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Helping Mothers and Children at the Beginning of Childrearing: Continuous Support for Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Childrearing (1)

Summary:
(1) Receiving sufficient postnatal support leads to mothers' confidence in childrearing.
(2) It is important to provide continuous support during pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing.
  • Preparing for postnatal support before childbirth increases the satisfaction level toward the support mothers actually receive.
  • It is necessary to establish the "Japanese version of Neuvola," a continuous support system during pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing in local communities.
(3) Postnatal support should be provided not only by the families but also by the society as a whole. Well-considered support focusing on the demands of primiparas (women who are giving birth for the first time) and multiparas (women who have given birth more than once) alike is needed.
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Helping Mothers and Children at the Beginning of Childrearing: Continuous Support for Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Childrearing


The "Third Policy Guidelines For a Low Birth Rate Society" approved by the Japanese Cabinet in March 2015 point out the need for enhancement of postnatal care and the establishment of a "Comprehensive Support Center for Families with Small Children" as a measure to support families during pregnancy and childbirth. In this report, therefore, we will take a look at the support for mothers before and after childbirth. First, the survey introduces the current conditions and importance of support for mothers after childbirth. Next, Professor Fujiko Fukushima (Faculty of Nursing, Toho University) explains the significance of continuous support for mothers during pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing. Finally, Mr. Daichi Watanabe (Representative of Ainaloha Co., Ltd.), who provides a postnatal care business in Tokorozawa-city, Saitama prefecture, addresses the needs and issues of mothers after childbirth.

1. [Survey Report] Current Conditions of Postnatal Care and the Importance of Support for Mothers (Seiko Mochida, Benesse Educational and Development Institution)

The first few months after childbirth are a critical period for women as mothers to assume the role of "parent" along with their partners. It is important for new mothers to have enough rest and to physically recover from pregnancy and childbirth, especially during the puerperium (6-8 weeks after childbirth). The Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute conducted a "Survey on Prenatal/Postnatal Life and Support." It targeted 1,500 mothers with infants under 1 year of age in Japan, examining the current conditions of postnatal support and its relationship with childrearing afterwards. The survey showed that the support for housework and baby care as well as the physical recovery of mothers is mainly provided by family members such as spouses and parents. Friends, acquaintances and professionals such as public health nurses also help with breastfeeding care and childrearing consultations (Figure 1). This reveals the fact that in Japan, postnatal life support is not widely available in society, and families bear the role of providing it.

Figure 1. Support providers for mothers after childbirth

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* Multiple answers
Source: "Survey on Prenatal/Postnatal Life and Support" by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute, 2015

It also indicated that the satisfaction level of the mothers who prepared for postnatal support before childbirth was significantly higher than those who did not prepare in advance (Figure 2), and that this led to the mothers' confidence in childrearing (Figure 3). A previous study also reveals that the more positive mothers feel toward childrearing, the better parenting environment it creates for children.1) Approximately 60% of the mothers cited "Time to rest and feel refreshed" as the postnatal support which they wished would be enhanced (Figure 4).

1) "'First Time Parenting' Survey in Japan II (Chapter 6)" by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute, 2011

Figure 2. Preparation for postnatal support before childbirth and the satisfaction level of postnatal support

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* Answered only by mothers who actually received postnatal support among those who prepared/did not prepare for each type of support before childbirth.
Source: "Survey on Prenatal/Postnatal Life and Support" by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute, 2015


Figure 3. Satisfaction level for support and confidence as a parent: "Basically doing a good job as a parent."

birth_rate_2016_09_03.gif


* The target is people who received each type of support.
High satisfaction level group: Mothers who answered "Very satisfied" or "Satisfied to some extent" regarding each type of support received.
Low satisfaction level group: Mothers who answered "Neither satisfied nor satisfied," "Not satisfied very much" or "Not satisfied at all" regarding each type of support received.
Source: "Survey on Prenatal/Postnatal Life and Support" by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute, 2015


Figure 4. Support that mothers wish would be enhanced

birth_rate_2016_09_04.gif


* Multiple answers
* Primipara and multipara indicated separately. Shown in descending order of primipara's answers.
Source: "Survey on Prenatal/Postnatal Life and Support" by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute, 2015

These days more women give birth late, and the number of nuclear families is increasing. Not every mother can receive sufficient support from family members. The research suggests that society as a whole needs to support mothers before and after childbirth by establishing a parenting environment where mothers can receive enough physical and mental rest.

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