You guys, I think Japan has ruined me. RUINED!
I’m now officially a spoiled rotten birth brat, and that’s all there is about that.
I had a lot of anxiety regarding prenatal care in Japan. Part of that was due to legitimate gripes (here’s one GREAT OMGHATTTEEEEE example), and part of that was your run of the mill first-time-momhood-holy-shit-this-kid-is-being-born-in-a-foreign-country-what-am-I-even-doing-oh-gawd stuff. While I still look back on the prenatal care I received with a mixture of quaint affection and downright frustration, the birth experience and post-natal care was amazing. Like really.
Stella was born in a birth centre. There were several OBGYNs on staff, plus a full house of midwives and nurses there to attend to my every need.
I laboured comfortably in a big, bright room. I didn’t have to be hooked up to any monitors; I could move around, choosing positions that felt good. I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. And though I had no interest in food for the majority of my labour, the nurses still brought me trays with beautifully presented bentos, which I’m pretty sure my husband ate? Probably?
A midwife was assigned to help me through the entirety of my labour, and she stayed with me almost the whole time I was doing the hard work of bringing a human into the world. She monitored the baby closely but was always working around what made me feel the least horrible. When the option of moving to the delivery room with a hospital bed was floated, and I was all …NOPE…, there was no further discussion of that foolhardy idea.
So, the birth was great. But then the after care? That’s when shit got golden.
Can we talk, for a moment, about a huge, luxury 5 star hotel room, which I shared with zero people? And maybe some aromatherapy treatment? And how ‘bout in-house postnatal massages included in the “package”? And food so good that I was actually kind of stoked for mealtimes, which in a hospital setting is like, huh?
(Also, it should be noted that upon registration at this birth centre, I had a 45 minute long interview re. my dietary preferences. I’m not kidding. There was a whole meeting with a kitchen representative and a midwife to go over exactly what I, as a non-fish-eating person, would in fact consume. I don’t know if food is given similar weight in other birthing institutions in Japan, but it was serious business at this place. Serious. Business.)
I stayed at the birth centre for a full five-day recovery period. Which is on the short side of things in Japan. Most women stay seven days for a normal birth. And it was great. There was always someone around to help me if I needed help, and if I didn’t need anything, there were no interruptions or intrusive midnight vials checks.
Now, cut to Jakarta.
On Monday, I went on a tour of the hospital where I plan to birth this baby boy. It was nice. Clean, airy, bright. I’ll have a private room. The nurses were super friendly and encouraging. They’re down with my natural birth hopes and general hippie nonsense, and seem generally accommodating and totally fine.
I should be all, THIS IS AMAZING CAPSLOCK!!!1111!!! But actually I’m like….but where is my aromatherapy treatment? Where’s the massage room? And what about the artfully designed, perfectly appointed recovery rooms? The twinkle-star light feature? And the wabi-sabi bento boxes? No? Well, how EXACTLY, do you expect me to have a baby without them? Huh???!
Of course I am beyond thankful that I can go to this hospital in Jakarta; it’s one of the best, and a far step better than what most Indonesian women experience. It’s even better than what I’d have if I were in North America.
But, Japan, you sure did set my standards pretty high. So basically, god help me if I ever have to birth a human in North America.