What was your birth experience like in Japan? Better or worse than you expected?
I had heard a lot of horror stories about giving birth in Japan but I would say it was better than I expected, although I was *extremely* disappointed about the food I got.
When it’s your first time giving birth, though, you don’t have anything to compare it to!
It was better than I expected in some respects, but worse in others. All kids born in central Kansai: singleton first, twins second.
My first daughter was born in our crumbly, old city hospital, which had policy of no pain relief (One of the elderly nurses actually said to me ‘This is Japan, we don’t do painless births here’). But the after-birth care was brilliant. A total of 5 days in hospital, which was so, so helpful in getting breastfeeding established as a first time mum. In my country (UK), women are often sent home a few hours after birth, which seems far too quick. My daughter was kept in the nursery for the whole 5 days, I had to go there every 3 hours to feed her. This arrangement suited me quite well, although it is a bit old fashioned.
When I found out I was having more than one for my second pregnancy, I was immediately refered to a big, new university hospital, and spent the final three weeks of the pregnancy hospitalized. This extended hospitalization is standard practice for twin pregnancies in Japan apparently, regardless of complications. In my case, I was given the drug ritodrine 3 times a day for 3 weeks during this time, to prevent premature labor. This drug is considered dangerous in other countries, due to its side-affects (it causes your heart to race, and limbs to shake for two hours after each dose), so watch out for that if you are recommended to take it!
The twins were born at 37 weeks by c-section, my doctor/surgeon was wonderful, as were most of the nurses. My husband wasn’t allowed into theater, but to be honest, I doubt I’d have noticed him even if he was there! We spent a week in hospital, and this time I noticed a dramatic increase in the quality of the food after I had given birth (almost double the amount, delicious, and extra snacks throughout the day). The twins were put with me from the start this time, but there were nurses available to call 24/7 for help with breastfeeding etc.
Generally, I would say Japan has got the after-birth care right, but some of the other birth practices may need a bit of updating.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Liz! It was very interesting to read, especially since you had twins the second time. It’s a bit scary that they gave you ritodrine. I wonder why Japan continues to use it and what happens if someone doesn’t want to take it.
“My husband wasn’t allowed into theater, but to be honest, I doubt I’d have noticed him even if he was there!” This is exactly how I felt! I was so nervous and trying to focus on what the doctors and nurses were telling me (and terrified that I would feel pain) that my husband was the last thing on my mind.
The after-birth care is absolutely great, it’s nice to have that support for a few days before you’re thrown into taking care of a newborn alone.
Mine went pretty well. I went into labor and hung out in agony in the delivery room trying really hard not to throw up and to keep breathing. I ended up saying yes to having a midwife’s student join us, so the room was crowded. The only thing that really annoyed me was they kept bugging me to eat something near the end but I was so nauseated and they tried to give me cold pizza toast and blueberry yogurt and it was just ugh. I didn’t have any pain medication and ended up with a vacuum birth and episiotomy but luckily I recovered from everything extremely well.
Mine was really good in some ways, but also really tough in others. The clinic had a policy of no outside people b/c of the pandemic, so I was all alone in a room with no one to help me deal with the contractions which I didn’t know how to handle b/c all classes had been canceled due to the pandemic.
Eventually, I got my sister on the phone, and her husband is a midwife, so they gave me a few coping things to hold out until I was dilated enough for an epidural, and my spouse called and asked the nurse to stay with me b/c I was starting to have a panic attack due to the pain and fear and loneliness. From then on, it got much better. The nurse sat in the room with me and did her nightly work, and would talk me down from each contraction. They actually had to give me the meds early because I was having nightmarish contractions that were causing me to shake violently and that wasn’t good.
The epidural was probably the most painful part of the whole thing and I’m amazed I got through it with how long they had it take (being very careful and I was shaking a lot) and also I’m TERRIFIED of needles. Once the meds kicked in tho, it was GREAT lol. I ended up even falling asleep a bit and woke up to then being all like “good lord you have dilated SUPER fast, let’s do this”. Also they had this super comfy chair that I gave birth in, it was awesome. The Midwives delivered my kiddo, and the doctor only came in to stitch things up. Later, I found out, I’d lost a lot of blood (a not safe amount) so it’s no surprise I passed out right after and slept in the birthing room for a bit.
All in all, I went in at about 10:30 at night, and kiddo was out by 11am or so. They treated me amazingly after, gave me classes on washing baby, fed me AMAZING food, sent me home with a care package, answered any questions I had, and even let my spouse come visit a few times to learn some of the important stuff. Even tho it was really hard, I think in the end, the fujinka clinic I went do made the experience as comfortable and as painless as they could.
My issues more came after the birth and from recovering from pregnancy, but that’s not related to the actual birth story ahah.
Thanks for sharing, Pilaf! It’s nice to hear that your experience was positive overall, especially since you had an episiotomy but no pain relief.
I wonder if it’s typical to be given food while you’re nearing the end of labor? I can’t imagine eating during that time! And blueberry yogurt and pizza toast of all things?!
Oh my goodness, you were alone in the room and no one to help you with the contractions initially?! That sounds awful, you poor soul. I’m so glad that your BIL is a midwife and was able to get on the phone, and that eventually, a nurse stayed with you.
I didn’t realize an epidural would be so painful. I had a spinal block but I didn’t really feel it. Considering how difficult it is to find a clinic that offers epidurals in Tokyo, I’m surprised (and relieved) that you were able to get it since you live in a small city.
The part after your epidural sounds wonderful. But oof, imagine if you had seen that much blood! Did you need a blood transfusion?
I’m so envious of everyone who had great food! That’s one of the great things about giving birth in Japan and sadly, I wasn’t able to experience it.
Your clinic overall sounds great (minus you being alone in the beginning). I’d love to hear your experiences after giving birth, please consider starting a topic about it! Maybe other parents experienced something similar and can relate <3
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.