July 2022 Classes & Meetings

It’s July! I can’t be the only one that wonders where June disappeared? Suddenly here we are in the second half of 2022 and with some crazy hot weather that has hit a whole month faster than usual!

The eased restrictions in some hospitals have remained the same over the past month which is good. If anyone is wondering what things are like in their hospital, please contact me. And if you’d like to consider other options, please get in touch for a hospital consult where we can go through your options.

Preparation naturally continues to be so important. Knowing about labour, how to manage, how to stay home as long as possible, what to expect at your hospital and so on is vital. Where my classes stand out is that they take a very Japan and hospital-specific angle with that, as each facility will be a bit different and what you can expect will be a bit different.

There are group options as well as private birth preparation sessions (either in-person at home or on Zoom), birth plan/hospital or other consults, and post-partum/breastfeeding support visits. For those who prefer private preparation, I have only 1 space left this month so please send me an email.

With my group classes, meetings & get-togethers, you can see what options are available this month. There will continue to be a variety of online classes with a couple of in-person options so everyone can choose what they feel most comfortable with. With any classes that are in person, health precautions and proper distancing will continue to stay in place (mask-wearing and limited numbers for inside spaces). The classes and events I offer have all come from me knowing what I would have benefitted from with my first pregnancy – the support and information that would have helped me. I hope these classes and meetings help you, too.

Please get in touch if you’d like to book a class or if you have any questions.  For anyone who is interested in a Birth Support Package for consistent doula support during pregnancy, labour (in-person or virtual depending on restriction) and the post-partum period, I am fully booked between now and July (however, if a request for package support is really urgent, please get in touch to see if something can be worked out). I can only accept new clients from September onwards (2 spaces left as of now for the rest of this year, with more availability from January 2023 – I get booked quickly!).

Don’t forget, for ONLINE group class options, I have a ticket system available too (which includes a small discount).

July 2nd – 5PM – Zoom Doula Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for pregnant women & partners

July 8th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breathing for Birth class

July 13th – 11AM – In-person Breathing for Birth Class (in Azabu)

July 13th – 12PM – NEW In-person Movement & Relaxation class (in Azabu)

July 14th – 10AM – In-person Doula Cafe  – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for pregnant women (Harajuku)

July 17th – 3:30-6:30PM – Aiiku Birth Skills 3 hour Childbirth Preparation specifically about birth in Aiiku 2-4 Couples only (in Azabu) 1 space left!

July 19th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breastfeeding Education Workshop

July 20th – 12PM – In-person Baby Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for mothers with babies of any age (Harajuku)

July 22nd – 9:30AM – Zoom Infant Care class

July 23rd – 9:30AM – Zoom Couples Breathing for Birth class

July 24th – 9:30AM – Zoom Birth Preferences Workshop for Couples

Birthing With Confidence 3 hour Childbirth Preparation only running as private sessions this month (1 spot left). Next small group class will be in September.

*Weekdays & Weekends are also possible for private classes/sessions depending on the day/time*

**For June, online group classes will continue to be 1,000yen per attendee or 2,000 yen per couple. In-person group classes are 2,000 yen per person or 3,000 per couple if you join with your partner. Birthing with Confidence/Birth Skills semi-private/small group in-person birth preparation will be 13,000 yen per couple (Zoom group sessions are 10,000 per couple). For private options, available for all classes, please ask as it depends on the class :)**

About Breathing classes, please see here and here

About Positions & Massage classes, please see here

About Infant Care classes, please see here 

About Breastfeeding Education Workshop, please see here

About Labour & Birth Movement, please see here

About Birthing with Confidence & Birth Skills fully comprehensive birth preparation, please see here

Find me on Facebook @Tokyo Doula Support

Instagram @steph_tokyodoula

Clubhouse @stephanietmg

Facebook groups: Tokyo Pregnancy Group & Tokyo Mothers Group

2022 Jan-June Doula Work Round-up and What’s up Next!

Here we are halfway through 2022. It seems like it was only January a few weeks ago…although the heatwave currently snaps me back to the reality that we are halfway through the year!

So here is a summary of how the first 6 months of 2022 have been for me and my birth support work here in Japan.

