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Child-birth Japan
Rabbit Sensei

Not long ago I compiled a big list of Japanese words related to pregnancy and child-birth.  I thought these words might be useful to other foreigners planning to have a child in Japan.  As a caveat (though it should go without saying) this is not an all-inclusive list, neither is it any replacement for good language skill.  If you don’t have much Japanese ability, try printing this list and keeping it handy for you (or the OB/GYN staff) to point out the appropriate word.  Or, who knows, if you are Japanese and living in an English speaking country, you might be able to get some use out of this as well.

Feel free to share this list; if it helps just one couple it will make me a VERY happy man.

The lay out will be; Japanese word – reading – meaning (any comments)

産婦人科 sanfujinka – OB/GYN

妊娠 ninshin - pregnant

妊婦 ninpu – pregnant women

赤ちゃん akachan – baby (more than ninshin people, including medical experts, will use this; “you have a baby” or “a baby is in there”, etc.  I have not bothered to include “embryo” or “fetus”, because akachan is almost always the only word I’ve heard used)

双子 - futago - twins

分娩 bunben – labor/childbirth

分娩誘発 bunben yuuhatsu – induce labor

出産 shussan – give birth

検査 kensa - inspection

助産師 josanshi - midwife

立会い tachiai – be present/take part (that’s the literal meaning, but in this case it means for the husband (or someone else) to be present in the delivery.  立会い分娩 (tachiai bunben) is also used)

息をして iki o shite – take a breath

深呼吸 shinkokyuu – deep breath

息を吐いて iki o haite - exhale

フーと(出して)- “Fuu”to (dashite) – blow out

息む ikimu – to push/bear down (only used in labor, the command form (ikinde) is what’s used during delivery)

陣痛 jintsuu – labor pains (this, and the next few, are tricky.  To the best of my knowledge this is the most commonly used word, it’s probably been used for years.  BUT, the correct medical term is, to the best of my knowledge, 収縮 (shuushuku).  Expect to hear the term jintsuu, but don’t be thrown if a doctor uses shuushuku)

前駆陣痛 zenku jintsuu – pre-labor pains

収縮 shuushuku - contraction

ブルクストン・ヒックス収縮 Braxton-Hicks shuushuku – Braxton-Hicks contractions

妊娠糖尿病 ninshin tounyoubyou – gestational diabetes

予感 yokan - eclampsia

予感前症 yokan zenshou - -pre-eclampsia

逆子 sakago – breach baby

骨盤位 kotsubani – breach position (this is the technical term, and there are many variants on it depending on the baby’s position)

産褥 sanjoku – post-partum (many hospitals supply post-partum underwear (産褥ショーツ sanjoku shootsu (aka ‘shorts’) or a post-partum belt (産褥帯 sanjokutai) after delivery.  How useful these are… I don’t want to comment on.  They’re part of the service, I recommend not arguing about them)

子宮 shikyuu - uterus

搾乳機 sakunyuuki – breast pump

母乳 bonyuu – mother’s milk

帝王切開 teiousekkai – caesarian section

絵陰切開 einsekkai – episiotomy

麻酔 masui - painkiller

無痛分娩  - mutsuu bunben – painless childbirth

硬膜外麻酔 koumakugai masui – epidural

流産 ryuuzan - miscarriage

死産 shizan – still-birth

There are plenty of other words that I left out because they are generically medical (draw blood, hospitalize, etc.).  Many guides for foreigners in Japan already have a good sampling, though I may get around to my own list another day.

I am not perfectly fluent in Japanese, so I apologize for any errors or oversights.  I am tolerably good at Japanese, and handy with the on-line dictionary (specifically, I can weed out the stuff that is overly technical, slang, dual-meaning, or just plain wrong), so if there are any words you’d like me to include please ask.

Whatever else, if you are using this list due to a pregnancy overseas, I wish only the best for you and your child.  Feel free to share your feelings and questions, and advice as well.  Please take care of yourself, your significant other, and your baby.

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Addendum: My wife reposted this list on her own blog, with some additional useful comments. I recommend giving it a look;

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