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Infant feeding & explaining the Anya app

March 15, 2023

from Maternity & Midwifery Forum, 14th March 2023

by Shel Banks IBCLC Infant feeding Specialist, Clinical Director – Anya

Helping parents think about infant feeding in pregnancy can be a challenge as they often cannot focus further than the birth. In this article Shel Banks, IBCLC Infant feeding Specialist, explains the Anya App, of which she is Director, and LatchAid as sources to help support new parents over the first 1000 days.

It is widely known that antenatal communication of valuable infant feeding messages and facilitating fully informed infant feeding choices antenatally can be really difficult. Those of you working directly with families know that it is tricky to get those points across to people in the time allowed.

The reality, as we know, is that first-time expectant parents often aren’t even thinking about preparing themselves for the postnatal period – they are generally focussed on the pregnancy, the labour and birth, and maybe the first few days afterwards. Second time around they are often more determined to be well informed and for ‘things to be different this time’. It may feel as if you are fighting fires with families, rather than being able to fully prepare them for feeding their babies, only to see more infant feeding problems arise later in their journey – and of course, we also often say that prevention is better than cure.

In the 22nd March edition of the Maternity & Midwifery Hour, Shel Banks IBCLC Infant Feeding Specialist will be chatting through the current infant feeding support landscape and providing us with 5 easy wins for frontline staff to get antenatal feeding information to ‘land’.

Shel has 13 years of NHS experience as an Infant Feeding Lead, running BFI accreditation programmes across Maternity, Neonatal and Health Visiting. In 2018 a chance meeting with Dr. Chen Mao Davies, attending the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers Conference with her daughter, led to the development of the unique 3D breastfeeding animation tool LatchAid – still a central part of the Anya app, a parenting and feeding digital support tool. Now we have added lots of additional features covering the 1000 days from conception to the child’s second birthday and been officially launched to families for over 18 months; we have rebranded to Anya in line with our expanded content.

Anya has secured public funding to develop the tool into an innovative, empathetic and credible resource for parents and have been working with several NHS trusts to pilot and now roll out our services. Anya is here to support them for 1,000 days – to give their child the best start in life.

This year we were asked to work with the NHS-backed Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare to investigate how our app could reduce health inequalities in maternity and infant care. We realised very quickly that we had to act antenatally and provide credible information, signposting and support at a time when attention is more easily caught. We have developed a tailored antenatal programme in the app which is accessible and inclusive, and serves the information in digestible pieces related to their age and stage. Feedback from healthcare professionals has been superb, so now we are developing FAQs and personalised content especially for healthcare professional continuing professional development (CPD).

Healthcare systems around the world – and perhaps especially in the UK – have a resource problem when it comes to new parents. It is the most medically risky and time-critical phase of a new mother’s life; so how to give the right support at the right time, and delivered efficiently and effectively? This is where Anya comes in; to be there when healthcare professionals can’t be. No other pregnancy and baby app is like Anya; with our 24/7 sentient AI-powered virtual supporter to answer questions and signpost resources, and the unique LatchAid 3D animated breastfeeding tool, delivering evidence-based information and support. All backed up by human specialists on-call and credible articles, videos and webinars.

A huge part of our workload at the birth centre is answering questions on the phone, whilst also coping with full ward attendee appointments.

If some of these questions can be answered (by Anya) then this reduces the pressure on our workload.

It’s so, so great to have a quality resource for professionals to direct families to.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Join us for the Maternity & Midwifery Hour on Wednesday 22nd March at 7pm (or register to watch back later) to find out more about the evidence base around communicating with parents and to pick up Shel’s 5 easy wins for effectively getting the messages across.


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