I recently attended a water birth in Nisseki (the Japan Red Cross Hospital in Hiroo). In general in Japan, water birth is very uncommon. There are very very few places that actually offer it. In Tokyo, the places I know of through my doula work are Nisseki, Ikuryo Clinic, Sola Birth and Ladies Clinic, and midwife-run birth houses (such as Mejiro and Matsugaoka to name two). In order to be eligible for a water birth at any of these places, the pregnancy must be considered low risk.
In Nisseki, if a pregnant couple are hoping for a water birth, they must take a water birth class first which is really just an explanation session. It is in Japanese, so for those who don’t speak Japanese it might be good to bring an interpreter. The session covers what water birth entails and what needs to happen on the day in order for the mum-to-be to even be allowed in the water (for example, bag of waters must not have broken beforehand, no induction, babies heart rate must consistently remain within normal levels – no random decels or accelerations etc). It’s said that the rate of those who want a water birth versus those who actually get one when the time comes is actually quite low.
However, all that being said, water birth is possible and I was really happy that my client in Nisseki was able to get the water birth she’d hoped for. Once it was established that baby was fine and that labour was progressing well, my client was able to get into the water. They use monitoring pads that can go into the water as continuous monitoring from that point is standard. My client was able to be in whichever position felt comfortable to her in the tub and pushing was completely directed by how she felt. The midwife instructed her how to catch her baby and the doctor was standing by in case any intervention was necessary. Once baby was born, the staff brought the bed right up to the edge of the tub and helped her on. Baby was with my client the whole time on her chest and in Nisseki having a water birth guarantees you’ll get delayed cord clamping as it isn’t done until on the bed.
There are so many benefits to water birth both for the baby and the mother, and I’ll write up a separate post later about them.
Please get in touch if you’d like any more details about water birth in Tokyo/Japan!