House of Birth

“House of Birth” completed
The “House of Birth” was finished in the summer of 1999. It is built in the traditional Japanese style using only natural material. It is a hand-built house carefully made by a master carpenter who spent two years to finish it.
The lumber used is all natural. No new building materials like plywood or aluminum sashes are used. Different lumber was used according to their characteristics; corridors and the main post are made of pine, the ceiling Japanese cedar and the bath cypress. Natural wood have solid tree rings, warm features and a good smell. And each piece of lumber was planed by the master carpenter. When it was just finished, also because it was summer, the house was full of the smell of wood.

All three Japanese-style rooms facing south have cherry wood “engawa” or verandas, facing the garden, as well as the conventional glass-panelled doors and wooden shutters. The rooms are partitioned with paper sliding doors or sliding screens. With natural material like paper and wood, it keeps out the rain and cold, and in the summer the house ventilates well and is nice and cool. It is here in these Japanese rooms that the babies are delivered. The mothers and their families stay in these rooms from the point when labour starts and stays on after delivery until they leave. The House of Birth is basically for healthy pregnant women so the only medical equipment that can be seen there is an oxygen tank. When a problem arises, the women are moved to the clinic next to the House and given medical treatment. The mothers say that when they enter the House, for some reason, they feel very relaxed. Maybe it is because it is such a traditional Japanese house that everyone feels nostalgic. The warmth and smell of natural wood puts the parasympathetic nerves in dominance and makes people relax. There has been cases where women who were near their due date started to have contractions as soon as they entered the House. It is very important that mothers are in a relaxed state of mind when giving birth. In obstetric medicine so far, not much consideration has been given to the environment of childbirth. But the environment surrounding the mothers such as where they deliver, with whom and how they are treated affect the secretion of female hormones, immunity and autonomic nerves and influence the mechanism of delivery. For these reasons, the environment is a very important factor. In the delivery rooms in the House, the mothers are amidst the warmth of natural material surrounded by families and midwives and can thus recover their vitality to deliver.

Delivery in a Japanese-style room  The women give birth on futons laid out in a Japanese-style room. It is a common type of Japanese room with engawa and tatami but with one special feature; a thick rope hanging from the ceiling. It is called “chikara-zuna (strength-rope)” and in the old days many women gave birth whilst holding onto these ropes hung from the ceiling beam. In the House of Birth, some women stand up just before delivery to hang onto the rope and push. It seems to make it easier for them to push. There is no manual of what you have to do or what you can’t do in the House of Birth. It is the mothers’ decision to use the rope or not. Some people prefer to deliver in the bathtub. Husbands and other families can attend if they want to. A lot of people such as older children, the pregnant women’s mothers or sisters have attended the births in the Japanese-style rooms. The mothers are assisted by a midwife through birth. In most hospitals a midwife is usually just an assistant to the obstetrician but in the House of Birth the main people are the mothers and babies and midwives are there to care for them. The doctor is only there in case there are any difficulties. The central figure is the pregnant woman herself and so we let them do everything as they like. We tell them “If there are any problems we can advise you on that but everything else you can do as you like,” but so far we have never told any of the mothers to stop doing something for medical reasons. In the House of Birth, once a mother enters the clinic the same midwife will attend her all the way through. The midwives at the House work around the clock and when a woman comes into the clinic they will take turns and stay over at the clinic. Some deliveries take several days but even with such cases the same midwife will stay with the mother.




たくさんの写真たちが 「吉村医院・お産の家」 を語ります。

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自然なお産へ向けて/ 自然なお産から育児に向けて
お産後の交流/ 吉村医院・お産の家のポリシー

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受診について / 入院やお産について
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About Yoshimura Clinic/ Dr.Yoshimura's Resume
The House of Birth/ Book Reviews