September so far!

Since I’ve been back from my summer holidays, I’ve been to 3 births – all at Aiiku hospital.  2 with Dr Sakamoto and 1 with Dr Sen.  In all 3 cases, everything went very smoothly.  For anyone looking for some perspective and information about what to expect in Aiiku with either Dr Sakamoto and Dr Sen, please get in touch (you are in good hands, though).

Towards the end of this month, or possibly early October depending on when baby decides to come, I’ll also be acting as a distance doula for a client who isn’t able to have a doula for her birth in person.  I’m excited to see how that will go and hope that it will be a positive experience for my client and her partner.  If anyone is in a different part of Japan or has a very strict (less progressive) hospital that flat-out refuses doula support, please get in touch if you’d like to consider distance support instead!

I’m also now working on setting up a Facebook page for Tokyo Doula Support.  As I often post relevant articles, advice and so on on different Facebook groups, I though it was about time (after 5 years of running Tokyo Doula Support) that I have my own page for it all.  Watch this space!!

Recent Birth at Aiiku

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.

VBAC Success

A week ago today, I was at my first VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section).  Dr Sakamoto was the doctor, so the birth itself was at Aiiku hospital.   The mother didn’t have the best experience with the C-section she needed to have with her first child (overall stress of the experience, reaction to medication, and the long recovery time afterwards), so she was very determined to at least be able to try for a VBAC with this pregnancy.

As it was my first VBAC, I was very “excited”to be asked by the mother to be her doula 🙂 Throughout her pregnancy, as is the case with all my clients, we had regular meetings where we discussed things related to her pregnancy, the labour, what had happened at hospital appointments and so on.  I really hoped that she’d be able to get her wish of trying for her VBAC and that nothing unexpected would come up to change things.  Dr Sakamoto was willing to let her try but was cautious about the chance of success (I think this goes with his character and his role as doctor and main care-provider).

The mum went into labour the day before her due date.  A c-section had been booked already for the next week if labour didn’t start naturally because in a VBAC situation inductions are not done.  She was very very glad her labour started naturally and I got to the hospital as contractions were very close together and pretty intense.  Without going in to the full details of her labour (as that is the mum’s story to tell), her sheer will and determination to have a successful VBAC were what got her through.  There was a time where it looked like a c-section was going to be needed as the labour wasn’t progressing…but then literally in less than an hour she was ready to push and her baby was born beautifully.  It was fantastic and I was so thrilled for her!

For anyone who is considering a VBAC, I’d love to hear from you!

3 births in the past month!

It’s been a busy few weeks for me!  I’ve had 3 births in the past month already and I have 2 more who are due anytime now!

One of the births was at St Luke’s hospital and the other 2 were both at Aiiku – one with Dr Sakamoto and the other with Dr Sen.  It was my first time at St Luke’s hospital (I’d been at a birth in their birth clinic previously) and also my first time with Dr Sen at Aiiku.  Both of these “firsts” were great!  I was impressed with both St Luke’s and also Dr Sen (she’s amazing and I would love to promote her more).  So stay tuned for proper posts on those experiences over the next few days 🙂




I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

I just wanted to share a testimonial with you all 🙂  This is a birth I was at the start of this year and story I helped write for the mother.  She has given me permission to share it with you all!

I hope you enjoyed reading it 🙂


I gave birth to my son on January 10th, four days after his estimated due date. Contractions began the night before around 2am. They were similar to the practice contractions I had been having in the days leading up, and inconsistent in length and strength, so it took a while before I was convinced that I was in labor.

At 6am when they were roughly 10 minutes apart, I called Dr. Sakamoto, and at 8am we decided it was time to go to the hospital, so I called my doula Stephanie Kawai, and my husband and I ordered the labor taxi.

At Aiiku the midwives measured my cervix ­­ I was 3cm dilated ­­ and the contractions were still quite manageable, so Stephanie, my husband, and I walked the halls of the labor ward and breathed through the contractions. Four hours later, I was still only 3cm dilated, and Dr. Sakamoto broke my waters, though he told me that if dilation didn’t progress, we should consider administering Pitocin. I continued to walk the halls and labor with my husband as Stephanie suggesting different positions and techniques until 4pm when I was 5cm dilated, and the doctor said I was making progress.

The midwives suggested I try climbing stairs, so we climbed from the 3rd floor of the hospital to the 8th and back down again. I found the activity very focusing, and at the same time, I could feel the contractions growing stronger. At 6:15pm, the midwife checked my cervix, but I was still only 5cm dilated. Just as we were discussing whether or not to use Pitocin (and an epidural, as I was unwilling to have one without the other), the baby’s heart rate dropped, and they placed me on all fours and gave me oxygen. Stephanie and my husband remained so calm and collected throughout this, that I didn’t even think to worry and just focused on breathing deeply.

The baby’s heart rate stabilized, but Dr. Sakamoto prepared me for a c­section just in case ­­ at the same time, I was measured again, and we realized that I was now suddenly 8cm dilated. I continued to labor through contractions where I felt a strong urge to push though I was not fully dilated. Through these contractions, my husband held my hands and Stephanie applied counter­pressure with a tennis ball that helped relieve some of the pressure.

At 8:30 the baby’s heart rate dropped again, and we used more oxygen to stabilize him. Dr. Sakamoto measured me, and I was fully dilated, so he decided to proceed immediately with an assisted vaginal delivery using forceps. We took one practice push between contractions, and then on the following two contractions, I pushed (with all my might!) and my son was born! The cord had been wrapped around his neck (the cause of the heart rate fluctuations), so the pediatrician had to check him right away, and I wasn’t able to do kangaroo care, though my husband was with him in the nursery the entire time.

Thankfully he was perfectly healthy with a cry that quickly grew strong and demanding ;) Though there were parts of his delivery that were difficult for me, the challenges were mitigated by the unflagging support of my husband and the wonderful midwives at Aiiku. Dr. Sakamoto himself was stellar, and at no point did I feel like I wasn’t receiving the best, safest, most competent care possible ­­ care that also made efforts to honor my birth plan at all stages.

Finally, I cannot stress enough how important and helpful it was to have my doula Stephanie at my side throughout this experience. Her very presence calmed me and eased the rough spots, not to mention the many helpful suggestions and actions she offered and performed with me. If you are on the fence about hiring a doula, I cannot recommend it ­­ and Stephanie in particular! ­­ strongly enough. I am happy to talk to anyone about my experience if it’s helpful, so please let me know. Good luck ladies. We cannot wait to see the beautiful creatures you bring into this world!