Breastfeeding app to support first-time moms

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Washington | Published: May 3, 2016 9:00:03 AM

Use of a mobile phone app that provides supportive texts and an online community may significantly increase the rate of breastfeeding among new mothers, a new study has found.

Use of a mobile phone app that provides supportive texts and an online community may significantly increase the rate of breastfeeding among new mothers, a new study has found.

Women participating in the study began interacting with the MMM app roughly six weeks before their delivery date and continued using it the same length of time after giving birth.

They received five to seven messages to the app as “push notifications” via text each week.

About a quarter of the text messages asked for a response from participants, asking them about normal stooling patterns in babies in the first 4-7 days of life, for example, or whether they knew that babies fed exclusively with breast milk in their first months of life have lower rates of obesity later.

The app also linked participants to a private Facebook page, where informative links, supportive comments and brief videos were posted.

Comments and questions were monitored and breastfeeding questions received responses from lead investigator Maya Bunik, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in US.

Among study participants who used the app, 95 per cent were currently breastfeeding three months after giving birth, compared with 83 per cent of the control group.

The same amount (95 per cent) were feeding babies breastmilk more than 80 per cent of the time, compared with 78 per cent of women who had not used the app.

Participants who used the app also had greater confidence ratings about breastfeeding issues, such as knowing if their babies were getting enough milk and coping with breastfeeding challenges.

“We wanted as many mothers and babies to take advantage of the health benefits of breastfeeding and all babies to be offered human milk as their first food, and we know that women of child-bearing age are in the generation most likely to own a cell phone and use texting to communicate,” Bunik said.

“Cell phones have been shown to be an effective way to increase prescribed use HIV medication, to help quit smoking and to better manage diabetes,” she said.

“Our pilot study suggests that they also can be useful with breastfeeding support and management,” said Bunik.

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