I had my first experience as a doula in Seibo hospital (International Catholic hospital) 2 weeks ago. Seibo hospital is located in Shinjuku-ku near Shimo-Ochiai station and within walking distance from Takadanobaba as well.
I had heard a lot about Seibo hospital over the years having had friends who had delivered there as well as comments from others on various groups about their experiences there. Everything I heard was generally positive, so I was very excited to have the chance to see it for myself first-hand.
My client was expecting her 3rd child and was quite new to Japan, having only arrived a few months previously. Her hospital options were already somewhat limited due to the fact that a lot of places get booked up very much in advance (it’s not unusual for hospitals or birth clinics to require you to “book in” for your birth there anytime between 12-20 weeks depending on the place). She’d heard of Seibo and felt comfortable there after her first visit, and was able to have a spot there for delivery so she decided to stay with it.
As it was my client’s 3rd labour, I wasn’t expecting a marathon one (although you really never know). As it was, she arrived at the hospital at around 10:30pm and her baby was born just after 1am. The midwives were lovely and very attentive, although those on duty didn’t speak any English so I was having to help translate for both sides when necessary. Perhaps for someone wanting a very “natural” labour they were maybe a bit too attentive (my client was told that there would be constant fetal monitoring for no reason than it was hospital policy – baby was absolutely fine with contractions and heart rate). With that constant fetal monitoring came hands all over my client trying to keep the monitor in place as she moved about. We both felt this was too much, especially as my client didn’t like the feeling of hands on her abdomen during contractions and things were fine with the baby. I asked the midwives if they could stop the constant monitoring at my client’s request…and after going away to have a talk with the doctor, it was finally agreed that it was ok for the monitor to be taken off. I think this is one example where having a doula to advocate for you during labour is very useful.
Anyway, my client actually progressed very quickly and it wasn’t long before she was pushing. In Seibo, the labour rooms and the delivery rooms are different places, so she had to be moved to the delivery room (some hospitals and birth clinics are like that while others have all-in-one LDRs). She instinctively got into an all-4s position on the bed. The midwives did ask her to lie on her back but my client wasn’t going to move (and there was no reason why she should). I’m glad that they didn’t insist more strongly as that would have been unnecessary I think. It was great to see baby be born smoothly that way.
Overall, her stay for a few days afterwards was really good she said. The food was good, the nurses were kind and some could speak some English. For her, it was her 3rd country to labour in (she has had experiences in the U.S. and New Zealand), so it was interesting to see how each place differed.
I would be really happy to help at a birth in Seibo again. It seems that while they do have hospital policies regarding certain things in labour, they are also able to be flexible if asked when the time actually comes…although, as I said, having a doula there to help advocate is a big advantage 🙂