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#femtech friday: Breastfeeding

Aggiornamento: 5 feb 2022

Today’s Femtech Friday continues our pregnancy series. This post is about the physiology of breastfeeding, its role, and how technology can support mums through this challenging activity.

Let’s start with understanding the structure of the breast. The breast includes the nipple, the areola, the mammary tissue, and surrounding fat, connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves. During pregnancy, a hormone called prolactin stimulates the development of the breast tissue for the production of milk. After birth, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone fall rapidly, and prolactin along with oxytocin cause further milk production and secretion. Milk flows through the ducts that pass to the outside of the nipple. Glands in the areola secrete an oily fluid that protects the mum’s skin and produce an individual scent that attracts the baby to the breast.

Breast milk is easy to digest and contains all the nutrients that a baby needs in the first 6 months of life, including fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. It also contains factors that can help the baby’s immune system and the absorption of nutrients. Breastfeeding is often talked about as the most natural thing in the world, but it can be daunting and frustrating. With experts recommending feeding babies eight to twelve times a day (every two to three hours), it really is a full-time job. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will stop breastfeeding within the first two months from birth. This is often due to a lack of support, fatigue, concerns about supply, having to return to work, other childcare commitments often get in the way of breastfeeding.

New scientific and technological advancements are trying to address the lack of support and help mums in their very personal breastfeeding journeys. In the words of the World Health Organisation, “Breastfeeding is one of the best investments in global health: every $1 invested in breastfeeding generates $35 in return”. So let’s bring on the investment and innovation!

Keep an eye on new ventures innovating in this space:

  • Lactamo, specially designed ball made specifically for the needs of lactating breasts

  • Elvie, The ultra-quiet, wearable electric breast pump designed to discreetly slip inside your bra

  • Mymilklabs, milk sensing device for assessing your breastfeeding progress

  • Coroflo, a revolutionary shield with inbuilt flow measurement

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