Beside small lives Little Baby Handbook February 9th 11:37am

Babies born weighing less than 2,500 grams are also called "low birth weight infants" or "little babies," and many parents raise their children with anxiety because they are said to be at greater risk of delayed growth and development. I am.

In order to support the families of these babies, a booklet called the ``Little Baby Handbook'' was created 13 years ago, led by a woman, and is now spreading throughout the country.

(Matsuyama Broadcasting Station Naoko Nakamura) (Shizuoka Broadcasting Station Ayaka Okashima)

Experience of giving birth to a “little baby”

Satomi Kobayashi is the representative of a group of parents and children with low birth weight babies in Shizuoka City.

22 years ago (2002) she gave birth to small twin babies weighing 927 grams and 466 grams.

During a checkup when she was seven months pregnant, the doctor suddenly told her that her life was in danger if she didn't remove the baby right away. Her pregnancy had been going smoothly until then, but she unexpectedly gave birth without being able to organize her thoughts.

The season is around the time of rice planting when the warm wind blows.

It is said that he had no time to indulge in emotion.

Ms. Kobayashi

: ``I was admitted to the hospital on the day I went for a checkup, and gave birth to twin girls at 27 weeks and 0 days. When they were just born, they had so many tubes attached to their bodies that I wondered where they were. At that time, I really wondered what was wrong with it.I didn't touch it because I thought it would break if I touched it.''

Will the children survive?

Maybe it's no longer good.

It might be my life until tomorrow.

Mr. Kobayashi spent his days holding hands together as he headed towards the hospital room where his daughters were admitted.

It is said that he was so anxious that he could not accept the words of congratulations from those around him.

And the maternal and child health handbook, which was supposed to support the mother, becomes even more of a corner for Ms. Kobayashi.

Maternal and child handbook that cannot keep records of my child

A maternal and child health handbook, commonly known as a "maternal and child health handbook," is issued by local governments when you become pregnant.

Records of the mother's and child's health status, daily growth, medical checkups, and vaccinations can be kept during pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare.

However, maternal and child health handbooks are based on the assumption that the baby will be born fully mature; for example, on the page that records the growth curve, the scale of the graph will start from 1 kg for weight and 40 cm for height. can only be entered.

Babies born smaller than this value cannot be recorded.

Furthermore, most mothers have no choice but to answer "no" to questions about their baby's growth according to their age, and mothers often feel guilty, thinking that their child's growth is not keeping up with standards.

Mr. Kobayashi

said, ``I'm sorry that I gave birth to a small baby long before my due date.'' Even though I knew that was not the case, it was cruel, like showing me that my child's growth was delayed. I had this feeling.”

Approximately 1 in 10 low birth weight babies

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the percentage of small babies born weighing less than 2,500 grams called "low birth weight babies" in Japan was 5.6% in 1980, but in 2022 it will be 9.4%, approximately 1 in 10. is increasing in proportion.

Experts point out that:

Professor Yumi Kono, Jichi Medical University

: ``Behind the increase are factors such as the increasing age at first birth and the development of medical technology.''

Many mothers look at their small children and feel a sense of isolation, feeling deep remorse and wondering, ``What did I do wrong?''

Create a little baby handbook

``I don't want other parents to feel the same way I do.'' A

Shizuoka City group led by Ms. Kobayashi created the ``Little Baby Handbook'' 13 years ago in 2011.

The little baby handbook includes

- On the page that records the growth curve, the weight scale is set from zero.

- Rather than confirming the birth of the baby for each month, it is now possible to write freely.

The system has been designed so that records can be recorded as each child grows.

Furthermore, to provide emotional support to mothers who are feeling anxious, we have included messages from senior mothers and fathers who have gone through the same experience on every page.

"It's okay to cry and be discouraged."

"Let's work together at our own pace."

Ms. Kobayashi

: ``I wanted to create something that would allow mothers to record their children's details in a notebook without worrying about their slow growth, and to ease their feelings of panic and worry. I decided to make a notebook and made it."

Since then, the Little Baby Handbook has attracted attention across the country, and NHK has learned that it has already been introduced in 40 prefectures, with the remaining seven prefectures also planning to introduce it or considering it. (As of January 2024)

Each one has a different design and contains information tailored to the actual situation of the area.

