Australian engineer + designer
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My guest this week is Alex Sinickas, an engineer and designer from Bright, Victoria, and a mum of 1.
Alex grew up playing outdoors with her older brother, re-creating the achievements of her childhood heroes Indiana Jones, MacGyver and James Bond. She spent a lot of time digging up things and blowing things up, This sparked her curiosity of how to build things and how things worked.
When it came time to go to Uni Alex studied engineering and also economics, She got into design a bit later, whilst working in structural engineering with architects, she wanted to be able to help people to be able to achieve their visions.
4 years ago Alex was breastfeeding her daughter and found herself on the end of a breast pump and found it to be quite a shocking and painful experience, needing to pump extensively for her daughter who refused the breast. This got Alex thinking about how she could make this experience more comfortable.
She ordered some silicone and a robotics kit and set about creating 3D printouts of silicone cushions, which lead to Alex collaborating with a roboticist and a prototype coach, and her husband's insight as a GP also proved useful. They produced prototypes and each time Alex had to pump she would try them out, until they found the perfect fit.
Thus began MilkDrop Pumps, a soft silicone pad that stretches over most brands of existing pumps. They launched in Australia in April 2021 and in the US in late 2022.
Alex - MilkDrop Pumps
***This episode contains discussions around pregnancy loss, post natal depression and an IUGR pregnancy.***
If today’s episode is triggering for you in any way I encourage you to seek help from those around you, medical professionals or from resources on line. I have compiled a list of great international resources here
Music used with permission from Alemjo my new age and ambient music trio.
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!
Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast. It's a platform for mothers who are artists and creatives to share the joys and issues they've encountered. While continuing to make art. Regular themes we explore include the day to day juggler. How mother's work is influenced by the children, mum guilt, how mums give themselves time to create within the role of mothering and the value that mothers and others place on their artistic selves.
My name's Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. You can find links to my guests and topics we discuss in the show notes. Together with music played, how to get in touch, and a link to join our lively and supportive community on Instagram. The art of being a mum acknowledges the Bondic people as the traditional owners of the land, which his podcast is recorded on.
Thank you so much for joining me today. It really is a pleasure to have you.
This Week on the podcast. My guest is Alex cynic s. Alex is an engineer and a designer from bright in Victoria, and she's a mom of one. Alex grew up playing outdoors with her older brother, recreating the achievements of her childhood heroes, including Indiana Jones, MacGyver and James Bond, she spent a lot of time digging up things and blowing things up. This sparked her curiosity of how to build things and how things worked. When it came time to go to uni, Alex studied engineering and also economics. She got into design a bit later, whilst working in structural engineering with architects. She wanted to be able to help people to be able to achieve four years ago, Alex was breastfeeding her daughter and found herself on the end of a breast pump and found it to be quite shocking and painful experience needing to pump extensively for her daughter who refuse the breast. This got Alex thinking about how she could make this experience more comfortable, not just for herself. But for other mothers. She ordered some silicone and a robotics kit and set about creating 3d printouts of silicone cushions, which led Alex to collaborate with roboticists and a prototype coach and her husband's insight as a GP also proved useful. They produce prototypes, and each time Alex had to pump she would try them out until they found the perfect feet. Thus began milkdrop pumps, a soft silicone pad that stretches over many brands of existing pumps. They launched in Australia in 2021, and in the US in late 2022.
This episode contains discussions around pregnancy loss, postnatal depression, and an IUGR pregnancy.
If today's episode is triggering for you in any way, I encourage you to seek help from those around you, medical professionals or from resources online. I've compiled a list of great international resources, which can be found on my podcast landing page, Alison newman.net/podcast. And while you're there, please take a minute to subscribe to my new weekly email, which I'm sending out at the beginning of each week. I'm a little bit conscious that we don't actually own all the content that we post on social media. And in light of Mr. Elon Musk's recent takeover of Twitter and the changes he's made. I'm even more aware than ever that things could disappear in the blink of an eye. So I'd love to be able to keep in touch with you before that disappears. So jump on and subscribe to my weekly newsletter. The music you'll hear today, as usual is from my ambient music trio called LM Joe. We are based in Australia and it's myself, my sister, Emma Anderson and her husband, John. I really hope you enjoy today's chat.
Welcome, Alex. It's a real pleasure to have you on the podcast today. Thanks so much for coming on. Thanks for having me. Yeah, so you're based in your in Australia. Whereabouts are you in Australia? Yeah, I live in Brighton, which is about three and a half hours northwest of Melbourne. Yeah, I know. Right? Yeah. A lot of people when you say that, they say, Oh, I um, I went on family holidays there when I was a kid or something like that. Yeah, that's probably doesn't change that much. It's probably a little bit more popular now. And it's, you know, in winter, it's all about skiing. And in summer, it's all about mountain biking and road riding. And I remember the because I'm one of those people that not from family holidays. And the autumns are beautiful, which is stunning. Yeah, well, I'm I'm married to a Canadian and he reckons that it's the closest he can get to
to Canada in Australia. So I feel like that's a nice, it's a nice compromise. We get to live here but
Similar to Canada. Yeah, it's beautiful. It really is. And yeah, about three hours from Melbourne. Yeah, yeah. I have some great memories of that part of the world.
Yes. Totally Beautiful. Very lucky. Oh, that's awesome.
So you're an engineer and a designer. Can you share with us how you got into that field? I think I was just following my brother, actually, I might have a brother who's two years older than me. And through school.
