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, a leading manufacturer of baby care products in Japan, Tokyo Weekender is introducing six new and expecting families and inviting them to talk about their experiences being pregnant, giving birth and being a parent as a foreign resident of Japan. You can read our last interview with Jim and Hikari Dennet where they touch upon issues of bilingual child-rearing. 

This time, TW caught up with influencer and expecting mom Caitlin Steiner in her cozy home in Roppongi. We sat down with Steiner and her fluffy dog Winston (dubbed “older brother” already) for a chat about expecting in Japan and the cultural differences that have arisen from it. 

Baby Showers and Gender Reveal Parties

Steiner celebrated her pregnancy in not one, not two but three countries. In Tokyo, her friends threw the mom-to-be a baby shower. “We also played funny games and had drinks,” she says. “Well, everyone but me!” she adds with a laugh. 

Steiner and her husband also had a gender reveal party when visiting family in Florida. During this celebration, which originated in the US in the late 2000s, expective parents and their families announce or find out the sex of the baby together. It was a small affair, but a great chance to celebrate this milestone in person. Steiner’s husband is an avid golfer and works in golf, and so the gender of the baby was revealed by hitting a golf ball, which then showed they were expecting a daughter. 

“We also went on a babymoon in Thailand,” Steiner says. A babymoon is a special holiday where parents-to-be take a relaxing or romantic trip before their baby is born.

Choosing a Hospital Wisely

Foreign residents have many factors to consider when choosing the hospital where they’ll give birth. Quick communication is key, and many search for an English-speaking clinic or an English-speaking doctor. “I feel really blessed to go to one of the best hospitals in Tokyo,” Steiner says. 

She explains she went through a lot of trouble to find a hospital that has English-speaking doctors and offers epidural injection anesthesia. The two don’t always overlap. “There’s only a couple of hospitals that offer it,” Steiner tells us. Some hospitals don’t offer C-sections, for example, and some don’t have neo-natal departments in case of premature births. It’s advised to check in advance what services hospitals do and don’t offer expecting and new parents.

Another wall she and her husband have hit when planning the birth is the father not being allowed in the delivery room. Traditionally fathers are not expected to be present in the room and, since the start of the pandemic, they were strictly prohibited. When we spoke, Steiner and her husband were still waiting to see if the rules at their hospital would loosen up. They later informed us that he was not allowed after all, but the rules relaxed a week after they gave birth to baby Aria. 

Prenatal Care and Support

When away from family, members of the international community in Japan need all the extra support. Many have turned to Facebook groups to share experiences and the one Steiner is in is run by Stephanie Kawai, also known as the Tokyo Doula. She and her husband have been taking birthing classes with Kawai, learning massages and breathing techniques. “I highly recommend her,” Steiner says.  

Steiner has also been taking a whole host of prenatal vitamins, many imported from the US. She makes sure to research all the nutrients she and the baby might need. She also bought most of her maternity clothes online, as both sizes and information in English are harder to come by in Japan. Maternity Cream

The radiating mom-to-be is taking care of her body, especially the skin on the belly that stretches very quickly during pregnancy. Steiner has been using the maternity cream to care for her stretch marks. “It’s nice and light, not sticky,” says Steiner. “And the pump is smooth and easy to use.”

A self-proclaimed planner, Steiner is also trying to make sure everything is ready when baby Aria comes. “It’s important to wash all the clothes and sheets before the baby comes with a fragrance-free hypoallergenic wash. So I appreciated the laundry detergent,” she says.

She’s also been using the wet wipes but is saving them for when the baby comes to wipe pacifiers, toys and other items. The wipes don’t contain harmful substances and are safe to use around babies. 

TW talked to Steiner a week before giving birth. We’re happy to congratulate her on welcoming little Aria to the world. 


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