Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Giving Birth in Japan

I didn't have the chance to write much about giving birth while in Japan, but I wanted to mention it was a great experience overall.

I received amazing care during my pregnancy and after the birth, and I'm so happy I was able to experience it in Japan. Giving birth wasn't how I expected it at all. I had all these ideas about labour and birth, mostly from watching movies (and Friends episodes); they somehow always have the dramatic water breaking at home and frantic taxi ride to the hospital, etc. My version was the complete opposite, it just slowly started at home, I wasn't even sure I had contractions and what they felt like, and I stayed up all night timing them and watching movies on my laptop.

We finally decided to go to the hospital in the early morning, and that's when the 33-hour (all natural!) fun started. I was pretty out of it for most of the time, time just did not exist and I can barely remember the details. I was lucky to have the support of my husband and my mother-in-law, and the labour room was nice, dimly lit and quiet. The midwives took great care of me even though it was unusually long and there were complications. I remember being presented with big meals and rice, rice and more rice, I just didn't have an appetite but they kept telling me to eat to get more energy. It did help in the end!

In Japan, it's standard to stay at the hospital for about a week after birth. I think it's a great idea, as you can recover and learn how to take care of the baby with the assistance of nurses and midwives 24 hours a day. I had no idea how to do anything when I first met bebe, I was completely at loss, even about changing his tiny diaper. I stayed in the hospital for 6 days, and I both loved it and hated it. I'll call this "baby boot camp". Basically I didn't get much sleep since the nurses would bring in the baby every 2 hours to try nursing, and during the day I had an actual schedules with classes such as breastfeeding and learning how to give baby a bath, etc. We even had to watch DVDs but I skipped many of those sessions, with the excuse that my language skills weren't good enough to follow.

On the bright side, it was wonderful to have the help of nurses at all times, and their support for every single step. It was great to have doctors' checks daily for both bebe and myself, and the meals were fantastic- no kidding. I ate such balanced and delicious meals, and every afternoon they would bring in tea and cake. I also briefly met and talk to other mothers, it was comforting to see other new, sleep-deprived mums in the same state. I cried when I left the hospital because I knew I'd miss the nurses, but at the same time I also felt like I was getting out of prison and couldn't wait to be home. Sounds dramatic, but that's a side effect of post-birth I'm sure…

Overall giving birth in Japan is great, and I went to the hospital weekly ever since to get support for nursing and get bebe checked. I can call my hospital any time of the day or night with questions, and the nurses recognize Anri when we visit, which is so sweet. It's a big hospital in central Tokyo, they speak limited English but somehow it all worked out and the care I received was outstanding. The facilities were very modern and clean, and baby was sleeping next to me most of the time.

I never gave birth in Canada so I don't know how it compares, but I love the natural approach of Japan and the slow recovery. I cannot imagine being sent home with a newborn the day after giving birth, there is so much to learn and get used to. Also, in Japan it is recommended to stay indoors for a full month after giving birth. I thought it would be so difficult, but I liked that as I got to rest and recover and plus, let's be honest, I didn't feel too social or presentable those first few weeks. I'm getting a lot more sleep lately, so I'm excited to finally go out and take bebe along.


Rachael Brennan said...

This is a great post! I've never given birth in Japan, but recently went to a women's clinic here in Okinawa, where people give birth and it seemed fantastic. It was so home-like and natural i made me want to give birth in Japan (shame I don't want another child!).
I gave birth in Australia, which I have a feeling is probably similar to Canada. I chose to go to a "birth centre" which is a midwife care facility attached to a hospital (in case of emergencies) and It was a fantastic experience, although because it was public and not private healthcare, I went home after only 24 hours (with home visits from the midwives).
The first few weeks after birth is such a blur of lack of sleep, and trying to learn how to feed properly etc, that I think the Japanese idea of staying at home for the first month is great!

Khaleesi said...

My sister gave birth last year in America and although she could have stayed in the hospital longer, she chose to leave the day after something I can't even imagine. I'm glad you had such a positive experience as I've heard horror stories about giving birth in Japan.

Charles Martineau said...

My wife had to give birth to our first kid in Japan. After I saw all the great support she received from the woman hospital where she stayed, I just said... "Thank god you gave birth to our first one in Japan and not in Canada".

Noire said...

I was nervous about being in the hospital for the required 5 days at first, but thank goodness for those days! I don't know what I would have done had I gone home the following day like my friends and family in Canada.
After staying home the first month I was scared about going out of the house.. I didn't know how people would react if Moka cried in public or if I had to change her. I was so nervous. It seems so silly now but at the time those fears were so real.

Claudia Trump said...

I take amazing care during my pregnancy and after the birth, I'm so happy I was able to experience it in New york. Giving birth wasn't how I expected it at all.

Tash B' Gosh said...

Great article. I'm 38 weeks pregnant with my first and in the Tochigi prefecture. Although I'm nervous about the long postpartum stay because I tend to be a home body, I know it'll be great and a little less overwhelming. I'm just ready for the labor ball to get rolling!

Vivian said...

Thank you for your comment! I wish you all the best with your birth and hospital stay. It’s a very good thing to stay that long as you’ll be able to recover and get help 24/7, but indeed it’s a long time away from home. I couldn’t wait to be home! All the best xxxxxx