A helping hand for new mothers

It’s a problem only a new mom knows, with a solution born by three VCU Health nurses and a pediatrician to solve it.

Their creation: the Nuzzi, a sling-like, rice-filled pouch to help position the breast and free up a hand while easing the sometimes challenging process of breastfeeding. Supported by VCU Tech- Transfer and Ventures, the product is patented and available to moms through its own website and on Amazon.

“Our tagline is ‘We hold mom, so mom can hold the baby,’” says Kristie Bonovich, one of the nurses who helped develop the Nuzzi. “Our hope is to increase the duration of breastfeeding and ultimately improve the health of both mom and baby.”

Bonovich created the Nuzzi with VCU pediatrician Gauri Gulati, M.D., and nurses Sharon Brinkley and Lisa Hileman. VCU TechTransfer helped the team bridge the gap between the healthcare and business worlds, researching whether there was another product like it on the market and securing a patent.

“There really wasn’t much out there,” Gulati says. “VCU helped us obtain grants and get some money into our product, so that we could then offer it to these mothers and families in hopes that their breastfeeding journey will be smoother.”

Mothers report the Nuzzi makes breastfeeding more comfortable, Hileman says. The product frees up a hand to allow mothers to achieve a deeper latch. “If you have the Nuzzi holding your breast, you have two hands to work on the latch,” Hileman says.

The Nuzzi team has decades of experience as lactation consultants, noting that breastfeeding leads to decreased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancers in babies later in life and a lower risk of certain types of breast cancer in moms. Mothers generally use the Nuzzi for up to one to two months following childbirth. The idea behind the Nuzzi is to provide an early start of a smooth breastfeeding routine that becomes long-lasting. “Over the long term, our goal is for the Nuzzi to provide moms with the opportunity to breastfeed for as long as they desire,” Gulati says.