In January, we saw the emergence of Omicron…and that brought a whole host of more severe restrictions in hospitals again. Some hospitals had been slowly starting to relax things a little in the later months of 2021 (allowing a little more birth support or visitation), but Omicron turned all of this on its head again. Many hospitals reinforced restrictions, stopped any small amount of visitation again, and also some places decided that even skin-to-skin was “too risky” for mums and babies (crazy, I know). This resulted in a whole new wave of uncertainty and anxiety for women about whether they be forced to give birth alone (if their hospital had previously started to allow a bit of birth support). However, despite this, there were still a handful of facilities that didn’t impose any of these restrictions and continued to allow partner support, visitation, and even my support as a doula in-person, too. To name some of the top ones for this, we have Ikuryo Clinic in Naka-Meguro, Tsuchiya Clinic in Fuchu, Birth & Ladies Clinic in Sola and midwife Birth Houses such as Matsugaoka. They never stopped birth support and visitation through the whole of the pandemic.

I started to get more and more requests for hospital consultations – to help women understand what options they have. As a result, a number of people were able to transfer to facilities that remained open to all support. My private consults on this continue to be popular.

Thankfully, the past 2-3 months have been a bit better again in some other hospitals for birth support. A few places that had restricted any kind of support even from husbands started to allow this again, and some places have also started to allow some visitation. If anyone has any questions about their facility, please get in touch. Hopefully, things will never get quite as bad again as they were a few months ago…we can only hope. And hopefully, places that still have restrictions continue to open up more. Let’s see.

So, for the first 6 months of this year, I have supported 29 clients through my package support (supporting them through pregnancy, birth & post-partum combined). 15 of them were births I could actually attend in person (so wonderful) and the other 14 were those who I supported virtually for the birth part.

I also was able to hold in-person group birth preparation classes each month – my Birthing with Confidence preparation sessions and my Aiiku Birth Skills classes – and also do some private preparation work, too. My other classes on Zoom have continued (breastfeeding education, breathing, birth preferences workshop, infant care, etc) and I’ve also had very enjoyable Doula Cafes and Baby Cafes both online and in person.

I was recently able to establish some partnerships with some other wonderful resources here – Urban Heroes, Hora Coaching, and My Body My Pilates – to benefit those that use my package support. And, in Spring I was invited back as a guest (my second time) on the Tokyo Living Podcast to talk about my birth work here.

So, what’s next? More of the same essentially, except there will be some changes to my packages and services. They will be slowly announced after summer. These changes will include a slight re-working of my package support, with both “basic” and “premium” options among other things.

I am already getting very full up from September onwards with those who will be using my package support. I can only take 3 more package clients between September and December (Nov is full). January has one space left and February onwards is open. So if anyone would like a package support option (for support through pregnancy, birth and post-partum), please get in touch soon for a free 30-minute introductory call about how I work with my clients.

If anyone would like any other consult, preparation session, or post-partum/breastfeeding support, please contact me, too. I won’t be offering in-person visits in August as I’ll be taking a much-needed rest and time off with my children (my oldest is an adult in 3 more years!!) and will restart things again in September.

I really look forward to meeting and getting to know more women and couples in the next half of this year. I know that there are going to be some really wonderful moments!

Here is a slide show of some 2022 highlights so far:

June 2022 Zoom Birth Preferences Workshop

Birth preferences workshops are held monthly, either in-person or on Zoom!

This month the workshop will be on Zoom on Saturday, June 25th at 5pm and you are welcome to attend as a couple or alone.

In these workshops, we’ll be going through what to consider for your birth plans – taking into account your birth preferences. We’ll discuss options to consider for the contraction stage of your labour, the delivery (as you are pushing), and the post-partum stay at the hospital/clinic. You can bring any birth plan form your hospital/clinic may already have provided you with.

There will be a chance for you to ask questions to understand your options more clearly regarding the hospital that you’re at, and you will come away with additional questions to ask your hospital so that you can be as informed as possible regarding your preferences and how they align with hospital policies.

For anyone who is still unsure about which facility they’d like to use for their pregnancy and birth, these workshops can help, too.

You can see more about Birth Plans & hospitals options here.

