Japan: Yoko Shimpuku, PhD, Shares The HUG in Japan!


Yoko Shimpuku, RN, CNM, PHN, PhD,  has worked clinically as a nurse midwife in both hospitals and birth centers in Japan. She also conducts research in Tanzania for the education of pregnant women, adolescent girls, and local midwives. Yoko is an Assistant Professor at St. Luke’s College of Nursing, Tokyo. Because Yoko believes that Japanese parents have much to learn from HUG Your Baby techniques and resources she has agreed to serve as HUG Your Baby's country representative for Japan. She has created "The HUG for Japan" website and Facebook Page and is translating many HUG materials into Japanese.  

My first encounter with Jan and HUG Your Baby was January 2013 when I was visiting my friend from graduate school at the University of North Carolina. In hindsight, it seemed like a miracle! If my friend didn’t get a job in North Carolina or if I didn’t get the funding to go abroad at that time, I would have never known about HUG Your Baby. After only a brief introduction to this program, I could imagine how mothers in Japan would benefit from the program. Jan and I connected well and  decided to develop HUG Your Baby resources for Japan.

In July 2014 Jan and her husband, Jim, came to St. Luke’s College of Nursing (now called St. Luke’s International University) where I am faculty. I asked several graduate students to bring their babies in order to demonstrate The HUG techniques. Jan immediately started observing the babies and pointing out what each baby could do. That day I witnessed first-hand HUG Your Baby's wonderful effects on Japanese mothers who were happy to learn about their babies and to be relieved of many worries.

During the next year, Jan requested that I serve as the Japanese representative of The HUG. We kicked off our Japanese outreach by collaborating on an article about HUG Your Baby which was published in The Japanese Jo. of Nursing Education [(2013)54(12): 1114-1118.]. A nursing professor who attended Jan's St. Luke's HUG presentation asked to make the Japanese HUG DVD available to public health nurses. This request motivated me to develop a Japanese website and later the HUG Your Baby Japan Facebook page. As word about HUG Your Baby started to get out, Japanese nurses, midwives, and OBs started asking, “What is this program about? How can I learn more?” I realized, even more that, The HUG is really needed in Japan!

Over these past few months I began making home visits on friends with young babies in order to complete my "parent visits" for the Certified HUG Teacher course. Since evaluating babies older than one month is not a usual part of my work,  I worried, “Could I explain these ideas well? What if I don't understand the baby’s behavior?” However, I soon realized that The HUG's online course had well prepared me for these visit. When I looked at a young baby I could now see and understand her SOSs, his increased crying, and her self-calming behavior. The mothers stated, “The HUG is really interesting! It works for my baby! Now my life is easier because I understand my baby and know how to comfort her.”


The voices of these mothers have encouraged me to bring more HUG Your Baby resources to Japan: an online course for professionals, “The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success” handout and poster, and a handout to accompany the Japanese DVD. I am happy to have the opportunity to use The HUG to connect with Japanese mothers and to learn with them about what their babies are "saying." I hope that more and more mothers will come to know HUG Your Baby and gain new information and resources to care for and enjoy their lovely babies!