Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Memoirs From Pregnancy to Childbirth – Part Three

Warming the Belly

My mother-in-law said that Japanese pregnant women traditionally swaddled their abdomens for warmth and support, making the tummy a safe and snug place for their baby to grow. She suggested wearing a Haramaki (腹巻き – Bellyband) during my pregnancy. Yes, the loose and comfortable tube-like belly warmers that ojisan (old men) wore. Fortunately for fashionable mums-to-be, maternity haramaki comes in variety of colors and designs. Hee, mine were plain black. Guess my fashion sense pretty much restricted to black color.

Belly Warmer

Bellyband Ceremony

On a similar note… In Japan, keeping one’s tummy snug and warm is so important to pregnant women, that they have a belly binding ritual known as the Obi-iwai (帯祝い).

First, a pregnant woman receives a bellyband from her parents. In my case, my mother-in-law (MIL) got one for me from Suitengu (水天宮) in Tokyo. This shrine is so well-known that it is packed with pregnant women from across the country, specifically to pray for safe and easy childbirth.

Then in her fifth month of pregnancy and on Inu-no-hi (戌の日 / Day of the Dog), the mum-to-be will perform the Obi-iwai. She will bind her tummy with the cotton sash to ensure safe and easy delivery of her child.

Interestingly, dog seems to play a big part in the sash-binding ritual. Mostly because of the belief that mummy-dogs give birth to little puppies with ease and hardly any complication. So the doggy days are considered auspicious days to do the bellyband ceremony. My MIL encourages me to follow the Inunohi’s calender and bind my tummy accordingly. Hmm, I only did it twice. (~Guilty) But I wore my haramaki all the time. (~Defensive:P)

Kodakara-Inu (子宝いぬ), a famous statue at Suitengu, believed to bring smooth delivery of babies to those who touch it.

Husband’s Charming Love

During my pregnancy, my husband bought me an Anzan Omamori (安産御守) – an amulet to provide protection during pregnancy and childbirth. He believes that the good luck charm will safeguard me and our baby. As a Christian, my faith is in God’s protection but I was touched by his gesture of love and thoughtfulness.

Most Japanese, even the non-religious ones, have a custom of purchasing various types of Omamori (御守 / Amulet) from temples or shrines. They carry with them to provide specific protection, or to ward off certain bad luck. There is almost an amulet for every situation and its fabric pouch comes in a variety of colors and embroidery designs. Seem like a pretty thing to keep forever. However, the common practice is to replace these talismans after a year and disposed them in temples or shrine.


Memoirs From Pregnancy to Childbirth (Main Page)


8 comments on “Memoirs From Pregnancy to Childbirth – Part Three

  1. fc
    April 5, 2014

    Hi Dionnie,

    Found your blog while searching for char siew pau recipes. However I got distracted and started reading about your c-section etc instead. You mentioned your MIL quite often. MILs are a gem really. Mine is one I refer to quite often too and more like a friend to me than a MIL :) Thank you for sharing. God bless.

    • blackcabbit
      April 7, 2014

      Dearest FC,
      Oh I miss char siew pau too. So glad that you drop by. God bless you too!

      Hee Hee to be honest, my relationship with my MIL is a love-hate one (just like me and my mum), we have our up and down moments. Mostly because I am a hothead with a defiant attitude. :P But secretly, I thank God that my MIL is a really patient and good-natured person, and I appreciate her for bearing with me and teaching me so much. She helps me to “survive” in Japan, which otherwise can be really trying for a foreigner. Yes, my MIL is a gem indeed!

  2. Vivian
    December 11, 2010

    I ran into your blog by accident. I like it – it is nice! :) What a nice costume you made for your child, wowow! IMpressive!

    • blackcabbit
      December 11, 2010

      Thank you! U make my day. Please drop by more often. ^_^Y

  3. bollybutton
    October 4, 2010

    Hi! Do you know where someone outside Japan could get one of these traditional sash type binders? Thanks!

    • blackcabbit
      October 10, 2010

      Sorry for the super late reply, I just got back from an oversea holiday. The one that my MIL got for me was from Suitengu (U can click on the link for their website on the post), I tried to navigate but my Japanese is not that fluent yet so I cannot be of better help. But I do know an online store (Rakuten) that sells haramaki. Some of the seller may be able send oversea. Do check with them. Here is their international link, hope it helps…腹巻き

      Otherwise, just google “腹巻き” to search for other online stores. ^_^

  4. blackcabbit
    May 19, 2010

    Glad you enjoy reading it, make it worth sharing! Enjoy the walk! ^_^ xx

  5. Eva
    May 19, 2010

    Dear Dionnie,

    Thanks for sharing and for making your blog. I’ve read part II of it. I am impressed by the culture.uh. I’m writing this while walking so it’ii be short. xx eva

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This entry was posted on May 18, 2010 by in Baby Log, Life in Japan and tagged .
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