New mums in Staffordshire can now have access to more help and guidance to support breastfeeding.
Public Health England (PHE) has launched the Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend (BFF), an interactive chatbot tool to help guide new mums through their first weeks of breastfeeding.
The chatbot, which can be accessed through Facebook messenger, works as a live chat tool via one-to-one messaging and push notifications. The BFF gives mums 24/7 access to expert NHS-trusted advice in a friendly way; responding to questions, alleviating concerns, and helping to dispel any breastfeeding myths.
Helen Riley, Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities at Staffordshire County Council said:
“This is a really useful tool for parents in Staffordshire who want some help and advice about breastfeeding. These sorts of tools can make all the difference to help mums get breastfeeding off to a good start.
“Getting much information and guidance as possible is really important, so in addition to the new online tool, there is also the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 and NHS Choices webpages which signpost families to wider local support and resources.”
In England, almost three quarters of mothers start breastfeeding (73%) when their child is born, but this drops to 44% at 6-8 weeks – with around half of new mums in the West Midlands region not continuing to breastfeed 6-8 weeks after birth.
Evidence shows the right support helps mums to breastfeed for longer, and Public Health England recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.
Breastfeeding boosts a baby’s ability to fight illness and infection. Babies who are not breastfed are more likely to get diarrhoea and respiratory infections. It also lowers a mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, and burns around 500 calories a day.
To access the Breastfeeding BFF, open Facebook Messenger and search ‘Start4Life Breast Feeding Friend’ to get started.