And growing up, he, he sort of involved me in all of his activities, really. So it was kind of just trotting around following him. And so our sort of childhood heroes were, you know, Indiana Jones and MacGyver, James Bond for that kind of stuff. So we spent a lot of time outside, digging up things and blowing things up, which is probably okay, these days. And so I just sort of learned about
how to build things and curiosity about how things work from him, and probably my parents. And then I was always fairly good at maths. And so when it came time to go to, I knew I always wanted to go to uni, but not I didn't really know what I wanted to study, I thought, oh, maybe you know, medicine that's like what you do if that's what you're good at maths, which is a really strange concept, but that's kind of where it was at the time. But it just didn't really kind of make sense. And so I, yeah, I ended up doing engineering. And I did dumb economics as well, as my dad had said, like, oh, you know, I never really understood how money works and how businesses work. And I wish I'd known that. And maybe you might like that, too. So I was pretty, like, aimless. Although I was academically fairly, you know, good. But I really had no like idea about what I wanted to do. So that's how I ended up in engineering. And then, in terms of design, I got into that a bit later, one of the things you learned you do when you're engineering is you work in really big teams full of lots of different people. And I was working in structural engineering. And you end up working with architects quite a lot. And I loved what they did. Yeah, right. Grandfather was an architect. And I'd always loved design.
And I'm probably not very good at it. But I know what looks good. I like being able to help people achieve that. And so I was always drawn to architecture and just, like, beautiful design, good design. Yeah. Right. So what sort of things had you been doing?
Like you said, structural?
Engineering, is that, like building bridges? And yeah, anything above the ground. So there's like a thing, you know, with engineering, there's lots of different kinds. My choice was, you know, electrical, chemical,
environmental, and civil and so like, electrical seem too hard, I didn't really understand electricity, can't see it, you know,
chemical like, I wasn't really that into chemistry, again, too hard to understand, can't see it civil, well, that's everything you can see. It's everything on the ground. So roads, rail,
you know, it's water management, and then structural, which is things you can see above the ground. So buildings, bridges,
anything like that. And so that kind of made the most sense to me, because I could see it, and I could understand how I, you know, I could make that. And so that's kind of where I ended up. And,
yeah, luckily, I ended up working with this brilliant
consulting firm called Eric, which is a, which was started by a guy who was an architect, also a philosopher, and an engineer. And he had this idea that if you worked closer with, you know, the designers at the very start, and with the people who were building it, you could create these really beautiful pieces of art. And so he started I think, in the 1960s. In the UK, he was Danish, and created this firm of engineers who were really oriented towards the dream of the architect, like, what did they want to create? And how could we bring the real world to that in a way that didn't like shut down their ideas, but was like, okay, yeah, you want to put, you know, some crazy structure up here that can't be built? Well, maybe it can be built, if we, you know, changed it like this. So use the physics in that way. And so, so he was, you know, he created this firm out of that and so I was lucky enough to fall into working
for them, and that's where I learned about,
you know, not necessarily being the artist yourself, but, you know, making art come alive. And I think architecture is one of those disciplines where, like, they can create some crazy stuff like, in the real world that exists, you know, and it's amazing to see what what, you know, what people can come up with. And I especially liked the kind of teamwork aspect of it, you know, you kind of needed a whole lot of things to come together to create these, you know, beautiful pieces. So, I didn't work very long in that, you know, as a structural engineer only a couple of years, but I worked in that firm for quite a while. Yeah, recently doing more research and development with them. Yeah. So up until that point, before this guy
came up with this idea was this, was that a really sort of radical idea that people would work together in that way? Was it more like sheep would have an idea, and architects would just do their thing? And people wouldn't say, yeah.
I mean, I don't know, there's probably historians, or people who were alive and working in that time, that would know better, it was always sort of shared with us, as part of the Kool Aid, you know, like about how it was not, you know, together. But I guess if you go back to like, you know, the idea of the Renaissance man, like art and science were very, very close, right.
I think as, possibly as
you know, as society grows, and as disciplines grow you, you know, to be able to be an expert in your area, you have to get more and more narrow in your focus. And so it's very hard to be on top of everything anymore.
Because it'll mean that you actually can't do that project, like you can't make it happen. So you get so individual people have to get more and more
specialized. And so I wonder if like, you know, art fell off the way there. I think also, like, the economics of things changed. So
the, the people with the power in the built environment now, which is what they call, you know, cities and things that get built. It's not necessarily the architect, I think it used to be that, you know, you might commission an architect to do a design, and then they might bring in like a
bad engineer and some contractors to build it. And
but the architect was like in control of the project, I'm not sure it's totally like that anymore. It's sort of shifted a little bit to
the person who owns the property being the, you know, the person who's really making the big decisions. And so I'm not sure that we get quite as daring architecture anymore. Like, you know, would we have the Sydney Opera House? If it was 2022? Probably not. Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it. Yeah. Yeah. So I think like that, that's probably changed. But yeah, I'm not sure what it was like,
before, but in my view, it's always good to have
more people earlier on
working together, because
often, often, you can actually make the thing happen that everybody wants, if you're there at the start. It's just Messier. It takes longer. And it's got a higher chance of failure. So it's easier to like go with what you know. Yeah, that's what you're trying to do. Yeah, that's interesting.
And you've raised a point there that I'll bring you back to later won't dive into that just yet. But I've written that down for later. But I want to talk about what you're doing right now. So you have used your extensive experience in your engineering and your designing background to create a business called milkdrop. Can you tell us about that, please? Sure. So, yeah, so I was working for this company. And I went on maternity leave for my daughter, who's now three, nearly four. And I found myself on the end of a breast pump to feed her, which I found to be quite a
shocking experience, I think,
you know, we had trouble feeding directly at the breast. And so I was pumping on a breast pump, like six to eight times a day, just trying to express milk for her. And I ended up with really damaged nipples. And I found it really painful. And it just like, after a while, you know, I dealt with it for a bit, but after a while, it started to really annoy me that this product had been made that it wasn't clear how to use it, and it was hurting me, but I still kind of had to.
And I started to think about how I could make that different. And so
I had seen these experiments that people had
Um, it's soft robotics are like, robotic.
