Calma: from vision to reality

Research had clearly shown that when breastfeeding, the baby is able to maintain a vacuum, stay attached to the breast, breathe regularly and therefore remain stable and calm. With that in mind, Medela had the vision to develop Calma, a feeding device based on the baby’s natural milk-removing behaviour.

How Calma works
"Breastfed infants are able to feed successfully using primarily intraoral vacuum and a tongue movement similar to breastfeeding to remove milk from Calma”
Dr Donna Geddes

Calma’s integrated vacuum-controlled valve means, in particular, that the baby is required to create a vacuum for milk to flow, and employ a tongue movement similar to breastfeeding to remove milk.

During the development of Calma, research initiatives were established and have since produced three peer-reviewed journal articles: two with the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group from The University of Western Australia (Geddes et al. 2011, Sakalidis et al. 2012) and the third with Dr Mizuno from Showa University, Tokyo (Segami et al. 2013).

Advantages for the baby

The key findings of this research, which scientifically compared breastfeeding and feeding with the vacuum release teat, were that both feeding methods were similar for the following outcomes:

  • Tongue movement, nipple positioning and the use of vacuum to remove milk
  • Coordination of sucking, swallowing, breathing and pausing
  • Transfer rate of milk and the duration of the feed
  • The mouth opening angle (attachment) and the jaw and
    throat movement
  • Physiologic stability as measured by heart rate and oxygen saturation.
Illustration milk flow with Calma and at breast
Diagram heart rate and blood oxygen with Calma
Study abstracts
Tongue movement and intra-oral vacuum of term infants during breastfeeding and feeding from an experimental teat that released milk under vacuum only

Recent literature supports the theory that vacuum is integral to the removal of milk from the breast rather than peristaltic compression of the breast. ...

Geddes, D.T., Sakalidis, V.S., Hepworth, A.R., McClellan, H.L., Kent, J.C., Lai, C.T. and Hartmann, P.E. (2011)

Early Human Development 88: 443 - 449
Oxygen saturation and suck-swallow-breathe coordination of term infants during breastfeeding and feeding from a teat releasing milk only with vacuum

Vacuum is an important factor in milk removal from the breast, yet compression is the predominant component of milk removal from bottle teats. Since bottle-feeding ...

Sakalidis,V.S., McClellan,H.L., Hepworth,A.R., Kent,J.C., Lai,C.T., Hartmann,P.E. and Geddes,D.T. (2012)

International Journal of Pediatrics ID 130769
References

Segami,Y., Mizuno,K., Taki,M., & Itabashi,K. Perioral movements and sucking pattern during bottle feeding with a novel, experimental teat are similar to breastfeeding, Journal of Perinatology 33, 319-323 (2013)