Updates: Sharing the "User Experience" of Breastfeeding Far and Wide
Research shows that humans learn best through stories. Data are helpful, but it is through stories that we teach lessons, prompt reflections, and motivate action. A theory of change in our work around breastfeeding innovation is that personal stories of triumph and challenge in breastfeeding will motivate powerful actors to make changes that promote a breastfeeding-friendly society.
In the video above, Kimberly Seals Allers and I share more on why we believe this and what we did leading up to our April 2018 Hackathon to source and spread these stories of real people.
In the past few months since our design guide "Speaking Our Truths" came out, we've been working hard to make sure that these stories are shared broadly.
- We made all of the raw data from this research – anonymized interview transcripts for all 34 parents and 15 providers with whom we spoke – openly available for the public to read and use.
- We have now conducted two research briefings, one with a team from the breast pump manufacturer Medela, which was a supporter of our research, and another with postpartum tech companies and care providers from across the ecosystem, including other breast pump manufacturers, breastfeeding tech startups, and lactation care experts. We offered deep dives from the themes highlighted in the book, including fuller narratives of the people featured; a set of design implications for breastfeeding products and services; and learnings from what it means to implement equity by design in research methodology. A number of the participants have already requested the data to digest and apply toward product and service development.
- Alongside breastfeeding innovators from our target states, our team met with the offices of Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill to share information about the challenges of breastfeeding and pumping and to highlight some of the amazing innovations that have come out of the hackathon experience. One of our favorite experiences from that event was watching Chelesa Presley, a warrior for birth and breastfeeding equity in Mississippi talking about an idea she won a prize for at the Hackathon, which is a maternity village co-op for pregnant and new moms experiencing housing insecurity. The idea sparked after she heard one of the women featured in our book share her own similar story at the event. Now it is being written into university strategic plans and presented to members of Congress for support. Their goal is to do feasibility planning over the next two years and build/launch after that. This is the prime example of how one voice can really change a room!
- We were invited to present our research at the annual Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine conference. We are excited to be able to share our breastfeeding stories with the more than 400 physicians, advanced practice nurses, lactation consultants, and other healthcare professionals who attend this event. Our goal at the gathering in November will be to ensure that health care professionals have an honest understanding of real parents' feeding and pumping experiences. The acceptance of our research demonstrates its value not just in a practical context but also as academic research.
- Furthering that goal, we were encouraged to submit a full manuscript of our findings to the journal Women's Health Issues, which is a peer-reviewed, bimonthly, multidisciplinary journal that publishes research and review manuscripts related to women's health care and policy. As the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, it is dedicated to improving the health and health care of all women throughout the lifespan and in diverse communities. The journal seeks to inform health services researchers, health care and public health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with women's health.
There is lots more to be done, so stay tuned for updates about how we plan to direct our work moving forward!