miku - a breast pump system to empower the working mom.
Miku is a breast pump system to empower the working mom.
During breastfeeding a baby stimulates their mother's breast in order to produce milk. Unfortunately, after maternal leave a working mom's breastfeeding routine is interrupted. This affects their milk supply by reducing and sometimes stopping their milk production.
Pumps in the market expose mom's breasts when in use, forcing them to find a private place to pump. Moms are usually forced to hold the suction device while pumping, interrupting their daily activities and tiring their bodies. The average pumping time during a work day adds up to 2 hours. 62% of women who gave birth in the past year are back in the workforce, unfortunately only 40% of them had access to break time and a private space to pump.
Miku's goal is to stimulate breast milk production while giving freedom to moms during the pumping process.
The comfortable silicone pump is worn below maternity underwear, letting moms continue with most of their daily activities. Miku's motor has an organic suction pattern to simulate babies suction and it is significantly quieter, letting moms use it while in work. The pumped milk is immediately collected in a miku milk bag in order to avoid losing milk by changing containers. These bags have a sticker with a time-temperature technology to indicate if breast milk is old or has been stored at an inadequate temperature. In addition, a photo recognition app helps moms to keep a digital inventory of their stored milk bags; including time, date, quantity and pumping patterns by snapping a photo from their smartphones. This analogue and digital service ecosystem aims to fulfill modern mom's needs.
Problem Working moms struggle to keep up with pumping and milk production.
Goal To free moms from the pumping process, stimulate breast milk production and create an effective breast milk storage system.
Research The number of working women in the workforce number has been growing for the past years. As research shows, 62% of woman who gave birth in the last 12 months are back in the workforce.* Unfortunately, work facilities are not always equipped to provide a private space for these moms to pump. In addition to that, the nature of regular breast pumps do not let moms continue with their daily activities. his forces a working mom to take up to four 20-minute breaks throughout the day, taking over a lot of time from their already busy day.
But why keep breastfeeding after all these inconveniences? Breastmilk has infinite benefits not only for the child, but also the mother. Breast milk has key benefits in a child development, building their immune system while decreasing the probabilities of disease and allergies throughout the babies life. For a mom, producing breast milk reduces chances of getting breast cancer, depression, osteoporosis and many other diseases. Breast milk is also the most natural and adequate food to give to a baby.
Market Analysis Pumps in the market offer very similar designs. Most of them require mothers to unbutton or take out their top in order to pump. The majority of pumps force moms to hold the suction cup while pumping. Pumping both breasts at the same time in order to save time is very common. This force moms to be absolutely conscious and dependant on pumping.
Ethnography Interviews After interviewing over 30 moms from 17 to 36 years old we got several quotes that communicate their pumping experience: "It is not the most dignifying thing", "I felt degrading. You are not an attractive nurturing mother, you feel more like a cow in a dairy."
Jennifer is one of the working moms that impressed us the most. She would have more than 8 pumping or breastfeeding sessions throughout the day, which meant that she pumped more than three times during her work day. Some days during lunch time her husband would bring their son for her to breastfeed him. They both strongly believed in feeding their kids with the most natural and best source of food. Jennifer was taking a total of approximately 2 hours every day for pumping and cleaning the device. This routine was creating her high levels of stress during her work day, especially during lunch time. As research shows, breast milk production is highly affected and reduced by stress.
On top of the pumping process, Jennifer had to bring a small cooler to store the pumped milk since she didn't feel comfortable placing them surrounded by food in the office fridge. At home, she managed to create her own inventory system by writing the date and time on the milk bags with a sharpie and storing them on different boxes tagged by month.
Isn't there a better way to help moms through this complex process? Shouldn't these products change to address the modern women lifestyle?
Design opportunity Inspired by every working mom on the globe, miku is a pump system that improves mother's physical and emotional well being throughout the course of breastfeeding.
Prototyping and user testing An iterative prototyping was key for the development of miku. Every Tuesday or Thursday prototypes were tested at Forsyth park in Savannah, Georgia; right after a group mom workout. Moms gave great feedback about the prototypes and feel of the product as well as validate the ideas behind them. Close testing was also done with Jennifer to incorporate her thoughts and reactions.
The Pump The pump is composed by two individual silicone pumps worn below maternity underwear. By pumping both breasts at the same while being free handed, moms can save time and continue with their daily routines. The ergonomic silicone shell lets them easily grab it and place it on their breast. The silicone flange has a ring around the nipple to simulate baby's' gums in order to stimulate milk production. When storing, both pumps snap into place on the sides of the motor and the suction tube loops around the core body of the motor to avoid clutter. All the pump parts are dishwasher safe for optimal cleaning.
The motor has an organic suction pattern that simulates the natural suction and rhythm that babies have. The pump´s rechargeable battery is charged with a mini USB cable letting moms charge it on the go.
For collecting the milk, a color-coded tube connects the pump with a one-way valve placed on a milk bag. The pumped milk is immediately stored in the milk bag in order to avoid losing any breast milk if changing containers. A second one-way valve is crucial to let air leave the bag while milk is entering the packaging.
The Packaging The milk bags are placed in a cotton pouch that connects with the pump. This reassures moms that the milk bag is securely fastened to the pump and milk tube. Since the milk bag is placed upside down while pumping, the pouch opening lets moms read how much milk is being collected.
miku milk bags come in an exchangeable roll that sits in a practical dispenser. Since the rolls would be sold separately, they can be replaced when finished without buying a new dispenser. The packaging let's moms pull the bags they need for the day and quickly snap them off the roll. After, she can easily paste back the sticker flap on the dispenser. When removing all the sticker from the bag the time-temperature technology activates. Each roll of milk bags brings a month's supply of bags with a key combination of 4 colors, each with 12 numbers.
The sealed top bag avoids spills when the bag is upside down while pumping. If parents want to consume the milk inside or use a milk bag without the pumping system, they can tear off the top to open the packaging. Extra support on the sides of the bag help to get a better and more structured grasp when transferring the milk to another container.
Graphics and proportions were carefully taken in consideration to read the milk volume at a glance. The upside down measurement (top-bottom) lets moms see the amount of milk pumped. In addition, the volume capacity was studied and reduced in comparison with other bags in the market. miku´s bag volume capacity resembles babies' feeding portions to avoid throwing away unused milk. The time-temperature technology indicates when milk is near to expire by turning white. This technology makes the sticker´s ink loose pigment when it is more than 5 months old or when it has been exposed for too long at an inadequate temperature.
The app Breast milk data is captured from photo recognition technology that records the amount, time and date as well as storage method. This way, moms get and 'expiring milk' notification based on past submissions. Besides being a notification it also works as an incentive to donate breast milk. Pumping data patterns and milk inventory information is gathered on a daily basis and can be easily accessed on the calendar.
An analogue and digital service ecosystem designed to fulfill a modern mom needs.
It is a well-executed project throughout including research and development of an ecosystem solution.
Impressed with strong and deep insight leading to some great design insights. Well thought through product, particularly the idea of storing milk in sachets.