1,000 yen per person, 2,000 yen if you attend as a couple to both ask questions.

**I also offer Private Birth Plan consultations and hospital consultations**

June 2022 in-person Doula Cafe

I’ll be holding an in-person Doula Cafe on Friday, June 17th, at 10am in Harajuku (the Tokyu Plaza Starbucks 6F) . It’s a great chance to connect with other pregnant women and talk about all things related to pregnancy, birth and baby, as well as meet me – a Tokyo Doula – and find out all about the services I offer and how they might benefit you! 

These meetings are FREE and something I enjoy doing very much and I’ll continue to hold in-person meetings in outside spaces for safety’s-sake (although I’ll continue to offer virtual meetings, too).

Please let me know if you’d like to join!

Relaxation & Movement class June 2022

Relaxation & Movement is a NEW monthly class (starting June 15th 2022). In this class, we’ll be relaxing with some very gentle stretching and relaxation breathing techniques, practicing some labour-suitable movement for your bodies, and then finishing off again with more relaxation. There’ll also be a little bit of time to discuss questions you may have about going through labour/birth & having a baby in Japan.

The class will be held at My Body My Pilates in Azabu.

Day/time: Wednesday, June 15th, 12-1pm (the last 15 minutes will be reserved for questions/discussion).

Class fee: 2,000 per person

Minimum 3 people to run the class, maximum 6

If you’d like to join, please send me an email here.

4 Spring 2022 Births at Ikuryo Clinic

Over the past 2.5 months, I’ve been at Ikuryo Clinic in Naka Meguro 4 times for labours. They were all smooth experiences but each unique in how they presented and progressed (as is the case with any labour). I’ll share a little about them here.

Back in March, one of my clients who had transferred to Ikuryo from Aiiku (due to Aiiku’s very severe restrictions back then) just a few weeks before, had her second baby there. Her labour began late afternoon gently, and baby was here 3-4 hours later not long after her contractions got strong. She was in the LDR room (one of the many room options the hospital has and a room type in which the husband can stay overnight during post-partum visiting time) which meant that she could labour, give birth, and stay for her post-partum stay in the same room without needing to be moved. She got immediate skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping. A minor complication after birth was that the umbilical cord kind of broke off from the placenta which meant that the doctor had to go in and scoop out the placenta manually (by hand). And there was a fair bit of blood loss, too. Nothing too scary but enough that an iron infusion was recommended straight after.

The next birth took place in April. This was an induction just before my client was due because of small decelerations in the baby’s heart rate during a non-stress test. She had gone in for her regular check-up in the 39th week and the non-stress test showed some dips. My client called me as the doctor wanted to explain a few things, and it was decided that doing an induction was the best choice. I headed to the clinic and the induction was started (with pitocin) in the early afternoon. Over the next few hours, the pitocin was level was increased (as is the norm here) and my clients gradually started to feel the contractions.

By 6pm, her breathing was a lot more focused but she was still doing fine. Just before 8pm, the midwife did a check and she was 3.5cm dilated with cervix still firm. Her breathing was getting a lot stronger and I had commented that it seemed to have changed. At 9pm, she was 5cm and the midwife did a sweep of the cervix and she mentioned things were looking a lot more favourable now. And then after that, suddenly everything started to happen. The bottom pressure associated with wanting to push was suddenly there and at 9:30pm (less than half an hour later), my client was giving birth. Sometimes with a second baby (or a third etc) things can progress very quickly like that.

My client was in SP-1 room. This is the most expensive of all the room options. You can labour in here but technically it’s not for the actual delivery (you need to move to one of the separate delivery rooms for that). However, as the midwives prepared for the delivery, I asked if she could just stay in this room instead of being moved and they allowed it – I assume because of the speed at that point of how things were going. She gave birth on all 4s on the bed, which is supported in Ikuryo as a birthing position, and she was able to support and hold her baby as baby was being born and then have immediate skin to skin.

A quick note about the SP-1 room: The husband/partner can stay overnight here (along with some other room types). There is a bath tub as well as shower & toilet that patients can use, and the room comes with some other benefits – there is a treatment/massage service after birth (usually on day 3 or 4) and a few other things like a tea service, laundry service and so on.

