If you are a parent today, you most likely have checked out several breastfeeding, pumping or baby tracking apps. What is useful and what is a waste? It really can depend on your needs and your specific circumstance.
As always, it is important to consider your health, your baby’s health and to discuss medications or your personal needs with your health care provider. I am not an IBCLC or a doctor. I am a mom with 3 kids who breastfeed and a volunteer.
Here are a few applications I’ve checked out.
La Leche League Canada:
I can’t wait for La Leche League USA to follow suit! This is a wonderful app for new parents and for people working or volunteering in the lactation field. It comes in handy for quick answers to many common concerns breastfeeding or pumping parents have and it is FREE! I would suggest it to any breastfeeding mom, doula or lactation helper.
When you open the app you go directly to the FAQ’s. It is not a replacement for a good book like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Edition, but it is a quick overview of many basic concerns breastfeeding or pumping moms will have. The app includes “About La Leche League Canada”, good information on diapers (normal bowels, stool changes and the changes at 6 weeks in diaper output), a dozen general frequently asked questions (colostrum, good milk supply, getting enough, tips for moms who’ve had cesarean birth, and information on pacifiers), and a multitude of tips on common concerns, toddler tips, pumping (storage, thawed milk, bottles), weaning, illness (mom and/or baby), information on pain (clogged ducts, mastitis) and even wonderful tips on kangaroo care. It is very user friendly and the app lets moms find their nearest group (if you live in Canada) and includes links to La Leche League Canada.
This is also a FREE app. You or your health care practitioner can search by drug name or drug class. When you click “Drug Name” you will go directly to an alphabetized list. You can scroll by letter or number or start to type in and search by exact name. You can search by generic type or brand. When you go to “Drug Class” there is an alphabetized list of types of medications. It is simple to use, clear and a wonderful resource to use while you are breastfeeding. It can not only come in handy when visiting a doctor regarding prescribed medications, it is also useful when questioning over the counter medications; some of which can actually be more inappropriate to take while lactating than some prescribed medications.
When you find a drug and click on it, you will find information by “Summary of Use” which will be a basic breakdown of the drug or herb and some information on studies when available. The next information heading is “Drug Levels” which will list maternal and infant levels. Two important headings will be “Effects in Infants” and “Effects on Lactation”. The app includes “Alternate Drugs”, “Drug Class” and references. You can’t star or save searches on the app but the wording is clear and concise.
One good thing I have noticed lately is that my doctors are aware of the Lactmed website and the app and are utilizing it. It comes in handy to have on your phone at a visit for a quick search but is not adequate enough when considering things like age of infants/toddler, or duration of the medications or multiple medication reactions.
Dr. Hale’s InfantRisk Center Mobile Application for Health Care Professionals:
The InfantRisk app is not something each mom needs but it is something to mention and request your health care provider buy for their office in addition to the book Medications and Mother’s Milk by Dr. Thomas Hale. If you are a mother who may need several types of medications or medical testing, it may often come in handy for you. It is easy for most of us to bring our phones with us on health visits. The book currently sells for $39.95 plus shipping while the app is $29.99 but the app doesn’t include all the details the book includes.
Medications and Mothers Milk lists over 200 drugs, vaccines, herbals, chemicals and radioisotopes/radiocontrast agents and birth control information and so far as I sit down and compare, the app also has them.
The InfantRisk app home page includes buttons to search, a star button for “Hot Topics” which brings you to the hot topics listed on the Internet.
The app includes all of these and can be searched by “Prescription Drugs”, “Non-Prescription Drugs”, “Search by Condition”, and “Vitamins”. You can bookmark the common searches used and save the hot topics you have read. An interesting feature on the app is the availability to do a customized search for information based on if the patient is pregnant, breastfeeding or both pregnant and breastfeeding. When searching, the user can also break down the child’s birthdate and list if the child was born early, on time or late. When filling in this extra step, the user is able to look up a drug based on their trimester of pregnancy and their child’s age (0-6, 6-12, 12+ months). This is a nice way to search when considering that some drugs may have severe implications on a premature baby while not much of any danger to a child over 12 months. Or they may be safer while breastfeeding but not if the mother is also pregnant. Of course this clearly depends on the drug itself, but comes in handy for moms like me who are nursing children well over 12 months – these children are not nursing 12 times a day and not having the same exposure levels in most cases.
There is a small i in the upper right on the app. This brings you to clear explanation of the rating scale for both pregnancy and breastfeeding. The book lists the drugs by L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5 while the app simply has safest (green), safer (blue), probably safe (yellow), possibly hazardous (red) and hazardous (black)
There is also a button on the app to call the InfantRisk Center directly and it included the local time at the center hotline location. I personally feel that calling the center over a local support person such as an IBCLC or La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA or WIC counselor is almost always not necessary but can come in handy for very specific questions and is nice for medical professionals to have at their fingertips.
