OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Milk Mama Drive

Encouraging breastfeeding through changed hospital bed design and improved community support to sustain it till a year at least.

Photo of Kshama
1 3

Written by

In no more than 3 sentences, please tell us who your idea is designed for and how it reimagines the new life experience.

New mothers, with babies a day old to a year old.

The importance of breastfeeding cannot be overemphasized. Yet we need a serious effort on the part of hospitals and community to ensure that mothers breastfeed their children at least in the first year of infancy. To facilitate this, there can be slight changes to the design of the bed where a mother rests postpartum. Most hospitals allow mothers to stay overnight after delivering their babies. However the baby is kept in a bassinet away from the mother most times. Knowing how important it is to have skin to skin contact and keeping the baby as close to Mommy as possible is imperative in setting up good nursing habits from the get go. The beds hospitals currently have are too narrow and exhausted mothers have to hold their babies in their arms to keep them close to them. So I suggest a re-design of the bed where the bed is extended with a co-sleeper, which will allow the mother to co-sleep with the baby and get rest without the danger of the baby falling. If the mother wants to nurse, then she can attempt so lying down and be able to watch the baby. It will help in a more comfortable experience for mothers and a warm and loving space for babies to stay close to their mothers.

After this initial step I would also encourage hospitals to build communities of mothers, both experienced and new, who can support each other during the initial struggles of nursing. During the first three to six months, mothers go through a lot of ups and downs in their nursing journeys with their babies. Some suffer from undersupply, some from oversupply, some are unable to have their babies latch properly without hurting and it will be great if there is someone physically present who will support both with nursing techniques and emotionally when new mothers need encouragement. La Leche League provides a great online forum for online support but it is not always possible for mothers to engage in the forum. Instead if hospitals provide and app, where mothers can post their challenges about nursing and new/experienced mothers can respond and even visit homes of each other to check on and support the new mothers then it builds a sense of community and fallback options when new mothers feel discouraged with their attempts at breastfeeding. The hospital can validate that only mothers who have already given birth with them are allowed access to the app and as  time passes, mothers who have already learnt and gone through the process can transition to supporting newer mothers on a voluntary basis. Being from the same hospital may lead to these mothers staying in the vicinity of each other and be more available for each other.

At what stage is your idea?

  • Back of the Napkin Sketch: I came up with this concept and would love support in making it come to life!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Have some beds in a hospital equipped with the "arm's reach cosleeper" and get feedback about the breastfeeding experience as opposed to regular beds. For the same hospital, without setting and app, just have an email list based support group in the beginning to see if people reach out for help for nursing and how the response rate is.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Design of the hospital bed. Design of the app.

Tell us about your work experience:

Software engineer, MBA candidate.

This idea emerged from...

  • An Individual

Are you an expecting, new, or experienced mom?

  • yes

Are you a healthcare practitioner?

  • no

Are you a current employee of UCB Pharmaceuticals or Sutter Health?

  • no

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Justin West

I'd just like to say that even though this idea is centered around breastfeeding, I think the additional benefit of increased skin-to-skin contact is just as important. Two birds with one stone!

Cost will be a big factor though. Hospitals are most likely buying the cheapest beds for new mothers, not the best ones. If you can somehow make this bed cheaper than a standard bed then I'm sure it could take off.