I recently attended my first meeting of Tokyo Pregnancy Group, an amazing organization of English-speaking pregnant women, who are all preparing to give birth in Tokyo.
Members at this meeting were from all over the world and my favorite part of the afternoon, by far, was hearing about their personal backgrounds and the different cultural myths and practices that they've brought with them here to Tokyo.
Three cross-cultural tidbits from the meeting:
1. Pregnant women from eastern countries (Singapore, Japan and China) accepted Japanese physicians' advice that they should not be cold during pregnancy, while western women laughed about the recommendation that they should always wear socks even in the heat of summer.
2. I spoke with two French mothers about the postpartum practice of pelvic floor restoration in France. (Read about it here!) One was very familiar with it, and said she had already ordered several french language books about on the topic that were being shipped to Japan.
3. A Swedish woman told me that she is going through her pregnancy in Tokyo at the same time as her sister in Stockholm. She feels that she is getting better care in Japan than in Sweden because she sees the doctor (as opposed to the midwife) more often and she has more prenatal scans.
On a more universal note: everyone was concerned about stretch marks. Bodies are bodies are bodies, right? :)