Opportunities to Make Pregnancy, Labor, Postpartum Easier with Smart Textiles

Posted by Grant Mossman on March 30, 2022

When you work with innovative technology every day, especially printed biometric sensors and printed flexible heaters, you start to see opportunities everywhere. Often, these ideas could make life easier.

I’ve recently had a major change in my life with the birth of my first child. Even though it’s only been a month or so, my life has been reoriented to revolve around my son’s needs. All hobbies and sleep patterns are now on hold until further notice.

From the pregnancy experience through to the daily needs of my son, I have seen many products that could be improved or created with Butler Technologies’ screen-printed electronics.


I, as the father, did not have to be the one to actually carry my child, but that did not keep me from learning a lot about what mothers go through. The mother’s body has to go through some incredible but drastic changes to accommodate a baby growing inside of them. I won’t go into all those details here, as I am not anywhere close to an expert. However, I practically became a professional masseuse trying to provide as much relief from the physical toll as I could.

Smart Belly Band

The first product that could be a game-changer would be a smart belly band. If you aren’t familiar with a belly band, it is a stretchable support band that women wrap around their pregnant bellies to help redistribute the weight and relieve their lower backs. They work similarly to those belts weight lifters and furniture movers wear.

Three different smart technologies could be added to a belly band. One or more of these printed electronics could be added to a single belly band.

  • Printed heater added to the lower back to soothe sore muscles
  • Printed electrodes added to the lower back to reduce muscle pain
  • Printed biometric sensors on all sides to track the baby’s activity, baby’s vitals, and mother’s vitals, and alert the mother if contractions start.



My wife had a really long labor, 48 hours of hard work, sweat, tears… other fluids. During this whole time, the nurses and midwife wanted giant hockey puck-like sensors on her stomach to track her vitals, the baby’s vitals, and contractions. They required slimy jelly and cheap stretching bands to attempt to be kept in place. On top of that, these sensors had very small windows of accuracy so any movement by the baby or the mother required repositioning of the sensors. In an already uncomfortable situation, anything to provide relief is a big deal.Labor

This second product is similar to the smart belly band, except it is simply biometrics and does not provide support. Biometric sensors could be printed on elastic material to wrap around the stomach and provide heart rates and contraction information. The main benefits of printed biometric sensors are:

  • Comfortability
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom of movement for the mother
  • Can still read the vitals as the baby moves

Postpartum Recovery

Birth is tough on the body. Because of that, mothers need to focus on recovery after giving birth. But the baby requires most of the mother’s attention. Plus, many women need to return to work after six weeks, which makes recovery even harder. The doctor’s advice of “rest and take it easy” is almost laughable for many women.

The prescribed “recovery period” is for both the trauma of the birthing event and the body returning slowly back to its non-pregnant state. Compression and heat can help the contracting and healing process. This is where the next product can be a big help.

Heated Postpartum Recovery Band

To the uneducated, this band might seem very similar to the heated belly band for pregnancy that was mentioned above. As it has been explained to me, the function of the bands is distinctly different. A belly band for pregnancy supports the belly, while a postpartum recovery band applies even compression to the whole abdomen. The postpartum recovery band will help the body tighten back up and shrink the uterus, which expanded several times to accommodate the baby. The addition of heat helps provide comfort and promotes healing.

Flexible printed heaters are the perfect heating solution since there are no bulky, uncomfortable wires which would be even worse when pressed against the skin as firmly as these bands are. Printed heaters can bend and stretch, which is necessary for a compression band.

Keeping Newborns Warm

Babies go from a warm, 98-degree womb to the harsh cold of reality. Since the world is normally colder than 98 degrees, babies have trouble keeping warm. We clothe them and cover them with blankets while their bodies learn to self-regulate, but that isn’t always good enough for them.

Heated Beds for Babies

Having a heated mattress pad is a simple way to provide warmth to a baby. Traditional wire heaters aren’t as comfortable as flexible printed heaters, and specifically, a PTC flexible printedCrying-Baby heater would be a safer option as it self-regulates. Timers, thermistors, zones, etc. can make printed heater solutions more attractive to parents and hospitals.


Breastfeeding is an immensely personal experience for women, and each woman has a different perspective. It can be very demanding on the body and for most women, there is a desire to increase production. One thing that helps to promote and even increase expression is heat. It also helps soothe sore ducts which can get clogged, inflamed, and overworked. My wife often uses a homemade rice heat bag that she microwaves or reusable heating pads that you have to boil to activate.

With breastfeeding comes breast pumping. Pumping allows women to express milk without actively feeding it to their babies. They can use this to build up a reserve a milk supply or even to replace breastfeeding by feeding with a bottle. While it may seem like a straightforward concept, it is not always as convenient as it sounds. There is equipment and accessories to manage, and for most pumps, you have to hold the flanges in place, so you can’t multitask very well. This has created a niche market for breast-pumping bras. These bras hold the flanges in place and can make the experience a bit more discrete.

Heated Breastfeeding / Pumping Bra

An easy solution would be a heated bra that can be used by both breastfeeding and breast pumping moms. Using Butler Technology’s flexible printed heater technology, these bras could be comfortable, washable, and durable. To make the bras even better, you can have them hook up to the pump itself to make a more seamless and feature-rich experience.

Baby Biometrics

This might surprise some people, but babies are not born with the ability to speak, which is incredibly inconvenient as they depend 100% on others to take care of them. They cannot communicate what they are thinking or feeling. Are they hungry? Tired? Gassy? Hurt? Who knows? As a parent of a newborn, you spend more time running through the list of possible issues, running through a trial-and-error process to find out which thing or things are bothering them. Having a way to track all of the baby’s vitals, muscle activity, temperature, etc., and put that into an app that can process and interpret the data and predict the need of the baby would make parenting significantly less stressful.Happy-Family

Biometric Clothing for Babies

You could equip articles of clothing with biometric sensors to monitor the baby. This info would transmit to an app that collects data on what your baby is doing. Through machine learning, the app could effectively predict the baby’s current state and give parents peace of mind that their child is happy and healthy. And for the unfortunate moments when a baby gets sick, the app could help diagnose these issues sooner by looking for warning signs that something is wrong and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Printed Electronics Can Make Childbirth and Childrearing Easier

Bringing a child into the world is one of the most challenging things for any person, and it just so happens to be one of the most important things to the survival of the human race. Printed electronics can help make that process easier and help mothers and babies live healthier and more successful lives.

If any of these ideas have inspired you, contact Butler Technologies today for your next printed electronics project.

Meet the Author

Grant Mossman Butler Technologies Bio

Grant is an integrated marketing specialist at Butler Technologies. He is a Butler native and studied digital media at Slippery Rock University. He joins the team after spending many years in the non-profit world. He has a passion for technical writing, video production, and innovation.

Connect with Grant on LinkedIn

Topics: Health & Wellness, Advanced Printed Technology

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