Breast milk has long been the gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition. It promotes natural growth, supplies newborns with optimal nutrition, and reduces their risk of developing diseases and illnesses. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of their lives.
Nevertheless, exclusive breastfeeding isn’t possible for all mothers. Many of them suffer from low supply issues or engorgement, which prevents them from nursing their little ones.
Fortunately, advances in technology have led to the development of tools that help mothers tackle various challenges linked with nursing.
In this article, we’ll discuss some cutting-edge technologies that are revolutionizing the process of breastfeeding and improving the outcome for both the child and the mother. But before that, let’s take a look at why breastfeeding is important in the first few months of life.
The Importance of Breastfeeding in the First Few Months of Life
Health experts consider breast milk the best source of nutrition for babies. Milk produced by a mother’s mammary glands contains everything little ones need to grow into healthy beings. It has the perfect blend of protein, vitamins, and fat.
Breast milk is also loaded with antibodies that help protect babies from illnesses, including meningitis and respiratory infections. Cells that fight off infection are known as antibodies.
Recent research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UMSOM) Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) reveals breast milk-fed preemies are healthier than those who are formula-fed. Content present in breast milk isn’t the only thing that makes a difference. But the way babies digest it also matters.
Researchers discovered a strain of the Bifidobacterium breve bacteria (B. breve) in the gut of preemies who received breast milk in higher volumes than their counterparts. Consequently, breastfed preemies developed an intact intestinal wall, which allowed for better nutrient absorption.
Preemies have a leaky or immature gut in the first few weeks after birth. A leaky gut increases a child’s risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis. NEC, or necrotizing enterocolitis, is a serious disease that affects the intestines of preemies. The mortality rate of this life-threatening illness is as high as 50%, and it mostly affects neonates.
Nonetheless, B. breve found in breast milk helps preemies develop their intestinal barrier faster.
Though common in preterm, NEC can occur in near-term or full-term babies. According to the Birth Injury Help Center, this condition generally occurs in babies who are fed formula instead of breast milk. Several clinical studies demonstrate that cow’s milk-based infant formula increases the risk of NEC in preemies.
Enfamil and Similac are two common bovine-based formulas linked with NEC, notes TorHoerman Law. An increasing number of parents have filed lawsuits against Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturers of Enfamil and Similac, respectively. NEC baby formula lawsuits allege that cow’s milk-based formula caused their premature babies to develop NEC, a serious gastrointestinal disease.
As for the latest NEC lawsuit update, no NEC baby formula lawsuits have been settled or gone to trial yet. While determining exact settlement amounts is difficult, lawyers estimate that plaintiffs could receive between $5,000 to over $500,000.
Given the risks associated with infant formula, mothers must feed their babies breast milk exclusively for the first six months.
3 Innovative Technologies Revolutionizing Breastfeeding
Here are a few cutting-edge technologies that are making a significant difference in the breastfeeding experience for mothers worldwide:
1. Smart Breast Pumps
Traditional breast pumps have long been used by women to pump milk to boost their milk supply or build a freezer stash. But, in recent years, smart breast pumps have gained traction, and it’s easy to see why.
These breast pumps are integrated with sensors, wireless connectivity, and tracking capabilities. Mothers can connect these pumps to their smartphones and monitor their milk production. You can also track the duration of your pumping session as well as the amount of milk you’re producing.
Unlike traditional pumps, smart breast pumps are designed with mobility in mind. You can wear these under your clothing and pump milk while cleaning up, changing diapers, or running errands.
Most smart breast pumps are equipped with Responsive Pump technology. This technology allows the breast pump to sense changes in a mother’s body and the environment and adjust its settings. This contributes to a more personalized experience.
2. Hands-Free Breast Pumping Massage Bra
Another groundbreaking invention revolutionizing the breastfeeding experience for women is the hands-free pumping massage bra.
When you’re lactating, massaging the breasts while nursing or pumping can relieve painful conditions like engorgement (painful swelling of both breasts) and mastitis (breast inflammation that occurs due to a backup of milk in the milk ducts). Massaging the breasts also boosts milk supply.
Average nursing bras have slits or clips that allow pumps to access the breast easily.
Though similar, hands-free pumping massage bras include a massage mechanism in the cup. This inclusion of massage elements in pumping bras is a game-changer for lactating mothers.
Hands-free pumping massage bras mimic compression massage, which can boost milk supply. As they imitate massage motions recommended by experts, the breasts are emptied fully. This helps mothers establish or maintain their milk supply.
You can control the massage settings of this bra through a remote control or your smartphone.
3. Smart Wearable Meters
Over the past decade, there has been a surge in wearable technology, including smartwatches and activity trackers. This cutting-edge technology has now made its way into the domain of nursing.
Wearable technology allows nursing mothers to monitor and measure their babies’ milk intake in real time while breastfeeding. Smart wearable meters are similar to earphones except that they are outfitted with sensors so that mothers can listen to the swallowing sounds of their babies.
These headphones are compatible with smartphones, so you can measure how much milk your baby consumes when nursing. Besides recording and tracking nursing patterns over time, it provides mothers with helpful tips that simplify the breastfeeding experience.
In a nutshell, technological strides are reshaping the breastfeeding experience for mothers worldwide. Be it smart breast pumps or hands-free breast-pumping massage bras, these innovations are helping mothers tackle common issues associated with breastfeeding.
Earlier, it was difficult for mothers to figure out if their babies were getting enough breast milk. But, the introduction of smart wearable meters takes the guesswork out by letting them track how much milk their baby consumes while nursing.
Looking ahead, ongoing technological advancements promise to enhance the breastfeeding experience even further so that every mother can navigate it with ease and confidence.