Yeah, like robotic creations that were made of soft silicone. So it's like hands that could pick things up. And it's like, why are breast pumps made out of robotic hands? I mean, the reason is that it's really creepy. And people just wouldn't accept that idea is super creepy. You know, like, everyone's always like, why don't you just make it well, like a baby? And like, would you put a fake baby on your breast to express milk? Like, it needs to be a little removed?
Since but, so what I did was, I ordered a kit of silicone and a robotics kit. And I started trying to build something that would feel better than a breast pump, but still work. I mean, within about one hour, I ran into my own limitations of like, how to use these things, because I have no idea about robotics. So I called a friend Daniel, who is a roboticist. And he introduced me to a friend of his who worked at Swinburne University as a prototyping coach. So basically, students in any of the design
subjects who have their final projects and want to create, you know, a piece of furniture or a piece of metal or whatever, he's there in the lab, helping them make it so he knows how to make stuff. And both of these guys are lovely. And so we sort of started working together on creating prototypes of breast pumps, that would feel better. I'm also married to a GP. So we had all of this like, insight into how the breast actually works, from sort of a medical perspective. And so the four of us sort of sat around and just started pumping out prototypes. And then every time I had to press pump, I would use
Yep, try it out.
And then we go back, 3d printed another model, pour some silicone, try it again. And so we did that, like 20 times.
That was like the creative bid. And then after that, it's all just been full on, you know, manufacturing, fundraising, websites,
kind of thing. But yeah, so that's where I got to. So yeah, the products called what we ended up doing was actually just creating a soft silicone pad that stretches over most breast pumps, we didn't even redesign the breast pump.
Because we figured this would, you know, help more people, they've already got a breast pump. And then you just, you know, get this cushion and attach it over the top. So that's what we've been doing.
And we launched that in Australia last year, and just launched in the US last month. So that's pretty exciting, helping a lot of women with pain and discomfort. And then we're still also working on other
products in the background as well, because it's all good on Yeah, that is such an awesome story. Because it's like you've literally solved a problem, not just for yourself, but for everyone. Like that is so awesome that you can do that. You've got the skin. Yeah, you can. Yeah. I love.
Well, I mean, it's not it's not always so straightforward. Like, the first product that we did.
You know, it worked for about 75% of people, which firm in the medical world is insane, right. But
about a quarter of people were finding they were collecting less milk because the cushion was kind of dulling the sensation of the pump. And so then we were like, Okay, what can we do about that? So we created a cushion that was thinner, or had less material on it, you know, sent that out to the people it wasn't working for dudes were like, yes, great, you know, and then we're like,
doesn't fit everybody's nipple size, because everybody's different. So then we added more sizes. So you're like, just constantly trying to find something that works for everyone. And I think
it's really easy to be like, oh, yeah, you just like created this thing. And then it works for everyone is amazing. It's never quite like back lossy. Yeah, there's a lot to improve. And we, you know, we think we're sitting now at like about 90%. So we can help nine out of 10 women, and one out of 10 Unfortunately, we you know, we're still working on it. But you know, we can't help but what what we do instead is have free trial for 30 days. So you try it if it doesn't work, send it back, we'll refund you, you know, so we're not trying to add stress, but his you know, that's kind of our way of, you know, making sure that we're actually helping women rather than rather than sort of making it worse. So yes, yeah. Interesting process Yeah.
When did you sort of first start this process? What year was Yeah, yeah, it took about six months to do the design, and then about 18 months to do the manufacturer. And really the holdup was not our design skill or
manufacturing capability, it was money to be honest and time. So, you know, you've got jobs. Everybody's got jobs. And I feel like it's like, it was it. Who was it that said, like, you need A Room of One's Own? Is it
Virginia Woolf, if I got the wrong English author, anyway, someone was like, you know, women will never be able to write until they have an income and space. And, you know, Shakespeare's sister wouldn't have become Shakespeare just by virtue of being female, right? Because women, you know, you,
you don't have the luxury of being able to fail and have constant monies anyway, we all have jobs. And
we had to sort of do it in our own time. So if we were employed by milkdrop, now, with funding, we probably would have only taken us sort of four weeks to do a design, and then it might have been like, nine months for manufacture. Yeah. So so we sort of had this process of like, you know, in our spare time making up these prototypes, testing them, redesigning them, you know, maybe we did like once, once a week, or once, once every two weeks or something, you know, then we'd go and try and patent that, and then take that around, apply for grants to get funding, and take that around to investors, or accelerators try and prove that there's a market without having a product to sell, you know, convincing people that this was worth investing in. And then, you know, finally, we managed to, you know, accumulate enough funding and investment to then manufacture it. So it wasn't that it took that long it was that it took that long to get them the money to pay for it. You know, the tooling just for these just for reference, it's like 40,000 bucks to make it all. Yeah, right. Like, if you're an existing company,
that's fine. But if you're starting from scratch, that's a lot of money. You know, that's not, you know, you know, doesn't come pass by easily. And so yeah, so that's kind of what it took. So it was sort of two years from the idea to being in market. And then you know, it's really been a year and a half for us to even get enough traction to, for people to know about us, like the marketing is almost harder than the design. Yeah, it was like that was the I don't say that was the easy because, yeah, well, it's like, and then all this other stuff that has to happen afterwards. Yeah. Back when? And if this is appropriate question to ask. So you can you can say no, if you want, but because you've got money from other people, or then are you accountable back to them to show what you've made? And everything? And how does that feel really, like? nerve wracking? Sort of? Like, I don't know if that's the word. But yeah, I feel pressure from that. Yeah. You can make it feel like it's full of pressure. You know, like, It's always, it's always a challenge to report back. But, you know, we, we have really good investors, we, you know, we have mostly private investors, and then also the Victorian Government.
