"The cushion prevents breastfeeding problems"
Virpi Saastamoinen is a midwife and certified breastfeeding counsellor, and has set up breastfeeding clinics at both Danderyd Hospital and Karolinska University Hospital. She is also an innovator and the woman behind the Visis breastfeeding cushion.
When training to be a nurse back in 1981, Virpi Saastamoinen decided to become a midwife. For 20 years she worked as a nurse and then a midwife at Danderyd Hospital before moving to Karolinska University Hospital in 2002. She was involved in setting up breastfeeding clinics at both hospitals.
"Many women are worried about or have problems with breastfeeding," says Virpi. "It can be painful feeding, sore nipples or infections that can lead to breast abscesses. First-time mothers can feel unsure of themselves, while women who've already had children can be afraid to breastfeed because of problems they've had in the past."
Virpi is also an ambitious innovator. Together with her sister, physiotherapist Silja Hermansson, she has produced Visis, a cushion specially designed for breastfeeding.
"Having worked for so many years with mothers with breastfeeding problems and breast complications, I knew that the cushions on the market just didn't work. They were too soft and slipped so that the women had to add extra cushions to keep them in place. Mothers with twins often found it difficult to feed both babies at the same time, as the cushion didn't stay put and offered inadequate support. They were also hard to keep clean."
Virpi and Silja decided to design a stable and firm cushion that supported the baby while taking the weight off the mother's neck, shoulders and arms, so that both could relax during breastfeeding.
Part-funded by government development agency ALMI during the preliminary stages, the result was the Visis cushion, which can easily be adjusted in size, has a Velcro fastening to hold it in place, is manufactured from environmentally-friendly materials and is easy to wash.
"I'm convinced that using the cushion can prevent breastfeeding problems and complications," says Virpi confidently.
|Education||Registered nurse, Sophiahemmet 1981; registered midwife, Stockholm 1987. Internationally certified breastfeeding counsellor.|
|Employed||At the breastfeeding clinic at Karolinska University Hospital. Runs her own business, Visis.|
Text: Unit for Bioentrepreneurship, 2009
Photo: Camilla Svensk