Aanchal: Encouraging Breastfeeding

Femme Smart is a new segment at continnect. In this segment, we look at apps created by or for women. We talk about newly created apps- Apps that help with social gains and empowerment, lifestyle apps and apps that are used particularly by women every day and apps that are popular with women across the globe. This week, we discuss the app- Aanchal- a Hindi language Android app from India that is helping breastfeeding mothers.

Aanchal

The word Aanchal in Hindi means the end of a saree and is also often associated with women being a protective shelter. And just like its name Aanchal, the app is a product of an all-women team.

The Idea

“The idea for Aanchal app germinated at a women’s get together we had at work.” Says Gunjan Srivastava, Aanchal’s project Coordinator and Digital Marketing Analyst. The other specialists in the team are Sonam Singhal, Android developer, Anjali, the designer of the app and Nivesha Gupta who enjoys testing all the features of the app. The team works out of an office as part of an IT company operating from the green valley of Uttarakhand- a small Indian state, nestled in the Himalayas.

While they discussed breastfeeding over coffee and cakes the team realized a lot could be done to help nursing mothers in India. As they dug deeper, they found most of the apps were in English(none in Hindi) catering to only a limited number of Indian women.

A first Nursing App in Hindi

“They are far from issues that a rural or semi-urban mother can face. So we thought of developing an app in Hindi to dispense the knowledge, disperse the myths and provide a helping hand to breastfeeding mothers.” Says Gunjan. This led to the obvious need- to launch an app in a language spoken by mothers in rural and smaller cities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) exclusive breastfeeding to newborn for first 6 months can lower the infant mortality rate. With that intention, the app aims to encourage breastfeeding in India and diffuse the myths associated with it. Launched on Women’s day 2016, Aanchal is available on google playstore and has over 70 active users so far.

The App

Aanchal app works as a support for new mothers who have no awareness about breastfeeding and problems they can face while nursing. “A mother needs to know that exclusive breastfeeding is the elixir for her child. None of the baby food can replace her milk. Exclusive breastfeeding can save many lives. Infant mortality rate (IMR) a key marker of maternal and child health stands at 37/1,000 live births in India.” Says Gunjan Srivastava.
A mother may have many questions regarding breastfeeding a newborn. Sometimes a mother may not breastfeed because of certain problems or misconceptions. “Our main objective is to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies.” Says Gunjan.

Here are some of the Features and Benefits of using Aancal App.

Features Benefits
Q & A format Information available all the time. Can be used in Offline mode (except when sending emails).
Governement schemes related to mother & infant An app in Hindi so can be used in rural and semi-urban areas
Has a form to contact us if a mother has any questions Mother can use it in privacy of her home. Treat is like an older person dispensing information

The Future

The Aanchal team is further working on developing the app in other Indian languages. The team with the help of accredited Social health Activists is reaching out to many women in the rural areas and encourage breastfeeding.

Their next update will contain Immunization schedule. It will include details for each vaccination and awareness about the vaccination. Users will need to add the date of birth of the baby and immunization schedule. They will automatically receive updates for tentative dates and the app will send notifications a day earlier and on the day of vaccination.

Positive Response

Since its launch, Aanchal has had a positive response from its increasing number of users. Dana Hardy is a Childbirth and Lactation Educator in India. Here’s what she had to say about Aanchal “We know 2 things…breastfeeding saves lives and knowledge is power. Aanchal App puts knowledge into the hands of millions of Hindi-speaking women. It is a great resource because it compiles information into one source for today’s busy Indian women. With good information and support, women will make better choices for their baby and their family. Breastfeeding in the first hour and exclusively for 6 months saves lives…Thanks Aanchal.”

You can download the Aanchal app here and reach the team though facebook and Twitter    

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