Rethinking the breast pump experience

Abstract

One of ten babies faces a rough start in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Those premature or sick babies often cannot nurse at the mother´s breast themselves - therefore milk expression becomes the only way of providing newborn infants with the manifold benefits of breast milk for healthy growth and development. Current solutions do not address functional and emotional user needs for successful milk expression in an exhausting hospital environment sufficiently.

How might we reduce physical and emotional barriers of expressing milk in a stressful NICU environment while creating a positive and comforting experience that retains the beauty of nursing?

Inspiration and Method

This project is based on insights and design opportunities that have been identified during the initial research phase. A user-centered design process in close collaboration with mothers and pediatric nurses at the neonatal intensive care unit at Umeå University Hospital was applied throughout the project. Continuous conversations as well as constantly testing & evaluating ideas with users and experts helped to purposefully define the project scope and achieve an innovative, user-focused design solution.

Result

Introducing Junia, a seamless product system for enhancing physical and emotional comfort in milk expression. The connected system consists of four parts plus a digital mobile application, and is a focused solution for hospital environments.

Soft, comfortable silicone inserts redefine how milk expression works, by creating local negative pressure and equally applying massage & compression to the surrounding breast tissue. Welded all-silicone milk collection bags seamlessly connect to the insert and two dedicated bag sizes make for a good and reassuring feeling, even with small milk expression volumes. A comfortable-to-wear expression bra holds the silicone inserts and allows for individual adjustability, while at the same time offering a discrete solution that maintains privacy and physical comfort in a hospital environment. The expression system and the bra can be worn without interfering with the mother´s individual choice of clothing, an at the same time make for a hands-free solution that allows mothers to bond and connect with their newborn baby while expressing milk. A considered stand unit – a sculptural yet functional product with female design cues – ties the system together and elegantly houses the functional and mechanical parts. An integrated cooling compartment holds up to four milk bags to conveniently get mothers through the night without getting up. Intuitive, clear connectors and integrated design details make for a user-friendly solution.

Junia not only rethinks milk expression from a functional point of view and in terms of mechanical principles, but also rebrands the process & user experience towards a more positive perception by reducing stigmatization, discomfort and lowering the threshold for successful & effortless milk expression.

Junia - Retaining the beautiful aspects of nursing.