Innovations in Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding. It’s an age-old way to nourish your baby, but innovations in technology, textiles, and public perception constantly redefine modern breastfeeding. With each generation, innovations in breastfeeding strive to make this act of love, nurture and nourishment one that is increasingly easier for moms who want to have it all, including healthy babies. And along the way, these inventive measures help reaffirm that breast milk is the #1 food on the planet for babies with benefits for a lifetime, and breastfeeding improves families, communities, and the global population.
Here’s a look at some of the major recent innovations in breastfeeding:
Breast pumps have been around way longer than you might think. The first mechanical breast pump was patented in 1854. This version was a portable breast pump and the first to use rubber flanges, replacing standard glass flanges which were the norm at that time. Since then, there have been many advancements in breast pump technology including removable storage containers, various speeds, suction strengths and rhythms, and hands-free breast pumps.
While everything from manual to hospital-grade breast pumps are typical now, some models are stand-outs for their inventive design features. Most notably is the Willow breast pump, which is hands-free, wearable and wireless. The Willow simply slips inside your nursing bra and quietly collects milk in an attached pouch. It syncs to an app that calculates volume. Pretty amazing!
Despite all this innovation, breast pumps aren’t perfect, and the industry is still working to improve upon nature’s simulation. In 2014 MIT hosted a hackathon called “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!,” in which engineers and inventors competed in breast pump innovation ideas.
Speaking of apps, there are now many of them aimed at supporting the breastfeeding experience. Basic tracking apps help moms record feeding times and stats, as well as other infant-care information like your baby’s elimination and sleeping schedule. Similar apps track pumping for working moms. Some apps give up-to-date information on clean and friendly places to breastfeed, pump and change your baby. Others educate moms on how certain medications may affect your breast milk or milk supply. And some apps are simply fantastic resources for breastfeeding moms who may need quick access to information regarding nursing, such as breast milk storage, low milk supply, and engorgement.
Nursing bras are not a new invention, but the way they are designed and the materials used now are quite inventive. Leading Lady is proud to be a leader in the nursing bra industry. We recognize that new moms breastfeed during their busy lives, so our innovative designs ensure moms can do everything they love without skipping a beat. Our comprehensive collection of nursing bras features moisture-wicking sports bras, sleep and leisure bras, t-shirt bras and nursing camis.
Leading Lady is also inspired by technology in other categories of nursing innovation. The Chrissy, our new hands-free breast pump nursing bra, features a secure inner lining that holds your breast pump in place. The Ruby utilizes unique cooling technology to ensure nursing moms stay cool and dry despite the weather, leaky breasts, or hormonal shifts. Plus, each of our styles draws on our signature comfort, support, and fit features so new moms like you not only have convenient nursing access, but also a bra that makes you look and feel great.
According to the Surgeon General’s Office, the reason approximately half of new moms prematurely stop nursing before the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of six months of exclusive breastfeeding is fear their baby is not getting enough milk. Israeli-based MomSense developed a device that monitors breast milk consumption to help ease these concerns and support moms who may need to supplement. The technology plugs into your smartphone or tablet and rests under your baby’s earlobe to track sucking and swallowing. For some moms, this type of invention can make the difference between continued breastfeeding and unnecessary early weaning.
Breast milk donation banks are popping up all over the country. But you don’t even have to live near one to donate or purchase breast milk from one. Mother’s who wish to donate are screened and given specific instructions for pumping and storing milk. Then they send their milk to breast milk donation banks to be used by moms who want to provide the very best nutrition for their babies but cannot. These may include mothers who were not able to produce enough milk or had to undergo surgery after childbirth that caused them not to be able to breastfeed. It also supports adopted babies. This community resource allows families to make healthy choices for their babies even when breastfeeding isn’t possible.
New moms have many choices for storing breast milk, thanks to many clever inventions. In fact, many storage containers attach directly to breast pumps making it easier than ever to pump, store, and serve breast milk. For moms who pump often, storage bags keep milk sanitary and organizers ensure you use your milk in the order it was stored. Bottle warmers also show wonderful innovation as these devices allow you to easily thaw milk in a matter of minutes.
In some parts of the world, breastfeeding is the norm and completely expected of all new mothers. But in some cultures, breastfeeding may be taboo. No matter where you’ve come from, there is no denying that breast milk is the perfect food for your newborn. It’s tailor-made for your baby’s growth and development at all stages of infancy and beyond.
Breastfeeding awareness campaigns and breastfeeding support efforts help bring this global health phenomenon into the public arena with fact-based information on infant feeding as well as hands-on support for mothers who need it. These efforts acknowledge that breastfeeding may be hard and foreign to some mothers. You may be met with opposition from your friends and family and even your own baby. But the research proves it is worth it for the health and wellbeing of your baby now and in the future. Support groups like La Leche League and a growing number of lactation consultants help mothers succeed. The result: breastfeeding rates have improved significantly in recent decades.
Each generation of new moms raises the expectations for innovations in breastfeeding. The demand to modernize breastfeeding and pumping is undeniable but the act of love and nourishment from mom to baby is a tale as old as time.
Sources: Pumpables, Huffington Post, Babble, Fast Company, and Healthy Newborn Network