Just half of Wangaratta mothers are exclusively breastfeeding for the first three months of their babies’ lives, and now a smartphone app has been launched during World Breastfeeding Week to grow that number.
Laura Tonkin of Northeast Health Wangaratta and Gateway Health’s Jessica Colman, who are working on the ‘Latch onto Breastfeeding’ campaign, have been developing the app for the past 12 months.
“We’re aiming for 60 per cent (of mothers breastfeeding in the first three months),” Ms Colman said.
“Health benefits for the baby include increased resistance to a number of infections and diseases, but it’s the benefits to the mother that aren’t as widely recognised such as a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
“We’ve worked on key messages about what partners, family, businesses and community can do to support a mum and her baby.
“If she has support services in place and the right advice we can help make her journey breastfeeding a long and successful one.”
The app shows what kind of facilities are across the North East from breastfeeding-friendly cafes and businesses to changing rooms.
Ms Tonkin said there was also ‘breastfeeding maps’ planning out the journey for mums, with an aim to integrate the map for Wodonga in the near future.
“It tells you what to expect at certain times and what tests and other things you should be doing,” she said.
“Especially for new mothers, this helps them with their journey.”
The ‘Latch onto Breastfeeding’ campaign has been running since 2012 and was identified as a priority by the Central Hume Primary Care Partnership, which incorporates five health services from Benalla to Mansfield.
In the past, Ms Colman and Ms Tonkin have supported the Co-Store Wangaratta to develop a parents’ room with a lack of similar facilities identified in Wangaratta – mums were going to Albury instead for their shopping.
There are hopes to co-ordinate prenatal information into the app in the future and to set up notifications for appointments.
The app can be downloaded on the Apple App and Google Play stores, by searching “breastfeeding gateway”.