A free app to help new mothers find and rate breastfeeding-friendly places while they are out and about has been developed.
The Feed Finder app has been designed by Newcastle University to encourage confidence in breastfeeding and to help ensure women get out in the first months of motherhood.
It has been developed to be usable with one hand on smart phones and allows people to rate venues such as cafes, restaurants, shops and public places around the world on their attitude towards breastfeeding. Mothers give ratings for five key issues - comfort, hygiene, privacy, baby facilities and affordability.
Dr Madeline Balaam, who created the app with Research Assistant Selina Sutton, PhD student Andy Garbett and undergraduate Edward Jenkins, said the aim was to help make breastfeeding as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Dr Balaam, a computer scientist at Newcastle University with special expertise in interaction design for healthcare, education and wellbeing, came up with the idea while working on a previous project with new mothers learning to breastfeed for the first time.
She said: "The mums I met told me that one of the reasons they were struggling to enjoy breastfeeding was because they found it so isolating.
"First-time mums in particular felt uncomfortable about feeding in public, they didn't know where they could go that would be breastfeeding friendly and were anxious about being out and about and the baby suddenly needing to feed and not knowing where to go.
"Some said they rarely left the house in those first few months as they tried to juggle frequent feeds. The aim of the app was to take away some of that worry so they could continue to get out and meet their friends and do the things they did before baby came along.
"The knock-on effect, we hope, is that it helps women to enjoy breastfeeding and continue breastfeeding for longer."
Initially designed with the help of 30 mums who have rated public places around Tyne and Wear, the next step is to raise awareness of the app and get mums across the UK filling in the map. The app can be downloaded free at: http://feed-finder.co.uk/