I returned home from this labour around midnight, got a couple of hours’ sleep…and then woke up at around 2pm to a call from the husband of another client saying labour had started an hour earlier. I called Ikuryo for them and headed back out. I ended up arriving back there before they did. It was also this client’s second baby and when she was checked (just before 4am), she was 8cm. For sure, these are numbers everyone loves to hear in labour.

My client was in the LDR room for her labour (that’s what was available) and she alternated between standing and sitting during and between contractions. She was very calm in demeanour and just breathing slowly and deeply. Lying down on the bed was physically impossible for her.

At 4:20am, she was 9cm and she got on to the bed on all 4s. She started to feel a bit of bottom pressure. At just before 5am, she was 10cm and her water broke at this point. Baby was born at 5:11am! My client’s husband was able to cut the cord and they also chose to harvest the cord blood for storage which Ikuryo is able to support.

This was a wonderful labour for this client who had had a very different experience with her first birth which was near the start of the pandemic in 2022 and her hospital then (Aiiku) didn’t allow her husband in the labour. She knew she didn’t want the same experience again, so when Aiiku reimposed their no husband/partner rule again back in February of this year, she switched to Ikuryo which meant she could be fully supported in person by her husband and by me. I was really happy she could have the birth experience she missed out on the first time.

Finally, just under 2 weeks ago, I attended another birth at Ikuryo. This time it was with a couple expecting their first baby. They were originally at Tokyo Mothers Clinic in Setagaya where everything was going fine for the prenatal checks. However, the closer it got to birth, the more anxious my client started to get about not having any support (TMC still have birth support restrictions in place, unfortunately). Luckily, she was able to switch to Ikuryo in April and they still had space for a May due date.

On the day her labour started, she was experiencing some mild contractions from the early morning around 6 or 7am. By around midday, they had started to get a lot stronger and more frequent at around every 5 minutes. She used the bath to help manage things while she was still at home. By 3pm, they were every 3 minutes and she decided she wanted to go to the clinic. They arrived just after 4pm and she was 4cm dilated. She chose to use the epidural and I arrived at 6pm. Even with the epidural, she was still feeling things and needing to breathe through contractions – the intensity level was just lowered. This is the interesting thing with the epidural – everyone will experience it differently (some will have no feeling, others significant feeling still). As it was, it was actually a good thing she still had feeling – this helps a lot during pushing. And she was ok enough to be able to say no to extra top-ups.

For her labour, she was in the SP-2 room. This is the 2nd most expensive room in the clinic – there is a bed, a separate toilet and bath area, and a tatami area, and again it’s another room type the husband can stay in overnight during the post-partum stay. It was actually a really nice space from my point of view. By 7:30pm she was feeling pressure in her bottom and was already 9cm dilated, so she was moved to the active birth room for delivery. In the SP-2 room, technically you can’t give birth in the same room. Thanks to not having epidural top-ups, my client was able to walk there.

(FYI the active birth room had a water birth tub, a delivery bed, a rope for leverage hanging from the ceiling and so on).

In the active birth room, my client’s waters broke and 7:45pm and pushing started. Baby had tilted a little bit, so it took some time. There was also a period where the baby’s heart rate had started to drop a little bit, so they gave my client some extra oxygen and there was a little talk about possibly using the vacuum to bring baby out sooner. As it was, the extra oxygen helped and baby’s heart rate returned to optimal levels.

My client continued with pushing but it seemed that some pitocin would be necessary as there wasn’t much movement of baby coming down. This can be one of the potential drawbacks of the epidural – that it can slow things down and lead to a bit of a prolonged second (pushing) stage of labour. Within about 30minutes of the pitocin starting, pushing was a lot more effective and birth was imminent. The moment baby was born was wonderful – such lovely emotion from my client’s husband.

Her husband was able to cut the cord and immediately she had skin-to-skin contact with all the monitoring of baby and check-ups for baby done on my client’s chest. This was the case for all of the above births, too, and one of the big positives of Ikuryo. There is no period of time where baby is taken away for a few hours to be checked in any nursery.

