Being a first-time parent is a roller coaster of emotions ranging from the excitement of nurturing a family to the general anxiety of “doing it right.” In collaboration with Saraya, Japan’s leading hygiene company, Tokyo Weekender is introducing six new and expecting parents to talk about their experiences being pregnant, giving birth and being a parent as a foreign resident of Japan.
Aiza Princess, a young new mom living in Tokyo’s Edogawa-ku, is originally from the Philippines, but she moved to Japan 13 years ago when she was only 18. Before giving birth to Yoshi, her energetic firstborn son, she worked at a travel agency in Tokyo.
The agency unfortunately had to lay off a significant amount of its employees in the early months of the pandemic. Around the same time, however, came the happier news that she was pregnant. “I got pregnant in 2020, at the peak of the first wave of Covid. At that time, there was no vaccine yet. I stayed home most of the time, for the whole nine months,” she recalls.
It all went smoothly. “I love the clinic I went to,” she says. It was also important to Princess to have a female doctor and female nurses oversee her pregnancy. With so many new experiences and physical discomfort, finding a doctor she felt comfortable speaking with was crucial to carrying her baby to term. But Princess only has positive things to say about her clinic, “They were friendly and they were supportive, although it’s only in Japanese.”
For foreign parents in Japan, the language aspect of things can be a major source of stress. English-speaking doctors and nurses are scarce. “Even though we’ve lived here for a long time, we still struggle with Japanese at times,” Princess continues. “So what I did was watch videos and vlogs on how Japanese women gave birth and prepared for labor.”
One surprising thing, Princess mentions, was how her obstetrician-gynecologist warned her a few times about her weight gain. According to her doctor, Princess was gaining too much weight. “In Japan it’s said that the ideal weight should be 13 kilograms for the whole pregnancy,” she says. It’s recommended that expecting moms shouldn’t gain more than 13 kilograms, but at least 10. “I gained 15 so [my doctor] was like ‘Oh you’re eating too much, try to control your diet.’’’ This was to avoid the baby from getting too big, which Princess says is a good thing and helped her have an easier birth.
Yoshi is now just over one year old, and from April Princess is taking on a part-time job. She registered her son at a nearby hoikuen (daycare). Japanese schools are notorious for complicated and overwhelming amounts of bureaucracy. “We went to the hoikuen near our place and the sensei just gave me this envelope with the application and a very thick guidebook,” says Princess. Reading the guidebook was an overwhelming experience, to say the least; it was entirely in Japanese. “I had to go to city hall to ask many questions. I called them a few times to ask for specifications, ask what the requirements were.”
arau.baby’s Foam Body Soap
Princess first heard of arau.baby from a friend who offered her a tameshi pakku (trial pack) with various arau.baby products inside. “I think she had already been using [arau.baby] with her son,” says Princess. This was four months after she had given birth to Yoshi, and since then she and Yoshi have been loyal users of the line. “Yoshi didn’t have any [skin problems] or itchiness.”
She has since switched to using many of the lineup’s specially formulated products, all of which seem to suit Yoshi’s sensitive skin. “What I like about arau.baby is that it’s easy to rinse,” says Princess. “It doesn’t leave any slippery feeling or residue,” she continues. “We use it from head to toe.”
“We are new parents here, so we had no idea what products to use,” she says, laughing. The only thing you can do is kattemiyou, buy and see what works.