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Assessment and Messaging Program Seeks to Improve Breastfeeding Rates 

An innovative new program is helping new parents latch on to the idea that breastfeeding should involve them both. In an effort to increase new mothers’ breastfeeding rates and decrease negative emotions postpartum, researchers at Denison University and OhioHealth have chosen 3C Institute to build a new interactive assessment and text messaging system for Happy, Healthy, Loved, a parent education and support program that encourages healthy behaviors during the first six weeks of parenthood.

According to the program’s creators, among them Dr. Erin Henshaw, associate professor of psychology at Denison University, partner support is one of the best predictors of a new mom’s breastfeeding success. That’s why before they leave the hospital, new parents begin the program by completing a survey together that asks about topics such as their coping strategies and what kind of support each parent appreciates most. The system then uses their answers to send encouraging, personalized texts with tips and resources to each parent, along with brief periodic assessments on how things are going and whether the mom is still breastfeeding.

For example, a mom who says she’s having trouble getting her baby to latch during breastfeeding would receive information on latching. Dads or partners receive information on how to support the new mom by encouraging her breastfeeding efforts and doing things to help, like bringing her a glass of water or changing the baby between feedings.

Each parent will receive about four personalized text messages per week over the six-week intervention, with the goal of giving everyone in the family the happiest, healthiest start together.