Using GPS to Support Breastfeeding in the Community
A must-have app for every new parent that locating all breastfeeding rooms in Hong Kong at your fingertips
Breastfeeding is recognised as the best way to provide nutrition to babies, but it is not always easy for busy mothers to find an appropriate place to breastfeed their babies when they are outside the home. That is especially true in dense cities such as Hong Kong, where space is always at a premium. Now a breastfeeding GPS app developed by Dr Kris Lok and her team in the School of Nursing can help mothers quickly and easily identify nearby breastfeeding facilities.
Dr Lok and her team found that there was a gap in knowledge in how to effectively support breastfeeding in the community. They decided to respond by developing a user-friendly breastfeeding app as well as building support and awareness in the community in a project called ‘Baby-friendly Community Initiative Program – Development of a New Breastfeeding GPS App’. The app was released in September 2020 and had been downloaded more than 4,500 times as of August 2021. It has provided 54,000 searches for useful information about places to breastfeed, including identifying facilities near the user’s GPS location and finding facilities in specific locations requested by the user. The app was once ranked third in the Hong Kong app store top chart and has attracted more than 2,000 followers on its Facebook page.
Knowing that breastfeeding facilities are available enhances mothers’ confidence and makes breastfeeding more likely. Known as maternal breastfeeding self-efficacy or BSES, this is defined as a mother’s perceived confidence in her ability to breastfeed her child. This influences her breastfeeding decisions and is significantly associated with a longer duration of breastfeeding, which benefits the child and society.
Dr Lok’s team has delivered breastfeeding workshops to 821 mothers, of whom 623 reported significantly enhanced BSES.
The team also developed a Baby-Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) to help improve awareness of the needs of breastfeeding mothers and change behaviour in the community. The initiative is aimed at providing training for management and staff in public places as well as mothers, to support and encourage positive attitudes towards breastfeeding. 66 shopping malls or public venues have joined the programme, resulting in 12 premises adding breastfeeding rooms and 14 shopping malls improving their breastfeeding rooms after completing the programme.
To promote the programme in the community, the team conducted media interviews and held community breastfeeding promotional events at different shopping malls. Significant improvement in both breastfeeding knowledge and staff attitudes to breastfeeding were seen following the workshops.
The team worked with the government, community and business organisations to develop the programmes. These included the Hospital Authority, Department of Health, non-government organisations, Natural Parenting Network and Hong Kong Breastfeeding Mothers’ Association. They also worked with shopping malls and restaurants throughout the city.
Dr Yuet Wan Kris Lok of the School of Nursing received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award 2021 of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine for the project ‘Baby-Friendly Community Initiative Program – Development of a New Breastfeeding GPS App