To coincide with World Breastfeeding Week, the 24/7 Breastfeeding Friend from Public Health England’s programme Start4Life will be available on Google Assistant to provide helpful advice for parents in South West during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Many mothers can find breastfeeding challenging and often this may cause them to give up. Currently breastfeeding rates in England rank amongst the lowest in the world.

The 24/7 Breastfeeding Friend complements the support provided by health professionals and offers friendly advice to mums who have questions and need support with breastfeeding at any point, day or night. The tool is voice activated on Google Assistant meaning mums in the South West can get NHS-approved advice in the moment and when they may have their hands full. The 24/7 Breastfeeding Friend is also available on Amazon Alexa and Facebook Messenger, allowing mums to access the service across multiple digital platforms.

Evidence shows the right support helps mothers to breastfeed for longer. A recent survey from Start4Life found that 49% of breastfeeding mothers wish they had known that breastfeeding may not come easy at first but getting support and advice can really help. When mums reflected on breastfeeding, the survey also illustrated that 28% wish they had known that asking for help breastfeeding can make a real difference and 21% wish they had known that there is lots of help and support from breastfeeding groups, other parents and online.

North Somerset mum Catherine Davies commented, “I have breastfed both my children but found breastfeeding for the first time with my daughter difficult, she had problems latching on and the only way I could breastfeed was sat up which was quite painful after a traumatic labour.

“The situation became really emotionally stressful and I found the first four to six weeks hard, I think the situation is made worse because after having a baby you are in a fragile and hormonal place anyway, but looking back it was only for the first few weeks.

“I found support from those around me particularly helpful, my husband, my sister, the GP and the hospital midwife were excellent. I think it is important to ask for help from lots of different places, for me, the GP and family were great.

“I am so pleased that I got through that first stage as after 4-6 weeks I loved breastfeeding and I found the emotional bond really lovely, it was also really convenient, I didn’t have to worry about bottles and formula or stick to specific times so it was easy to get out and about. With the next daughter, it was much easier and faster. Breastfeeding can take time, but it’s a completely amazing experience.”

Rosanne Sodzi, Health & Wellbeing Programme Manager, Public Health England South West, added, “We know that breastfeeding is an area that many mothers need support with and we know that this can be particularly difficult out of hours (for example in the middle of the night when other support services aren’t around) this is when the chatbot is really useful.

“The ‘Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend is available via Amazon Alexa’s voice search’ and on Google Assistant, is a great tool for mums in South West who are looking for help and advice about breastfeeding.”

For more information, advice and tips on breastfeeding visit www.nhs.uk/start4life