For 25 years, pregnancy and parenting magazines Tamago Club and Hiyoko Club have served as a platform for new mothers, giving them a place to share their concerns and support one another. In a similar vein, some groups have launched services connecting new moms via email and social media as more parents, feeling as if they don’t have anyone to turn to, rely on the internet to find information on child rearing.
Tamago Club (Egg Club) and Hiyoko Club (Chick Club) debuted in 1993 with the motto: “valuing ordinary citizens’ perspective.”
Kazuyuki Sakai, who once served as the two magazines’ chief editor, recalls being blown away with a trick for changing diapers that was shared by a female reader in Chiba Prefecture.
The tactic involved quickly changing the diaper while blowing a party horn to distract the baby. The reader said it was a strategy that her mother had used when she was a baby.
Though the diaper trick may not have been a new idea for all of the magazine’s readership, it wasn’t common for readers to share such small tips with one another back then.
Parenting magazines at the time would typically fill their pages with instructional content such as advice from doctors. But the two magazines took a different route, asking readers to share their parenting stories and experiences.
Back when the magazines were founded, the phrase “park debut” was coined in the media to refer to new mothers bringing their small children to a park and introducing themselves to the local community. Tamago Club and Hiyoko Club branded themselves as “sandbox magazines” in order to conjure up an image of mothers chatting about child rearing while their kids play at the park.
Under the guiding principle of “sharing the readers’ worries and finding solutions together,” the magazines published anecdotes of failure in addition to success stories.
The intent was to assure readers that raising children can’t be done by following a textbook and ease the pressure placed on parents.
In the digital age, however, some parenting magazines have been forced to cease publication as people increasingly look for child care information online.
Filling that void, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization called Kizuna Mail Project has been delivering experts’ and doctors’ advice on pregnancy and child rearing to about 37,000 subscribers through email and social media since 2011.
The subscribers receive tips every day during their pregnancy and for the first 100 days after a baby is born. After that, they receive information roughly once every three days until the child turns 1. Information they receive varies, covering topics ranging from fetal growth to vaccination.
One message reads: “Dear today’s mom, You are 10 weeks and one day into your pregnancy. Your body is dealing with a lot more stress than usual as your baby is growing rapidly inside you. It’s natural that you feel exhausted.”
The message’s style, starting with “dear mom,” is well received by the users who say it offers a sense of familiarity.
Depending on where the users live, they are also able to receive information about events related to child rearing in the local area.
“It is important to deliver accurate information to those raising children as it may be difficult to find necessary items from a massive amount of information,” said Yukio Oshima, the head of the Kizuna Mail Project.
While one in 10 mothers are said to suffer from postnatal depression, Oshima says being on the side of new mothers is important. “What matters is the sense of being supported by others. It contributes to preventing child abuse and the feeling of isolation,” he said.