by Chris Keshian, MIT delta v Program Manager
The MomMe team originally applied to delta v, MIT’s flagship accelerator, with laser focus on reducing scarring in breast cancer patients. As new information arose, however, they remained agile and redirected their technology application to a massive, underserved market.
The MIT and Harvard researchers who comprised the team developed a mechanotherapy solution to reduce fibrous scar formation and improve muscle healing. Originally, they targeted breast cancer patients who experienced disfiguring scarring around implants. Through conversations with doctors and patients, they soon discovered a more pressing and underserved market. This led to a few weeks of deep customer discovery, where they identified and realigned around a new target market that opened up myriad possibilities.
“We interviewed 25 clinicians and more than 40 patients during the first two weeks of delta v,” said Markus Horvath, MomMe CTO. “We soon realized that there was a screaming unmet need in the postpartum (after birth) space.”
The natural birthing process is physically traumatic, and results in vaginal tears in both the skin and muscle in almost all new moms.
“Leading up to giving birth, you see a doctor every week in the last trimester, but after the baby comes out, you’re sent home for six weeks with a new baby and a few informational pamphlets,” said Shelley Chan, MomMe CEO. “Women are really surprised and unprepared for the postpartum recovery. We learned that women were using DIY methods to treat their pain. They call them ‘padsicles’, and they’re essentially pads covered with aloe vera and frozen.”
The team adapted their initial product to create a mechanotherapy pad for women.
“Using dynamic mechanical force, our product aims to stimulate blood flow, reduce inflammation and promote healing,” said William Whyte, MomMe Science Lead.
After the team realigned around this new market, they soon realized that their initial product could be the starting point for a suite of products and services for new mothers.
“There is not a lot of emotional support after the birthing process,” said Chan. “For instance, no one tells you ‘if you’re bleeding a lot (which is common) don’t be alarmed!’”.
The team found that by providing an app-controlled device they could layer on communication and support systems for new mothers – all within the same interface.
“The postpartum time is hectic and stressful for new mothers, and our goal is to provide an array of physical and emotional support systems during this period,” said Arielle Rothman, MomMe User Researcher Lead, who is taking a leave of absence this coming academic year from undergraduate studies at Harvard and working on the company.
The team is currently working on scientific trials that build toward FDA clearance for their device in collaboration with obstetricians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“We still have a ways to go,” said Horvath, “but the fact that there is such overwhelming support from both clinicians and new mothers is a huge validation point for the need for new tech and scientific advancements in postpartum care.”
While childbirth is miraculous, it is a physically traumatic and emotionally isolating experience. Almost all new moms who give birth vaginally experience a painful tear that can drastically affect daily life. Recovery takes weeks to months, and yet moms are just sent home with ice packs. They silently recover, while focus switches to the baby.
At MomMe we are passionate about giving moms the agency to proactively promote healing rather than just treat symptoms. Our vision is to develop a suite of connected health wearables that improve both physical and emotional recovery.
Our first postpartum wearable product aims to promote vaginal healing and reduce pain by applying a soothing mechanotherapy regimen. Our research-backed technology is natural, drug-free, and safe for breastfeeding moms. Importantly, our connected app serves as a platform for device control, and mom-centric postpartum education, support, and care.