Oct 8

Surviving in Japan: Giving Birth in Japan, My Experience – Part 1

Posted by Ashley Thompson (Shizuoka-ken, 2008-2010) of Surviving in Japan: without much Japanese and Lifelines columnist for The Japan Times.

Ashley Thompson is "Surviving in Japan (Without Much Japanese)"

6 weeks. I can’t believe it has already been about 6 weeks since our dear daughter Ai-chan joined us in world. It’s mostly been a blur of sleep, insomnia, diaper changes, incessant feeding, incredible soreness and lots of baby time. But, reality shows up sooner or later and it’s time for me to try and start adjusting back into some sort of routine (while I hope that our child also figures out some sort of routine in the coming weeks).

I’ve mulled over sharing this experience many times, as I want to present it as objectively as possible, because to be honest I came away from the experience completely traumatized. NOT because of the fact I gave birth in Japan, just the labor and childbirth process itself. So, I’ll do the best I can here, and please understand that this is only my experience. Everyone has completely different birthing experiences, no matter where they are in the world, and even in Japan, your experience may differ depending on your doctor or midwife, and various other factors.

However, I don’t believe there is any reason to fear giving birth in Japan (and I do speak from personal experience now!), so rest assured that as long as you find a doctor or midwife you like and (hopefully) trust, you should be fine (well, as fine as you can be going through this kind of experience…)


Our daughter was due on August 22nd, but the day came and went rather uneventfully. No baby.

I was tired of being a giant whale in the ridiculous heat of summer, so was eager for the baby to hurry up and come out. My husband and I did what we could to “prepare” (although in hindsight it was worthless – how can you “prepare” if you’ve never given birth before? You have no idea what it’s going to be like or feel like), and basically waited, while visiting the doctor twice that week for fetal monitoring. [Side note: After 40 weeks in Japan you typically visit the doctor twice a week.]

On Friday, the 26th, we were at the clinic again for another heart rate test of the baby in the early afternoon, and the doctor said I was 2 cm dilated and that I would likely go into labor within the next couple days.

Later that evening, as my husband and I ran errands, I started getting random contractions. I’d never felt a contraction before, and the doctor had asked me at the past few appointments if I had felt any contractions yet, but my answer was always “no.”

I figured the contractions I was having were just the practice kind preparing my body for labor, so didn’t worry too much. We ate dinner at home, watched some TV and went to bed (I was still having irregular contractions).

The contractions continued over the next couple hours, though I just kept trying to sleep, as I was incredibly tired. My husband, on the other hand, was wide awake during all this and timed the contractions. They actually became regular, and went from 10 minutes to 5 minutes apart in the course of a few hours. I also started bleeding a little, and so after calling the clinic, the nurses told us to come in. — CLICK HERE to read the rest of the post.

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