they don`t) I need them too.

I’ve had one of each choki choki wise and I ripped a little (naughty me forgot to be all opening flower and went for get this thing out of me!!) and honestly I didn’t notice a difference healing wise.

As for the mama class. Grrrrrr bee there done that…… smile sweetly and think ‘I’m only here so we can do the birth together’ etc etc. πŸ™‚ I got in trouble not wearing a haramaki in August in Saitama…. bite me!

Eww… and OUCH…
But once again good to know!

Umm.. haramaki SO isn’t happening…

Its all over now though!! Although I suppose that after my week long stay I may have some more fun stories to tell.

Oh man even though I have heard most of this story before your way of telling it cracked me up! Seriously, you have a way with words.

I do not want choki choki either- but I have not yet discussed that with the dr here. I am hoping it is more like Illahee`s clinic and that it is only done if absolutely necessary but hey, like the others said, most people don`t even notice. I suppose squeezing a watermelon out is the bigger focus.

I would of walked out. I think you did very well to stay and stay fairly composed- i would of lost it and then gone on a cheese binge. If I had another birth class I would of taken really fatty cake to give to everyone while smiling sweetly.

I am never going to be the size of a “average” Japanese woman and I am sure as hell not only going to gain 5kg while I am pregnant. That just seems unhealthy to me but hey, each to there own I suppose and Japan certainly has their own views on things.

At least now, the “baba” is out of your life and Ryohei can attend the birth! WOO!

Thanks – I try to be entertaining πŸ˜› It masks my pain lol.
Hahahahaha – I will remember to bring the fattening cake to the birth class for my next bub.

And yes – now Ryohei can attend unless you know what happens and I have to give birth in a storage closet, hallway, or kitchen… so that he can be there to give BG a proper welcome.

We have discussed this so many times but I just have to say it again… I really really don’t want the choki choki either… But then if what people say about you not actually feeling it then I guess it wouldn’t be too bad… かγͺ?!?!

As always, you handled the situation better than I ever would… I’m sure my mouth would have gotten me into a lot of trouble or I would have started bawling my eyes out and running to the nearest cheesecake shop!!

I’m so glad that it is now over and Ryohei is able to attend BG’s birth!!

We were quite anti-choki choki weren’t we… oh well. I will let you know how it goes and I promise to spare no details.

If there is a cheesecake shop in Niigata, I need to find it. Sounds like it would come in handy for times of need.

Don’t worry Sara all through my pregnancy I welled up just seeing babies. I would have been right there with you crying. Here I was upset that I could not take a prenatal class because of the language barrier after that story I am a little grateful I didn’t. Good for you for handling it so well!

I was against the choki choki to but my doctor seemed like he was going to do what he wanted no matter my wishes. However Raiden came flying out so fast at the end that he hardly had time to put on gloves and catch him less than grab the scissors.

So happy that Ryohei can be at the birth now!

I’m a big sap!! I always cry at everything… so it wasn’t much of a surprise there!

LOL at the mental image of Raiden flying out!! Well at least you didn’t have to go through the choki choki!! I hope that your lady bits were ok though?!

I think if I was in your place, when that baba was being a b*tch and being totally rude – I would have definitely thrown out some sour, sarcastic responses in return. And in my mind, I’d be smacking her with a broom over and over, or something like that. Lol.

Man you’re story is making ME emotional and irritated. I can’t believe how rude (old) Japanese people can be sometimes to foreigners!

ESPECIALLY when you were speaking to her in Japanese right before that, and all. What the hell lady. Grr.

Hahah yah that was pretty much my opinion. The whole… Japanese thing… when I’ve just been speaking it is so silly. Oh well – I’ve been here long enough to be used to it. However not long enough to be ok with being the elephant in the room. (Don’t think that will EVER happen) I wish I had a broom to smack here with but I think if I did that I probably would be asked to leave the clinic and then BG would find herself being born in rice paddie ala Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth”

Come on, don’t they know by now Japanese women and Western woman have entirely different bone structures? Even our hair is different all the way down to consumerism “aka” “Aisanesense” shampoo– (sorry Can’t spell).

BMI, according to their chart, who wants a small baby anyway- the fatter and bigger the better I say, nice and healthy and strong.

Damn Baba’s and GiGi’s, I would have said “baka ga ni”! hontoni! Girl I could be skin and bones but I would still never weigh 50kg because I have J-Los hips…

Yah… I actually did try to explain that to the Dr.
By the second appt, the one that went better – he was on the whole “half-Japanese” baby train.. so praying at least my bi weekly appointments won’t be hell.

