Labor & Delivery experience in Okinawa Japan

I gave birth to our daughter here in Okinawa Japan at the Naval Hospital on Camp Foster. Fun fact, this is our second Oki baby, our first was delivered at Lester Hospital just down the road on the base where he now attends middle school, WILD.

All of my babies are induction kiddos because apparently my body dosn’t want to go into labor on its own, I delivered at 42 weeks with my first, 41 with my second and little girl at 40 weeks! The hospital doesn’t allow mama’s over 40 years of age to go much past 40 weeks, although I had no issue or problematic symptoms.

First and foremost, let me say I had wonderful nurses and doctors, every single one of them, absolute A-team. The induction started with the foley balloon, which has got to be the most barbaric concept ever, like who invented this!? As a former med-surg nurse, I’m well acquanted with foley catheters and never in the history of ever would you pull a foley catherter out of anyone without defating the balloon first, but that’s exactly the concept of the foley ballon, except in the cervix. A physician inserts a foley into the cervix and inflates a balloon to roughly the circumference of 4cm dilation and essentially a nurse will come in every so often to continue pulling the balloon out. I was prepared for this to crazy hurt and while it was defiitely uncomfortable it worked incredibly fast for me and within 30 minutes I was 4 cm dialated. WHat?! I was shocked.

Next up was the evil mad dog pitocin drug (that came from the CRO Clinical Pharmacology), which I have a solid hate relationship with from my other birth experience. Pitocin takes over your body and forcibly contracts your uterus with regular patterns and strength. Effective, yes, but also very painful. I tolerated the pitocin pretty well on the fitness ball with Adam providing counter pressure on my back and we did well for awhile, but my plan was always to get the epidural as long as pitocin was on board. So, once the contractions became harder to manage I got the epidural. Here’s where things get dicey… the epidural was incredibly effetive at numbing my legs completely, but I could still feel the contractions almost fully in my abdomen. So the medical staff continued to bolus (give more epidural) which only made my legs more numb addiontally causing my already low blood pressure to plummet. Good news though- my labor was progressing and my water broke. A few times baby girl’s heart rate dropped and staff rushed in the room (not a great sight to see) to administer an oxygen mask. At this point, I was feeling pretty out of my mind, teeth were chattering and my whole body was shaking. I began to wonder how I was gonna push her out with the pain. The staff continued to try different things to ease my pain, changing positions, and adjusting the epidural, but ultimately I just couldn’t get good pain coverage. At this point, I was essentially praying for this little girl to come immediately to resolve everything! I legit asked my husband to birth her multiple times, ha! Finally, I was at 10 cm and ready to push, 22 minutes later she was in my arms at 3:22 am and it was instant LOVE. We could not believe how alert and wide eyed this tiny little girl was- making eye contact and putting on a show! Such a doll.

I share this exprience about my wonky epidural to also share that I had amazing epidural experiences with both my boys…so the moral of the story- epidurals are tricky and each birth experience is unique.

In terms of the logistics and things to bring for your own hospital experience at the Camp Foster Naval Hospital, here’s what I recommend, after my stay.

***Also check out my hospital bag list and video too!

  • Comfy pjs. The hospital gown is good for labor and delicery but not so much for the rest of your stay if you are trying to nurse. The tie in the back make it very hard to pull down to nurse and are not warm, bring what makes you comfortable!
  • Cardigan. Hospitals are notorius for being cold. So when it came time to do skin to skin, I wasn’t very warm myself to provide extra warmth for baby girl which she so desperately needed. (little miss 5lbs) Thankfully I brought a cardigan sweater to wrap her inside, so helpful. Highly recommend.
  • Blanket + pillow. The blankets in the hospital are crunchy and not warm, I was so thankful I brought an extra warm fleece one….we were freezing.
  • Egg crate mattress– Ok, I admit this is “extra” but its only $10 at the exchange to pick up a twin size, fitting perfectly on top of the very hard hospital bed (you can see the difference between normal and hospital one in here). If your birthing experience rates more than a 2 day stay, you are gonna want this or at least extra pillows to sleep on top for that extra hard bed.
  • Snacks + popsicles. Most babies are born in the middle of the night/early morning when the cafeteria is closed. You will be starving after giving birth, bring all your snacks and popsickes especially for following birth! Here in Japan, onigiri rice balls are great to heat up in the microwave and provide that protein/carb combo you need to replenish your body.

Hope this helps anyone who will be delivering at the hospital here in Okinawa, please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions, I’d love to help and ease any concerns!

xo, Maria

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Hey, I'mMaria

A Christian, married to an insanely gifted and talented Marine husband, mother to Gideon (15), Boaz (10) and our rainbow baby, Shiloh. I’m actually an R.N turned accidental photographer, currently living in Fredericksuburg, Va after completing our final tour in Okinawa Japan. You'll find travel, Jesus, and lifestyle posts here on the Journal.


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