The Milky Way

Breastfeeding is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality among infants across the world in both developed and developing countries. Breastfeeding not only is said to reduce the incidence of childhood disease, but also reduces the risk of obesity and chronic illnesses later in life. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six month's of a child's life can also help prevent infant deaths. Despite efforts to support breastfeeding, rates of prolonged breastfeeding remain suboptimal in many developed countries.

In Australia, majority of women initiate breastfeeding but only less than half of women continue any breastfeeding at six months. This can be due to many factors, however, it is likely that women discontinue as they have lack of women centred support.

The Milky Way Program was designed to help improve the uptake and continuation of breastfeeding among first time mothers. It was delivered face to face in antenatal educational sessions with regular postnatal support. In comparison to usual care, the Milky Way program increased the likelihood of breastfeeding at one month by nine times; at four months by four times and; at six months by three times.

In this study the feasibility of delivering the Milky Way Program via an App will be assessed to produce similarly beneficial outcomes as were achieved in the face-to-face intervention. This would allow geographically dispersed mothers to engage with the program, overcoming issues of locality.  

The team

The project team includes members from diverse disciplines to build and pilot the Milky Way App. It encourages collaboration among experts in public health, nutrition, social marketing, information technology and primary health care nursing.

Dr Shahla Meedya has 25 years clinical experience in women and children’s health, has designed, implemented and tested the Milky Way program. She has expertise in quantitative research and behaviour change interventional studies (School of Nursing, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health)

Prof Liz Halcomb is an expert in primary health care nursing and has experience in intervention studies and process evaluation (School of Nursing, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health)

A/Prof Khin Win is an expert in the developing health related apps in medicine and primary health care (School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Faculty Engineering and Information Sciences)

Prof Heather Yeatman is an expert in public health nutrition. Heather is the president of the Public Health Association in Australia (School of Health and Society, Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities)

A/Prof Karen Walton has expertise in food and nutrition research and education (School of Medicine, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health)

Prof Kathleen Fahy is an expert in midwifery. Her expertise in education and women centred care will assist the program to be suitable for empowering women who intend to breastfeed their children (Southern Cross University, Nursing and Midwifery, HHS)

Dr Lois Burgess is an expert in Marketing and Public Relations (School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law) 



This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing .  Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals