Haven’t you always wondered what breastfeeding would look under thermal imaging? How to dectect a let down? How much milk your baby is really getting? Turns out there’s a research project for that, and it is all about helping you!

The Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group are always on the lookout for breastfeeding volunteers to further their studies into the amazing bond that is breastfeeding. This is my area of passion, and anything that can help myself and others understand it more detail is a great thing in my eyes. Late last year I participated in a study centering around detecting milk ejection and various tools used to detect it. The main objective was to look at changes in the breast during pumping and breast feeding and to use this information to create a more reliable and useful breast pump. This coupled with the 24 hour milk study information which had been gathered earlier in the year put together a complete picture towards this research.

The sessions took place in my home over three separate occasions:
Session 1 – 10 minute pumping session, which was monitored using bioimpedance and thermal imaging
Session 2 – 10 minute pumping session with sensors placed on the opposite breast
Session 3 – Baby breastfed and the opposite breast was monitored using sensors

So what exactly is milk ejection? Often referred to as a “let down”, milk ejection can occur once or several times per feed. Along with many other mothers, I do not consistently feel when each let-down happens, while others can feel the first, but not subsequent let downs. During each of the three sessions the following variables were measured: Bioimpedance (a tool used to determine body composition), skin temperature, galvanic skin response, pressure (via sensors) and thermal imaging. Ultrasound and milk flow were also collated to confirm results.

Let Down Study

Breastfeeding under thermal imaging: A “Let Down” study

The study aimed to identify simple, cheap, accurate and non-invasive methods of being able to readily detect a let down. This research will hopefully lead to the creation of “smart pumps”. Imagine a pump which can detect your let down automatically and adjust its settings accordingly. This will lead to more efficient and effective expressing and more milk for baby! It was completely non-invasive and will hopefully help to further advancements in this area. I truly encourage you to get in touch with your local research teams. For Perth Mums, sign up here for updates on the latest projects: Hartmann Research Group Contact Page.

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