January ended up being one of my busiest months birth-wise! I was at 5 births overall – which I think is the most I’ve done in one month before! All of the babies were delivered at Aiiku hospital with either Dr Sakamoto or Dr Sen, and, as expected each labour was very different.
Dr Sen continues to impress me with each labour I’m at with her. She is definitely natural-labour-minded, allowing the woman to labour at her own pace and it seems to me that less women who have her as a doctor end up with an epidural – partly because she has to call Dr Sakamoto or another back up to administer it if a patient wants one, which puts a barrier in front of getting an epidural in the first place, but mostly because of her encouragement and approach to labour in general. While she can’t spend all labour with her patients (that’s my job as doula when I’m there), she is hands on when she can be. She often gives massages, stimulates pressure points and so on during labours which is a really nice thing and comforting thing for an OB to do. She is also great at making sure women don’t have episiotomies. I think I’ve only seen her do one once in the various labours I’ve been in with her.
My next labour so far will be a home birth, all being well. My client will be using So san from Matsugaoka Birth House as her home-birth midwife. I met her today and she’s lovely. She can speak English well-enough and is very reassuring. With Matsugaoka Birth House, you can choose to give birth there (with a midwife), at Nisseki in Hiroo with So san, or in your own home with So san. Of course, conditions apply and they can’t take on women with any complications, but for those who are looking for a very natural labour, this is a great choice – an experienced English-speaking midwife with the back up if needed of an extremely well-respected hospital. I’m looking forward to this labour very much!
Last week I was at a birth in Aiiku, with Dr Sen as the OB. It was a really wonderful experience and I quickly wanted to share some general details about it.
My client went into labour during the night and went into hospital that night where she was still very comfortable. It wasn’t till around 5am when her contractions got intense and very regular. The LDR unit was actually completely empty – she was the only patient for the whole day. This meant that we got a lot of extra hands-on support from the midwives which was great. My client was free to labour however she wanted – so we did a lot of walking, stair-climbing, she used the bath, used the balance ball, and also the active chair. It was really great at how open she was to trying different things to help her labour along. It all progressed really smoothly, although the last few centimeters of dilation did take quite a while. Finding the motivation to keep going naturally not knowing how long there is still left to go and knowing an epidural is an option is a hard thing sometimes, but she really did wonderfully. She was managing so well that I personally felt she could keep going without an epidural, and I think (I hope) having me there to reassure her that things were going well really helped 🙂
Dr Sen herself is a very laid-back and relaxed doctor when it comes to labour, letting each woman do what works for them and not over-managing anything (unless the need arises). She was hands-on during the times she was present doing some massage of foot acupressure points which was nice. All the times I’ve been in labours with her, I’ve found her to be a really gentle and positive voice.
During the actual delivery, my client was able to have baby immediately placed on her chest and have the heart-rate check and oxygen check of the baby done while on the mother. In Japan, even if doctors say a mum can have “Kangaroo care” (the term used here for immediate skin to skin contact), it’s not usually as immediate as we expect – usually the baby is quickly taken to the warmer, have the heart-rate check and oxygen checks done, wrapped in a towel and then given back to the mother for the skin to skin time. So, with Dr Sen, you really can get that immediate contact with your baby which is great!
I’ve got a couple more births coming up with Dr Sen over the next 3 weeks, so I’m looking forward to them, too.
One of my recent births, as I mentioned in my previous post, was at Aiiku hospital with Dr Sen. It was the first time I had been at a labour where Dr Sen was the doctor and I was genuinely so impressed her skills, her manner and her “way” of managing things. It was a really relaxed environment for the parents from start to finish and Dr Sen was wonderful in respecting fully all of her patient’s wishes and requests without question. My client, her patient had the labour she hoped for from start to finish. Of course, a lot of this is due to things just going smoothly on the day but I also think a big part of it is that Dr Sen was progressive in her practice to not manage the labour unnecessarily. Once example is during the pushing phase. quite often the expectation with most doctors here is to be on your back on the bed for this part of labour. However, Dr Sen, was very much open to the mother pushing how she wanted – whether that be on the bed, on all 4s, squatting and so on. Following the mother and how her body naturally wants to move (as it should be when everything is going very smoothly and without complications). So I would certainly very much recommend Dr Sen to anyone!
As for myself, my client in the above labour – the lovely Amanda – very kindly wrote a testimonial about me which I’m happy to share with all of you 🙂
“Having a doula for my first labor and delivery was the best decision my husband and I could have made in preparation for the birth of our son. I’ve always known I wanted a natural birth but I just wasn’t quite sure how to go about achieving this or if I would even be able to cope with the pain once the time came. Now I can honestly say that by having Stephanie there with me got me through the hardest parts and I also believe she helped speed up my labor.
My husband wasn’t keen on the idea of having a doula at first. He had never heard of a doula nor is it a very popular in Japan in general as far as I know. He now believes that every women should have a doula. Not only did Stephanie help me get through delivery she helped my husband help me which kept stress levels down for everyone.
Not to mention she was even able to capture photos of the delivery of my son, I will cherish these photos forever and am eternally grateful for this.
I would recommend Stephanie to anyone wanting to have a memorable, relaxed, enjoyable labor and I have every intention of calling on her again once we try for a second child.”.