Breast milk is the optimal source of nourishment for infant growth and development. In Lebanon, breastfeeding practices fall short of international recommendations to exclusively breastfeed for six months, followed by the introduction of complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed up to two years and beyond. Social unacceptability of breastfeeding in public is a likely contributing factor. Incidents where mothers breastfeeding their infants were asked to hide or leave public premises have been reported in the Lebanese context.
In collaboration with Newcastle University (UK) and LACTICA, a non-governmental organization promoting breastfeeding in Lebanon, the Breastfeed Proudly application was developed. The first location-based breastfeeding application in Lebanon and the Arab region, Breastfeed Proudly allows breastfeeding women to find public places with the most breastfeeding-friendly practices. Users of the app can add, rate, and review venues based on 4 criteria, including whether the venue is non-smoking, if the staff was welcoming, and whether the seating and noise level of the venue are comfortable. The app was both commissioned and tailored by women using the App Movement platform.
In this research study, we aim to assess 1) the impact of the review-based application on women’s experiences of breastfeeding outside the home and their motives to use the application over time. This will be done by administering an online survey to all users of the application upon download of the application and registration of an account, and at 3 and 6 months follow up and 2) to document the discourse around breastfeeding-friendly places. The study will analyze changes in discourse over time, track advocacy efforts and document actions resulting from the application. This will be done through the online monitoring of all open forums (such as TV, printed media, blogs and other internet sources).