A Medical Device Aimed At Nurses To Teach Breastfeeding

Sep 28, 2018

Romary and his team with their breastfeeding device.
Credit Courtesy Purdue University

Today’s nurses may be using outdated materials that keep them from training future moms how to properly breastfeed. But Purdue engineering students are unveiling a device to aid them.

The device uses a plastic baby doll, equipped with sensors, to simulate a newborn. The doll interacts with a model of a female torso and gives feedback to health professionals whether the nipple is placed correctly for the child to nurse.

Researcher Daniel Romary says current teaching techniques don’t account for proper positioning, such as teaching caregivers to place newborns along the mother’s stomach.

Purdue grad students say improper technique may be causing many Indiana parents to experience discomfort while breastfeeding, which may cause them to stop the process earlier than specialists recommend.

Romary wants the device he and his team have spent a semester on to change that. "Paper based materials or videos. So things that aren't really hands-on and the hands-on things that do exist aren't that accurate," Romary says.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report from 2016, more than four of every five mothers breastfeed their newborns. Yet at the six-month mark, that number drops to about half.