Giving Birth in Japan

Know the options available to you when the time comes for the birth of your baby…

It is important to reserve a place with a hospital or clinic as soon as possible after the pregnancy has been confirmed as they restrict the number of deliveries they do per day. Hospitals may refuse to admit the mother-to-be if a reservation has not been made.

Choosing a hospital

Women can choose from a number of different types of hospital or clinic:

  • Clinics with obstetrics/gynaecology facilities
  • General hospitals with obstetrics/gynaecology departments are where the majority of Japanese women give birth
  • Maternity clinics are run by midwives, and are only for very safe pregnancies. If a labour develops into a high risk situation, a woman is usually taken to another medical facility
  • Medical centres are able to deal with difficult labour and have a high standard of medical care. Prefectures designate them as "General Perinatal Medical Centres"
  • University hospitals have a high standard of medical care, many have ICU. Women with high risk pregnancies usually give birth in these hospitals

Home births

Women wanting a home birth should find a midwife who makes home visits. There are about 200 to 300 midwives who visit women at home throughout Japan.

Some maternity clinics also offer home births. However, as midwives are only allowed to assist during labour, and are not allowed to perform any medical intervention, only women who expect to have a normal labour should consider this option.

Water births

Water births are not common in Japan, therefore there are not many facilities available.

Pain Relief

The use of pain medication or epidurals during labour is not popular in Japan. Women wanting a pain-free labour will need to find a willing doctor and hospital.

  • For a list of hospitals and clinics which carry out pain-free labour from the Japan Society for Obstetric Anaesthesia and Perinatology: Click here (in Japanese)