Using animation to teach breastfeeding physiology: a proof of concept study

Nicki Hartney, Dolores Dooley, Cate Nagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Breastfeeding provides the optimal nourishment for infant and child health and supporting mothers to breastfeed is a global health priority. Midwives are uniquely placed to provide breastfeeding education and support to the woman and it is imperative that they have a sound understanding of the physiological underpinnings of breastfeeding. However, midwifery students and some midwives continue to struggle with the complex physiology of lactation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an instructional animation resource to teach breastfeeding physiology to student and practicing midwives. Further, this study also offers insights into how student and practicing midwives accept novel approaches to learning.


A cross-sectional survey design using both quantitative and qualitative approaches was employed in this proof of concept study. The setting was online with midwifery students recruited from Deakin University and registered midwives recruited from the Australian College of Midwives membership. Snowball sampling was also employed to recruit midwives through professional networks of the research team. The quantitative part of this study included a structured online questionnaire for midwives and midwifery students and descriptive statistics were used to present the quantitative data. The qualitative data were collected from open-ended questions on the questionnaire and a deductive approach was used for analysing the data.


This proof of concept study collected data from 110 participants and provides evidence for the use of animation as an effective pedagogical tool to explain complex concepts. The animated instructional resource was viewed favourably by both the midwifery students and practicing midwives.


The findings from this study, support the pedagogical advantages of animated instructional resources for teaching complex physiology. Further, educators should be encouraged and feel confident to develop and use animation technology as both an engaging and effective teaching resource especially for complex concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Breastfeeding Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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