Ikuryo request that anyone who wants to change to them from another hospital does so by 36 weeks at the latest (of course, the earlier the better in order to guarantee they have space and to have more options with room choices). They also request that you bring a Japanese speaker if you can’t speak Japanese yourself (that could be a spouse, me as a doula – they know me well, or a friend). Most of the doctors there can actually speak English (or enough English) but they are very insistent on clear communication, hence the request to bring a language support person along.

If anyone would like more info about Ikuryo or any other birth facilities here, please get in touch. Also, if anyone would like my doula support, please get in touch. My availability for package support is getting booked for the rest of this year already. I only have 4 open spots for September onwards (Autumn is always a busy period for babies, like Spring). January 2023 onwards is a lot more open!

You can see previous write-ups of Ikuryo here and here

Zoom Breastfeeding Education Workshop June 2022

The next Breastfeeding Education workshop will be on Zoom on Saturday June 11th, 9:30am. Partners are welcome to attend.

Every month I hold a Breastfeeding Education Workshop to help women prepare for breastfeeding and be as informed as possible before baby comes. As a doula and breastfeeding counsellor, accurate and evidence-based information regarding breastfeeding is important to me, and helping women achieve their breastfeeding goals is a huge part of the work I do.

In these workshops, you will find out about:

The benefits of breastfeeding & breastmilk

The process of breastmilk production

What to expect in the first few weeks & normal newborn behaviour

All about latching and getting a good latch

Positions

Building and protecting your milk supply

Common breastfeeding problems

How to get support for breastfeeding from your hospital

Top 5 tips to breastfeeding success

Useful items

List of resources

Cost per attendee: 1,000yen per person (2,000 as a couple). Minimum 2 people to run the session.

June 2022 Zoom Baby Cafe

The June Zoom Baby Cafe will be Friday, June 3rd, at 9AM on Zoom!

These meetings are FREE and a great chance to connect with others.  If you are a mum/caregiver to a baby of any age and want to chat to others and have questions, these meetings could be of benefit to you.

In the newborn period, it can be quite overwhelming at times as you learn to adjust to your new family dynamic, get to know your baby, get used to breastfeeding and other aspects of baby care, and figure out who this new “you” is.  These Baby Cafe meetings are a chance for new mothers/parents to meet others, talk about motherhood/parenthood and baby topics, feel less isolated, and get some support if you’re finding things tough. If your baby is a little older, that’s completely fine, too. Perhaps you want some company or have questions about a new phase your little one is going through! Come along to talk 

If you’d like to join, let me know by sending me an email to the email address here.

June 2022 Zoom Doula Cafe

The June Doula Cafe on Zoom will be on Saturday, June 4th, at 5:30pm!

Partners are also welcome to attend this Doula Cafe! Doula Cafe is a FREE pregnancy support meeting.

In this Doula Cafe, we’ll talk about any questions, concerns or worries you have about having a baby/going through birth here, along with the usual hospital questions around current restrictions and what options you have…as well as what my doula support looks like to get you through. It’s also a chance for everyone to ask any other questions they have about pregnancy, about labour, and about life with a baby in Japan.

These Doula Cafes are also great if anyone is interested in finding out about my work as a doula, how I work and how I can support you through pregnancy, labour and the post-partum period, I’m always very happy to talk about that, too.

For those who are interested in a full birth support package (from pregnancy through to post-partum), I am full from now to August. If you urgently need my support, please contact me to see what can be worked out. I can take more package clients whose due dates are from September onwards (although September is almost full and I can only take 1 more client who is due that month). Please get in touch for an introductory call.

For private birth preparation classes (in person or online), I have 1 space remaining this month and 1 space for July.

For other consultations and support, please get in touch, too (hospital/birth plan consultations, breastfeeding, post-partum support and so on).

If you’d like to join the Doula Cafe, please email me here and I’ll send you the link!  Grab yourself a drink of choice, relax in the comfort of your own home, and let’s talk! 

These Doula Cafe meetings are FREE and something I enjoy doing very much.  I am keeping an online option each month but will also have an in-person meeting, too. Stay tuned for details of the June in-person meeting.

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FB: Tokyo Doula Support

IG: steph_tokyodoula

CH: stephanietmg

June 2022 Classes & Meetings

Welcome to June! We’ve had some really warm days recently – a taste of summer to come!

The past month has seen some easing up of some restrictions in some hospitals/birth facilities. In other places, things have remained the same with strict covid policies in place. But hopefully, with continued loosening of other measures, such as tourism (very slowly) and mask-wearing, other places may start to relax or at least not get more restrictive again. Let’s hope for the best.

If anyone is wondering what things are like in their hospital, please contact me. And if you’d like to consider other options, please get in touch for a hospital consult where we can go through your options.

Preparation naturally continues to be so important. Knowing about labour, how to manage, how to stay home as long as possible, what to expect at your hospital and so on is vital. Where my classes stand out is that they take a very Japan and hospital-specific angle with that, as each facility will be a bit different and what you can expect will be a bit different.

There are group options as well as private birth preparation sessions (either in-person at home or on Zoom), birth plan/hospital or other consults, and post-partum/breastfeeding support visits. For those who prefer private preparation, I have only 1 space left this month so please send me an email.

With my group classes, meetings & get-togethers, you can see what options are available this month. There will continue to be a variety of online classes with a couple of in-person options so everyone can choose what they feel most comfortable with. With any classes that are in person, health precautions and proper distancing will continue to stay in place (mask-wearing and limited numbers for inside spaces). The classes and events I offer have all come from me knowing what I would have benefitted from with my first pregnancy – the support and information that would have helped me. I hope these classes and meetings help you, too.

Please get in touch if you’d like to book a class or if you have any questions.  For anyone who is interested in a Birth Support Package for consistent doula support during pregnancy, labour (in-person or virtual depending on restriction) and the post-partum period, I am fully booked between now and July (however, if a request for package support is really urgent, please get in touch to see if something can be worked out). I can only accept new clients from September onwards (only 1 space left for September, October 1 space left, Nov 1 space and December 1 space – I get booked quickly!).

Don’t forget, for ONLINE group class options, I have a ticket system available too (which includes a small discount).

June 3rd – 9:00AM – Zoom Baby Cafe –  FREE SUPPORT SESSION for mothers/parents with babies of any age

June 4th – 5:30PM – Zoom Doula Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for pregnant women & partners

June 10th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breathing for Birth class

June 11th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breastfeeding Education Workshop

June 15th – 11AM – In-person Breathing for Birth Class (in Azabu)

June 15th – 12PM – NEW In-person Movement & Relaxation class (in Azabu)

June 17th – 10AM – In-person Doula Cafe  – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for pregnant women (Harajuku)

June 18th – 9:30AM – Zoom Couples Breathing for Birth class

June 19th – 3:30-6:30PM – Aiiku Birth Skills 3 hour Childbirth Preparation specifically about birth in Aiiku 2-4 Couples only (in Azabu)

June 24th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breathing for Birth class

June 25th – 5PM – Zoom Birth Preferences Workshop for Couples

June 23rd – 1:30PM – In-person Baby Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for mothers with babies of any age (Harajuku)

June 26th – 3:30-6:30PM –  Birthing With Confidence 3 hour Childbirth Preparation – 2-4 couples only  (in Azabu)

June 27th – 9:30AM – Zoom Infant Care class

*Weekdays & Weekends are also possible for private classes/sessions depending on the day/time*

**For June, online group classes will continue to be 1,000yen per attendee or 2,000 yen per couple. In-person group classes are 2,000 yen per person or 3,000 per couple if you join with your partner. Birthing with Confidence/Birth Skills semi-private/small group in-person birth preparation will be 13,000 yen per couple (Zoom group sessions are 10,000 per couple). For private options, available for all classes, please ask as it depends on the class :)**

About Breathing classes, please see here and here

About Positions & Massage classes, please see here

About Infant Care classes, please see here 

About Breastfeeding Education Workshop, please see here

About Labour & Birth Movement, please see here

About Birthing with Confidence & Birth Skills fully comprehensive birth preparation, please see here

Find me on Facebook @Tokyo Doula Support

Instagram @steph_tokyodoula

Clubhouse @stephanietmg

Facebook groups: Tokyo Pregnancy Group & Tokyo Mothers Group