Mobile phone apps are increasingly being used to support breastfeeding decisions-sometimes at a cost, researchers have found.
The objective approach of most infant feeding (IF) apps gives mothers perception of greater control, confidence and efficiency at a time of transition and stress in the early stages of parenting an infant, according to the study published in the Health Informatics Journal.
However, with more than 100 such apps available, the mobile content can also present new mums with another set of potential worries, including feeling overwhelmed by the information, concerns about over-reliance on the app, and even questioning the app’s advice, the research added.
“Overall the women interviewed in the study were positive about using such apps, ” said study researcher Jacqueline Miller from the Flinders University in Australia.
“Information stored in the app can provide a useful history to discuss with health care providers who can then provide much more individualised advice, particularly with breastfeeding,” Miller said.
“They are increasingly giving mothers a modern way of tracking aspects of baby care, including feeding regularly, sleep, growth and nappy changes,” she added. The mobile health app market is booming, expected to exceed $30 billion by 2020.
The World Health Organisation has forecast that mHealth apps will have a myriad of uses includes interventions and behaviour change, disease or condition self-management, data monitoring and e-information provision.
According to study co-author Kaitlyn Dienelt, who conducted detailed interviews with nine nursing mothers using eight different IF apps in South Australia over 12 months, said the study demonstrates how important the mobile apps can be in making mums feel encouraged and supported in their breastfeeding practices.
In one of the first studies of its kind, the study sought to analyse the experience of mothers, the suitability of information and readability of the app material from an outside perspective.
With more than 100 apps to assist optimal infant feeding available on the market, many are free with in-app purchases, or some purchased of premium versions of free IF apps.