As Tina Bruce tells the story, the motivation to develop a better nursing pad kicked into in high gear when her husband commented that the nursing pads she was wearing resembled Frisbees. In 2001, the industrious mother of four was living in Germany with her military physician husband and raising two daughters and the couple's newborn son. Bruce enjoyed the experience of nursing her children, but was never comfortable with the idea that messy disposable pads should be part of that experience. She finally grew tired of "the lumps under my shirts and constantly changing the wet pads" and began experimenting with various materials. "I started with tape and Band-Aids, honestly," she says. "I was looking for anything that would mimic the seal I got when I used my finger to stop the leaking."
One afternoon while caulking around a newly installed baby gate, Bruce noticed the sealing properties of the clear silicone gel she had used. She squeezed some gel between two pieces of wax paper to form silicone discs and let them cure over night. Having earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Niagara University, Bruce knew that silicone is a safe, inert substance. "I used myself as a guinea pig and the end-result of that initial experiment worked really well."
Over time, Bruce tweaked the silicone pads and shared them with friends. Before long, friends of friends began asking about her silicone pads. She was finally convinced that the idea was too good to put in a drawer once she stopped nursing her fourth child. "I reached out to my Uncle Chuck who was in Ohio working as a manufacturing and engineering consultant. He helped me get the product patented and used his experience in the field to identify high-end sources for silicone," says Bruce. Chuck began sharing kitchen space with his wife, while he baked different silicone pads in the couple's Viking oven. He would send the baked products to Tina to review for thickness, comfort and ease-of-use. The Aha! came when Chuck began baking the silicone on light bulbs, the precursor to today's uniquely curved LilyPadz®.
The first LilyPadz® were manufactured for sale in January 2003. "It was a long road between caulking the baby gate and seeing our product in mass retailers," says Bruce. "We learned a lot of lessons about life and business along the way. One of the most important was to listen to conflicting ideas and recognize that the big ideas often come from small moments." One of the small moments for Bruce was when her three- year- old daughter came up with the name for the innovative nursing pads. "We had been struggling to find a name for the product; we knew we were really starting a new category of product as well as a new product. We must have gone through a list of a hundred names and were becoming frustrated with the process. My pre-schooler began playing with the pads and said they reminded her of lily pads," recalls Bruce. "That moment crystallized for me the importance of listening . . . the big ideas can pop up at the most unexpected moments."
So what's next for the LilyPadz® mother of invention? "I'm so gratified that a small idea turned in to a product that makes a real difference for mothers. Moms deserve the freedom to enjoy the early days of motherhood without worrying about leakage," says Bruce. "For now, that's enough for me."
LilyPadz® are the revolutionary alternative to traditional nursing pads combining such unique features as flexibility, breathability, invisibility, and "sticks-to-your-ability" to provide the kind of protection every expectant and nursing mother needs.
Whether or not you breastfeed your baby, inconvenient, leaky and let's admit it, "obvious" nursing pads are the last thing you want to worry about during and after your pregnancy. The special soft, flexible and non-absorbent material in LilyPadz® conforms to your breast for a secure fit, allowing you to wear whatever you like with confidence.
Now that you have a choice...
Say goodbye to uncomfortable, unreliable and unattractive nursing bras and pads!