This is one image taken from a recent patent application for a terribly hi-tech 'breastfeeding milk consumption measuring device'. The application was submitted in January of this year.
'The need to measure the amount of breast milk suckled by a baby is important to many lactating mothers. This information will help to evaluate the baby's nutritional status, the need for breastfeeding guidance, or the use of milk substitutes, and therefore is important to the pediatrician, as well.'
There have been other devices like this proposed in the past - including one which measures the baby's stomach volume, and another which (very scarily!) goes between the breast and the baby to measure milk 'flow'.
From the patent site:
'A number of devices for measuring the amount of milk expressed during breastfeeding have been proposed. These devices generally tried to adopt methods of fluid flow measurement and typically include a flow or capacity measuring device. These measuring devices are mounted on the breast during breastfeeding and measure the amount of milk flowing therethrough. [...] Other devices propose the use of flow gauges utilizing ultrasound measurements or piezoelectric devices. These proposals did not solve the problem for two reasons: first, because such flow gauges are of relatively low precision, particularly when attempting to measure relatively small and varying amounts of liquid. Second, the invasive nature of the flow measurement devices interferes with the intimate nature of the mother/baby feeding and bonding process.'
Invasive? You don't say...
This device is supposedly better because it:
'...measures the breastfeeding quantity in a non-direct method, which does not interfere with the intimate mother-baby connection during breastfeeding. The invention measures changes in the breast volume during breastfeeding. The difference between breast volume before and after breastfeeding is proportional to the amount of milk transferred to the baby, particularly during the first weeks after birth.'
The device measures breast volume before and after breastfeeding. Exactly how accurate an assessment of the baby's milk intake that measurement would be I couldn't possibly say - I'm very dubious indeed... :-/
Wondering whether or not this is an April Fool? It couldn't possibly be real - could it?
Check the time.
Of COURSE it's important to know if your baby is getting enough milk. In our culture we're so used to seeing milk measured in ounces or millilitres that it has become hard for new breastfeeding mums and their families to trust that cue-feeding works. However - for the record - you DON'T need this gadget or any of the others to tell you if your baby is getting enough milk.
- Is your baby poo-ing and pee-ing sufficiently (see here for some great info)?
- Is your baby putting on weight, are they bright and alert? (note it's normal for babies to lose a little weight just after birth). More on weight gain in breastfed babies is here.
- Watch the baby during feeds - can you hear swallowing? Is there a short pause where their chin stays dropped down, allowing the baby to swallow?
- More on what's normal for a newborn breastfed baby is here.