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Research collaborations

The Australian Breastfeeding Association collaborates with leading universities, researchers and healthcare facilities.

Our involvement varies depending on the type and scope of the research. Enquiries about research collaborations should be directed to our Breastfeeding Information team by email to

Current collaborations

Scaling up the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in support of maternal and newborn health
Australian National University, the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Lactation Consultants of Australia & New Zealand (LCANZ) and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

ANU researchers have received a 3-year MRFF Maternal Health and Healthy Lifestyles grant. This research will assess whether BFHI hospitals and the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are equitably available to women. It will also identify the economic value that consumers of maternity services place on the BFHI/Ten Steps procedures and clinical practices.

With this information, and together with key partners involved in delivering breastfeeding support after hospital discharge, we will develop information resources for BFHI-accredited hospitals to provide a quick and easy 'Tenth Step' guide for new mothers on where to get breastfeeding support after hospital discharge, and to promote BFHI adoption across the Australian health system.

Past collaborations

Using citizen science to engage the public in monitoring workplace breastfeeding support in Australia
Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney, the Australian Breastfeeding Association and South Western Sydney Local Health District.

This pilot study trialled a citizen science approach where members of the public provided photographs and descriptions of breastfeeding facilities and support within their workplaces. This study demonstrated the feasibility and value of using a citizen science approach to obtain data from a range of workplaces along with perceptions of workplace characteristics that support or hinder breastfeeding and expressing at work.

  • Rowbotham, S., Marks, L., Tawia, S., Woolley, E., Rooney, J., Kiggins, E., ... & Hawe, P. (2022). Using citizen science to engage the public in monitoring workplace breastfeeding support in Australia. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 33(1), 151-161. Freely available here:…
  • Hawe, P., Rowbotham, S., Marks, L., & Casson, J. (2022). The risk management practices of health research ethics committees may undermine citizen science to address basic human rights. Public Health Ethics, 15(2), 194-199.
Ringing Up about Breastfeeding: a randomised controlled trial exploring early telephone peer support for breastfeeding (RUBY)
Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University.

The Judith Lumley Centre received funding from the Felton Bequest to conduct a trial of proactive telephone support for breastfeeding provided by volunteer breastfeeding mentors — mothers who have themselves breastfed, but are not ABA counsellors. The trial was led jointly by a team from the Judith Lumley Centre and the Royal Women’s Hospital, in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Monash Medical Centre and Sunshine Hospital. Read more about the RUBY study on the Judith Lumley website.

  • McLardie-Hore FE,Forster DA, McLachlan HL, Shafiei T, Amir L, Davey M-A, Grimes H, Gold L. (2023) Is proactive telephone-based breastfeeding peer support a cost-effective intervention? A within-trial cost-effectiveness analysis of the ‘Ringing Up about Breastfeeding earlY’ (RUBY) randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 13:e067049. Freely available here:  
  • McLardie-Hore, FE., Forster, DA., Shafiei, T., McLachlan, HL. (2022) First-time mothers' experiences of receiving proactive telephone-based peer support for breastfeeding in Australia: a qualitative study. International Breastfeeding Journal.17(1):31. Freely available here:…
  • Grimes HA, McLachlan HL, Forster DA, McLardie-Hore F, Mortensen K, Shafiei T. (2021) Implementing a successful proactive telephone breastfeeding peer support intervention: volunteer recruitment, training, and intervention delivery in the RUBY randomised controlled trial. International Breastfeeding Journal. 16: 1–12. Freely available here:
Diabetes & Antenatal Milk Expression (DAME): A randomised controlled trial
Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University.

The researchers received an NHMRC project grant to investigate the effect of antenatal milk expressing on babies of women with diabetes in pregnancy compared to the outcomes of babies of women with diabetes in pregnancy receiving standard care. The DAME trial was a multi-site, randomised controlled trial of antenatal expression of colostrum in late pregnancy for women with diabetes in pregnancy to explore the safety and efficacy for mother, foetus and infant. Read more about the DAME study on the Judith Lumley website.

