By Te Aorewa Rolleston of RNZ
A wahine Māori and mother of five is launching a breastfeeding app in a bid to help other māmā have greater access to resources and raise healthy babies.
Amy Wray is a lactation consultant and midwife who has specialised in breastfeeding for much of her career.
After being inspired by her own mother who was also a midwife and lactation consultant, Wray recognised a need for other mothers to have access to resources that could help and guide them on their motherhood journey.
Driven by her passion to help others, Wray created the app Māmā Aroha in collaboration with Hāpai te Hauora, the New Zealand Breastfeeding Association, Mokopuna Ora and Kiwa Digital.
Wray said it was an online resource filled with aroha which she wanted to be simple and informative for mothers across Aotearoa who are going through a process she knows all too well.
It aims to normalise breastfeeding and provide support networks for other mothers.
"It's about reclaiming that knowledge space and giving it back to whānau and their hands and empowering them.
"The mahi that has gone into it has been inspired by real women and real whānau on a grassroots level.
"For mums who are new to breastfeeding, we want to break down the barriers as much as possible. "
Throughout her career Wray has also launched her own breastfeeding talk cards, kick-started her support programme called Kia Māmā, run a breastfeeding drop-in centre, taught antenatal classes and run breastfeeding education workshops amongst many other things.
During the Covid-19 lockdown Wray said she saw the demand for an online resource and so the successful talk cards were developed into the app.
"Through Covid and during that time, it highlighted a need to have the resource put into digital form to allow easier access for mums, whānau and also health professionals.
"Having it in a digital form has definitely been the goal and the way to move forward."
Wray has always felt a need to pass on the knowledge she has gained from a life's work.
Helping other Māori māmā and whānau was also important to her as she saw a gap in the knowledge base of those she was working with.
Creating something that was more user friendly, appealing and culturally appropriate were key things Wray focused on while completing the app.
"When you think about it, breastfeeding knowledge and skills should belong in the hands of wāhine or the women and the whānau.
"A lot of aroha has gone into it, from the mothers, from myself and from the health professionals."
Wray hopes to encourage conversations about breastfeeding and that the app provides consistent evidence-based research for māmā.
The Māmā Aroha app will launch on Friday, August 6.