'Alexa, how do I get my baby to latch on?' Amazon's virtual assistant will now help mums breastfeed

PHE have introduced a new breastfeeding virtual assistant to help new mums [Photo: Getty]

From getting your baby to latch on, to not knowing if they’re getting enough milk, for many new mums breastfeeding can be a tricky business.

But now women are being offered help to breastfeed through Amazon Alexa.

Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new tool, Breastfeeding Friend, that is available through the virtual assistant.

If new mums ask the chatbot specific questions, it can give advice on topics such as latching and frequency of feeding, and the answers will be provided tailored to the age of the baby.

Based on NHS advice and working with Mumsnet, the virtual assistant can also offer advice on other common issues including tongue-tie, a baby’s weight, skin-to-skin contact and post-natal depression.

The tool was created following a recent survey of 1,000 mothers that revealed nearly two thirds believe access to 24/7 support would make new mums more likely to have a positive experience of breastfeeding.

Currently almost three-quarters of women start breastfeeding when their child is born but by six to eight weeks this drops to just 44%.

This makes breastfeeding rates in England among the lowest in the world.

Public Health England recommends exclusive breastfeeding for around the first six months.

The UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world [Photo: Getty]

Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at Public Health England said she hopes the Alexa initiative will help boost breastfeeding rates and reduce the number of mums abandoning nursing their babies.

“Breastfeeding, whilst natural, is something that mothers and babies learn together, and whilst learning, women may have questions and setbacks,” she said.

“PHE is working with health professionals to make sure women are not embarrassed and receive timely help. 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.”

“This tool, together with the range of support materials from Start4Life, can provide breastfeeding advice at any time of night or day and support mothers and their partners and families through challenges they may face.”

She goes on to explain that the chatbot service mean mums can access breastfeeding advice any time of the day or night.

The information provided by all the Start4Life services is NHS-approved and both services are independent of Amazon and Facebook.

Speaking about the new service Justine Roberts, CEO and Founder of Mumsnet, who helped advise on the Alexa scheme said: “Breastfeeding is a hard-won skill for many women, and most mothers will experience a setback along the way, particularly in the first few weeks.”

“We see from conversations on Mumsnet that mothers are looking for breastfeeding support 24/7, and in fact middle-of-the-night crises when face-to-face help isn’t available can be the most profoundly lonely and difficult. These new round-the-clock digital services could provide help when mothers need it most.”

Breastfeeding Friend, created as part of PHE’s Start4Life programme, is also available on other platforms including Facebook Messenger and the Start4Life website.

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