Mother holding Little Baby Handbook

The Little Baby Handbook, which is created in various regions, is delivered to babies born small and their families.

One of them is Miki Ninomiya, who lives in Ehime Prefecture, where the handbook was introduced last year (2023). She has kept records of her daughter Ehime, who just turned one year old, in the Ehime Little Baby Handbook.

Shome was born prematurely in December last year, weighing 657 grams, but because her lungs and heart were not functioning properly, she was hospitalized for over four months and continued to receive medical care.

Ninomiya: `

`Even after the baby was born, I could reach into the incubator and feel the warmth, but it was so small that I didn't even know if it was okay to touch it.When I was able to see him, I was filled with happiness, but when I was alone... I also had painful thoughts like, ``Why did I give birth so small? Why can't I be near you after giving birth?''

Even after birth, Shome-chan undergoes various tests for diseases and development.

In front of such Eme-chan, I struggled every day thinking, ``Even though I'm a mother, I can't do anything for my child. I wonder if I really gave birth to a baby when all I can do is touch her...''

During this time, it was the Little Baby Handbook that supported Miki.


: ``What impressed me the most was that every page had messages from everyone.I kept reading it on the way home the day I received it.It gave me hope that I wasn't the only one.''

The thing I wrote the most in the handbook was the page where I recorded my first experiences with my baby, such as cuddling and bathing. I packed so much thought into it that it overflowed the frame.

For one, when I held her for the first time after more than two months, she said, ``She weighed only 1,900 grams, but it was heavier than I expected, and above all, it was warm and smelled like a baby.'' I thought, ``I gave birth to her.'' I finally felt it...I thought, ``I'll protect it even if it costs my life.'''' he wrote.

Mr. Ninomiya

: ``I wanted to leave a legacy for Shome-chan, so when I was writing it, I ended up writing this much.I wrote it in detail, so maybe Shome-chan would be shocked when she reads it in the future, but I'll do my best. It's a proof that I've worked hard, so when I grow up, I hope it will give Eme-chan something to read and encourage her to do her best again.''

The role of the handbook as “continuous support”

As the Little Baby Handbook spreads across the country, Akemi Bando, Executive Director of the International Maternal and Child Health Handbook Committee, who has served as an advisor in various places, is using the handbook to connect mothers with medical professionals, local health organizations, governments, etc. It is said that it can be built.

Akemi Bando, Executive Director, International Maternal and Child Health Handbook Committee

: ``Hospitals fill out treatment and health conditions in the Little Baby Handbook, give it to parents, and the hospital also contacts the health center.The public health nurse in charge visits the home and consults the handbook.'' Nori introduces you to postpartum care.With the handbook, you can carefully share information with the hospital or nursing facility where your baby is first seen after your baby is discharged from the hospital.The Little Baby Handbook plays the role of creating a network to raise your baby with peace of mind. I hope that it will be used and utilized.”

In December last year, the ``Little Playpen National Network'' was established, in which members of Little Playpens from all over the country participate, and they have started activities such as requesting the government to provide childcare support for small babies.

Bando, who travels all over the country to collect the voices of mothers, says that even after the handbook is put into operation nationwide, it is necessary to continue providing "unbroken support."

Akemi Bando, Executive Director of the International Maternal and Child Health Handbook Committee

: ``Until now, the Little Baby Handbook was created at the expense of each prefecture, but with the addition of support from the government, such as the cost of revising it and subsidies for seminars to disseminate information. In addition to the social awareness of the handbook, I hope that the term ``little baby'' will become more widespread throughout the world. I hope that the Little Baby Handbook will be one of the guideposts."

(Broadcast on “Good Morning Japan” on January 29th)

Matsuyama Broadcasting Station News video production

Naoko Nakamura

Joined the

station in 2021 Responsible for video editing of news and programs

When I was a student, I helped out at a midwifery clinic in Fukuoka and participated in postpartum care projects.

Shizuoka Broadcasting Station Cameraman

Ayaka Okashima Joined the station in


After working at the Matsuyama station, he is currently working as a news cameraman at the Shizuoka station.So

far, he has covered junior high school dormitories on remote islands and the activities of people with disabilities.