A young mother Lee Jor and her premature baby

Seeing a smiling 15-year-old Lee Jor seen here with her husband Kor Yang, a 19-year-old who just became a father and their newborn baby boy delivered on 8th October; this picture perfect young family welcome the birth of their newborn last week and began their new journey as a family.

Lee Jor seen here with Kor Yang and their newborn baby boy
Photo credit: Yoshi Shimizu/WHO

Some would argue that 15 year-olds are too young to become a parent or a mother; however, for some ethnic minorities in many parts of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, this is a practice that existed for centuries. The Ministry of Health have been working with the Ministry of Education to encourage young girls to remain in school, get married and have children later.

October is a busy harvesting season for many farmers; Lee Jor who was in her seventh month of pregnancy (around 34 weeks) was working in the field with her mother and husband when her water broke. She delivered her baby boy in the paddy field, with the help of her mother and husband.

Newborn baby weighing about 1300 grams at birth

When the baby was born, he was tiny, and weighs about 1300 grams. He has jaundice and was placed under a blue light for a week. Lee Jor and Kor Yang have stayed at the Xiengkhuang Provincial Hospital since the 9th October, a day after the baby was born.

Lee Jor and Kor Yang anxiously watching over their newborn baby

When the WHO team visited Lee Jor after 5 days, the baby is now about 1400 grams.

Lee Jor breastfeeding her baby

At the Xiengkhuang Provincial Hospital, Lee Jor received advice on postnatal care; and how she can improve her nutrition and continue to breastfeed her baby. She also received counselling on birth control and spacing, family planning and free antenatal and delivery services supported by UNFPA and Korea Foundation International Health (KOFIH) in Xiengkhuang Province.

The young family is looking forward to going home soon.