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You know about human-centered design. Now meet breast-centered design

Breastfeeding can be excruciating. Frida Mom creates products that addresses women’s pain, not just nourishing babies.

You know about human-centered design. Now meet breast-centered design
[Photo: Frida]
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There are many things they don’t tell you about becoming a mother. The most shocking for me was how much my breasts would hurt in the blurry days after I gave birth: The cracked nipples, engorgement, and clogged ducts made me cry as much as my newborn.

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Frida, the baby brand famous for creating a snot-sucking device, wants to tackle these problems through its postpartum recovery brand, Frida Mom. Today, it launches a suite of products devoted to breast care. The brand spent months interviewing new moms about their pain points, before designing products like a breast massager that unclogs ducts, breast masks to soothe engorgement, and warming pads.

[Photo: Frida]
Chelsea Hirschhorn, CEO of Frida, had noticed a gap in the market when it came to helping new moms deal with the pain and discomfort in their breasts. Instead, much of the narrative around breastfeeding has to do with caring for the baby, rather than caring for the mother. “Mothers are conditioned to focus entirely on the needs of their babies when they’re born,” she says. “Much of the discussion about breastfeeding has to do with nourishing the baby, rather than making the mother comfortable.”

[Photo: Frida]
Creating products for breastfeeding can be tricky, because there are heated debates surrounding it. Case in point: A day after my daughter was born, my doctor and lactation consultant argued about whether I should supplement my meager milk supply with formula, adding another layer of stress to my hospital experience. Hirschhorn makes it clear that Frida Mom does not take a position on breastfeeding; its goal is to support the mother through whatever she decides.

There aren’t many products devoted to easing breast pain, so many women search for homegrown remedies. Women have used chilled cabbage leaves to reduce pain and swelling in their breasts. If you dig through parenting blogs or YouTube, women discuss solutions like using electric toothbrushes or vibrators to massage out clogs. Rather than forcing women to improvise with other products, Hirschhorn’s goal was to create products that are designed specifically for the breast–but she did take inspiration by some of the existing solutions women were using. “I was impressed by women’s ingenuity,” she says.

[Photo: Frida]
Working through engorgement, clogs, and inflammation involves three main steps, Hirschhorn says: Massage, applying heat, and soothing. Frida Mom created a breast massager that looks similar to a vibrator. It has a pointy edge that you can push into a clog to loosen buildup and get milk flowing, while the other, circular edge is designed to offer a more relaxing massage across the whole breast. The device is also heated, which both soothes and stimulates milk flow. There are warming pads that are activated when you snap them in two, much like hand warmers used in skiing. And the brand has released a trio of soothing masks for lactation, engorgement, and hydration. Each of these products is designed to adapt to the shape of a breast, while also seeking to accommodate the wide variations in women’s bodies. “We didn’t invent the technology behind the instant warmer, or skin masks,” says Hirschhorn. “But we adapted each of these technologies specifically to the breast.”

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[Photo: Frida]
The new line also includes a nursing pillow. Like other pillows on the market, this one is designed to support the baby’s head, but it is also designed to support the mother. When a mom first starts breastfeeding, it triggers her uterus to begin contracting, which can be painful. So the pillow comes with a pocket at the base that fits a warming pad that can soothe those cramps while she nurses. “It’s so easy for moms to be overwhelmed with trying to look after their newborn and minimize their own needs,” Hirshhorn says. “But here’s the thing: You can’t really care for your baby when you’re in pain.”

The products are available starting today on FridaMom’s website, along with Target and Amazon. They range in price from $6.99 for the breast masks to $49.99 for the nursing pillow.

About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a senior staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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