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Mobile app aids breastfeeding practices in new mothers

Posted:  Monday, May 02, 2016

First-time mothers benefit from the use of breastfeeding app

Educating new mothers about appropriate breastfeeding practices is important for the health and well-being of the newborn. Novel, mobile phone-based strategies have been useful for connecting with the target audience. A pilot study has demonstrated that the ‘Mother’s Milk Messaging’ (MMM) mobile app increased the rate of breastfeeding in new mothers by providing access to supportive texts and an online community.

The study involved women who interacted with the MMM app 6 weeks prior to their delivery date and continued to use it 6 weeks after delivery. Each week, the women received 5-7 push notifications in the form of interactive texts. About a quarter of these texts were queries on topics such as the infant’s stooling pattern in the first week and the impact of breastfeeding on childhood obesity.

The MMM app was also linked to a private Facebook page where links to information, supportive comments, and related videos were available. The comments and suggestions of the participants were monitored. The queries were answered by the pediatrician and the study's lead investigator, Dr. Maya Bunik, MD, MSPH, FAAP.

The study results indicated that 95% of the women who used the MMM app continued to breastfeed at 3 months after delivery compared to 83% in the control group. Furthermore, 95% of women who used the app breastfed the infants more than 80% of the time compared to 78% in the control group. Women who used the app were more confident about breastfeeding issues and coping with challenges such as knowing if their infant was sufficiently fed.

Dr. Bunik explained, "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. 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. Our pilot study suggests that they also can be useful with breastfeeding support and management."

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