Even at my smallest I was still heavy – weigh wise. I looked great but the way my body is I will always be a number that would have a Japanese person gasping and running for the nearest tofu weightloss cookie factory.

I either ripped or had the old choki choki, and to this day I’m still not sure which it was! So its true you don’t really notice as it is happening, but I won’t lie, afterwards the healing can be painful.

As for that birth class, sounds awful. We had a class here, but it was just a lame video and then a nurse telling us all the stuff we needed to bring to the hospital, how much money it was going to cost, which was sort of useful. What’s with the public humiliation? How is that necessary at all? I am so sorry you had to go through that!

Yah.. I’m not looking forward to the after pains of birth… I sort of wish it could all be over that one day. To be honest – now that I’ve gotten it off my chest its sort of funny.

I’m glad everyone else can see the humor and what would have otherwise been a very vexing situation!

That’s what GW meant when she said choki choki? I always thought she meant having her husband get the choki choki done?? Lucky I didn’t say something like ‘yeah, you had to birth the babies so he should be the one to get the cut.’ would have been rather odd…

Hmm… thats what I thought it meant?! Maybe I am wrong… or maybe there are two brands of choki choki?! Hopefully GW will give some clarification when she is out of the hospital and able to come back online?

lol @ fukahef!!

I can’t believe that! That really is an OMG only in Japan story! That baba sounds like a nutcase! How rude! I hate how Japanese are fixated with weight and don’t think it’s rude to comment about other peoples weight directly to them! Poor you having the fish & onion meal to deal with afterwards too!

Yah – it really is a weight fixated culture. I don’t think you’ve properly been initiated as a foreign woman in Japan until a friend or “relative” has greeted you with a “oh you’ve gotten fat lately”

I usually just chalk it up to part of living here but being pregnant and gaining so much weight in so little time tends to make one a bit more self-concious…

LOL! Definitely an “only in Japan” story. My clinic was also anti “choki-choki” unless strictly necessary. I had some natural tears in the end that took a while to heal but I guess it is just one of those things. I am sure that if you have a chat with the doctor and let him know about your fears/concerns they will bear it in mind at the time. At the end of the day though, the most important thing is that BG gets here and in one piece. I never stressed too much about the small details and I didn’t have a birth plan but apparently ended up having the “textbook perfect birth” so I think the best thing is to stay calm about stuff like that as everything works out in the end!

How do you go about finding these anti choki choki clinics?! So jealous of all of you who have been given a choice in how your lady bits will be manhandled. I am trying to not stress too much about the birth but I have to admit the closer it gets the more anxious I find myself getting.

I think its mostly fear of the unknown… but I pray that there are no complications and that BG and I will emerge as unscathed as possible from the whole ordeal. πŸ˜€

i think it’s just kind of luck of the draw. for some reason i had an enlightened doctor. i did tear, and had a few stitches but in the end (HA!) everything healed up fine. i even had a tear with the second and third births, but nothing terrible that would have been better with ‘the cut’.

episiotomies do serve a purpose, so please don’t think i’m anti-episiotomy. i am just lucky that i had a doctor who let things happen naturally.

Oh my god…that class sounds like an absolute nightmare!!! I cannot stand the Japanese obsession with weight (and complete lack of privacy when it comes to weight!) and I find it unbelievable the weight restrictions they put on pregnant women here!! The whole “metabo” test at health checkups also drive me crazy…just the idea that a whole population’s waist size has to be within a certain number of centimeters is outlandish!

I admire you for having the patience to not throw that baba across the room and showing her what Western women with our extra kilos are capable of. πŸ™‚

Hahahah – I was more embarrassed than angry which was probably a good thing as being thrown out of my clinic at almost 35 weeks pregnant means most likely birth in a rice paddie with frogs, snakes, and other fun entities!

I think the “metabo” thing is silly too..
Weight, measurement sizes, etc are just like age – only really a number – its the individual that is more important πŸ˜›

I had the choki choki both times.Was terrified the first time around but didn’t notice a thing.And the healing was quick and practically painfree both times .

Yah from what I have gathered – I am not going to be noticing what with all the other “good stuff” going on. I suppose its one of those if all the other women can deal with it – so can I situations.

God I hate that when they talk to your husband like you’re not even there.

That sounds awful, that whole procedure, but yeah i reckon you should tell them to shut up if it gets too much during labour, after all it is YOUR labour not theirs.

How long have you got to go before it’s time?

Yah, I’m sure that I won’t be the first woman to scream shut up at someone during labor πŸ™‚

I’m almost 35 weeks so anywhere from 2-7 left… just depends when baby decides to head on out…

Hope it’s soon, for your sake! πŸ™‚

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: