All About Infant Care Classes

If you have questions and want to find out more about various aspects of Infant care, please join an infant care class!  There are in-person options as well as online (Zoom) options. The schedule changes slightly each month, so please check with me (or check the latest monthly schedule) to see what options there are.

In this 1 hour class, we will be going through various different aspects of infant care – diapering, bathing, sleeping and feeding among other topics.  We will take time to go through any questions you have about infant care and items related to having a baby in Japan.  Hopefully, everyone will leave the class feeling a little bit more confident about what they will do once baby arrives. Both parents are welcome to attend these classes.

It’s a great compliment to any other comprehensive birth preparation class you are doing or may do, and I encourage everyone to come to as many classes as they like to get the full.

In-person group classes will be held in the My Body My Pilates Studio: 2,000 per person, or 3,000 for a couple attending together. Maximum 4 people

Zoom classes: 1,000 per person

I also offer private sessions in the comfort of your own home. These sessions are approximately 1.5 hours long and offer couples a chance to have some hands-on practice, too. These classes can be taken before or after baby arrives and can be tailored to meet whatever aspects you are more interested in: 7,000 yen plus travel

November Breastfeeding Education Workshop

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

Positons

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

The next workshop will be November 18th, 11am-12:30pm in the My Body My Pilates studio in Azabu.

Cost per attendee: 2,000yen – limited to 3-5 women only.

If you’d like to attend, please get in touch here.

November Zoom Doula Cafe

November’s Zoom Doula Cafe will be on Thursday, November 19th, 10am.

We are going to be talking about labour expectations.

If you’d like to join, 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!  If anyone is interested in finding out about my work as a doula, how I work and how I can support you, I’m always very happy to talk about that, too.

Baby Cafe – November in-person Meet-up!

The next Baby Cafe is tomorrow (Nov 18th) at 1pm in the Tokyu Plaza Harajuku Starbucks (6F). We’ll meet in the outside terrance area which is a lovely space for an outdoor meet-up with a warm drink.

These meetings are FREE and a great chance to connect with others.  If you are a mum/caregiver to a baby of 0-6 months, 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 you’d like to join, let me know by sending me an email to the email address here.

November in-person Doula Cafe

We’ll have another in-person Doula Cafe this month on Wednesday, November 11th, at 1pm in the Harajuku Tokyu Plaza Starbucks (the outside terrace area). 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, while the weather is good and as long as the coronavirus numbers don’t climb too much I’ll try and hold a few more in-person meetings in outside spaces (although I’ll continue to offer virtual meetings, too).

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

November Zoom Baby Cafe

The next Baby Cafe will be on Tuesday, November 9th at 3pm on Zoom!

These meetings are FREE and a great chance to connect with others.  If you are a mum/caregiver to a baby of 0-6 months, 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 you’d like to join, let me know by sending me an email to the email address here.

November Class Schedule

I hope everyone has been doing well! A few days ago, my oldest son turned 13 (the teens being a whole new stage of parenthood for me), and, as alway on birthdays, it had me reflecting back to my pregnancy with him and early post-partum period. It feels so long ago now but there are moments that still stand out very clearly in my memory for various different reasons. The classes and events I offer have all come from me knowing what I would have benefitted from back them – the support and information that would have helped me. I hope these classes and meetings help you, too.

You can see below my November class & meetings schedule.  There will continue to be a variety of both online and in-person options so everyone can choose the option 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 extremely limited numbers).

As always, for anyone who would like to arrange a private, semi-private or small group, fully comprehensive childbirth preparation class – Birthing With Confidence – please get in touch.  And, I’ll continue to offer private sessions in-person and online for birth plan consultations, Infant Care classes, Breastfeeding support and post-partum help. If you are interested in any other type of class and wonder whether I offer it, please send me a message.

Please get in touch if you’d like to book a class or if you have any questions.  I only have space for 1 more client this year (in-person and virtual support options) but can take clients due from next year (limited space left for Jan/Feb currently).

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

November 9th – 3PM – Zoom Baby Cafe –  FREE SUPPORT SESSION for mothers/parents with babies up to 6 months old

November 11th – 11AM – In-person Breathing for Birth class (in Azabu)

November 11th – 1PM – In-person Doula Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for pregnant women (Location TBA)

November 13th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breathing for Birth class

November 14th – 11AM – Aiiku Hospital Virtual Tour (open only to those who are patients of the Aiiku Clinic International Unit unfortunately)

November 15th – 3:30PM – In-person Couples Breathing for Birth class (in Azabu)

November 15th – 4:30PM – In-person Couples Positions & Massage class (in Azabu)

November 18th – 11AM – Breastfeeding Education Workshop (in Azabu)

November 18th – 1PM – In-person Baby Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for mothers with babies up to 6 months old (Location TBA)

November 19th – 10AM – Zoom Doula Cafe – FREE SUPPORT SESSION for pregnant women

November 20th – 9:30AM – Zoom Infant Care class

November 21st – 9:30AM – Zoom Couples Positions & Massage class

November 25th – 11AM – In-person Breathing for Birth class (in Azabu)

November 25th – 12PM – In-person Infant Care class (in Azabu)

November 27th – 9:30AM – Zoom Breathing for Birth class

November 28th – 9:30AM – Zoom Couples Breathing for Birth class

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

**For November, online group classes will continue to be 1,000yen per attendee or 2,000 yen per couple. In-person group classes will now be 2,000 yen per person due to limiting numbers (3,000 per couple if you join with your partner). Birthing with Confidence group birth preparation will be 10,000 yen for a minimum of 3 couples to run the class (maximum of 5). For private/semi-private classes, please ask as it depends on the class :)**

Breathing Class Reviews

My Breathing for Birth classes have been hugely popular over the past few years in helping women and their partners prepare for labour. As I like to emphasize often, the way you breathe in labour makes such a big difference in having a calmer, smoother and more positive labour. You can read more about the benefits of breathing here.

Here are some comments attendees and clients have given over the years about the classes and how these breathing techniques have helped them. I hope you find them useful in helping you decide whether to take a class. Please contact me if you’d like to know what Breathing for Birth class options are available or any other birth preparation you want to do 🙂

“I can’t recommend the breathing class enough! Both me and my partner were so happy we attended and really relied on the techniques we learned there!”

Overall, the one thing that really helped me throughout was the breathing. I just really stuck to breathing and reminding myself to relax in between, and I truly think it made all the difference. I wanted to thank you immensely for your support and guidance to prepare for the birth, and especially the breathing exercises!

“I didn’t have time to take many pregnancy classes due to work but I was grateful that I got chance to take Breathing in Labor. I tried to remember all Stephanie’s advices during labor and it helped a lot.”

“The breathing session you have given was absolutely helpful, it really made my labor smoother and more relaxed.”

“The midwives actually complimented me several times on my breathing which I owe all to you and the practice I did in the weeks and days leading up to the big event, so I am very thankful for that preparation.”

“The contractions were pretty strong from around 9:30 and I asked the midwife if I could have epidural already. The doctor finally came but somehow epidural didn’t work at all! I felt a lot of pain but the breathing techniques taught by Stephanie were very helpful.”

“The breathing techniques were helpful and the midwives praised me for it.”

The Value of Post-partum Support

The post-partum period is often an after-thought for parents-to-be. The focus for most couples is often just on the labour – on managing and finding ways through that. The reality, however, is that while labour is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and profound experiences a person can go through both mentally and physically, it is just 1-2 days of our lives (for some even shorter, for others maybe a day longer). The post-partum period is days and weeks and months of adjusting to life with a new baby in so many different ways:

  • Finding your role as a parent (as a mother/father/other named caregiver)
  • Figuring out your new relationship with your partner as parents together
  • Learning all the hands-on practical tasks that need to be done (diapering, bathing, sleeping, feeding and so on)
  • Physically recovering from birth – whether a vaginal delivery or c-section, your body will have gone through a lot
  • Emotionally recovering from birth – especially if the experience wasn’t as hoped for
  • All topped off with the huge adjustment of hormones that takes place, which should never be underestimated, and lack of sleep – because however baby is fed, baby will be needing to be fed regularly round the clock.

In a foreign country, this period can seem even more overwhelming for some. When you’re away from your family, friends and familiar language, it can feel more isolating and for some couples more of a challenge. Throw in a global pandemic and that can exacerbate things even more.

So, knowing where to reach out for support in the post-partum period is vital. And this is, again, where I come in!

Doula support, while extremely important during pregnancy and labour can also be invaluable once baby is here, too. Post-partum doula support is so varied and really changes a lot depending on the needs of the parents. For those who have signed up for a birth package, post-partum support is included as part of that, But support is also available in various forms for anyone who needs it in the following ways:

Breastfeeding support – as a breastfeeding counsellor and LLL leader, this is something I’m passionate about on a personal level, and providing mothers with up-to-date, evidence-based support and hands-on help regarding breastfeeding can make a big difference.

Birth experience debriefing session – do you want to talk to someone about your experience, especially if it didn’t go as hoped for in whatever way that may be? Speaking to a third person, such as a doula, can often be a helpful and cathartic even.

Infant care sessions – A doula can help show you practical hands-on aspects of having a baby once your baby is here: help you bath your baby, diapering & clothing tips, how to swaddle, how to put your baby in a carrier, wrap or sling, and useful info in case of unexpected emergencies.

Hands-on support – for those who want an extra pair of hands during the day or evening with baby. A doula can hold /watch your baby while you get some rest, help with practical tasks such as doing some dishes, folding some laundry, and making sure you are looked after so your focus only needs to be baby and nothing else.

With all of this, as doulas, we aim to give you confidence and reassurance that you are doing just fine together with the knowledge that if you do have questions about anything, you have someone you can contact and ask.

