A new smartphone app that aims to encourage new fathers to learn about the importance of breastfeeding has been developed at Curtin University.
Despite ample evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding, studies have found that less than 15 per cent of Australian babies are exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months.
In western societies in particular, fathers have a major influence on a woman’s decision to breastfeed, and the duration for which she breastfeeds. Dads typically want to support their partners when it comes to breastfeeding but they often don’t know what they can do to help.
Developed by PhD candidate Becky White, Milk Man is potentially the first breastfeeding app exclusively targeted at men in Australia and the world. It is one of two interventions being trialled as part of the Parent Infant Feeding Initiative (PIFI), led by Professor Jane Scott and colleagues in the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine at Curtin.
“Traditionally during pregnancy the focus is on the mother and preparing for the impending birth,” Professor Scott says.
“While fathers are encouraged to attend antenatal classes, the focus is on how they can support their partner during the birth. There are limited opportunities for fathers to receive information on their role as fathers and how they can support their partners to breastfeed.”
The primary aim of PIFI is to extend the length of time a woman breastfeeds her baby. It will be the first Australian study to provide significant evidence of the impact on breastfeeding duration using a male-focused intervention.
Since the trial began in August 2016, Milk Man has been well received by fathers.
“The feedback we are getting from dads and their partners has been very positive,” says Professor Scott.
“Our research shows that fathers want to support their partners and be ‘hands-on dads’ but they often don’t know where they can look for this information. Milk Man provides or links them with information via their phone which they carry around with them every day and can access immediately.”
Read more about this new research on infant feeding here. Story credit: Curtin University newsroom.
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