A NEW smartphone app designed by midwives to encourage new mums to breastfeed has been shortlisted for an award.

Basildon Hospital’s Feeding Together project has been nominated by the Royal College of Midwives for an Innovation in Midwifery award.

Lisette Harris and Geraldine Purver, specialist infant feeding midwives, took advice from young mothers about what sort of information about feeding their babies they wanted, and how they would prefer to receive it.

The pair created the Feeding Together brand, and promoted it on an app, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

The two midwives worked with health commissioners and the trust finance department to design a magazine-style Feeding Together app, launched in April 2012.

The midwives’ use of social media has boosted awareness of services that support mothers, and raised the numbers of young women who try breastfeeding.

Geraldine said: “We are noticing an increase in the under 25s, as well as other groups who are engaging with the Feeding Together team, via the many formats.

On wards, the number of women trying breastfeeding has clearly increased.”

Jenny Coveney, from Corringham, was one of the mothers encouraged to breastfeed by the programme.

Jenny’s daughter Ella-Mae was born in Basildon Hospital prematurely at 29 weeks. While Ella- Mae was in the neonatal intensive care unit Lisette introduced Jenny to the Feeding Together Facebook site, which Jenny says proved invaluable.

She said: “During the night time feeds when I needed inspiration to carry on I was quite shocked when after midnight I would post something and Lisette would ping a message straight back.”

The free app is packed with information about local services and groups, the benefits of breastfeeding and advice on the challenges newmums face.

There is also a section for dads and partners. The Twitter account has 600 followers and is growing daily, with many respected names in the field of infant feeding retweeting messages and commending the Feeding Together app.

Winners of the Royal College of Midwives awards will be announced in London on January 22.