A Cirencester woman's app designed to support news mothers with breastfeeding is being trialled by the NHS.

Dr Chen Mao Davies developed LatchAid following her own struggles with breastfeeding.

It has now been launched on the App Store, with the NHS prescribing it in a pilot project across six trusts - including Gloucestershire and Swindon & Wiltshire.

The project, funded by the Health Foundation, NHS England and NHS Improvement, aims to assess the effectiveness of the app in increasing breastfeeding rates in the participating areas.

If successful, the app could be prescribed for free across the UK.

The UK has one of the worst breastfeeding rates globally, with 90 per cent of women stopping breastfeeding before they would like to, according to NHS England.

The LatchAid platform uses a combination of 3D technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual peer support groups, and online ‘live’ experts to help teach women breastfeeding skills and provide them with personalised expertise and emotional support.

Chen, an Oscar-winning expert in computer graphics and animation, said: “We believe that every mother deserves the support and empowerment to give their child the best start in life.

“This is at the core of everything we do.”

Chen built the app with an ‘army’ of experts including infant feeding, baby development and maternal health specialists, as well as colleagues she worked with when developing CGI technologies for films such as Gravity.

By bringing these technologies together, LatchAid is able to provide detailed 3D animations – demonstrating how the baby should take the mother’s areola into his/her mouth, achieving a ‘deep latch’ that prevents damage to the breast.

LatchAid’s growth has been fuelled by support from Innovate UK EDGE and grants from Innovate UK.

“Innovate UK EDGE has provided critical support for our product launch and our B2C and B2B strategies, helping us to get off the ground,” said Chen.

“My innovation and growth specialist, Kathryn Green, also supported my application to the Women in Innovation Award, securing a £50k Innovate UK grant.

“The grant has been pivotal in helping LatchAid launch and the award has also helped to bring me out as a leader, someone who can also inspire others to solve the biggest societal problems.”