LiquidGoldConcept, an Ann Arbor-based startup, has developed the first realistic breastfeeding simulator with hopes to educate health practitioners on breast- and breastfeeding-related problems.
The product and company was inspired by CEO and co-founder Anna Sadovnikova’s summer research of human milk donation in Brazil four years ago. Sadovnikova is a mammary gland biologist and breastfeeding medicine trainee.
During her time in Brazil, Sadovnikova worked with dozens of mothers and diverse health providers. She was surprised to see most physicians and nurses knew how to alleviate common breastfeeding issues with breast massage and other techniques.
“I saw for myself the value of breastfeeding education,” Sadovnikova says. “The mothers in Brazil were comfortable maximizing their own milk production. And there were no breast pumps.”
With this revelation, Sadovnikova, co-founder Jeff Plott, and two other University of Michigan (U-M) graduate students began LiquidGoldConcept to create educational products for nurses and physicians that would help them assist breastfeeding mothers.
Jeff Plott, LiquidGoldConcept’s chief technology officer and mechanical engineering postdoctoral scholar at U-M, began to develop a model realistic enough to educate health providers about a variety of breastfeeding conditions, such as plugged ducts and engorgement.
The team found success with the Lactation Simulation Model (LSM), a wearable vest that simulates breastfeeding and issues that can arise with mothers. The LSM is available in a variety of skin tones to be an accessible learning tool for health practitioners. The product has been on the market since 2017.
Since launching the LSM, the team has marketed the product to private practices, hospitals, nursing schools, and other health education organizations. They also formed a strong partnership with the Women, Infants, and Children’s program (WIC), a federal grant organization focused on assisting low-income mothers, infants, and children, to provide LSM tools in WIC clinics.
In the future, Sadovnikova says LiquidGoldConcept will continue to focus on educational materials that will help medical professionals with breastfeeding treatment and other breast health. LiquidGoldConcept is also discussing partnerships with international distributors so their products can reach a wider audience.
“This education is invaluable,” says Sadovnikova. “My goal is to make sure more moms are not stressed out (by breastfeeding) and the babies are healthy.”
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of LiquidGoldConcept.