Research Project

Breastfeeding Reimagined: Exploring Augmented Reality’s Impact on Lactation, Maternal Health, and Well-Being

Research Team

Lead Researchers:

  • Nhut Ho, Mechanical Engineering
  • Xunfei Jiang, Computer Science
  • Trung Dung


  • Peter Washington, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Student Team:

  •  Toan Pham, B.S. student in Computer Science at NCSU

  • Carl Austin Dimalanta, B.S. student in Computer Science

  • Daniel Carter, B.A. in Economics

  • Akul Kumar, M.S. in Software Engineering

  • Subhobrata Chakraborty, M.S. in Computer Science

  • Mohammad Shaik, M.S. in Computer Science

  • Himanshu Kumar, M.S. in Software Engineering 

  • Matthew Smith, B.S. in Computer Science

  • Anthony Bernal, B.S. in Public Health

  • Georgina Argueta, B.S. in Public Health

  • Diego Martinez, B.S. in Public Health

  • Helena Hill, B.S. in Public Health

  • Xinyi Wang, B.A. in Arts

  • Benjamin Tran, Foothill High School

  • Junhe Chen*, B.S in Computer Science

  • Mayur Rahangdale*, M.S. in Computer Science at CSUN

* Alumni


  • Funding Organization:
  • Funding Program:


This is a mixed methods study aimed at testing the feasibility and potential personalized
interventions of tablet and augmented reality applications. We aim to recruit, enroll, and randomly assign 40 breastfeeding persons to test out the app (20 in the tablet control group and 20 in the AR group). Qualitative (e.g., open-ended questions), and quantitative (e.g., emotional and cognition states, usability, volume of milk, efficiency (volume (ml) x time (mins)) data types will be collected to gain a greater understanding of the user experience in augmented reality. The ultimate goal is to gather data to apply for funding and refine the development of augmented reality applications to improve health outcomes in postpartum mothers and their babies. This is a multi-site research study CSUN campus (Lilac Hall) and Charles R. Drew University (Maternity House, lactation pod in south Los Angeles, and maternity house in Antelope Valley).
Group Photo for IPUMP Research Study
Research Questions and Research Objectives

The purpose of this research study is to determine differences in the quantity and efficiency of expressed breast milk. Further, an additional purpose is to determine if using a technology application has an endocrinological-biochemical effect during breast milk expression with a breast pump.

  • Aim 1. To determine changes in expressed breast milk (ml) among mothers from pumping session 1 compared to pumping session 2.
  • Aim 2. To determine changes in efficiency in breast milk output among lactating mothers from pumping session 1 compared to pumping session 2.
  • Aim 3: To determine if there are alterations in salivary biomarkers related to inflammation and stress
    (e.g., cortisol, alpha-amylase) and related to cardiovascular health (e.g., uric acid) from pumping session 1 compared to pumping session 2.
Research Methods
Enrollment visit will take approximately 45-60 minutes. Participation will take approximately 90 minutes for each session and participants will be compensated each session (refer to E8a for compensation breakdown). Initial assessments may take longer, and subsequent sessions of refined augmented reality/iPad experiences will be shorter in length (e.g., no intake or headset tutorials; no iPad tutorials).
Research Deliverables and Products


  • Conference presentations, journal publications, community presentations


This study will involve approximately 4-4 1/2 hours of the participant’s time over the course of 3 days (45-60 minutes for Enrollment visit; 90 minutes/day for Sessions 1 and 2).


Before the first session, each participant will be asked to provide at least 60 personal photos that have significance. If they are physical photos, study researchers can carefully scan them and return them to participants. Researchers can provide participants with the digital copies if desired. All physical photos will be returned to participants once scanned, and all digital copies will be deleted unless participant authorizes further use of them.

The following procedures will occur:


First, participants will complete an online prescreening (demographic information, contact information, personal use of breast pumps, current medications, health conditions). Then a research assistant will contact participant to inform he/she whether or not he/she is eligible to be enrolled in the study. If eligible, an online shortened version of the consent form, Visual/Image Release Form, and survey will be emailed to participant (paper forms/surveys available upon request). This survey will assess sleep quality, resilience, and breastfeeding knowledge, support and experience, perceived stress, use of augmented reality, curiosity and exploration tendencies. Participants have the option (Not a part of the research study) to donate a personal photo to be posted on the wall of our private, secured lactation room to enhance comfort and personalization).

Participants will be sent a Reminder (text, email) to bring physical photos and/or digital photos (on USB provided). A USB will be sent to participants in advance, so they can upload digital photos. Participants will bring physical photos on Enrollment Visit (Day 1), and photos will be scanned onto a password protected computer (in an encrypted folder). Additionally, a copy of the Consent Form and CSUN map/CDU map and parking information will be sent via email.

Day 1: Enrollment/Screening Visit

Baseline Assessments

Blood pressure and heart rate will be collected through a medical device. Height, pre-pregnancy weight, current weight will be self-reported. A Passive Drool (Saliva Collection Aid) kit will be distributed and explained (written and pictures). A small cooler and ice pack will be provided to transport saliva samples from participant’s freezer to
lab (2nd visit).