I remember what it was like for me as a first-time parent 13 years ago here in Japan with my oldest son: the questions I had, things I wondered about. There were definitely moments I second guessed myself. And back then, we didn’t have info or support quite as readily available as we do now (thanks to smartphones and social network communities). So for me, supporting new parents is a huge part of the work I do as a doula and it is always such a joy to spend time with new mothers, fathers and babies as they navigate their new lives.

Please get in touch if you’d like more information about post-partum support options anytime!

Tsuchiya Women’s Clinic in Fuchu

A month ago, I was able to attend a birth at Tsuchiya OBGYN Clinic in Fuchu (土屋産婦人科). I have been there a handful of times before for labours with clients, and I briefly wrote about this latest experience on my Facebook page here, but I thought I’d also write up about this birthing facility here, too.

Tsuchiya Women’s Clinic is in Fuchu, which is about 20mins west of Shinjuku by train. It’s a very small clinic for birth run by Tsuchiya sensei and has 1-2 other doctors who also do check ups (for pregnancy or other issues). Tsuchiya sensei is the one who overseas labours and births but for the most part, unless an unexpected complication arises or an unforeseen medical procedure is needed, the midwives are the ones who “run the show” on the day for the most part.

In terms of how a woman can labour, it’s super flexible. There are 2 rooms – a tatami room (which really allows for complete freedom of movement and a very freestyle birth), as well as a standard LDR room. These rooms are first come first served in labour. But even if you have the standard room, they are still very flexible and allow you to move as you like (there is no expectation that you should stay on the bed). There are also various types of items a woman can use if she likes, too: huge bean bags, an active chair, foam mats that they can place on the floor (in the standard room) and so on. Plus, there’s also the option to take a shower during labour to help manage things a little more easily.

They are a clinic that focuses on natural childbirth, so epidural is not an option. However, in my opinion they really make an effort to help encourage women have a smooth labour experience and the freedom of movement they encourage goes a long way in helping achieve this. Monitoring is really minimal – which can’t be said for so many other hospitals. Again, this is good for a pregnancy that has been uncomplicated and a labour that is showing no signs of anything out of the norm because a woman is not restricted at all from this, and also the physical “fuss” that comes with monitoring is not a big issue (for hospitals that have longer and more frequent periods of monitoring, there can be times where the midwives are having to frequently readjust the monitors and this can be very interfering, interrupt a woman’s concentration in labour, and also add to discomfort (as hands on belly, even monitors on belly can feel too much for some women).

As mentioned above, with a freestyle labour at Tsuchiya comes the flexibility to really push in a physically comfortable and more beneficial position, especially in the tatami room. My latest client was on all 4s for this part and she even helped “pull” her baby out of her once the shoulders were free. Skin to skin really is immediate here – in most other hospitals, that skin to skin time comes after a period of checking on a warming cot, so there’s always some physical separation of mum and baby for the first 5-30 minutes…but in Tsuchiya, it’s straight away and baby stays with mum from that point on (aside from weighing and measuring). Delayed cord clamping is also possible there if everything has gone smoothly and discussed with the midwives and doctor in advance.

Breastfeeding support there is pretty decent in my opinion. There are some areas of support/advice that, in my opinion as a breastfeeding counsellor, need a bit of improvement from what I’ve seen and discussed with clients but on the whole they are towards the better end of the breastfeeding-friendly spectrum. If it’s a woman’s first baby, I’d still suggest being as informed about breastfeeding before birth as possible (by taking a breastfeeding education class with me or elsewhere, attending LLL meetings and so on).

Another benefit of Tsuchiya Women’s Clinic, especially currently with everything that is going on with the coronavirus, is that they are not restricting birth support. The woman can be supported by birth companions of her choosing – partner and doula if she wishes. Visitation is also not restricted afterwards and family, including other children, and (limited) friends can visit as long as it’s within visiting hours. This can’t be said for most other hospitals or birth clinics at the moment.

Although it’s a small clinic, they do have the capabilities to do c-sections of necessary. Unfortunately, even before the coronavirus partners were not allowed into the operation (this is not unusual in Japan) but supposedly Tsuchiya sensei is especially skilled in making sure that the scar is as neat and non-problematic as possible.

Overall, I was really, really impressed with how they supported my recent client in the best way possible given the current state of affairs with the coronavirus. I felt welcome and wanted as a doula there, and I think part of this is because they’ve met me a few times before. There is no English-support here, however. Tsuchiya sensei can speak very basic English and none of the current midwives are fluent (although some can communicate a little bit or at least understand a little). So part of the support I’ve given in past years with clients there has been some language help if needed. That being said, as I always say, your body does most of the talking in labour so you don’t have to.

So, for anyone who is not fully happy with their current hospital, this could be a place to consider (assuming your own birth preferences are for a natural, unmedicated birth). If you live in central Tokyo, don’t let the distance put you off. It’s easily accessible by train, a 30 minute drive in the middle of the night, or 45mins on average during the daytime. Discuss your birth preferences with the staff beforehand and be clear, hire a doula (me :D) if you’d like that extra support and guidance, and I believe you’ll have a positive experience there.