Monday, October 3, 2011

More about Families and Birthing in the Far East

Perinatal care is dispensed in various ways from clinics to hospitals in Japan and China. Midwives usually deliver babies and C-section rates are much lower than in the US. We all remember the melanine tragedy in China and breastfeeding is being stongly encouraged again. In fact, breastfeeding isn't as customary as it used to be ( here or there ) but with better education and access to that education, hopes are high for more breastfeeding. Of course, there remains quite a gap between city and rural life and practices. Their is a new movement for expatriot medical care in these countries. And citizens with the means may also avail themselves of this care. United Family Care was initiated in Beijing by a woman from Boston who was dismayed to learn that expats were traveling home in their third trimester to deliver in the states, thus upsetting the family unit and decreasing productivity. She started with only a birthing center with amenities similar to our birthing suites here is the US and this has evolved rapidly into multi-specialty hospitals with MDs who must do part of their training in the United States. Branches are opening in major cities in China. Japan is completely child- oriented as far as I can see. The birth rate is quite low, usually one child due to space and economics and boys out number girls by a large ratio Grandparents are often caregivers and are they doting! They even discipline; something I would never dream of... I have never experienced such great consideration for new families. While waiting out the Typhoon yesterday ( 9/3/2011 ), I found myself in an indoor mall. One floor was completely devoted to kids from toddlers on up with every kind of game we know in the US and then some. Physical and mental games. Jumpy rooms and complicated computer mind- boggers. The best part for me was the family changing room. Beautifully decorated and softly- lit, there are 4 changing tables, clean as clean can be and padded, placed next to sinks and diaper disposal. A separate area waits for making formula with perfectly heated water dispensers. Completely private rooms the size of large walk-in closets are offered with rocking chairs for nursing mothers. Music plays softly in the background. I am not qualified to speak to how the Japanese care for the elders on the other end of the family spectrum. I see very capable and independent elders walking the streets with shopping carts and smiling faces. I have been told that they are always welcome to move in with adult children, if they wish and often this becomes the case when one member of the couple dies. I am going to leave Japan thinking that because their children are so cherished and cared-for, it only stands to reason that there is fair turn-around. And as in traditional times, the seniors are revered and cosseted. They feed ancestor bones, for Pete's sake, so I am sure they respect old age as much as they celebrate youngsters.