Elena Massucco, our Head of Consumer shares her experiences.
I vividly remember the first time I realised that becoming a new mum would be a massive challenge for my body. My daughter was born after an emergency C-Section and a couple of days later I was at home. My left breast was leaking milk on my t-shirt, I was injecting anti clot medications into my, still, big belly, I was wearing compression socks and a giant pad that could only be defined as a nappy for grown-ups.
What had happened to me? A few months before I was travelling around Europe for business, training in kickboxing and taking a lot of care and attention over my daily outfits and make-up. I could no longer recognise the woman in front of me.
Fast forward three years from that day and – having had another baby in the meanwhile – I am now able to recognise the huge mental and physical strain the past few years have taken on my body. That strain has profoundly changed my outlook on life. Over these three years my body was either carrying, or feeding, a baby. If I didn’t have my baby with me my body would still remind me that I was a mum by the pain in my pelvic floor. It’s hard to find the energy and motivation to do all the things we know are good for our overall wellbeing – exercising, eating well and sleeping soundly – with that constant reminder.
I’m sure all mothers can empathise with this story. As someone whose job is in unlocking innovation opportunities, to improve the lives of people globally, I feel enormously frustrated. It’s frustrating to see that the needs of new mums are being ignored by technology and product development innovations. I’m fed up with seeing Instagram ads selling lovely baby products and Scandi-inspired nursery furniture when mums feel like they’ve been run over by a bus. It feels like we are collectively surrendering to the fact that giving birth sucks and that recovering from it is something you need to deal with silently, and one day you’ll forget about it.
In the last couple of years a few incredible Femtech businesses have been trailblazers in these conversations. From Elvie – pioneering smart breast pumps and pelvic floor trainers – through to American company Fridamom – leading the conversation around postpartum needs. The conversation is starting to change but it’s not moving fast enough.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of the most common postpartum problems which impact new mums globally:
- Post-partum infections (including uterine and bladder)
- Pain in the perineal area
- Vaginal discharge
- Breast problems (swollen breasts, infections, clogged ducts)
- Stretch marks
- Urinary or faecal incontinence
- Hair loss
- Post-partum depression
- Discomfort during sex and low libido
- Difficulty regaining pre-pregnancy shape
It’s not a great picture, right? And imagine how hard it is to deal with these issues when compounded by lack of sleep, the caring and the nurturing that a new-born baby required. That’s before we even mention this past year of lockdown.
To sense check the appetite within this space, I ran a quick pulse survey with 20 of my fellow mum friends and the response was incredible. From the need to improve female care to support for sore breasts, from nipple tenderness to breastfeeding underwear and body pillows for night feeding, from baby carriers to pain relief, I received a huge amount of engagement and interest. The business care is there.
And although postpartum difficulties may represent, overall, a small window of time within a woman’s whole life – knowing that a brand has been there for you, when you needed the most – will automatically create brand loyalty for life.
We need innovation in this space, and we need it now. We need to work together – product & brand owners and consultancies – to ensure the next generations of mothers will not need to go through this. I would hate if my daughter, should she ever decide to have children of her own, felt she had been forgotten by people like me.
If you would like to discuss more – and understand what opportunities for innovation are in this space – do drop me a message. I would love to hear from you.
*still wondering what is the deal with the cabbage leaves? This is what is recommended to alleviate breast tenderness and pain during breastfeeding. In 2021.