A monumental divide between parents has always been the inability for men to breastfeed their newborns. For both genders, this has significant yet, quite different meanings. While a mother typically wishes her male spouse could alleviate some of the encumbrances of around the clock feeding, men covet the connection spawned through nursing - both physically and psychologically. Now, the future of fatherhood will be phenomenal, with up and coming inventions which will transform the lives of men - and their families forever.
At the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, Dentsu (a tech firm from Japan) showcased its new breastfeeding system known as the Father's Nursing Assistant. Specifically, it’s a wearable device that allows fathers to feed the baby as a mother would, while promoting skin-to-skin contact between them and their infants.
The cutting-edge device is equipped with fake or simulated “breasts”, each with a distinct purpose. One holds breast milk or formula, and the other contains the nipple system; where the baby will nurse. The intelligent apparatus also tracks data about the baby's nursing sessions and automatically transmits the information to a smartphone.
Dentsu admits that the product was engineered to mimic a woman’s breast, as advised by "advice from pediatricians and babysitters, who say that babies tend to touch the breast with their hands when feeding and that the softness seems to sooth them, the product has been shaped to resemble a woman's breasts." The system once shared at SXSW will stimulate other skin-to-skin innovations, categorically designed for men.
Another breakthrough worthy of distinction is a ‘chestfeeding kit’ invented by UK design student, Marie-Claire Springham - created with remarkable ingenuity as it could help fathers induce lactation and physically nurse their babies. The revolutionary invention won the Grand Trophy prize at the Meaning Centred Design Awards 2018.
Her inspiration for the invention was truly quite thoughtful - Springham explains that in essence, it was not about the act of breastfeeding as it was about infant preference. Dads have expressed that they crave to be involved with the baby, and have their personal one on one time yet find themselves rejected by the baby who prefers the smell of breastmilk associated with mom.
The kit contains a pump and a compression vest, and it also contains hormones. Fathers-to-be would start taking progestin as soon as they learned they're going to be a dad, and six weeks before the due date they'd start taking domperidone, which would trigger hormones to start milk production.
Springham may not be receiving the respect and affirmation by the masses, despite her Grand Trophy prize, but she did admit to Good Morning Britain: “I designed this first as an empathy tool, I was looking at post-natal depression and I learned so much, particularly that it occurs in men and the main cause of that is the feeling of being left out.
Timed quite advantageously, Dentsu’s and Springham’s products are both expected to make an appearance in the next five years.
Time will only tell how the concept of men breastfeeding or chest feeding will evolve - coupled with cutting edge inventions to assist along the way. A blogger for Discover who’s an article titled - Most Human Societies Don’t Get Our Breastfeeding Hang-Up, declared that people are quick to assume that what they do is “natural” simply because they don’t know of other examples where things are done differently.