And I think
it's a challenge. Yeah, like, we read, like a monthly report back, right. And every time like, something doesn't quite go, right, you always find yourself wanting to put a spin on it and catching yourself being like, no, just tell it how it is. Because next month, you know, you're not going to be able to say this, I think actually, I've, I've been able to take a lot of the lessons from working in big teams on big engineering projects from that, that one of the good things about, you know, working in construction, or on big projects is that if it's a good culture, there's no blame, you just say what the situation is, you know, nobody's made a mistake on purpose, or like, you know, your prototype hasn't failed on purpose, you're not being lazy, you're not misusing money, you're trying your best to get something over the line, it's really hard to do if it was easy to be done. So you just have to kind of
make sure you don't fall into that trap of like treating your investors. Like it's the media, you know,
that it has to be a spin on a story or whatever. So yeah, I'm pretty blunt with where things are at. We share as much information as we can, as we have. And the usually the way it works is the investors are far less worried about the things I'm worried about than I am, you know, usually the, you know, usually they're saying things like, no, no, you got this just keep going, like, you know, tell us about your thinking about this. And then they want to talk you through it. It's not like a reprimand relationship or a bad boss. It's like a group of people who want you to succeed. You got to tell them what's going on if you if you want their help. It's kind of Yeah, it's almost that nurturing sort of environment where if you've got a problem and no, because I guess they've had many years experience in business or it'll the diary is they'd be like, well, actually, this isn't a big deal like you know,
Oh, it is easy. Yeah. Have you looked at this? Like, how come you haven't looked at this? Like, oh, I didn't even know that was the thing, you know? So I think like, it's just, it depends how you frame it. And it could I think, if I was a little younger, and
you know, hadn't learned all of those other lessons, it would be an easy trap to fall into, but I think, yeah, with a little bit of experience, like, oh, no, this is an asset. This is awesome. Just gonna, you know, be grateful that these people want to be involved in this project. And,
you know, ask them for as much help as I can get and communicate as often as I can. So I think, yeah, we've we've been really lucky. I'm sure it's not like that with everyone. And
I think also by the fact that this product is about women's health, which is, you know, notoriously under served and chronic pain for women is overlooked in or you attract, you attract a certain kind of investor, right?
You know, they're already, they're already thinking differently. And they already probably really care about this. So
it's a bit of a filter, as well, like, it can be frustrating, because like, oh, how come I'm not getting more investment? How can I seem like the same person as me, also called Alex, but a dude, you know, raising twice the amount and half the time kind of thing. And you can get annoyed at that. But then when you look at who you've got the quality's so good, that you think well, you know,
yeah, so yeah, no complaints. Yeah. Good question. I know I sorry. That's okay. I didn't I didn't pre warn you with that. Well, I just thought of it as we're talking about, I thought, I wonder what's that? Like? Yeah, sounds like can be stressful.
There's always there's always things that are going well, and things that aren't going well. And
yeah, you've just got to like bite the bullet and talk about things not going well. Because if you were in that position, you'd want to know and help us. You'd want to be able to help to like having kids, right, because they don't tell you what's going on. How can you help them? Yeah, that's a whole new conversation.
So speaking of children, you mentioned that you started this out with you when you had your daughter. So how old is your daughter now? She would be she's studying for next month or Yeah, right. Yep. And that's your only child. You've got one. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we had. We have tried since but I just keep having miscarriages. Which sucks. I'm so sorry. Oh, that's okay. It happens to lots of people. So, yeah, it's just it's been a fairly big gap. Maybe we'll be able to have another one. Maybe not a I've got seven years between mine Never say never.
Yeah, exactly. So just sort of taking it easy with that, I think, you know, the last few years of the pandemic and also trying to grow business and
life's busy my husband just is just about to sit his final exam for for, you know, final final, the last one after, you know, 15 years of study. So that's all been pretty full on like, we're just yeah, just kind of trying to take it easy.
What's your sort of your days look, like you said before about how you all had jobs? And that what is your main thing now? Yeah, so about a year ago, I moved to almost be more than that. Actually. I moved into full time on milkdrop.
but most people working with us are part time. We have a fully remote team and I call
hyper or extreme flexibility with hours. So we have some people, you know, brilliant people doing marketing and content for us. And, you know, two of the three of them are mothers. And, you know, my view is like you work whatever works for you. So if you need time off, you take out if you don't, whatever, if you want to work at midnight, that's fine. If you want to work at 7am that's also fun. No rules, and no requirements, as long as you're getting the work done. And as we all know my
There's a total machines when it comes to getting work time because we don't have time for bullshit.
Yeah, so like, you know, for the parents, that's what we do, and then we try to make sure that, um, for people who aren't parents that, you know, they are able to use that flexibility how they want as well. So it's not just sort of something that's provided to one group of people.
Because they made a choice. It's
everyone gets that. And it seems to be working quite well so far.
But it's super early days. Yeah. So my days, I like to have a bit of structure, actually. So I'm Monday to Thursday, you know, nine to five.
My daughter has daycare here, Monday to Thursday. And then on Fridays, I'll do I'll sort of do a few hours for sort of Friday over the weekend, like customer service stuff and other things that need to happen on the weekends. So I kind of break that up. But I try not to do anything too taxing.
And yeah, the days like,
I work best in the morning. So I do like the hard work in the morning. And then I moved to the kind of Bitsy tasks that you have as a business in the afternoon.
We have our design meetings once a week, always. And that's with those same two boys that I was working with at the start.
He Yeah, we basically
try to either prototype, a design that we're working on during that week. So we've got something to report back. So we sort of operate on like a weekly cycle. But both of those guys are working in other jobs as well.
But yeah, we that that seems to be working quite nicely and moving fairly quickly.
