A Breastfeeding App for Dads?

Helping them will help ourselves.
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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated January 4, 2018
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“If I asked you what was the most important thing influencing a women’s breastfeeding, what would you say?” asks Becky White, a PhD student at Australia’s Curtin University. “Her midwife? Maybe education? Whether her mother breastfed or not?”

The answer may surprise you. More often than not, it’s a woman’s partner. The person who is supporting her—or not—when baby is screaming and unable to latch at 3:00 a.m.

White was presenting at the 2017 Asia-Pacific Three-Minute Thesis competition, where PhD students are challenged to communicate their research three minutes. White’s research: Finding ways to use mobile technology—one of the best ways to reach people—to better prepare dads for breastfeeding.

“My challenge was to figure out how we could create a breastfeeding app that dads would want to use and that their partners would see benefit from them using,” White says.

And so Milk Man was created.

The Milk Man app, targeted largely at fathers-to-be and fathers of newborns, was trialed in what White calls “the largest male partner-focused brestfeeding intervention study ever.”

While the push notifications proved an especially useful tool to get dads to interact with the app, another facet they ended up loving involved games. (Are you surprised?)

“A third of dads still using the app when their babies were 6 weeks old told us that their position on the leader board and earning points were key factors encouraging their use,” White says. She adds that Milk Man had the highest use during a baby’s first week of life, helping researchers better identify when new dads are most receptive to (and possibly desperate for) information.

“What we’ve learned with this study will help us move towards a clearer picture of how we can create better apps that will help people to improve their help, and their lives,” White concludes, explaining that the findings extend well beyond breastfeeding. Still, breastfeeding is a great place to start. Only about 15 perent of Australian babies are exclusively breastfed through the recommended six months, even lower than the US statistic of 18.8 percent, according to the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card. We can do better. But a little support from our partners can help a lot.

H/T Cosmos Magazine

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