Breastfeeding Management 2:
The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition App is $1.99 and is well worth the money. I would recommend the Breastfeeding Management 2 App to every new mother, doula, midwife, or other support persons in a new family’s life. I’d love it if every labor and delivery staff person had this on hand and utilized it!
This app includes information specifically for those in the birth to 48 hour stage and the 48 hour to two week stage as well as risk factors and signs of success. It includes handy calculators for weight loss (both pounds/ounces/kilograms), feeding for the early weeks, a specific preemie calculator and more. There is information on medications, social substances (caffeine, alcohol, etc) and drug ratings by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Hale, as well as a wealth of other good links and resources. It includes many of the frequently asked questions for the early days as well…bottles, pumping, first hour, jaundice, hypoglycemia, and more. It is also a wonderful resource for information on World Health Organization, Baby-friendly and more information from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.
The Boob Group:
This app is from theboobgroup.com. I like this app very much. You can listen to recent episodes from their online radio show. They have some wonderful information in their podcasts and it is a great way to learn if you are an auditory person who learns by listening…or don’t have time to sit and read (who does lately, right?). I listen to the episodes while exercising or in my car or rocking or snuggling my kids… perfect for those of us who like to multitask!
What I dislike about this app is that they lock out certain “bonus content” so you have to become an “official member” at $4.99 a month. It may be worth if for some people but I can’t tell you if that is the case for you. The website lists what the extra access includes. I would think that some of the episodes would be worth the price, especially if you are looking for something specific that has been archived.
This app is free. The front screen includes links to benefits, breastfeeding info and good information on pumping and storage.
The “Breastfeeding” tab includes basic and very limited information on getting started and how to know if baby is getting enough milk. Medela’s pumping information is more detailed (I would suppose since they are selling pumps after all) and it includes helpful tips on pumping and storage guidelines. I personally am disappointed in the section titled “Overcoming Challenges” though I like that it does suggest you find help in this paragraph.
One section useful for some moms in the early weeks is the tab for baby activity log. You can link in baby/babies birthdate and birth weight and from there, log breastfeeding, breast pumping, other solid feeding, sleep, diapers and create your own field for anything else you want to log. This is terrific if you need to track multiple babies or need breastmilk storage information but not always necessary for all breastfeeding moms. The breastpumping section has a place to track how many ounces from each breast which can be helpful for moms who see a growth or drop in supply.
What I dislike about the breastfeeding log is that you have a tab to time the feeding on left and right. I can’t see how timing feedings comes in handy at all? Keeping track of feeding could be more of a help for moms who are employed or need to pump using the breastpumping log, who have twins or multiples or early week concerns with weight or jaundice. I have had calls from moms who were overly concerned with exact times of feeding and who I’d much prefer not watch the clock while feeding. I suppose there are those few who rush baby or perhaps it could help for moms to learn that they are ending feedings too soon? Otherwise, I say, watch your baby not the clock or timer!
I personally can’t understand why anyone would need to time sleep other than to track changes. I would personally rather keep some type of check list for this section and I’d likely forget to shut off the timer or feel it was one more thing to take care of rather than my child. I think we focus too heavily on sleep as it is with new parents.
The app has a search feature for breastfeeding or pumping friendly locations though in my search it basically listed a maternity store, a hospital and Babies R Us that all sell Medela products. The information under Baby’s Weight is limited and basically a sales pitch for their BabyWeigh scale. I’d much rather see a mom go to lowmilksupply.org for help in that area.
Other Tracking/Logging Apps:
There are several apps available for pumping or breastfeeding logging or tracking. If you are interested in them don’t pay for them! There are several free or “lite” versions. I personally used paper and a notebook when I had to log Z’s feedings. In most cases, I don’t think that long term tracking or logging is helpful. I understand for some, it is a comfort in the early weeks, especially “type A’s” like me but I hate to see a mom feel she has to go pick up her phone before she picks up her baby. Don’t bother with apps that require you to register or pay more later unless you have a specific need. When I last did a search for apps and typed in “breastfeeding” it gave me 101 options, including several from artificial baby formula companies so try to stay with just the basic stuff you need and educate yourself regarding breastfeeding realities and myths as well.
One I did like for those who are pumping is a basic Express Free, which has an option to add baby photo and baby sounds and includes a reminder option – very important if you get busy. There are others out there under names like BabyTracLite, BabyFeeding, BabyNursing, etc. There are so many to choose from and honestly most of them that cost money are not worth it.
You can find great, free information from websites like llli.org, kellymom.com and bestforbabes.org and if you really need to keep track of which breast you fed on last, you can wear a bracelet or a safety pin.
In no time at all, you will get to know your baby and your body.