Using Smart Technology to Support Breastfeeding Mothers
For mothers on the go, breastfeeding or pumping breast milk is often a challenge. Finding a private place to nurse or pump can be hard, and even when moms are able to locate a lactation space, the areas can be difficult—or awkward—to access and often unsanitary. (A New York Post article surveyed NYC lactation spaces and the results were grim!) All of this adds undue stress for moms. Designing lactation spaces takes a true understanding of breastfeeding mothers’ physical, emotional and logistical considerations. At Mamava we think that smart technology can offer elegant design solutions.
Lactation spaces should be easy to find.
Finding a space to pump or nurse can be really stressful for moms, so it was important for us at Mamava to create a comprehensive directory of lactation spaces, and not just Mamava pods. Doing this within an app allowed us to use GPS technology to guide mothers to where they need to go. Today, our Mamava app includes thousands of lactation spaces nationwide, many submitted by moms (and vetted by the Mamava team). The app’s intuitive user interface makes it easy for moms to add new locations and review spaces so moms know what to expect. Leveraging technology, and cultivating a community, has helped us to keep our lactation space locator resource up to date and growing every day.
Lactation spaces should support autonomous access.
Some lactation spaces require moms to call a number to request access or track down someone for a key (who may or may not be available when a mom needs the space). Such barriers to direct access create unnecessary friction for moms by inserting a middleman directly at the point of need. Moms shouldn’t have to ask for permission or explain what they need. We designed our Mamava app to allow mothers to unlock Mamava pods with a touch of a button.
Lactation spaces should feel relaxing.
Research suggests that anxiety, stress, or discomfort can inhibit milk flow and even reduce the immune-boosting properties of the milk itself. At a minimum, a lactation space requires a locking door to reassures mom that no one will walk in and an outlet so she doesn’t have to worry about batteries. Comfortable seating and a pleasant interior environment with additional amenities like adjustable lighting and air flow can go a long way towards creating a peaceful place for letdown. In our newest pods, moms can use the Mamava app to adjust the interior lights and air flow to her preference. Our app also features “Sounds for Letdown,” including babies and a gentle white noise for acoustic privacy to cover the sound of a pump.
Lactation space “extras” should be considered thoughtfully.
Pumping milk can be an isolating experience for moms. At Mamava, we’ve discovered moms appreciate encouragement from others who “get it.” Some private (workplace) lactation spaces include bulletin boards for photographs or notes for other pumping colleagues. In our public pods, moms often leave physical notes for the next mama. Drawing from this insight, we created the ability for moms to leave in-app messages for the next mom(s) using the Mamava pod. Just as community features in health tracking apps can make getting fit and eating healthier more fun and less lonely, applying digital enhancements to lactation supports can help mothers frame their pumping experiences in a more positive perspective.