  • Moorhead, A. M., Amir, L. H., Crawford, S. B., & Forster, D. A. (2024). Breastfeeding outcomes at 3 months for women with diabetes in pregnancy: Findings from the Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing randomized controlled trial. Birth.   Freely available here:
  • Moorhead, A. M., Amir, L. H., Forster, D. A., & Crawford, S. B. (2022). ‘Is there any point in me doing this? ’Views and experiences of women in the Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing (DAME) trial. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 18(2), e13307. Freely available here:
  • Forster, D. A., Moorhead, A. M., Jacobs, S. E., Davis, P. G., Walker, S. P., McEgan, K. M., ... & Aylward, A. (2017). Advising women with diabetes in pregnancy to express breastmilk in late pregnancy (Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing [DAME]): a multicentre, unblinded, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 389(10085), 2204–2213.
Rural and city design workshops to promote breastfeeding in public
Community Planning and Development & Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University and the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

This group of planning and health collaborators received a Building Healthy Communities RFA Grant to address a significant barrier facing new mothers at present: breastfeeding in public. An urban design approach was used to work with mothers to find ways to overcome the barriers so that, in the future, women can comfortably feed their babies when they are outside the home. An urban designer then sketched designs for breastfeeding-friendly public spaces based on women’s suggestions. The designs provided models for breastfeeding-dedicated places (such as mothers’ rooms) and breastfeeding-compatible places (such as booths in shopping centres and ‘park shelters’ and ‘pause spaces’ in outdoor settings). The project was short-listed as a finalist in the Research in Action category for the 2016 VicHealth awards.

Development of the Feed Safe app

Feed Safe is a smartphone application designed to educate breastfeeding women about the impact of alcohol consumption. It is based on the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol and takes a harm minimisation approach. It was developed in a collaborative partnership model involving a health promotion software development company (Reach Health Promotion Innovations), a breastfeeding researcher, Roslyn Giglia from Curtin University of Technology, and ABA.

In 2023, the app was updated in partnership with the Foundation for Alcohol Research (FARE).The Feed Safe app has now been downloaded by more than 70,000 Australian women and has been used more than half a million times since its release in 2014. A description and analysis of the partnership which developed the Feed Safe app was published in 2016.

  • White, B., White, J., Giglia, R., & Tawia, S. (2016). Feed Safe: a multidisciplinary partnership approach results in a successful mobile application for breastfeeding mothers. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 27(2), 111-117. Freely available here:
  • Giglia, R. (2016). A partnership between researchers and breastfeeding advocates to support safe alcohol consumption during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Review, 24(3), 7-11.
Economics of work and breastfeeding: Working while breastfeeding: Best practice strategies for workplaces and childcare centres

The Australian National University (ANU) led a research partnership with Flinders University, University of New South Wales and the Australian Breastfeeding Association to examine ‘breastfeeding friendly’ practices in workplaces and childcare services and what is needed to help employed mothers continue breastfeeding. The key findings of the research were:

  1. Part-time work is important for mothers to sustain exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months
  2. Where employees reported more workplace support for breastfeeding, more had exclusively breastfed at 6 months.

The study was supported by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project grant.

The role of micro-organisms (S. aureus & C. albicans) in the pathogenesis of breast pain and infection in lactating women CASTLE Study — Candida And Staphylococcus Transmission: Longitudinal Evaluation
Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University.

This project was a descriptive study of 360 breastfeeding women, recruited from the Royal Women's Hospital and Frances Perry House. The aim of the study was to investigate the role of microorganisms in nipple and breast pain in breastfeeding women because there is controversy about whether burning nipple pain associated with radiating breast pain is caused by a fungal infection (Candida albicans, known as ‘thrush’) or a bacterial infection (Staphylococcus aureus, known as ‘golden staph’).

The study found strong evidence of an association between the presence of Candida and nipple and breast pain, while Staphylococcus aureus was present in both women with and without pain. ABA collaborators sat on the CASTLE study reference group which was involved in the design of the CASTLE study. Read more about the CASTLE study on the Judith Lumley website.