MEng Capstone Project Highlight: 
Prevention of Early Breastfeeding Cessation

By Iris Wu

A revolutionary breast cream helping mothers continue breastfeeding their newborn children.

The Problem

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and maintain a diet that includes breastmilk for at least twelve months. However, half of new mothers that begin breastfeeding stop before the recommended time. Nipple pain is significantly associated with early cessation.

“Many people are unaware of the pain associated with breastfeeding. We believe our project will enable mothers to alleviate this pain by utilizing their own breastmilk while bringing awareness to this largely unknown issue.”
— Nicci Cazares

The Solution

To address this issue, this Master of Engineering Capstone Team* developed a process that allows mothers to incorporate their breastmilk into an organic cream base. They’ve come up with both the recipe and a prototype that performs this mixing process. They’re developing a plastic packaging that will contain the cream base to which mothers will add their breastmilk, reseal it, and mix by hand.

Studies show that simply rubbing breastmilk onto the nipple increases the rate of healing for wounds caused by breastfeeding, an improvement from healing creams that contain lanolin, the most popular ingredient in existing nipple creams. A breastmilk based recipe is also an advantage for mothers who are looking for all natural ingredients. Many mothers are concerned that lanolin contains pesticide residues because it is harvested from wool. The team aims to provide mothers with more control over the products they use and to demonstrate the numerous applications of breastmilk.

The cream base consists of coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. These organically sourced ingredients offer antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and skin protecting properties, respectively. Currently, no other companies have products that enable mothers to incorporate their breastmilk into a cream. The proof-of-concept prototype has been created and they are planning a study to test the efficacy of the cream.

*A core part of the UC Berkeley Masters of Engineering experience is the Capstone Project, where students develop real-world solutions to address crucial industry, market or societal needs.

breastmilk (left and center); unmixed cream base with breastmilk (right)
The package can be cut so that the cream can be used immediately from the packaging or the cream can be transferred to a jar. Both Images on the left and right show the finished product.

Meet the Team

The team members from left to right are Hao Gong, Maya Mason, and Nicci Cazares.

Hao Gong is a pursing a Masters in Bioengineering with a bachelor’s degree in food science, focusing on biochemistry. Her primary interest is infant health and food related products that affect infant health.

Maya Mason is a candidate for a Masters in Bioengineering. She is interested in biotechnology consulting as a method to increase the adoption of innovative technologies.

Nicci Cazares is completing her Masters in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Product Design. She is excited for the opportunity to work on a device for women — a device that her close friends, family, or even herself could use in the future.