Finalist 2021

Milkdrop silicone breast pump shield

Milkdrop

A ultra-soft silicone cushion that stretches over breast pumps heads, Milkdrop is changing how women feel about pumping.

A soft silicone cushion designed on the physiology of a baby suckling, Milkdrop stretches over existing breast pump heads making them softer and far more comfortable for women using pumps to express milk.

Design Brief

For every ten women using a breast pump, seven will have nipple pain or discomfort, and eight will feel like a cow.

Why? A pump repeatedly drags a woman’s nipple against an unnecessarily hard plastic flange. Paired with a clinical and old-fashioned visual design, most women associate pumping with frustration, isolation and pain.

Over 85% of babies have mothers who pump, which means that millions of women globally are having their pain and discomfort overlooked by poor design.

Our challenge was to change how women feel about breast pumps by improving both the physical and emotional experience of using them.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

Our plan was to redesign the pumping experience from the nipple up.

Our initial concept was a pump that was wearable, quiet, soft, elegant, and bespoke to each woman’s anatomy and physiology.

We used rapid prototyping (with 3D printing) to develop the design in tight iterations. By iteration #3, we realised that a standalone cushion fitting existing pumps would solve the problem of nipple pain faster and for more women. By iteration #12, we had met each of our design brief requirements. By iteration #20, we were ready for manufacture.

We worked with a Victorian-based medical-grade silicone manufacturer to finish the Design for Manufacture process, including the quality control process required for a medical device.

We paired our design with beautiful packaging and user experience. Now, nine out ten women find pumping more comfortable with a Milkdrop. Since launch in April, we have helped to improve the experience of breast pumping for hundreds of women.

Design Excellence

Milkdrop excels in function, form, safety, quality and sustainability. From the start, we invested in user and design research through surveys and focus groups and personal experience of the lead designer, to create a high quality product and experience.

On function, Milkdrop relieves pain and discomfort. Nine out of ten women in our pilot found pumping more comfortable (median comfort scores rose from 5/10 to 9/10, and nipple swelling fell from 6/10 to 0/10). Our customers routinely report a better experience, saying “it made pumping enjoyable, pleasant, stress and pain free”.

On form, Milkdrop is sleek, beautiful to hold and intuitive to use and clean. In contrast to clinical and baby products, Milkdrop is presented in an elegant packaging and digital experience with a meticulously designed box, storage case, and instructions illustrations, which our customers describe as sophisticated and chic.

On safety and quality, Milkdrop complies with ISO13485: Medical Devices Quality Management Systems. Milkdrop is made in Victoria at a medical-grade facility, from high purity silicone, which is non-toxic, and contains no BPA, additives, lubricants or plastics, and can be safely disposed and recycled. Milkdrop is cast with injection moulding to achieve the complex curvature and smooth finish required.

On sustainability, Milkdrop has been consciously designed to last a woman’s entire breast pumping journey, and can be sterilised and re-used between patients in a hospital setting.

Milkdrop packaging uses recycled and recyclable materials, eliminating single-use plastic with a reusable, food-grade storage container. We collect Milkdrop as part of our circular silicone scheme, and manufacture locally to reduce transport miles.

Our customers say they are proud to support an Australian designed and made product, which has clearly been developed through high quality, women-centred design, surprisingly rare for breast pumps. We are excited to start exporting in 2022.

Design Innovation

Milkdrop’s design was developed by studying ultrasounds of babies suckling. Being ultra-soft, the shaped silicone deforms under suction, designed to mimic the action a baby places on the nipple to extract milk. This novel and inventive design is protected with an international patent (pending) and certified design.

Milkdrop is the first breast pump attachment in the world to use ultra-soft silicone as an interface to the breast, being over 10 times softer than existing pump heads.

We used design thinking methodology with numerous design, prototype and test iteration loops, aided by rapid manufacturing techniques including 3D printing and digital simulation.

Design Impact

Socially, Milkdrop has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of women, globally. Only recently launched, women are finding that it gives them relief, reduces pain, and allows them to continue breastfeeding. We start export early next year.

Commercially, Milkdrop has allowed us to build loyalty and market share as a new entrant. We have invested two years in creating a high quality, patented product and experience.

Environmentally, we set a new benchmark for sustainable design of medical devices, by designing a product that can be re-used, establishing a circular product reuse and recycling scheme for end of life, designing recycled and recyclable packaging and manufacturing locally.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

We have designed the cushion to last the entire pumping journey.

When a mother is finished with Milkdrop, we offer a circular silicone scheme, where we collect Milkdrop free-of-charge, and store for batch recycling.

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