Birthing in Okinawa: A positive delivery

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Birthing in Okinawa: A positive delivery

by: Ashley Byrd, Japan Birth Resource Network The Birth Education Center Of Okinawa | .
published: June 08, 2016

I feel that it’s important to mention I did some serious reading and preparing the moment I found out I was pregnant. I knew from the beginning I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. I believe because I educated myself on the many options surrounding labor and delivery, I was able to have an empowering birth experience. Besides all the research, I also watched many natural birth documentaries, hired a doula and signed myself up the Hypnobirthing childbirth series here on island.
My labor started at 2am, nothing crazy, contractions were just strong enough to wake me up. I texted my doula and let her know what was going on and she came over. A few hours later, I decided to get into the tub, turn on my favorite tv show, and just relax. While I soaked and timed my contractions, my doula made me breakfast. After awhile, I was restless in the tub and chose to crawl back into bed. A little while later, I decided to go for a walk. At this point I had to stop and breathe through my contractions which were coming on strong.

Later in the afternoon, I decided to take a shower because water had felt relieving earlier. I sang and danced around in the shower, hoping the movement would help my labor progress. After 15 minutes of being in the shower, I decided to get back in my bed as my contractions were feeling more productive. My doula helped suggest different positions to lay in. I transitioned from lying in bed to sitting on the birthing ball.

At 7p.m. the time came to go the hospital, in the car I remember the bumps in the road feeling pretty good. After getting checked, the nurse determined I was six centimeters dilated. I chose to go the intermittent monitoring route while in the labor room. Hospital staff used the doppler only a handful of times. I felt very free; the only thing attached to me was the heparin lock for IV access.

I breathed through my contractions, and I remember at one point feeling overwhelmed. I was questioning my resolve and the contractions were intense. To get rid of my doubt, I decided to stay in the present not thinking about how much longer I had. Who could know anyway? I focused on one contraction at a time. I remember hearing my doula’s voice as she would read some of my hypnobirthing scripts; she painted a relaxing scene to change my focus away from my contractions. Somehow I was able to fall asleep or zone out between them.

It literally felt like I had been in my room maybe forty minutes before I was pushing. I don’t know how long after my water broke that I felt like pushing. My doula later told me I had been in the room about four hours. I didn’t force anything, pushing felt so good to me. I let my body guide my baby out and all I did was breathe (and grunted). I kept control, allowing my perineum to stretch and relax between contractions. Thirty minutes of pushing, at 1130pm, I gave birth to a healthy eight pound thirteen ounce baby boy without tearing. 

With the help of my education, my Hypnobirthing class, a doula and the amazing medical staff in the MICC I had an an empowering birth experience.

A note from Japan Birth Resource Network: Birth comes in all shapes and sizes. We often hear the negative side of birth. By sharing women’s stories we hope to put a positive outlook on the experience when giving birth here in Okinawa.  Connect with local Okinawa moms on Facebook in “Pregnancy & Birth Talk Okinawa” Japan Birth Resource Network provides evidence based information and mother friendly support throughout Okinawa and Japan.

To learn more visit:

BEC’s June Schedule:
Tuesday, June 7 - VBAC Support Group
Saturday, June 18 - Birth Talk featuring Dads
Saturday, June 25 - Cranial Sacral Therapy
Monday, June 27 - Breastfeeding Basics
Tuesday, June 28 - Intro to Cloth Diapering

The BEC offers a Weekly Wednesday Weigh In every week for breastfeeding mothers & baby, IBCLC consultations, Hypnobirthing, Infant Massage, and more.