Philadelphia Health Department partners with app to offer free virtual breastfeeding support

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) The city of Philadelphia is helping nursing moms during the coronavirus pandemic with free breastfeeding support. 

With lactation centers closed and other non-essential employees working from home, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the city is investing in a service to help parents with breastfeeding. 

"Free virtual breastfeeding support is available through Pacify,” Kenney said. 

Pacify is an app that can be downloaded onto any smartphone. It requires a membership password, but through the organization's partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, enrollment is free with the code "Philly."

Pacify co-founder and CEO George Brandes says the partnership with the city had been in the works prior to the coronavirus crisis.

"We were going to do a pilot together and when all of this started happening around COVID and the crisis began, they contacted us and they said we'd like to accelerate this and make it available to all moms in the Philadelphia area,” Brandes explained. 

Brandes says there are no appointments, and it's essentially an on-demand video call.

"We have a national network of lactation consultants that work similar to the way Uber or Lyft work, where they have full-time clinical jobs and they're taking these calls in their off-hours,” he said. 

Brandes explains that many hospitals, in an effort to free up space and support staff, are discharging maternity patients in half the time that they normally would.

"So what's happening when you do that is that you're getting less support and particularly around infant feeding, that's a universal challenge for new moms and infants,” he said. 

And sometimes, learning what to do takes time, so having this kind of on-demand support out of the hospital improves outcomes.

Pacify offers unlimited video consultations with nurses, nutritionists and lactation consultants.  

Once you register, you can reach out to the professionals linked through the app in a video phone call.