Yeah, and then you know, it's a total mess whenever grad is sick, or were sick, or you No, okay, closers for some reason, or they issue random public holidays, you know, which is great for people with jobs, but not if you and your business. So I sort of feel like on average, we're getting about four days a week worth of work. So I've just tried to get really, really efficient. And some days that works better than others. Most of the time, I feel like a failure. And then every time, every now and again, something good happens. And like oh, maybe I'm not such a terrible business person after all.
But I did learn one of the great things I did learn from one of our investors and mentors is to print out
good reviews that you get, or comments that people send you. And when you're having a crappy day, just kind of read through those. And
yeah, that does make you feel better. Because it's kind of like, you know, the whole reason I started with because I was annoyed that women weren't being you know, that the, you know, this dis product shouldn't be hurting women, and we could do a better job. And so, you know, when you hear that back that you've changed, your product has meant that someone isn't having pain anymore, and they're able to feed their baby breast milk, which is what they really wanted to do. And you know, they were feeling awful, because they felt like they might have to give up and now they don't you know, that kind of stuff like, Oh, that's really cool. You know, it's nice to have that effect. Yeah. And never underestimate that. Because that I went through an experience with my breastfeeding journey, where at one point, I was producing so much milk that my baby couldn't latch, and then they suggested that I use a shield, which was great, because he could latch but then it decreased my amount of production because the baby wasn't touching my breast. So it was an I went through a lot of issues. And when things finally were good, you know, it changes your whole world. Like it literally changed everything, you know, so I can imagine. I mean, yeah, I was lucky. I never struggled with a lot of pain. But I had other issues. So yeah, it's, it's anything about like the context that you're operating in, right? Like you've got a woman here who
got pregnant, stay pregnant, managed to have a baby. And then if things aren't going super well with feeding or any other part of their babies, like it is full on, especially in that first week or two after birth. Yeah. So no matter how you had the birth, no matter how the baby is going, something is going wrong, like nobody cruises through this period. And so this is the situation that you're in. And this is like, this is the point where we're kind of trying to help and so I think like, that always makes it pretty real. Sometimes, like you you kind of wish you were involved in something more fun. Like you know, when you go to do your marketing campaigns, you're like, Oh, I'm so sick of it being such a downer all the time and
Be like, No, you just feel like that because you're four years past it. But
back in that moment, yeah. Any help is good to help and numb. Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Because yeah, like when you. I mean, I had a lot of experiences with postnatal depression and I'm sure you know, all these little things that were happening but all all combining to make this a massive oh
yes that's it isn't it I remember with my my second baby because he was born, he wasn't early, he had IUGR. So in my when he was being made, my placenta sort of stopped working about 26 weeks, but no one brought that up. So he was completely formed all these organs and everything like his lungs were mature everything but he had no meat on his bones. Basically, he was in a bind. So he was four pound 14, and he come out. And it was like, you can see every breath he took, you could see his diaphragm second, like it was, it was
like I couldn't I had these ideas that I you know, I exclusively breastfed my first baby. And I said, Yep, I'm going to do this with my second. But right from the very beginning, he had to be on formula because he just had to be fed straightaway through this, like the tube, the gavel into his stomach. So they had me pumping. That's all I was doing was pumping. And luckily, they had an electric pump at the hospital. The only other pump would ever use was a manual one. And that was Yeah. Oh my gosh. Just not fun at all. Yeah, and it was like, they just like just just do it. And I was like, But how, like, she was just like, we'll the TV and and show you this video. That must be like 50 years old. And I don't know. And every time I'm not, I'm not begging, you know, midwives at all. But just about every person had their own idea of how to attach and how to latch and how to hold and how to listen.
Oh, man like to listen to? Exactly, yeah. Yeah. You know, I was in the public system. So
every time you rang that bell, you didn't know which nurse, you're going to say, you know, it's the same in practice sounds like, you know, it was the same credit. Yeah, it was just like, my head, I want to go home. I just want to go home and just do it one way, just pick away and do it. But then it has the questioning, like well, is one way that I'm choosing the right way? And like, this is the biggest consequence decision in my life, because I've got this baby I'm responsible for now. Like, if I do it the wrong way. Will they get enough food? Like, it's just, it's just, yeah, I Your story is not unfamiliar. Like?
we've spoken with a lot of women now. And that that whole, like, conflicting information?
Thing is, yeah, it's everywhere. Yeah. And
not always ending up with the best outcome for the for the mom or the baby. So yeah, that's it, isn't it? Yeah. They used to say to us, when we'd ask, what what do we do? What should we do with the baby? And they'd go every baby's different. And yeah, would drive us crazy. Good. We know that's true now, but at the time, when you've got no idea what you're doing, it's your first baby. And you just want someone to tell you what to do. Yeah, yeah. In the end, my husband said, If I hear every, every baby's different one more time, I'm bloody going like he
was just like,
yeah, yeah, I don't know. Yeah, find sites beautiful thing, but gee whiz? Well, you know, like, one of the reasons why we don't know that much is because we don't invest in the research to learn that much. So there's, there's, you know, good evidence base about skin to skin and good evidence base about a whole lot of things, but not, not everything. And so quite a bit of it is kind of left up to people's individual experience with what they've seen.
Or just kind of intuition about stuff, and that's fine. But if if we researched the lactating breast, like we researched other body functions, you know, the same amount of money, we would know a lot more, there would be much more coherent programs, and you know, you wouldn't have be left feeling like that.
So, you know, part of this is, is, you know, we have no problem saying All women should breastfeed and it's best for baby blah, blah, blah, but then, you know, where are the programs and funding to support having someone there in the hospital who's not run off her feet looking after all the other babies that just got born?
