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Concealable Breast Pump Increases Milk Let Down

Technology #20150184

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Lactation DeviceBreast Pump Cup DesignConcealable Breast Pump
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Researchers
Meghan Leigh Thorne, PhD
Innovation Fellow Alumni, Medical Devices Center
External Link (www.mdc.umn.edu)
Ben Arcand, PhD
Director, Innovation Fellows, Medical Devices Center
External Link (tli.umn.edu)
Daniel Glumac, PhD
Innovation Fellow Alumni, Medical Devices Center
External Link (www.mdc.umn.edu)
Managed By
Kevin Anderson
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-8293
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending

Wearable Lactation Device

A next-generation breast pump design offers nursing mothers increased convenience and privacy. The low profile, one piece device can be concealed within a bra and held in place with self-adhesive backing. It conforms to multiple breast sizes and fits comfortably and unobtrusively under clothing. Milk passes through a channel routed along the circumference of the breast into flexible, concealable containers that facilitate collection, storage and even consumption. Low friction hydrophilic hydrogel coatings provide “slick” friction and compression that mimic the feel and rhythm of breastfeeding a baby.

Similar to Hand Expression

A unique aspect of this device is the option for either physical massage or transcutaneous electrical stimulation to help increase quantity and quality of milk. The physical massage feature is similar to hand expression techniques; it uses soft actuator technology or strain limiting fibers with a heated option to provide configurable actuation in a wide range of motion. Electrical stimulation uses a removable electrode array connected to a small electrical stimulation unit, such as a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device, which can induce oxytocin release and promote milk let down.

Improves Breast Milk Quality and Volume

Current breast pumps face a number of drawbacks that may prevent their ongoing use. They tend to be large, heavy and cumbersome; require significant time to express milk as well as to assemble, disassemble and clean; lack privacy and tend to be noisy. In addition, they do not offer physical stimulation to boost prolactin and oxytocin responses for milk expression, which can improve both milk volume and fat content. This low profile, quiet, hands free device makes it easy for mothers to express their milk in semi-private or workplace environments, which in turn keeps their milk supply up so they won’t need to turn to formula. The optional electrode stimulation and/or physical massages aspects of the device stimulate and induce the letdown of breast milk, resulting in faster and greater release of more nutrient rich, fatty milk and may even prevent mastitis.

Innovative Features and Accessories

Other innovative features include a one way valve that seals a disconnected container, a quick release mechanism for easy bag removal and transfer, and a quick flushing mechanism to clean the system while still wearing it. Add-on accessories may include a cooling mechanism for the milk, rigid bottles (with attachable nipples) that easily hold the bagged milk, a low profile carrying case and a low profile storage container. Furthermore, a discreet mobile app offering the mother privacy and convenience may control the massage and stimulation settings, such as different massaging patterns, frequencies, and amplitudes.

BENEFITS AND FEATURES OF CONCEALABLE LACTATION ASSISTIVE DEVICE:

  • Low profile, hands free device offers convenience and privacy
  • Comfortable, quiet and unobtrusive
  • Provides physical massage or transcutaneous electrical stimulation to help increase quantity and quality of milk

APPLICATIONS:

  • Breast pumps
  • Breastfeeding

Phase of Development - Early Stage Prototype