Friday, 19 November 2010

22 weeks and counting

Somehow I'm already more than half-way through this pregnancy. How did that happen? By the Japanese way of counting, I'm 5 and a half months pregnant. Did you know that in Japan the length of a pregnancy is measured differently than, well, anywhere else I suppose?

When I first heard that a pregnancy is considered to be 10 months long in Japan, I couldn't help thinking 'Here we go again, Japan always has to be different!'. But actually I now have to say that it makes sense. From the start of the last period, a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, so that's exactly 10 28-day cycles or lunar months. Quite logical really, don't you think?

People here sometimes ask me about antenatal care in the UK and I have to answer that I have no idea; I've only ever been pregnant in Japan! I do think that we have more ultrasounds here though. Barring any complications, I'll be expected to see the doctor once a month from the 3rd to 6th month, every other week from the 7th to 9th month and weekly from then until the birth, with a scan at every single visit. So far, H hasn't come with me to any of the check-ups but the nurse records the scans so that I can bring them home to show him. When I was expecting K, I had a video tape but this time they put it on a USB drive - that's progress for you...

Another difference is that pregnancy and childbirth is not covered financially by the public health system here. But worry not! Although it varies from place to place, local government reimburses most of the costs. When I had K, I had to pay at each doctor's visit (though nothing too extortionate) and then, when he was born, the city paid me a lump sum which comfortably covered the hospital bill for the delivery and the 6 days I stayed there. This time around, things have gotten more generous! When I registered the pregnancy at the city hall I was given vouchers for 14 free doctor visits, which should be plenty. Apparently the lump sum paid out at birth has gone up too, although the city's budget for the next fiscal year is looking pretty tight and it may be reduced a bit again from April. As my due date is March 25th, the woman telling me all this recommended that I don't go too overdue. I'm not sure exactly what she thinks I can do about it if I do...

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