After two years of research, development and testing, we reached a huge milestone last month.
The milestone was nerve-wracking for Alex in particular, because the question everything boiled down to was whether Alex was representative of other women?
More bluntly put, was her breast and nipple similar enough to other women, that the cushion that worked perfectly for her, would work for them too.
We wanted to share the highlights here, with a link to our observation notes for anyone who'd like more detail.
The short answer is: yes!
Alex was similar enough compared with other women.
In fact, the cushion worked well for many more women than we'd hoped. Here are the observations we made:
92% of women found pumping more comfortable
- comfort increased (score: 5 /10 to 9 / 10 where 10=very comfortable).
- nipple swelling decreased (score: 6 /10 to 0 /10 where 10=severe and 0=none)
- nipple swelling decreased (6 /10 to 0.5 / 10), redness decreased (6 /10 to 0.5/10) and damage decreased (4/10 to 0/10) for women identifying as having an uncomfortable pumping experience.
- 73% of women collected about the same or more milk. Some women reported 50mL extra with the cushion, or taking less time to express the same amount of milk.
A second cushion style
This last point (point #5) was like a red flag to a bull for our design team.
Although from a business, and a health and wellbeing sense, being able to help almost three quarters of women is an incredible achievement, from a design sense, we felt a bit hollow.
Our goal from the start has been to help women feel good pumping. We felt like we hadn't fully solved the problem if there was still a group of women who weren't using the cushion because they were collecting too little milk.
Lucky for us though, we had taken a "rapid prototyping" approach to our design. This is a fancy word for saying that we designed, 3D printed, tested and re-designed over and over again until we got it right.
The cushion we tested with women in the pilot was actually Version 20. So all we had to do was create Version 21, which was thinner and less bulky overall allowing for just enough more stimulation at the nipple without removing the key design features of the original cushion.
We called this new version the 'Milkdrop Lite' and went back and tested it with good results.
We'll send it to production to be ready in August.
And now for the detail
Read our report below for more detail on how we set up the pilot, what we were testing for and what we observed.
We'll keep evaluating the benefits of the cushion, including the effect of the cushion on the perception of pain, comfort and milk production.