Psst — have you heard that breastfeeding is good for babies and moms? Right alongside that oft-repeated news is a new study about the difficulty of juggling work and breastfeeding a baby. “Timing of Return to Work and Breastfeeding in Australia,” published online May 16 in Pediatrics, shows that mothers who worked 19 or less hours weekly were more likely to continue breastfeeding than moms who worked longer hours, no matter when they returned to work.
While researchers looked at 2,300 working mothers to conclude that fewer hours at work was conducive to breastfeeding a baby for longer, this journalist and mother can offer up her solitary opinion. Learning how to breastfeed my babies wasn’t easy. Any and all help to a mom — working or stay-at-home — matters when learning this skill. That's why I’m curious about the smart breastfeeding meter created by an Israeli startup called Momsense.
This wearable device — Mom dons the earphones while baby has a small sensor placed beneath the earlobe — connects to a mobile app that measures the volume of breast milk a baby consumes while nursing. Moms actually listen to their baby’s swallow sounds while they nurse. (Now I’m remembering that sweet sound of my own nursing babies. Gulp.)
But haven't moms been breastfeeding for literal millennia? Do we really need an app to help?
“Research has shown the leading concern a mother has is whether she is providing sufficient milk to her baby,” says Momsense CEO Osnat Emanuel. “This creates anxiety and lack of confidence.”
Eighty percent of new mothers choose to breastfeed, but half of them stop once baby reaches four to six weeks, says Emanuel. “That’s predominantly because these mothers feel they aren’t providing sufficient milk to their babies,” she adds.
While I can’t pretend to understand the exact science behind this device, Emanuel gives me a brief overview. The device’s algorithm contains data collected from “hundreds of nursing events documented in the Momsense laboratory.”
Pretty much Momsense techs crunched the numbers of how much milk equals how much infant weight gain. They input that into the app, added some handy audio technology that can distinguish baby’s swallow sounds from other goos and gas and voilà — the meter was born.
Well, plug that earphone into my smartphone and let’s get started! Wait, I don’t have a baby. But if you do, look for the meter on the Momsense website or at Target.com. It’ll be available in Target and Babies“R”Us stores in August and should open up to other stores in the near future, says Emanuel.
One note, she adds: Once your baby starts to become more active around six months, watch out for sticky fingers removing that sensor (or your earphones!). Babies: They do grow-up too fast!