Curtin University research has helped in the development of a Smartphone app to assist breastfeeding mothers to regulate the timing of their alcohol intake so as to not affect breastmilk.
Dr Roslyn Giglia, Research Fellow at Curtin’s School of Public Health, said the information contained in the app would allow mothers to make informed choices about their alcohol intake and help health agencies guide the community in reducing health risks associated with alcohol and breastfeeding.
“For the health and safe development of their babies, many mothers avoid drinking alcohol while pregnant,” Dr Giglia said.
“Once a baby is born, however, mothers may wish to enjoy a drink with a meal, when out with friends, or on a special occasion and as a result, mothers should plan their drinks so it doesn’t affect their breastmilk.
“Alcohol inhibits the let-down reflex that enables breastmilk to be ejected from the nipple, so the baby will receive less milk and the small amount of milk that does get let-down will contain alcohol, which the baby will ingest.
“Apart from not getting as much milk as normal and potentially being hungry and irritable, the baby’s sleep wakening pattern will also be affected and he or she won’t sleep restfully, or for as long.”
The app, called Feed Safe, was developed by Becky White, Director of Reach Health Promotion Innovations, and an alumna of Curtin’s School of Public Health.
Mrs White used the information pamphlet Alcohol and breastfeeding: A guide for mothers, developed by Dr Giglia in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), while she was breastfeeding her first child.
“I remember thinking, ‘This information would make a really useful app’,” Mrs White said.
“Fortunately Healthway also saw the potential, and awarded us a grant to make it happen. We’re very grateful for their support, and for that of the ABA and Dr Giglia, in making this important app a reality.”
The app contains information about how alcohol is absorbed into breastmilk, standard drink measurements and what happens if a mother drinks more than she had planned.
“The pamphlet is in very high demand across Australia so it made sense to make the information available any time to families who are on the go through the development of the Feed Safe app,” Dr Giglia said.
“A number of factors affect how much alcohol gets into breastmilk including the strength and amount of alcohol in your drink, what and how much you’ve eaten and how much you weigh.
“Alcohol will be in your breastmilk for 30 to 60 minutes after you start drinking so that’s where an app like this can be useful.
“The user enters their weight, height and the time of their last alcoholic drink and how many standard drinks they have had. Feed Safe then lets the user know when they can safely breastfeed again.
“In this way mums can breastfeed safely and for a longer duration knowing that they can enjoy socialising without compromising the health of their baby.”
Currently available for Apple iPhones and iPads, the app is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store.
For more information about Feed Safe, or to download the app, please visit www.feedsafe.net