Thursday, July 2, 2015

Staying in the Hospital in Japan

Wow, finding the time to write this is a little more difficult than I thought it would be.  I think I can get better at making time now that I have a better idea of Wren's schedule but I think my pace is going to slow a little.  Let's see if I can finish up the story of the hospital stay quickly.

Going back to where the last blog left off.  I had just given birth and the hospital let Jeff and I stay in the labor room so that Jeff could have some time with Wren before they kicked him out of the hospital.

Jeff and I were able to hang out in the labor room until 4:00 PM the following day when I was moved to a group room.  All of the private rooms were occupied.  The group room consisted of 4 women with beds and newborns, a bathroom.  The shower was down the hall and you had to sign up for it and reserve a time.  They also took Wren that night, from around midnight until 6 AM so that I could get some sleep but since I was sharing a room with 3 other people that had babies crying at all hours of the night and lights going on and off all the time, I really didn't sleep much.  The biggest bummer with the group room was the visiting policy.  No visitors were allowed in the group room.  Jeff was only allowed in the lobby but Wren wasn't allowed in the lobby.  This meant that Jeff couldn't even hold his daughter until I was moved in to a private room.

The following day I was moved to a private room.  This was much better.  It was quiet and I had my own bathroom and shower.  Jeff could come and visit me in the private room from 1 PM to 8 PM.  This worked some days but not all of them since they scheduled things in the afternoon.  Every day there were a couple of scheduled activities from a tutorial on how to bathe the baby, care of the baby after leaving the hospital and things like that.

Here are some of the things that struck me as really odd about the Japanese hospital that go 180' against what they tell you to do in the US. 

The baby bedding was big fluffy quilts.  In the US this is considered to be a smothering hazard and they say never use quilts or have anything fluffy in the crib.

They keep the babies really warm.  The hospital was extremely hot and then the bundled up the poor kids so much.  With reading about SIDS they say not to have the babies overly hot when they sleep.  Apparently they have different ideas in Japan.  Also, in the US you usually cover a babies head to keep them warm.  The little heads were the only part of the babies that were not covered in Japan.

In the US you are not supposed to submerge the baby in water until the umbilical stump falls off.  They submerged Wren in water every day for a bath starting on the morning after she was born.  This was actually a little strange. You were supposed to drop your baby off for bath time every morning at 8:45 and they would check out the baby, weigh it and then return it to you about an hour later.  No one explained this to me so of course I didn't do it.  They got really annoyed when I didn't drop her off.  Not sure how I was supposed to have known.  Oh well!  I got it figured out after they got mad at me.

The clothing for the babies was HUGE.  The poor little things were just swimming in their little kimonos.

For comparison, here she is the same day as we were leaving the hospital in a western style outfit.

Another thing that was strange was the insistence of feeding the baby a bottle the first couple days.  The thought in the US seems to be that you just nurse the baby if you are planning on breastfeeding and your milk will come in.  The baby will loose some weight but that's ok.  Once you get the hang of feeding, the weight will be re-gained.  If you bottle feed at an early age it could make it harder for the baby to learn to nurse well.  This was not the way it is looked at in Japan.  They were very insistent that Wren was bottle fed in addition to nursing.  Even once my milk came in, it took a lot of convincing to let me nurse her without supplementing with a bottle.  It was very frustrating.

The other thing they did that was very frustrating was insisting that the baby be fed at least every 3 hours.  It didn't matter if it was the middle of the night and she was happily sleeping.  I had to wake her up and feed her.  Wren is a fairly sound sleeper so to get her to wake up and eat was very difficult and took a long time.  The nurses would wait around to make sure I woke her up.  It meant that both Wren and I did not get enough sleep.  Babies need a lot of sleep, I think not letting them keep to their own schedule is a mistake.

In keeping with the all natural theme, I was given very little pain medicine after the birth.  With each meal I was given a pill to help stop contractions and an antibiotic for the first 3 days.  I was given a pain pill only if I complained a bunch for the first 2 days and that was it, despite the long line of stitches in a sensitive location.  It just seemed like they made things more uncomfortable than necessary for no reason.

Speaking of uncomfortable...

That tiny square is about 2 inches thick and that is the pillow you get at the hospital.  It is filled with little round beads of some sort and crinkles when you move.  I had Jeff bring me a pillow from home.  What they did have was an awesome pillow for propping up the baby for nursing.  I have not been able to find anything like it which is super frustrating.  I even contacted the hospital to see if they could tell me where to find one or what brand it was but they just said it was from a medical supplier and that I could not get one.  I ordered a pillow on Amazon cause I don't like the one I got here, hopefully it will be better.

The food at the hospital was actually really good.  It was Japanese style meals which meant breakfast was miso soup, rice, a small salad and protein (usually fish).  Here are some pics of meals.

Breakfast, fish and snow peas with soup, rice, green tea and milk.

Lunch:  Tofu, fruit, rice, salad, yogurt, green tea.

They also did one "special" meal to celebrate for new mothers.  I thought this was a really cute idea.  Here are some pics of it.  It was huge!

Here is a picture of our interpreter Ume Abe-san.  She was hugely helpful and a lovely person.  I really enjoyed her and think she did a wonderful job being in a very personal and emotionally charged situation without feeling intrusive while doing a great job at interpreting.

Cultural differences and language barriers aside, I feel like Wren and I got good care in the hospital.  The care wasn't always what I felt like I wanted but I do think they had our best interests in mind.  The language barrier made things tough since only one of the nurses spoke a little English.  I think if they could have explained things to me or answered my questions the hospital stay would have been more pleasant and less frustrating.  I'm sure I was frustrating to them as well for my lack of understanding.

Five days at the hospital (any hospital) is too long.  I still felt really beat up when I got home but it was so nice to be in my own bed and keep my own schedule.  No one was waking me up to take my temperature or blood pressure and I could just feed Wren when she was hungry.  Jeff took a week off of work and was a huge help.  My mom came out for two weeks to help out after Jeff went back to work.  I just had my first day on my own yesterday which was Wren's one month birthday (which makes me realize how dreadful Ive been about blogging, oops!)  I think I can get better :-)

That's all for now. 

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