Researchers in Australia found that a new app was effective in educating new and soon-to-be dads about breastfeeding, according to a study published in JMIR.
Employing a combination of push notifications, gamification features and social connectivity tools, the Milk Man app aimed to engage fathers about breastfeeding. The study indicated that men given the platform were likely to download the app and a majority reported the app provided them with new information about breastfeeding.
Researchers found that 80% of new dads or dads-to-be who were provided the app downloaded it. Men were most likely to use the app when their spouse was pregnant or within the first two weeks after their baby was born.
While the majority of dads did download the app, only about a third of dads were still using the app six weeks after the baby was born.
Fifty-four percent of app users reported that the platform made them more aware of how they could help with breast feeding. Roughly 72% of users said they learned new information.
The results also showed that dads using the app participated in the social engagement component. In total fathers left 1,126 comments on the conversation forum and voted 3,096 times in polls.
Study participants reported that push notifications were the most effective means of reminding them to use the app.
HOW WAS IT DONE
Researchers gave the app to 730 participants. Fathers had access to the app from when their baby was at 32 weeks gestation to six months after birth.
The app was created for the Parent Infant Feeding Initiative and was designed to educate fathers about breastfeeding. It was also designed to help dads get involved and spark conversations.
WHAT’S THE HISTORY
This is hardly the first time that mobile technology has addressed breastfeeding. In fact, just last year Purdue University and Purdue Polytechnic Institute develop a new app that virtually connects breastfeeding moms to pediatricians and lactation specialists.
More technologists are starting to create tools for new dads. Last year HIMSS teamed up with the organizers for Battle for Our Babies on a pitch competition aimed at addressing infant mortality. One of the three pitch competition tracks was focused on paternal involvement.
“We recognize that the leading cause of infant mortality in the black population is premature births, and premature births are tied to stress, and fathers are saying, ‘How can I support my partner and be an advocate? How do I know what signs to look for in stress? How can I sit alongside her in the doctor's office when I’m generally ignored and be an advocate for her?’” Leslie Evans, director of the HIMSS Innovation Center, told MobiHealthNews in March.
“These results demonstrate that the Milk Man app was an acceptable source of breastfeeding information and support that fathers and fathers-to-be are prepared to use throughout the perinatal period,” researchers wrote. “The app showed encouraging results with facilitating conversation between partners.”