Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new initiative to support new mothers and provide guidance surrounding breastfeeding.
A recent survey launched by the organisation highlighted that up to a quarter of new mothers’ struggle with breastfeeding, are underprepared or are not given enough information surrounding the benefits of breastfeeding.
At present, the UK currently has the lowest number of breastfeeding rates globally, where up to three-quarters of women stop breast feeding by up to six to eight weeks after they have given birth.
Named Breastfeeding Friend, the new initiative will be available through Amazon Alexa, where mothers will be able to ask frequently asked questions surrounding not only the frequency of breastfeeding, but how to support the latching process, as well as possible side effects at any time of day.
The initiative is part of PHE’s Start4Life programme, and will also be available on the Start4Life website, as well as Facebook Messenger.
“Whether a mother manages to establish breastfeeding is largely determinant on the support she receives in the first few days after birth,” explained Dr Cheryll Adams, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting.
“However, with such short hospital stays, professional support is not as widely available as it once was. To have this back up, which can be accessed from anywhere, will be hugely helpful and we expect health visitors to want to promote the service.”
The digital tool will help support the work healthcare professionals and provide increased accessibility, something in which has been a drawback for many new mothers.
“Health professionals do an excellent job of caring for new mothers, but they cannot be available 24/7, which is where our Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life is designed to help,” observed Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at PHE.
“We are working with health professionals to ensure women are not embarrassed and receive timely help.
“Many mothers can find breastfeeding challenging and often this may cause them to give up,” added Corinne Harvey, PHE in Yorkshire and the Humber.
“Support can make a real difference to successful breastfeeding, which is why we’ve developed a suite of digital support services – to complement other sources of help like health professionals, fellow mums and families.”