Oketani method is the breast massage which was invented by the late Ms. Sotomi Oketani. The official name is “Oketani breast management techniques.” This is a unique massage that improves the elasticity of the base of the breast (behind the mammary gland) and adjusts the condition of the breast. Ms. Sotomi Oketani advocated a “theory of unity of the mother and child” which means the mother’s physical and breast condition are linked to the growth and health of a baby drinking breast milk. We suggest an individual method that fits the mother and child, enabling the baby to drink the milk of good quality.
Public interest incorporated association “Oketani Method Breastfeeding Promotion Association” has the national midwifery certification, and is composed of Oketani breast management staffs who have studied Oketani breast management techniques. We pass down Oketani breast management techniques correctly and develop younger staffs. For mothers who are worried about these breastfeeding problems such like “I want to breastfeed my baby, but I don’t have enough milk secretion” or “My baby doesn’t suck on the nipple” or “I feel a pressure and a pain in my breast” etc., we provide Oketani breast massage and support them with the most suitable breastfeeding method for each mother. Currently, we have about 550 members, and supporting breastfeeding at maternity hospitals (breast milk consultation rooms) nationwide, and participating in seminars held twice a year to improve techniques. We promote activities not only in Japan but also overseas.
Then I heard Teacher Oketani’s angry voice saying ‘Go back home!!’. She had slapped my hand. I was shocked and just stood there. She shouted again ‘That isn’t Oketani technique . I don’t want to teach it to someone who touches a breast like that. Get out!’. I couldn’t bear to be there. I was crying and running to the nearest station to go back home. It was February 1981. This episode occurred when I visited her before starting the training.
At that time, I had copied the unique Oketani breast treatment technique from my seniors who had already trained and practiced it in a hospital where I used to work. Even though I didn’t have a proper train, mothers were pleased with it because there was no pain during the massage and breastfeeding improved compared to the conventional massage. So I believed that my technique was quite good. That’s why I had a confidence to do it in front of her when she asked me to show what I know. Yet it upset her.
The next day I apologised to her and she allowed me to take her course. I was very pleased at her forgiveness. I had happy tears.
My first encounter with her was the turning point of my life, which was 30 years ago. If I hadn’t met her, I would have become an arrogant and over-confident midwife who would have bothered a lot of people.
I hope that I can keep a generous feeling of love and continue to improve my technique as I remember the feeling of that day, even though it was a long time ago. Also I really hope that our centre is helping to ease mother’s anxiety and their breast’s problems.