You know, where's the funding to provide you homecare, like we do have these people who are super skilled and really good at what they do, but we didn't have funding for them, like, you know, so I think a lot of this is
kind of see like problems around the places like, are these problems that can feasibly be
solved, you know,
in science are these like problems that can feasibly be solved with just a bit of cash? Yeah. And it's just you haven't chosen to put our cash in that area. It's a little cynical, but I think that's true. No, I agree with that. I disagree with that. Also something cynical, if it was a man's problem, like to put more money,
we wouldn't even have to have to have babies, it will be done. Yeah.
Yeah, that's another one.
So what I want to ask, and I'm not asking you to give away your secrets or anything, but with the other you said you're working on some other things? Are they things that are born from that similar? Like experiencing something or seeing something that you've you've got this passion? Yeah. Yeah, it's all about breast pumps. At the moment. I'm like, we would love to do more products. Like one big area that I've been really interested in is incontinence. It's another one of these, like, everybody has it.
You know, so, but, you know, what we're really good at what we've learned how to do is silicone products and, and things that have something to do with the human body. So yeah, so we're still working on breast pumps. And we're working on creating a,
you know, these are just cushions at the moment, but we're working on a full breast pump. So that's what we're doing. But in terms of how that works, I'll probably keep that under wraps.
It'll be a while before that. So yeah, that's what we've been working on.
Which has been fun. Card. Yes.
Fun slash card.
Yeah. When you say about incontinence, it's really funny, all of a sudden, it's almost like it's cool to have the incontinent Sandy's and it's like, where were they 15?
A woman who needed them. Right? Yeah. Another reason why we need more women in STEM, right, you know,
that you have a habit of
solving problems that you see if you don't see the problem, you know, and solve it. So I think, you know, the, this kind of world of these? Yeah, like, Where was that when I was, when I was pregnant or suffering from this, I think we'll see less and less of that as we go. Or, like, we'll start to see these problems solve more and more, as, you know, you start to see these professions that are in charge of designing things, start to have more women in them, or, you know, people who identify as women who are having those problems. So I think it's only gonna get better. But yeah, there's a lot once you start scratching the surface, you're like, oh, and that Oh, and that oh, you know, yeah.
So on that, do you think that it's like, because I know, with the schools, they're always saying, you know, girls getting into STEM and all that sort of stuff? And at the other end of it having women who are the ones with the money, I guess, who are the investors? Is it sort of a bit of both? It's like, encouraging the girls to break through these glass ceilings, I suppose. Or the boys club or whatever. Yeah. But then at the other end, having having the women who sit who might say, Yes, I'm passionate about this, because it's a women's issue, and I want to support it. Yeah. It's like, my grandpa always used to say, like, follow the money. He was Lithuanian, adult, very thick accent and,
you know, follow the money, where's the money coming from? And it kind of does make sense, like, you know, why aren't these problems solved? Because, like I said, before, you know, it could have taken us four, six weeks to make this thing and took us two years, because we had to convince people to give us the money now we were able to convince them. And that was awesome. Thank you. But there are plenty of people who aren't able to convince
other people to fund to fund these sorts of things. And
I think, yeah, well, you know, when you look at the proportion of startups that are led by women
that are funded, it's a lot lower, like there's you can Google all of this, like it's pretty, it's pretty dire.
And there's a lot of arguments why, like people say, Oh, well, there's not as many women asking and not as many women in technology. And so then you say, Yeah, but why, you know,
I don't think there's anything innate about
or girls and boys when they young about their problem solving abilities or their ability to design or do art or anything like that. I think it comes a bit later. Yeah.
And so yeah, I think it's sort of, you know, what are we teaching them? What are we making look exciting and cool? Yeah. What?
You know, you have a lot more often, people say they have more women enrolling in engineering disciplines, such as Humanitarian Engineering, and Environmental Engineering. And then we start putting all of these like stereotypes on women, like, they just want to work for their community, they want to work for environment, like, they don't want to do dirty stuff, you know, so that, that the, you know, they're a little like, flashes everywhere. I guess my point is that it's very complex. But
it is, you know, multi multifactorial, which is like a fancy way of saying, we don't really know, and there's lots of things that happen. But you know, part of it is fun. Part of it is education. Part of it is society, part of it is,
you know, when we're not putting enough effort into retain people, part of it is like the dropping out after having babies, because it's too hard to get back into work. Like, there's just so much stacked up. It's not really there to prevent this from happening. It's yeah, yeah, like, in a nice way, but we're living in that society, and the odds will be stacked against us, you know?
Yeah. And I don't think anyone's doing it intentionally move to this new phase, where it's kind of just like, hung around.
And those systems have been designed in a way that are like that, you know, no, one person in that system is like, I'm gonna push women down exam, but maybe they are, but they've never said it to me. And I haven't actually seen that. But what I have seen is, you know, maybe you go and pitch your idea. And they're like, oh, I'll just text my wife to find out how she found pumping you like, No, how about you go and investigate the market, and take a look at the opportunity. And think about this as a solution in the same way that you would investigate any other pitch or any other product, you know, maybe someone wants to auto turn petrol cars into electric cars, you wouldn't go and ask your mate who drives a car, whether or not that's a good idea, you would do your research at a, like, you know, market scale. So it's stuff like that, where, you know, it's not intended to, to be sexist, or whatever, but it kind of ends up like that way, because we have all of these biases. So I think, yeah, you know, it's hard to hard to combat but there are people who are trying to combat it, you know, there are plenty of groups where they're actively, you know, recruiting, not majority female investors, necessarily, but trying to find founders who have women, you know, running their companies or whatever, and presenting those to people who have the cash. You know, there's funds, government funds that are set up, to try to sort of make up that difference that women don't see in funding. So if they're, if they're receiving, you know, 50% of the funding or less of a man, you know, equivalent man, so like, a man is able to raise a million dollars, and the woman has to raise 500,000, or something like that, then the government's are stepping in to try to make up that gap. You know, there's plenty of people doing lots of good things. So it'll work. But, you know, sometimes it needs a bit of a kick up the bum to Yeah, but that is good that, you know, everyone's I feel like everyone's aware of, like you said, the systems that have are in place, and if we go to my hands, like, they're floating around us, it's not like someone standing there, you know, enforcing all this stuff. It's just the world we live in. It is and it doesn't make it better. And in some ways, it makes it harder, because you can't put your finger on it. Like, you know, I, I sort of, it's like, you know, back in the 60s, if you had a person who was working, you know, who happened to be a woman who's probably a secretary and, and someone hits her on the bum, like, clearly sexist harassment. Yeah, that never happens. It doesn't happen so much. These days, it's sort of all under the, you know, feels like it's more under the radar, it's not as easy to point to.
