Pregnancy & Childbirth

Asahi’s Birth Story in Tokyo!

My birth story is a long one because it begins far before our baby boy was actually born! I went to my last appointment before my due date at 39w2d with Dr. Sen and was told that I was already dilated to 3cm! After hearing that, I knew I should be ready to go into labor at any moment, so I began seriously preparing for labor to begin. I walked and walked and cleaned and cleaned…and although I had light contractions nearly every night, nothing grew in intensity until I was nearly 41 weeks! All day on Wednesday 11/23 I had contractions consistently between 10-30 minutes apart beginning in the morning. By around 9PM they had grown to 7-8 minutes apart and slightly more intense, so I updated both Stephanie (my doula) and Dr. Sen. Both advised me to keep waiting. By 12:30AM contractions were nearly 5 minutes apart and I was starting to feel like it might be time to go to the hospital. As I was getting ready to call Dr. Sen, I stood up during a contraction and felt a gush of fluid. I immediately assumed that my water had broken since I had just used the bathroom and thought I had an empty bladder. I was positive for Group B Strep so I knew that I needed to go to the hospital right away if my water broke. I called Dr. Sen and Stephanie, got my husband up, and prepared to go to the hospital! It was finally happening! (Or so I thought…)

In the taxi I noticed my contractions were farther and farther apart. I thought this was strange since when your water breaks things are supposed to pick up in intensity. Once we got to the hospital I was fairly comfortable and the midwives checked my vital signs and also if my water had really broken or not. At this time it was about 1:30am. The on call doctor confirmed that I was still 3cm and my water actually hadn’t broke. They told me I could either go home and rest or remain in the LDR room to see if things progressed. At this point I felt so defeated! I had waited nearly two weeks since that appointment when I was 3cm and then dragged both my husband and Stephanie to the hospital in the middle of the night for nothing it felt like! We decided to rest a bit in the LDR room and see where things went. Dr. Sen would be in at 9am to check on me. I remember seriously wondering at 2am how long this was all going to take if the doctor didn’t think she even needed to come to the hospital until 9am! I laid down in the bed and tried to get comfortable for the long haul and my contractions came back to every 5 minutes but very manageable. Around 5am there wasn’t much change so we thought it was best for Stephanie to leave and come back when things were picking up. She left and almost immediately my contractions increased in intensity. By 6am I was seriously doubting my ability to birth this baby without pain relief! I felt scared at how long everything seemed to be taking and how much pain I was in. Looking back, this was the most mentally challenging part of my labor! I messaged Stephanie and told her she might need to come back and by 7am she was back in the room. My contractions were about 3 minutes apart at this point and very long. I often had contractions with double peaks and we decided that a bath would be good to help me relax. After a round of antibiotics, I was able to get in the bath. Throughout each contraction my husband would rub my back and arms and that really helped me breathe through them. I was so thankful I had attended breathing classes with Stephanie because it helped me immensely when things got more intense! After the bath we decided to do some walking in the halls to try to get baby to move down more. I was fortunate enough to be the only woman in labor at that time so all the midwives were very helpful! I walked all around the LDR floor and outside it, as well as sat on the active chair and birth ball in the room.

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At 9:15am Dr. Sen came in to check on me and I was 7cm! I felt happy to have progressed so far, but also concerned about how long it would take to get to 10. But honestly at this point I was so focused on each contraction and resting in between that I almost was in a dream state. I didn’t have too much time to think about how long there was to go. I just tried to focus on each contraction at a time. We continued walking and began using the stairs as well to help get the baby to move down. At 11:25 I was 8cm (yay!) but baby was still a little high. I continued walking and would squat down at every contraction. At 1pm I was still 8cm and baby wasn’t moving down very fast, so Dr. Sen decided to break my waters to get things going. We continued walking and I tried to keep drinking water and eating a little to maintain my energy. At 2pm I was at 9cm. Stephanie suggested I go and sit on the toilet for a little bit to try to relax around 3pm and at 3:30pm Dr. Sen checked and I was FINALLY at 10cm! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t have much time to celebrate though because I needed to get ready to push. I laid on the bed on my side and was beginning to feel the urge to push with each contraction. However, my contractions had slowed to around 5 minutes apart even with the nipple massage from the midwife so the baby wasn’t moving down as fast as we would have liked. Dr. Sen suggested doing a little bit of Pitocin to increase the frequency of contractions and we agreed. After about an hour of that I noticed the midwives putting down a sheet and getting ready for the birth! Dr. Sen told me that I should try to push without breathing out and aim for 2-3 pushes per contraction. I turned over to my other side and faced my husband and noticed he was crying! I think he cried throughout the entire pushing stage actually 🙂

At 5:15pm I started properly pushing. I squeezed my husband’s hand hard every push and could hear him encouraging me every time. I could feel the baby moving down with each push and I knew it was close. At 5:45pm on November 23rd, after 30 minutes of pushing out little baby boy, Asahi Aron Saito, was born and put directly into my arms! The midwife put a towel on him and did the initial checks with him on me, which was part of my birth plan. My husband cut the umbilical cord after a minute or two and I was able to hold my little one for a good while before he was weighed. They put him on the scale and he came in at 3474g/7 lbs 10oz and 50cm/19.5in long. My husband got to do skin to skin with him in the delivery room as well which I was so happy about! After about an hour my husband and baby went to the nursery to get the rest of his examinations, and I recovered in the LDR room. I was exhausted but also so elated to have birthed my beautiful son! I couldn’t believe that I did it without pain relief when I had been so panicked earlier in the labor. I ended up with a small tear that needed three stitches internally, but that was it.

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Overall, I am so happy with how my labor and delivery went. I won’t lie, it was long (13 hours in active labor) but once I was in the throws of it I was able to focus on each contraction and not worry so much about how long it would take (as opposed to the beginning of labor). Dr. Sen was amazing in labor and would often rub my back or feet when she was checking on me. She knew I wanted as few interventions as possible and was extremely respectful of all aspects of my birth plan. I know I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and Stephanie as well. I think if Stephanie wasn’t there as my doula support, I would have absolutely chosen to have pain relief when I was slightly panicking at 6am. She helped me stay focused, instructed me and my husband as to the best ways to help labor progress, and overall believed in my ability to birth my baby. I am indebted to her, my husband, and Dr. Sen for helping me have the birth that I had imagined (although a slightly longer version of it! ha!)

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I recovered well in the hospital and was lucky enough to not need any pain relief after delivery. Asahi was able to room in with us all three days along with my husband and passed all his medical checks. We went home on Sunday 11/26 and have been doing great ever since! We are working on breastfeeding and getting a good latch and just enjoying our time together. As I am writing this, Asahi is almost a week old and I can’t believe how fast it has gone! Being a mother is a feeling I could never have imagined before in my life, and I am so fortunate to have this opportunity. Thanks for reading my story if you made it this far, sorry it was so long! 🙂

Here we are after a couple weeks at home!

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6 thoughts on “Asahi’s Birth Story in Tokyo!

    1. Hi Samantha! She is actually the founder of both Tokyo Pregnancy Group and Tokyo Mothers Group and is active in the area. I had met her previously at a TPG meeting and found out she was a doula! She’s awesome! Highly recommend ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

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