Maitena Pemán Urreizti - Javier Martínez Vázquez - Jorge Gonzalez Herrero - Tania Bonilla - Carlos Casal González - Elena González Aranegui



Basic info


Breastfeeding is vital for both the baby´s and mother´s health. Yet, current breast pumps are hostile, unpractical and uncomfortable devices. Amaia is a breast pump that turns pumping into a painless and comfortable process while also tackling efficiency.

The need to redesign the breast pump was first introduced to us by the professionals at the Clinic Hospital in Barcelona. After talking to lactating mothers and maternity unit nurses, we saw that there was a huge room for improvement in breast pumps used in hospitals. Breast shields are made from a rigid material, normally polypropylene, which causes pain and infections on the nipple. Besides, the suction movement responsible for the milk extraction is too aggressive, being also painful. This suction is caused by the vacuum effect. The more powerful this effect is, more milk is extracted but the mother´s suffering increases.
A flexible thermoplastic elastomer called SEBS was implemented for the breast shield, being gentler on the breast. It has different thicknesses, some areas are more adaptable while others provide structure. A pressure-based extraction mechanism that mimics the baby´s natural movement complements the actual suction mechanism. The residual air ejected by this vacuum mechanism is used to fill a toroid located around the breast shield. When being filled, this toroid presses on the upper and lower areas of the breast shield, as babies do. This happens easily because the toroid´s walls have different thicknesses in order to facilitate the deformation of those areas. This way, the power of the suction can be lowered to avoid the pain that goes with a too strong vacuum effect while still extracting the milk properly. By making use of the residual air of the vacuum, Amaia still uses one motor but optimizes the use of air by using it to power another mechanism.
A benchmarking was made to discover design gaps in the breast pump market. Online and in person surveys were also performed, as well as a visit to the maternity unit of the hospital. Later, the improvement areas identified were: material of the breast shield, the suction mechanism and the internal parts. Trying to find the ideal material and design for the breast shield, material properties like elasticity and Shore hardness as well as shape and wall thickness were used to choose or discard options. The final material was chosen using Granta. As both the breast and the nipple change after each breastfeeding session, customization of the shield was useless and a flexible material with several shield sizes was chosen then as a solution. The suction movement was developed using the complex movement of the baby´s mouth as a reference and, through and iterative process, simplifying it to a single pressure at the lower and upper part of the shield. The final shape of the internal part was modelled on 3D and the pressure mechanism was added to it. Some tests were conducted using the motor of a previously disassembled pump and two balloons in order to understand the air flow. A prototype was then printed in order to see the size and shape as well as the fitting of the different parts.
Amaia is the only breast pump that uses both vacuum and pressure mechanisms. The natural movement of the baby´s mouth is quite different from the harsh vacuum effect that pumps use. Amaia mimics the baby´s movement using its pressure mechanism, giving the mother a closer feeling to that natural way of breastfeeding. We tackle efficiency from a new perspective, by improving the mother´s user experience of the product. While current devices are focused on getting the most milk by increasing its suction power, Amaia lowers the vacuum effect and combines it with pressure, making the process painless yet equally effective. Unlike the current rigid breast shields, our flexible and adaptable shield avoids cracked nipples and infections. By avoiding pain, as well as giving a feeling more similar to the baby´s mouth to the mother, her psychological state is improved. This means a better segregation of lactation hormones which produce more and better quality milk.
As breast pumps are micro vacuums used to extract milk and being this the most innovative part of our product, we want to further develop the pressure mechanism by studying in detail the optimization of the air that goes into the toroid. Besides that, the exact pressure that is needed as well as the motor´s power would also be investigated thoroughly. Once this mechanism has been perfected, we also want to create a fully functional prototype in order to test it in a hospital. All of this while still prioritizing the mother´s needs, which have been overlooked for so long as the market has been focusing mainly on the milk the baby is getting.


Salva Fàbregas
Mario Garcia (Hospital Clínic)
Xavi Riudor


Máster en diseño y desarrollo de producto