Dads can finally ‘breastfeed’ with this wearable device
Breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience, but there’s no denying the unique toll it takes on moms’ sleep and stress levels. Most nursing moms have had the experience of being awake breastfeeding at 2:30 in the morning and looking over scornfully at their snoozing partner and his useless man chest. Now, a Japanese tech company is aiming to change that and to make infant care more equitable with a set of plastic “breasts” that allow dads to nurse their babies too.
The Father’s Nursing Assistant is a breastfeeding device manufactured by Dentsu and unveiled at the 2019 South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. The wearable feeding machine is designed to resemble a woman’s breasts, and it comes complete with a large tank for storing breast milk or formula and a flexible plastic nipple.
The device was designed with input from pediatricians and caregivers in order to mimic the breastfeeding experience as closely as possible. As an added bonus, the Father’s Nursing Assistant can also sense the baby’s feeding and sleeping time, which it then sends to an app so parents can easily track and analyze their baby’s schedule.
The nursing assistant has made a big splash on social media, where it recently started trending, despite the fact that it was originally unveiled in March. In the comments section of a video about the product on Yahoo Now Tech, dozens of parents chimed in to express confusion and dismay.
“OMG...I would seriously divorce my husband for wearing this,” one commenter wrote. Another added, “I’ll say it … fathers are not supposed to form this bond.”
But many others pointed out that this device actually has the potential to truly benefit not only breastfeeding moms but also solo dads and mothers who have undergone mastectomies or other medical treatments that make breastfeeding difficult or impossible.
In a press release, Dentsu representatives noted that the main goal of their product is to get dads more involved in carrying out child care duties. “Much of the parental stress and difficulties surrounding childrearing are related to feeding and sleeping, and generally the rate of participation by fathers tends to be low,” the press release notes. The Father’s Nursing Assistant’s mission is to “decrease the amount of burden on mothers and increase the amount of time infants sleep by enabling fathers to breastfeed.”
A study published in 2019 in the journal Sleep showed that, on average, new mothers lose about an hour of sleep per night during the first three months postpartum. Meanwhile, fathers lose sleep too, but only an average of about 13 minutes per night. A separate 2015 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that the birth of a new baby increases a mother’s workload by 21 hours per week, while dads’ workloads only increase about 12.5 hours.
The burden of infant care disproportionately falls on moms, and when a mom is also breastfeeding, it can seem like there’s no way to truly achieve balance. Breastfeeding devices for dudes might seem like a step too far, but it’s hardly a negative for a tech company to be investing in ways to help fathers be more active and involved.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first breastfeeding device that’s been devised for dads. In 2018, Marie-Claire Springham, a college student in the UK, won the grand prize in the Meaning-Centred Design Awards for her “chestfeeding” kit. The kit actually requires men to take the hormones progestin and domperidone to stimulate their own milk production. While “chestfeeding” and the Father’s Nursing Assistant may seem a little too much like science fiction, we have to give props to the innovators who are working to make parenting better and more equal for everyone.
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