Obviously, there's lots of cases where that's not the, you know, the case, and there's a spectrum and, you know, really serious stuff happening, you can see it all over the news. And not on the news. But but for the sort of like little tiny things that are happening during the day, like, you know, you can't call out all of it. But you do know, when you look at it empirically, the results are that women are getting funded, less women's problems are getting solved less. Women's pain is more overlooked. You know, all of this stuff on
you know, when you look at it in the big picture is definitely happening. So, how do we go about addressing it? I'm not really sure. I'm sure there are much more experienced people who know more about what they're talking about.
But you're part of what I don't see part of the solution that sounds like really
And police, I think literally are you're in the trenches doing the work by creating these products. And by getting women involved in making these products funding these products. And I think that's fantastic. Because it has to start somewhere literally, like, it's what I always say, when I read things about how to make change, it's like, but where do you start? Like, really actually start, but I feel like what you're doing is, yeah, well, you start with what you can control, right? Like, you know, there are plenty of businesses that are aimed at trying to improve that postpartum experience or the fertility experience are plenty of them. You know, some of them are based on building up communities of women, you know, that's like what you're doing right? So that happens to be your skill, I'm not good at that. I'm not good at designing things. So this is the one thing I can change. So I think it's just, you just like, you know, you look at the all of the things that are in your sphere of concern, and you look at them the next ring down, which is your sphere of influence, you can't actually change it, but maybe you can influence it a bit. And then there's your sphere of control. So what can you do in that sphere of control that's going to have the biggest influence? And then maybe, over time, you can make that change? But I mean, it's hard. We've got, you know, cop 27, or whatever it is this happening while we're recording. You know, these people haven't been able to make change on like, such an obvious threat. So I think like, change is hard.
Yeah, I think you've just got to kind of do what you can control. And hopefully don't go, you know, don't let it sort of derail you too much when it doesn't change as quickly as you'd like. Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it Yeah.
So when you work before you had your daughter,
were you working? Like full time? Or? Yep. And then how did how did you sort of feel about that change of them, becoming a mom and having you focus almost solely on your daughter? Did you go through any sort of, I don't wanna say existential crises. But how was that experience for you?
I didn't find out too bad. My husband is really involved in daughter like, we definitely 5050 Maybe he's 6040 We will also
at the time of the she was actually my second pregnancy, I had a first and it had ended in
a stillbirth at like, 20 Something weeks. And so I was quite anxious throughout the pregnancy. And so that was my challenge. It was like, am I gonna get through this? And so we'd moved back in to mom and dad's house. And we were just all living as I know, it sounds very old school. But I'm European. I don't know, but we loved it. So we were living in my parents house had the baby, and everyone was there to help. So I didn't, it was a shock in that year. Now I've got this child and feeding wasn't going super well. But once we kind of got through that.
actually really liked it. I didn't expect to I thought that
I thought that I'd hate not working. But I was kind of working on milkdrop Like I had things to work on. And I've always have
you know, as long as Yeah, and I wasn't 100% on the baby. So it was sort of quite balanced.
I probably not remembering a whole lot of stuff. But yeah, I guess we had three adults before adults for one child. And
and we had help and meals and time to walk outside and you know, if I needed a shower mum or dad would take Grettir if Andrew was working like it just wasn't sort of as stressful. So I think I had a lot more community. And also all of my friends had been through it too. And I'd been kind of dealt a blow beforehand. So I'd already had
Add that like, oh, maybe you can't have everything you wanted. And it's not all that easy. So when I did have that, when I did have Greta, I was just thankful that, you know, I could have a baby.
So, I think, yeah, it wasn't such a big deal for me. I didn't like how
when, before that, when I'd said that I was getting married, how I suddenly like people were saying, like, oh, when are you going to stop working or like, you know, or when you got pregnant, the first time I
was commenting about it, and feeling like I had to go into a different part of the business to keep my job because you know, engineering can be pretty full on and so like, all of that sort of stuff. I just, again, it's like the unsaid thing, but that was more about a phase in life. And, you know, I did work in a company that really wanted women to stick around, and they really supported me and I, you know, felt very loved and included and all the rest. So it wasn't sort of that much of an issue for me, maybe that's just, yeah, maybe it's, in hindsight,
I did find that I wanted to get back to working within about four weeks, as in not working, but like working on something. So I didn't, I didn't like, I'm just,
you know, I didn't settle in very well to just being with my baby. Like, I found myself like walking down to the cafe, getting her sleep. And then, you know, getting out my laptop and investigating something that's silicone, you know, but that's just what worked for me. And so yeah, I was lucky enough that I could do that. And, you know, for maternity leave and all these other privileges. So, yeah.
But, like, something that I do talk to moms about on this show is having that outlet, because we can't, I mean, I'm sure there's somebody that can but it's not may be 24/7. Thinking about my children, like, I'd go insane. Yes.
