Doula support options in the age of Social Distancing

How’s everyone doing?  It’s been quite a few weeks all around the world with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.  I hope everyone is doing ok – it can easily get overwhelming.

I thought I’d take a moment to let everyone know of current services I’m offering (in addition to my birth doula service) in light of the virus and with all of us being more cautious about group activities and distancing ourselves socially more than we’d usually do.  I’d hate for any couples who are currently pregnant to feel they are without support or any means of preparation before their baby is born, so these options can also be done online via video calls (using whichever mode works best for each couple).

Full Birth preparation classes:

I’m currently offering PRIVATE birth Birthing with Confidence Classes for couples in the comfort of their own homes – in-person or Online.  Content includes Late Pregnancy & Overview of Labour, Breathing for Labour and Birth, Positions/Activities during Labour, Massage and Other Comfort Techniques, Interventions, What to Expect in Japan and your Specific Hospital, Useful Japanese Terms, and the post-partum period and breastfeeding.  These sessions can be done in one session or split over 2 sessions.

Birth plan/hospital choice consultations:

My Birth plan/hospital choice consultations continue to be private and, again, these can be arranged either as in-person meetings or done online.

Breastfeeding and post-partum consultations:

Post-partum support is something that continues to be very important for me to provide.  While ideally breastfeeding support is given in-person, for those who need virtual support I’ve just started offering that option more regularly.

Infant care classes:

Again, I’m still offering these as private sessions in the comfort of clients’ homes.  Online consults about infant care topics can also be arranged, too.

So please feel reassured that support is still there for anyone who needs it – whether it’s in person or online.  I’m always happy to discuss more if anyone has any questions, so please feel free to send me an email at

For my Birth Doula support, that is still continuing.  Virtual support is also possible!

Hope everyone is hanging in there and not getting to stressed or anxious either here in Japan or for their home countries.  Please reach out if you find that your anxiety levels are increasing and we can do some relaxation breathing to help a little bit.

Stay healthy everyone!






Sanno Hospital

At the beginning of March, I was able to attend a birth at Sanno Hospital (the hospital not the birth center).  It was the first time for me to be at Sanno Hospital as a doula in all the years I’ve been working as one.  The hospital director, Tsutsumi sensei, agreed that my client and her husband could have me there as a doula which was great.

While I won’t go into the specific details of my client’s labour, I thought I’d share some general observations about the Sanno experience.

Overall, for me as a doula, it was a positive experience.  I felt welcomed by all the staff there (midwives, nurses and doctors) and all the staff were extremely kind and very gentle towards my client.  She was attended by 2 different obstetric nurses in the earlier stages of her labour and, as things progressed,  by 2 different midwives.  My client specifically didn’t want to be told how she was progressing in terms of dilation (so as not to be mentally affected by it one way or the other) but the staff updated both me and my client’s husband so that we were aware and it was helpful for me as I could make suitable suggestions on positions and activities to help things long where necessary.

During the labour, my client laboured in one room, which was very spacious and comfortable, and she was moved at the very end of pushing as baby was crowning to the delivery room (a much more clinical room).  I really liked the fact that the midwife really waited as long as possible before moving my client – so that she was able to push as much as possible in the comfortable room.

Throughout the labour, my client was free to move around as she felt comfortable.  She was also able to eat and drink freely, too (most hospitals in Japan are very pro keeping energy levels up and staying hydrated).  However, she did have continuous monitoring.  It felt a little as though they were looking for reasons to keep the monitor on her for the whole time.  Her doctor seemed a little concerned in the earlier stages that baby wasn’t doing as well as he hoped for and suggested a few times a c-section might be needed, but the monitor didn’t show anything very concerning.  This led my client’s partner to hypothesize that quite possibly Sanno hospital/this particular doctor were more towards quicker c-sections rather than natural labours.  As things turned out, although the labour was on the longer-side of things, everything went smoothly so that she was able to have her natural birth.

My client’s partner, it has to be said, was very well-prepared and a very strong advocate for his wife having a natural labour (as was her wish) and was excellent at asking all the right questions to the doctor which eventually led to the doctor backing-off and leaving things be.  For someone less informed or more anxious naturally, there may have been a different outcome with how baby was born, but clearly time was able to show us that this labour was smooth as baby was born naturally with no interventions.

During the time my client was in the delivery room right at the end of the labour, the midwife was the one doing the delivering.  There was a doctor (not my client’s original doctor) in the room in case an intervention was needed, and also a pediatrician to check baby.  There were also a couple of other nurses.  It was suggested to my client to have an episiotomy but she didn’t want one and they respected that enough to let her keep trying a little more, and she was able to birth her baby without being cut.  The staff were also completely fine with me doing birth photography and also with my client’s husband setting up a video camera to record everything.  My client’s husband was also allowed to cut the cord (this really depends on the hospital) and there was about 1 minute of delayed cord clamping before that.  Skin to skin wasn’t immediate, though, although that wasn’t surprising to me.  Not many hospitals here do immediate skin to skin – usually it happens after the various checks done on the baby.  Once my client was given here baby, we tried to get baby to latch on for the first breastfeed.

For anyone following my Facebook page – Tokyo Doula Support – I posted up some photos on there of Sanno hospital, and I’ve attached a few of them down here, too.

I hope some of this information is helpful to anyone else who may be planning to have their baby at Sanno hospital.  Please let me know if you have any questions!

