Yuni and Akiko, who live next door to each other in the same apartment building, come across in the hallway.
Hello Yuni, how are you? You look very happy--anything good happen to you?
I'm on my way back from the ob-gyn doctor. I am pregnant.
Wow, congratulations! So, did you receive a boshi kenko techo yet?
Boshi kenko techo? What is that?
This is your first pregnancy, right? Well, in Japan, when you find out your pregnancy, you first report your pregnancy to a local municipal office of your residence. When you submit the pregnancy report, you receive a boshi kenko techo, or mother-child health handbook.
I see. In fact, I remember seeing a pink handbook that my big sister back in my country had when she was pregnant. Is that the same thing?
There are some differences between countries, I believe. I received the one too when I became pregnant with my child. The handbook is very important because all records of your child's growth from pregnancy until your child becomes school age are kept in the book, such as the progress of your pregnancy and childbirth, the child's development since birth, types of vaccinations the child has received, and so on.
Is the handbook written all in Japanese? I am not yet confident in reading and writing Japanese.
I heard that some city offices have the handbooks in different foreign languages. You might want to ask if they have one in your language when you visit the office for the pregnancy report.
Akiko continues to talk about "mother-child health bag," which is provided along with the health handbook.
So, what is in the mother-child health bag that I would receive?
You should find forms for pregnancy checkups, a schedule of hahaoya gakkyu (classes for expecting mothers), and so on. When you are pregnant, you should regularly receive a maternity checkup to protect the health of your baby as well as your own. Some local governments offer financial aid to reduce the fees for the check-ups, so you should ask for the information about this as well.
What is hahaoya gakkyu ?
It's a series of educational classes for parents offered by local governments, where you can learn about being pregnant, delivering a baby, raising a child, and so on. It gives you a great chance to find a mom friend too. I just moved to the town when I was pregnant with my child, so I felt very comfortable finding friends at the class with whom I could exchange information.
I am glad to find all those great services I can use. Thank you so much for your advice, Akiko. I am sure I will visit the city office soon to report my pregnancy.