Perinatal support for breastfeeding using mHealth: A mixed method feasibility pilot of the My Baby Now app
Background: The antenatal period provides an opportunity to support mothers’ infant feeding decisions. Breastfeeding provides well-established benefits for infants and mothers; however, breastfeeding rates are low. Breastfeeding interventions may target breastfeeding intentions, confidence and attitudes. Few studies have explored the impact of antenatal mHealth interventions. The My Baby Now (MBN) app provides evidence-based infant feeding information and continuous support to parents.
Aims: Examine the impact of the MBN app on breastfeeding knowledge, intention, confidence and attitudes across the perinatal period.
Methods: A mixed-method pre-post pilot study was conducted in 2021. The MBN app was offered to first-time mothers between 20-30 weeks gestation. Mothers completed surveys at baseline (T1), 36-38 weeks gestation (T2) and 8-12 weeks post-partum (T3), measuring breastfeeding knowledge, intentions, attitudes and confidence. App engagement was measured via app analytics. Qualitative interviews were conducted post-T3 with a purposeful sample.
Results: Of 266 participants recruited, 169 (64%) completed T2 and 157 (59%) completed T3. Mothers without university education perceived the app to be higher quality, more useful and impactful, than mothers with university education. From T1-T2, breastfeeding knowledge and exclusive breastfeeding intentions increased significantly. Breastfeeding attitudes and confidence increased significantly across T1-T2 and T1-T3. Level/intensity of app engagement during pregnancy predicted changes in breastfeeding attitudes from T1-T2 amongst mothers without university education, but did not predict changes in breastfeeding knowledge, confidence or intentions.
Conclusions: The MBN app provided an acceptable source of breastfeeding support, particularly for women without university education. Further randomised controlled trials should examine MBN effectiveness on breastfeeding outcomes.