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March News and Consultations

The past few weeks (especially this last week) have been quite a crazy time – with all the news about the Coronavirus situation both in Japan and worldwide.  While I’m personally not worried for my own health, the news and the panic the news has caused has been quite frustrating, not least because my own children are now off school until April thanks to the governments news recommending schools to close.  Luckily they are old enough to occupy themselves!

My own regular classes will be going ahead as usual this month as the studio I use will be open.  We will simply continue to take common-sense health precautions and make sure hands are washed before and after classes.

Also, I’ll be offering additional consultations and sessions this month to anyone who would like to go through their birth plan, or who wants a private birth preparation class.  Post-partum support, breastfeeding consultations will also have extra availability.

I’ve already had my first labour this month – yesterday (March 1st) at Sanno hospital.  As it was my first time there as a doula, I’ll write a post about my experience there soon.

Please like my Facebook page (Tokyo Doula Support) to get more info about what’s going on with me, my support and other useful bits of information regarding pregnancy, labour and the post-partum period.

Finally, as always, please get in touch if you’re interested in any of my services as a birth doula or simply pre/post partum support.

February 2020 Doula Cafe

The February Doula Cafe will be on Tuesday, February 18th, from 10-11am at the Tokyu Plaza Starbucks in Harajuku.

We’ll discuss different hospitals and birth clinics and what you can generally expect in your specific place during labour and the post-partum stay you’ll have there for a few days.

Also, if you are due to give birth from May onwards and are interested in having a doula support you and your husband during the labour, please come along or get in touch.  My schedule is already booked up till the end of April but there is some availability for me to take on 1 more client between May and June.  For those due September onwards, my schedule is wide open!

Please send me an email if you plan to come!

Water Birth in Tokyo

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!

January Doula Cafe #2

We’ll have a second Doula Cafe this month because “why not?!”

It’ll be on Wednesday, January 29th from 10-11am at the Tokyu Plaza Starbucks in Harajuku.

We’ll look at the topic of Infant Care and Post-partum support again as it’s a popular one.  We’ll go through topics related to infant care ranging from diapering to breastfeeding and classes you can take to learn more.  We can also cover some questions you might have about infant care in Japan as well as post-partum support that you can utilise after your baby is born.

Also, if you are due to give birth from March onwards and are interested in having a doula support you and your husband during the labour, please come along or get in touch.  My schedule is already almost completely booked up for the first half of 2020 (till July) but there is some availability for me to take on 1 more client.  For those due September onwards, my schedule is wide open!

Please send me an email if you plan to come!

Birth Clinics & Hospitals in and around Tokyo

In the 5.5 years since I had my first birth client, I’ve been to many different hospitals in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures.   I was curious to see exactly how many different places I’ve had experience at with clients and, including the hospitals I birthed my own babies at, it comes to almost 30 different ones.  Some hospitals, such as Aiiku and Nisseki, I’ve been to multiple times.

Each hospital or birth clinic has been different in various ways, and it really depends on what is important for each woman (and her partner) when choosing which facility to use – such as epidural, natural/unmedicated labour, water birth option, ability to labour and birth freely, delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, breastfeeding support, 24 hours rooming in with baby, husband staying overnight to name a few . Sometimes, as well, other factors influence which place is best (finances and what kind of insurance you have, distance/location, English language ability of staff and so on).

The choice for those living in Tokyo and the surrounding areas is relatively varied and there is a mix of private maternity hospitals ranging from small to large, birth clinics, University hospitals, municipal hospitals, general hospitals, midwife run birth houses and even home birth is an option.

Birth in Japan will always be a safe option – there will never be a bad options from that point of view.  Mother and baby will always be taken care of.  However, whether that care aligns with your own personal thinking and expectations depends on the facility.  So if anyone ever has any questions about their hospital, I’d be very happy to answer those questions based on my experiences and perspective.

From time to time I’ll try and edit this post to add more details about notable points about each place.  If you search some of my old posts, you’ll also see that I’ve written up about some of them already.


Aiiku Hospital (both the old and current one) (Minato ku)

Nisseki (the Japanese Red Cross Hospital) (Shibuya ku)

Seibo Hospital (Shinjuku ku)

St. Luke’s birth clinic (now closed for labours) (Chuo ku)

St. Luke’s Hospital (Koto Ku)

Tsuchiya Clinic (Fuchu shi)

Kosei Byoin (Suginami ku)

Seijo Kinoshita Byoin (Setagaya ku)

Ikuryo Clinic (Meguro ku)

Katsushika Red Cross Hospital (Katsushika ku)

Higashi Fuchu Byoin (Fuchu shi)

Iino Byoin (Chofu shi)

Sanikukai Byoin (Sumida ku)

Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital (Shinjuku ku)

Tokyo Mothers Clinic (Setagaya ku)

National Center for Global Health and Medicine (Shinjuku ku)

Sanno Hospital (a birth coming soon) (Minato ku)

Home birth x2 with midwives from Matsugaoka birth house


Minato sekijuji Byoin (the Yokohama Red Cross Hospital) (Naka ku, Yokohama)

Showa University Fujigaoka Hospital (Aoba ku, Yokohama)

Keiyu Byoin (Nishi ku, Yokohama)

Shin Yokohama Women’s and Children’s Hospital (Kohoku ku, Yokohama)

Birth Aoba (midwife run Japanese birth house) (Aoba ku, Yokohama)


Oshio Women’s clinic (Uraysu shi)

Minami Nagareyama Ladies Clinic (Nagareyama shi)

Funabashi Chuo byoin (Funabashi shi)


Saitama Medical Center (Kawagoe)

Keiai Byoin (Fujimi shi)