Not a typical birth experience in Japan

Posted by in Mary's blog

I think my birth experience in Japan was far from the “normal” Japanese experience. Prior to The Turtle’s birth I read a lot of blogs about giving birth in Japan. Their experiences were quite a bit different from my own. I wanted to include a few here, so you can get a better idea of what birth in Japan might look like.

A Canadian mom from “Life in the Land of Wa”

Where: Fukuyama-shi, Japan
Story: This mom had to labour in bed without the option of getting up and walking around to help her deal with the pain. Her baby was taken to a nursery shortly after birth, her husband was sent home, and she was left with no option for providing breast milk for her new baby for the first night. The next day things improved, and she was able to convince her doctor to allow her baby to room-in with her.
Link – Part 1:
Link – Part 2:

A Canadian mom from “Industrious Ants”

Where: Miyazaki Prefecture
Story: This mom’s experience highlights many of the positive aspects to giving birth in Japan. Although she had to be induced twice when labour finally started she was able to have an epidural (note: epidurals are not common in Japan, and are not available at every birthing facility). As a result, she was able to enjoy laughing and talking with the staff during labour. Shortly after birth she was given the opportunity to breast-fed her new baby boy. She talks about her 7 day stay at the hospital after giving birth as probably the closest she has ever come to staying in a spa or an all-inclusive resort.

A Chinese American dad from “Taking Care of Tiny Tien”

Where: Fukuyama area
Story: A new dad shares the story of the birth of their new baby girl. Their search to find a doctor who would allow them to give birth naturally to their breached baby ends in tears. They learn the hard way that some doctors in Japan don’t like to be questioned, and questions can be seen as disrespect. In the end, although they would have to have a c-section, they found a hospital that was willing to accommodate their most important wish: dad in the delivery room. Dads aren’t usually allowed in the operating room during a c-section, but this couple was able to negotiate having him in the room, however, there was no privacy curtain…

If you are planning to give birth in Japan, the first piece of advice I would give you is to know what you want. I knew my birth experience in Japan would be different from my experience in Canada. I also knew I needed to be okay with it being different. But there were some things I didn’t want to budge on. It’s important to know what those important issues are for you and to fight for them. Don’t commit to giving birth at a specific clinic or hospital unless you know that they can accommodate your most important wishes, but be flexible enough that you don’t get too stressed out by all the little differences. This is true wherever you give birth because every hospital and doctor is going to be different (even in your home country!), so take charge of your birth experience. It is an experience you won’t forget, make it a great one.

Some great resources:

  • Birth plans:,
  • Useful Japanese for labour and delivery:
  • Japan Health Info: