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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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)