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Architecture Faculty and Students work with Nursing Faculty and students to produce the University’s first Design Patent.

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The Office of Innovation Management is pleased to report that the University of Louisiana has filed a Design Patent Application for a Portable Lactation & Women's Health Unit with the United States Patent Office. The University of Louisiana views this ornamental design as an important ‘invention and represents the first Design Patent Application’ filed by the University.

The Design Patent Application names Kari Smith, Brook Babin, Helen Hurst, Jennifer Lemoine and Seth Boudreaux as the inventors, a joint collaboration of faculty, staff and students.

Louisiana has a vibrant culture of music and culinary festivals, and it has been described as being “family-friendly” or “family-centric”. However, there are barriers to making festivals truly family friendly. This project addresses the needs of family members who have not had much consideration at such events- lactating mothers and their infants. The absence of private and sanitary spaces for lactating mothers at festivals and similar events to breastfeed or express hinders the ability for mothers to nurture their infants and to enjoy fully in the merriment of the festival. The oppressive heat and humidity, often the climatic conditions of festival season, as well as other stimulation such as sounds, smells, and unfamiliar people can make successful and enjoyable breastfeeding a challenge in the festival milieu.

The design solution represent the resolution of a variety of considerations including creating a branding message through form and materiality that resonates with lactating women and the general public. Additionally, the self-sufficient portable lactation unit design brief necessitated resolution of technical considerations to meet federal laws and best practices as well as aspire to be great design by using energy and water efficiently and to use materials responsibly, from sourcing of materials to knowing the impact on indoor environmental quality of specified products.

The design process was informed by visiting designated lactating rooms, conducting interviews with mothers who now, or in the past, have had a need to breastfeed or express while away from home, and design meetings with healthcare design and fabrication professionals to further refine their designs.

It is the goal of this project to create a nurturing environment for mothers to breastfeed or express away from home, the recognized preferred place to be, as well as to raise awareness and support for breastfeeding in our society.