Home Birth in Tokyo

I recently had the exciting opportunity to attend a home birth.  It was my client’s 3rd baby but her first birth in Japan.  She’d had a previous home birth back in Canada and wanted to have another one here.

A lot of English-speakers in Tokyo don’t even know that home birth is an option  – mostly because of the lack of information in English about it.  I will share what I have learned about it over the past  little while.

Midwife-run birth houses are often able to support home births.  There are 2 birth houses that I know of who have midwives who can speak enough English for English-speaking patients:  Matsugaoka Birth Center and Mejiro Birth House.  I’ll put the links for these at the bottom.  There may be other birth houses that can support home births with some English-speaking midwives but I personally don’t know of them.

My client chose to be supported by So-san from Matsugaoka Birth Center.  She’s a lovely lady and very, very experienced.  My client was offered 3 options:  a birth at the birth house, a birth at a hospital but with only the midwife So-san as the care-provider during labour, or a home birth.

With the home birth option, my client had most of her appointments directly at the birth house with only 2-3 appointments at the back-up hospital (in case of emergency) so that she was registered there as a patient and for the more detailed 20-week anomaly scan etc.   The back up hospital with who So-san was connected with was Nisseki in Hiroo (the Japan Red Cross hospital).    I attended one of my client’s appointments at Matsugaoka Birth Center and So-san was very supportive of me being at the labour as a doula – apparently it would be their first time to work with a doula.

When my client was in labour, So-san, another midwife who was able to administer antibiotics via IV as my client was GBS positive, and a trainee midwife were there along with myself.  I can honestly say it was one of my most favourite birth experiences so far in almost 4 years.  My client had absolutely no restrictions placed on her on what she could or couldn’t do and it was as free as it gets with birth being completely patient-led.  With myself and the midwives all there together, there wasn’t a time at all where my client wasn’t being massaged or helped with positions, breathing or comfort.

For me as a doula, it was a great experience and I learned a lot.  It also made me wish I’d had that experience personally, too.

There are a lot more details to go and far too much for me to write, so if anyone has any questions I’d be more than happy to discuss through email or perhaps at a Doula Cafe get-together.

Matsugaoka Birth Center:  https://matsugaoka-birth.com/english/

Mejiro Birth House:  http://www.birthhouse.com/en/

January Births Done!

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!