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Rona Y

In my experience working at a private language school in Japan, my Japanese co-workers who became pregnant quit around the time they started to show.

But at schools (both public and private), almost all my co-workers who became pregnant continued working until maybe their 8th? month and then went on mat leave, but all returned to work after their mat leave was up.

I can't remember if you mentioned this before (or if I did), but mat leave is very different in Japan than in Canada. My co-worker told me she could decide when she began her mat leave, but even if she started around her 6th month, she did not have to return to work until 1 year after her child's date of birth. In her case, she took 14 months of mat leave, but another of our co-workers who had really bad morning sickness took about 18 months. BUT, however long you take, your entire mat leave is unpaid!

BTW, the "use a condom if you're going to have sex with a new partner while pregnant" thing is really funny. Yet it's sort of scary. . .

Hope you're doing well, and that the weather has cooled down for you. It's quite chilly in the Canadian prairies right now!


"(To be fair, I was able to find a few English websites recommending condoms during pregnancy, but that was only in a few very specific situations, like when having sex with a new partner. Which has to be the funniest English-language pregnancy advice I'd heard yet)."

Maybe I'm missing something, but it's always recommended to use a condom when you're having sex with someone new. Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean the risks of catching diseases disappear.


Hello there! First time commentor and I couldn't resist commenting on this topic! Cultural differences can be fascinating. I think the physical restrictions on pregnant women stems in the historical family culture in Japan. When you think about it, when a woman married into the husband's family, she became the in-law's primary house maid, farmhand, cook, cleaner, etc, and the only opportunity for a young wife to get some "rest" was when she was pregnant with the family's child, whom would grow and eventually carry on the family name. For the husband's family, their pregnant daughter-in-law was now a vessel carrying really precious cargo, and probably wanted to ensure that the child would be born to the world safely. That also kind of explains how there's the "mistrust" of the woman's body - I mean, how could a daughter-in-law's body be trusted? Anyhow, I've heard this in the Korean culture as well where a pregnant woman is treated very fragile throughout her pregnancy and even after birthing, partialy because the new-mother knew that once her body was "normal" she would be put to task to all the physical labor that would be assigned by the MIL. The world's changed since long-long-ago, and many Japanese women are increasingly becoming independant, so I'm sure many of the unscientific physical restrictions will slowly go to the way-side. Good luck in Japan! I'm sure there will be more cultural eye-openers once your baby is born. :)


Love this post!!

I'm Chinese by ethnicity so am familiar with this hot and cold thing in the body. I do believe in the balance of yin and yang by way of food but even the Japanese take it to another level. My students tell me ridiculous things like a warm bath in summer (in this horrible heat!) helps you sweat to cool your body but keeps you warm internally.

I also had a student who quit taking lessons after she found out she was pregnant at 8 weeks. She wasn't working either. The boredom of doing nothing but nesting sounds ludicrous to me...


What a brilliant post... very funny! It seems like there's not much official advice on pregnancy in Japan but lots and lots of anecdotal / superstitious stuff. Here I feel like the pregnancy police frown on you for drinking too much coffee and things like that, but at least it's all stuff with an actual medical basis. Although the sushi thing here is pretty stupid, I wish they would just say "don't eat unhygenic shopping mall food court sushi"... but I guess a lot of people don't know that there is any other kind.

Alex Case

Wow, I got through the whole of my wife's pregancy without being aware of most of that. I had the exact same theory about Japanese women being removed from all work to protect them from their mother in laws, though


I've heard of bicycling and other astride activities such as horseback riding being off-limits to pregnant women. And I second the first poster's comments about "hot" and "cold" foods being present in Korean cultures. My mother, to this day, attributes any positive traits I have to the quality of foods she ate when she was pregnant. Even now, she'll select certain items to "warm" or "cool" my blood...the temperature of the blood apparently being the cause of all illness and/or moods. Oh, and the weather. You don't want to eat hot foods in hot weather because it will make you prone to anger or getting upset. Stuff like that.


It's interesting to see that many of the foods you listed as cool foods to be avoided can be problematic for those with/or with the potential for certain health issues...fruit are high glycemic, even those that are supposedly low glycemic do spike the blood sugar, especially for sensitive individuals...dairy is hard on the GI tract and many asian people tend to be lactose intolerant plus pregnancy does put a strain on the GI tract, hard cheeses have the lowest lactose content...tomatoes, eggplants etc. are nightshades and common allergens, many "spicy" spices come from peppers which are also from the nightshade family...for those with allergic tendencies, the cooked forms of vegetables are more likely to be tolerated than the raw forms, plus raw forms are just harder to digest, esp. for a system that is under any stress. It just happens that due to my combination of diabetes(that I manage with diet alone) and food allergies, I have to avoid all the cooling foods you listed and most of what are listed as warm foods are ok and are dietary staples.I didn't come at these dietary changes with any knowledge of the ideas of warm and cool foods so maybe there is some medical basis.

There is growing evidence that our attention should be more on Vitamin D and exercise to prevent osteoporosis so I'm not so sure that we can say with confidence that the things we've told in the west about calcium and not being able to get enough from dietary sources other than dairy and supplements are true.

I'm caucasian but am the on the small end of average for a Japanese woman. I do have to say that those of us who are petite and thin, we do feel temperature differences more easily and have a harder time warming up when cold. That's not to say that I think that is a danger to a fetus.

It's been interesting to read your reports on pregnany in Japan! It's helped me alot to understand some things that I observed with some Japanese friends and acquaintances here in the U.S. during their pregnancies and early motherhood.

Best wishes to you and yours during this special time in your life.


Hi! I am 38 weeks pregnant in Japan. I am totally on your side that here, in Asia, women do not trust their own body being capable of safely carrying the baby. I was even warned by friends not to stretch out my arms to reach upper shelves or by Chinese friends at university about using computer and mobile phone. Not to mention that I had the hardest time finding an extra-large swimming wear that can fit my growing belly.



Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy!
I just read 2 of your posts and I find your blog very interesting.
I like cultures and I find Japanese culture very intriguing.
I am myself pregnant 18 weeks so I enjoy even more to read about this subject. I like your witty style of writing.
Related to this post, I have to say I did read in my English websites that riding the bicycle is not advised while pregnant.
Keep on posting and I will be reading you!
Lots of best wishes for you and your family!

J Williams

"Maybe I'm missing something, but it's always recommended to use a condom when you're having sex with someone new. Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean the risks of catching diseases disappear."

I know this was posted a couple of months ago, but just in case the person who wrote it checks back: You did miss something Lori- with morning sickness, stretch marks, sore/leaking boobs and a huge belly, the idea of having sex with a new partner while pregnant is kind of laughable. Not something most women have to worry about, I can assure you...

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