Instructions on how to use the Augmented Reality App or iPad App will be provided and explained (written and pictures). Participants will have an opportunity to do a practice test with the Augmented Reality headset or iPad (based on group assignment).
Participants will bring their own breast pump. In the event that a participant does not have a pump, he/she can use a new breast pump kit (pump parts) and bottles for individual use that will be provided during the first visit. Participants will be instructed to bring this kit and bottles ready (cleaned and sterilized) to be used for the second and third visit. Instructions on how to use the hospital-grade breast pump will be provided and explained (written and pictures).

At Home:

For week 1, you will be asked to document (write down) your milk output, start and end time, and weigh your milk separately for each breast during one daily pumping session across four days (4 pumping sessions). You can feed your baby with milk from those bottles after you record that information.

OPTIONAL, not a part of the main study: You will be asked to collect 4 saliva samples over one day (immediately after you wake up, 30 minutes after you wake up, 45 minutes after you wake up, and immediately before bedtime with the saliva collection aid kit prior to your second visit.

First Visit:

  • Group 1: Blood pressure and passive drool prior to iPad pumping session
  • Group 2 : Blood pressure and passive drool prior to AR pumping session.
  • Breast pumping session (participant selects amount of time to pump)
  • Participants will use their breast pump in a private room with a lock on the door. They will have a cushioned armchair recliner and footrest to sit on and place their feet. The pump will be on a side table adjacent to the recliner. Disinfectant wipes and paper towels will be provided to participants for cleaning and in case of spilled milk or saliva. Milk will be stored in a dedicated refrigerator for biospecimens for this study. The study researchers only have dry lab space in Lilac Hall. Participants can clean their equipment in the pumping room with a breast pump and accessory wipe (provided by the lab). Microwave sanitizing bags will also be provided in conjunction with the wipes.
  • *Group 1: iPad breast pumping session
  • *Group 2: AR breast pumping session
  • Breast milk sample (quantity varies)
  • Passive Drool sample (immediately after pump session)
  • Blood pressure (immediately after pump session)

User Experience Survey

  • Passive Drool sample (20 minutes post pump session)
  • Second Visit
  • Group 1: Blood pressure and passive drool prior to iPad pumping session
  • Group 2: Blood pressure and passive drool prior to AR pumping session.
  • Breast pumping session (time is the same as the one from the first pumping session).
    Breast milk sample (quantity varies)
  • Passive Drool sample (immediately after pump session)
  • Blood pressure (immediately after pump session)

User Experience Survey


  • Passive Drool sample (20 minutes post pump session)
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Experience (Time Varies)

The time selected in the initial pumping session will be used for the second pumping session. In a private, locked room, before the breast pumping session, trained research assistants will fit (e.g., nose piece and other adjustments) and instruct participant on using an augmented reality headset (~5 mins).

The researcher will provide participant with a phone number to text if there are any technical difficulties with the AR application. After participant is comfortable with the positioning of the headset and controls, the researcher will leave participant in a private room, where participant can pump in privacy. Participants can lock the door once the researcher has left the room. When participant is ready to begin pumping session, turn on the breast pump, and click to play iPump (an interactive slide show of their photos). If there are any technical difficulties, participant should stop pumping and notify a researcher via the number provided.

Before beginning pumping session, participants will record the start time. When finished pumping, participants will record the end time. After pumping both the left and right breast simultaneously, participants will have both bottles ready to be viewed by a researcher. The researcher will view the total quantity (volume, ml) of expressed milk from the right and left breast. Each bottle (with expressed milk) will be weighed on a scale (mass, g). Immediately after each pump session, a drool sample and blood pressure will be collected. A researcher will label (with study ID) the breast milk bottles and store them in a locked freezer in Lilac Hall/CDU Maternity House that only keeps biospecimens (saliva sample and bottled breast milk).

After the last drool sample is collected, the participant’s bottled breast milk will be returned (a smaller cooler with an ice pack for participants to keep, can be provided if needed).

User Experience Survey (~10 mins) [Only completed by Group 2]

After each breast pumping session, participants will complete a user experience survey. 20 minutes after the pump session, a drool sample will be collected.

Research Timeline

Start Date:01/02/2023
End Date: 06/30/2025

Lead Researchers:

  • Dr. Kacie Blackman

Project Coordinator:

  • Wyconda Cotton-Curtis, MS

Internal Collaborators:

  • Thomas Chan

Student Team:

  • Brenda Simonian
  • Caitlynn Thomas
  • Denise Jimenez
  • Destiny Varela BS
  • Harmony Whiting
  • Kate Gregg
  • Kira Faerstain
  • Mahi Morou
  • Pauline de la Cruz
  • Duaa Mohammad Shameem
  • Malak Elokour


  • Funding Organizations:
    • 2024-2025 CSUN Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA)
    • 2023-2024 CSUN Health & Human Development Innovation & Collaboration Challenge 
    • Charles R. Drew University Black Maternal Health Center of Excellence Biddy Mason Fellowship