Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kyoto to Hiroshima

Plus a FULL day and a half with Junko Asahina, local "independent midwife."  Junko and her husband, Lee, and their midwife friend, Okazaki, quoted Marsden Wagner, Michel Odent, and have personally shared time with Ina May, our own beloved midwife.  The amount of information Junko shared cannot be summarized here.  Luckily she is working on a book.

The short story is this:  Junko Asahina, 69 years old, does home and "her home" births.  She has about 2 clients a month.  She is able to stay in practice because her husband, Lee, (a brilliant and kindly man) is a physician, who has a "one bed hospital," which "accepts her" as a midwife.  The most shocking thing I heard from Junko is that a year or 2 ago, Japan made a law stipulating that Japanese midwives must have a contract with an accepting hospital.  And many hospitals don't want to work with these "independent" midwives.  So, while 57 years ago there were 55,000 indpendent midwives and hospital
midwives now there are about 26,000 (hospital midwives) and 300 independent midwives in Japan.
(Junko was particularly saddened and repeated this to me several times. "ONLY 300!!! In a country of many million!  I've watched my friends disappear from midwifery, and there's no one to replace them.")  Part of this decrease can also be attributed, she told me, to the aging population of these independent midwives.  The young, hospital-trained nurse midwives (the only legal midwifery route in Japan is nurse-midwifery), in addition to being discouraged by the difficulty in obtaining a hospital contract, are fearful of independent practice and so very rarely venture into it.

We shared many amazing meals thanks to Junko and Lee, toured a forested mountain and its hot spring, and had so much fun talking with the Crunchy Mamas Junko works with and nurtures.  She encourages her mothers to get together once a week, in her home, for support.  The women knew each other well, and told me, with a wink, "she thinks it's once a week, but we get together here twice a week!"  Junko also encourages the women to walk up a 764 step mountain-temple route every day in pregnancy.  And when they reach the top?  "Squat.  100 times." Junko had me do this too.  She counted.  :)
Midwife Junko Asahina, Lee, Kayti, Lukas, Okazaki Midwife
Doula Talk w Crunchy Mama and Midwife

Dinner at Junko's "Neighborhood Pub"
Kyoto Boar

Kyoto Train Station Ad

Kyoto Food Market

The Golden Temple

Yu No Yama Onsen (hot springs)

Okazaki bought us ice creams.  :)


Junko's Birth Instruments (all of them)

Junko's Poster

kids said "HALLO!" to Kayti in Hiroshima

Kimono Fashion Show in Kyoto

Mama on the train

Junko and local hospital midwife

Talking birth with crunchy mamas

It was like being with "my people."

Noodles- finally!!!

Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake)
Post Partum Room at Junko's House
Same Post Partum Room at Junko's

(Lukas just came back from the hotel Laundry Room, exclaiming, "They have beer up there!"  We're having such a good time discovering the little joys of Japan.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This is my hair back in 2006, prepared for a friend's wedding.  I loved the way the little old ladies styled my hair with Japanese style flowers.  With me is my friend Manami.  I loved her so much.  The cutest kid on my Taiko drumming club.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Doilies on Busses and Crickets in Rice Fields
4 am sleepless- Finding Hidden Temples 
Forests and Joggers and Beef bowls with rice 
These are a few of My Favorite Things..
Slurping up noodles and
Beer on the train
First views of Fuji and fighting fatigue
Wistful green willows that sweep ancient streets
These are a few of my favorite things...
When the crowds push!
When the feet ache! 
When the internet is unavailable...
I simply remember by favorite things and then I don't feel sooooo bad.....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saito Birth House

Kayti Buehler, a doula of 5 + years, former VP of SDBN, and a student midwife in my 3rd year at Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery here in San Diego. 
January 2nd  2012, determined by the scent of the new year, I put on my big girl panties and called the first Birth House in Japan I could find on the Internet.  (I only found 2 or 3.)  I said in my best Japanese, “Hi, I’m Kayti, a student midwife in California.  Would it be possible to come and learn midwifery with you?”  An older woman and a busy midwife, Saito-san, getting to the point, said, “Yes, yes, sure, come on over.”  I paused, somewhat shocked it could be so easy.  “Um… there are details to discuss, no?”  She was so quick.  “Yeah, sure.  Here’s the name and number of my midwife buddy, Sonoe-san.  She lived in Sacramento, and speaks English.  Call her.  You can come.”  (I love this story.  BTW: the next Birth House I called said no.)
I will be in Japan for 2 months, leaving 2 weeks from today, with my handsome husband, on May 25th 2012, to get experience midwifing in a Birth House and with Sonoe-san, who is a homebirth midwife.  I will also visit an old “independent midwife,” near Kyoto, who told me that she wants to start a doula training program because birth in Japan is starting to look like Birth In America.  Lack of support is becoming the norm. 
The birth culture in Japan has, until recently, been threaded with the belief that a woman isn’t a woman if she doesn’t experience the fullness of childbirth.  The experience of birthing- the challenge itself- bonds a woman to her baby and her supporting family members as go through this incredible moment together. 
Home birth and Birth House birth, from what I understand, are currently a small percentage of the total births: about 2%, like it is here.  Hospital births, however, are done very differently.  Midwives attend all normal births and most major hospitals offer waterbirth.  The midwife (again, as I understand it- and it is changing…) stays with her laboring mom and acts as her doula and midwife until the end- when another midwife joins her for the birth itself.  I’ll let you know what they say when I return. Cheers!