Once you become pregnant in Japan the government requires Japanese citizens to register it at the local city hall. They give mama to be something like a maternity badge to wear or attach to a purse or something that lets others know to be helpful and show extra courtesy. When my wife got hers she could sit in priority seating on trains and it was generally expected that if there were no seats available that someone would give theirs up for her.
Something else she got that was of much greater importance was the maternal and children’s health and handbook. All prenatal check ups required her to have this handbook to record the progress of the baby and mother’s development. After a baby is born parents are required to keep and use it for health check ups, immunizations, and development of the child until age five. Each child has a health handbook, if you have twin babies then you have two books. Each city has their own design for the health record books but the information inside is pretty much all the same.
I just find it interesting as it is so different from the American system, this way is so convenient and helpful. Spending so much time with my wife’s parents lately we found the health handbook my wife’s mother had for her when she was born. Aside from the design there hasn’t been much change in these books in over 30 years. The one on the right is the one that we use now, the one on the left is the one my wife’s mother used.
There is additional information included inside that’s interesting and helpful too. The chart from both books here is for recording the growth for girls after being born.
About the only difference I could see was that the newer health handbook had a few more diagrams and charts. The average height and weight from birth to adult is interesting to see at a glance.
The new book also included helpful information on nutritional guidelines, how to clear something from a baby’s throat, how to give a baby CPR, and other helpful information that the older book didn’t have.
If my wife and I ever have a baby born in America we will tell you the difference ;). This is just one aspect of the whole process of having a kid in Japan.