The one where she talks about giving birth in Japan

hospital stay

Yeah, it’s been 2 1/2 years since my sidekick joined us, but it still makes for a good story.

First, a little background info. For every 1,000 births in Japan 2 infants don’t make it. This puts them number one in the world for lowest infant mortality rates. Go Japan! Why do you suppose that is? Because they don’t interfere! I couldn’t easily find the statistics, but I am willing to bet the majority of women in Japan give birth naturally–no pain meds, epidurals, and so on.

I’m a pain wimp, but knew if I put myself into a situation where pain medication or an epidural wasn’t a possibility I’d get through it. After tireless research, I felt confident that a drug free birth was best for me and my child. It was only one day of my life, after all. So, I chose a clean, new hospital 15 minutes from my apartment. Due date came–and went–and I seriously feared going crazy if she didn’t GET OUT soon. Then one lovely, blustery typhoon evening, my water broke! Shit! Typhoon! 2 am! How do we get to the hospital? No taxis would come at that time so hubs hopped on his motorcycle–by the way did I mention it was in the middle of a typhoon!?–rented a car and we finally made it to the hospital. But, no damn contractions. After 36 hours and fears of a bacterial infection since my water had broke, I agreed to take a mild labor starter. Some pill that begins with a P…but the nurse assured me that it rarely actually jump starts labor.

Three hours later, as I heave into a bucket from the intense pain, I was pretty sure I proved her wrong. I vividly remember them trying to stick a tennis ball under my coccyx and that making things exponentially more painful.  Three more hours of heaving and huffing (and screaming) and they informed me it was time to walk to the birthing table. Uh, walk–yeah, no, not happening. But the midwife yelled at me so I sucked it up. Funnily enough, it was exactly what I needed at that time. 30 minutes of intense animalistic (so my hubs told me later, all I really remember is the color black…) pushing and sidekick entered the world. Too quiet, apparently, because they made me make her scream. Things that I had wanted but weren’t possible at my hospital: low lighting and delayed chord cutting.

hospital food
Theme of the hospital stay: the pampered mother

Women in Japan generally stay in the hospital for 7 days after a routine birth to recuperate and be pampered–literally that is one of the goals. It…was…fabulous. I had massages, and homemade delicious food designed to support breast feeding. I am certain that without that 7 days and the support of in house lactation consultants I would have given up on breastfeeding (which was pretty gory for us). I really question whether removing the stitches from my lady parts without any sort of numbing medicine was necessary though. Pain wise it was worse than birth–the sadists.

I could easily write a novel about this now that I’ve gone and made myself all nostalgic. Time to go look at baby sidekick pictures…

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2 thoughts on “The one where she talks about giving birth in Japan

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    1. But it’s totally the norm here! I think I’ve only met one Japanese mom that had an epidural. I think they weren’t used to the amount of screaming I did though. I remember them moving the woman on the bed next to me that wasn’t as far along and shutting the door. In my little memory card the nurse even wrote, “You seemed to have a very painful labor.” ha! Yeah!

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