Breast Pump Vacuum Monitoring System (BPVMS)
This device was lovingly named by the New Little Life community as
The "Boobie Barometer"
and is designed to test the vacuum performance of breast pumps.
Hiring an Engineer
Having an idea like this without the skills or tools to make it happen made it seem like it would only ever be a dream to me. However, with the help of an engineer, I was able to bring this device to life by transforming my very unique needs into a working solution.
Working with an engineer gave me the confidence that the device would give me exactly what I wanted: meaningful data that would help moms better understand their pumping options in a more evidence-based manner. I wanted charts, graphs, lists, values, and comparisons based on standardized testing procedures to gain a better grasp on pump performance for myself so that I could pass that information on to other moms through real reviews and results made from easy-to-understand visuals.
I’m very pleased with the performance of the “Boobie Barometer” and the results that it has given me. If you too have an idea that is currently only a dream but want to pursue something more, contact my engineer friend Paul. He is open to consulting or work on any type of engineering project you may have including 3D design, product development and prototyping, and even programming (he did all of these for me). You can contact him using his Linkedin page linked here. Additionally, I have made the product specifications, files, and code for the “Boobie Barometer” open-source so anyone can build their own or improve on the design. A link to the project page is shared at the end of this page.
Testing Breast Pumps
Here are some examples of the graphs produced by the BPVMS. The graph presents vacuum pressure (mmHg) generated by the breast pump with respect to time (seconds). Each test performed on the BPVMS gathers data at a rate of over 10 readings per second and calculates key results including maximum suction (vacuum pressure) generated during the test, average suction throughout the test, and average pump cycles per minute (CPM).
A typical test that I run starts with me setting up the breast pump, including
adjusting its settings to run how I want. I then take the breast pump and put it into position on the BPVMS which has a silicone dome meant to mimic the flexibility and surface conditions of an actual breast. I can select different amounts of time for the test, but I usually stick to around 20 seconds to get the best average and consistent results. I ensure the BPVMS sensor is zeroed within a baseline of +/- 0.5 mmHg before starting the test. I then run the test, holding the breast pump secure against the BPVMS until the test is finished. After the test is complete, I save and log the results to a local data drive before I reset for another test.
Analyzing the Data
I hired Emily with Avacado Analytics to organize all the data from over 2000 tests done on the "Boobie Barometer". She created an interactive dashboard to show information on each pump, additional calculated data, and graphs comparing single/double pumping, average suction across all pumps, and other important visual data.
There is also a section of the dashboard where pump settings can be compared with two pumps. For example, in the photo below, a mother in our Pumping for Working Moms Program was struggling to get the same output on her small portable pump as she did with her Spectra. I was able to plug in her preferred settings on her S1 and find similar vacuum pressure and cycle rates on her portable pump. An amazing feature in utilizing this data!
Emily was amazing to work with and truly an expert in analyzing and organizing data in a digestible way. If you're looking for any data-related projects, I highly recommend her. She also does much of the data analysis for the New Little Life YouTube channel and Blog.
Why Breast Pump Suction Matters
In this video, I show you some of the data from this device, what it means, and why it's important. We also talk about some of the most popular breast pumps on the market and what makes them unique. I am naturally data-driven and enjoy visual learning, so having this information makes it easier to share clear, unbiased information with anyone looking to learn more about breast pumps.
Watch this video below to learn more about breast pump suction!
For more information on the BPVMS or on working with Allison, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.