Yeah, I think that that's normal. Like, I mean, we also I think when you, you know, you have Yeah, like identity is an interesting one. Because, I mean, I had Greta at 35. So you know, you've got your life, like, I didn't change my name in marriage, because I've always been called by my last name, all the way through school and uni. So I kind of was my identity, I had already worked for a decade, like I'd, you know, felt like I'd sort of fought my way through a fairly male, I wouldn't say I don't say dominated because they weren't aggressive. But yeah, majority male environments like
so I sort of felt like I had, like, gotten to this point. And then actually what, what I had trouble with was, then all of a sudden, you're sitting on the end of a pump, you're like, oh, no, wait, I'm just a mammal that's here to be milked for the benefit of my offspring. That felt like shit. Sorry, that felt terrible. No, you can say that. Yeah, I think, you know, that's why I sort of started to design that because I felt like, well, no, hang on. Women who have been through this shouldn't be feeling like this, I think I did a survey at the very start to see if anyone else had these issues. And for every 10 women, seven had nipple pain or discomfort using pumps, and eight felt like a cow. So like, I expected the physical thing. But I didn't expect everyone to feel that way emotionally about their product.
And the other thing that I didn't like was that people are on pumps, because they're trying really hard to feed their baby breast milk, because that's what they want to do, if that's what they want to do.
So, but then they're kind of like,
given this experience where like, this thing's wheeled in at them, they're not really explained how to use it. It's sort of like
a punishment, but these women should be held up, you know, like they should be, they should be held up on pedestals, these people are sitting on the end of a machine to milk their breasts to give breast milk, like they've trying really hard, really, really hard. Especially, you know, some of them pumping like 12 times a day, they're up in the middle the night turning this machine on, you know, I think so that kind of bothered me. And I think, um, yeah, I did struggle with that. And that's why I created these. But I kind of didn't necessarily see it as just motherhood or my particular reaction to it. I saw it more as, here's another case of where women's experience is overlooked. And, and I didn't want to also, you know, be too critical of these restaurant companies, because they're trying to design something that is affordable, that fits lots of people, the human race is super diverse, like, how do you get something that works for everybody's anatomy and physiology? Like it's not an easy thing to do? And people expect a lot
you know, off their products for a certain price. Like I get how they've come into being and I'm glad that they exist, whatever, but I just felt like, you know, we could we could do a better job. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Now that's so good. Like, I can definitely relate to this the cow feeling and that
then feeling feeling
like literally like an animal. Like, like you said, you're supposed to, like if you shouldn't be revered if you're feeding your child and then you go out of your way to get the milk out of your body to continue feeding your child you should you shouldn't be held up on a pedestal, you know. And just like I saw, I see it all the time on like, people I follow on Instagram, but all these particularly in America, they've got an something's going on over there. With the they don't have as much maternity leave or any maternity leave. Like it's not set up, like here in Australia. Yeah, it's tied to their employment. Yes. Yeah. And, and the fact if anyone actually wants to pump, it's like, what do you want to do? What are you talking about? Like, it's not actually something that, like employers give any credit to.
And I know from myself as a, as a musician, like, I've had to pump a lot of times, like most like gigs, when you're away from the kids for, you know, more than at least three hours, you know, you're gonna have to, and being in toilets or out in the car, and it's like, you just feel like you're like shamed, shunned away from everybody? Yeah. Oh, I don't know. It's just it's pretty rough. I think. I mean, America is a fascinating place, right? Like, they, they have these conditions, but then they also have,
you know, there's an entire company set up there, they're called Minerva. And they create
pods for lactation. So you can pop them in stadia, or you can put them in the airport or at university campuses, or downtown or whatever. And there's another one company called Milk stock, which will collect your milk pumped milk, like say you're away for work for a couple of days. And you know, you need like, you need to pump if you're feeling you need to keep that milk supply up. So, though, pick up your milk and send it back to your baby, wherever they are, like so there's all these like, it's, it's not like,
yeah, the US is a very diverse and fascinating place. But yeah, they have terrible maternity like terrible government
parental leave schemes and like people that kind of on their own, but it doesn't mean they have these other services around and businesses that kind of help them sort of
difficult to grasp sometimes coming from coming from Australia, we've definitely learned a lot
starting to sell these cushions over there.
You're listening to the art of being a mom with my mum, Alison Newman.
Something else I like to talk about
is the topic of mum guilt. And I find this really fascinating one because some mums I've had on have actually had to google it to find out what it was. And I think that is brilliant. And I wish that was me. And what's your thoughts on mum guilt?
What it is or how to deal with it? Like do you have you experienced it? Or did you have to Google it? Like, where are you at?
Yeah, I mean,
mom guilt depends how you define it. Like, do I think I'm being a good mother to my daughter? Yes.
Have I felt guilty that I'm not around for her sometimes, but I'm not not around for her. Like she's, she's living her best life? For sure. Yeah.
She has a lot of people looking after. So like I said, My husband is there a lot.
You know, she's, she's got a lot of friends. And because we live in a small town, the community around her is quite strong. You know, she knows her friend's parents, that kind of thing. So I think, you know, she's having a good childhood, she's safe. She's learning lots. She's, you know, she's pretty lucky.
So I don't feel guilty about my parenting. But I do have the mom guilt about work.
So, you know, am I working fast enough? Am I working hard enough? am I delivering for these people who invested in us like do they realize that I am only working nine to five?
You know, am I okay with that? Because there's this culture in that kind of startup world of, you know, working 100 hours a week, which you just can't do.
it also comes when
And you know, my daughter is sick, and I can't work that day. So there's this like, constant feeling of never getting through the pile of stuff you got to get done. And I've had to learn ways to deal with that, and not get riled up by it so much.
But yeah, I find that side of it really, really hard. But in terms of like, am I being a good enough mom compared with the moms I see on Instagram? Yeah, most of the stuff that I see on there is like material stuff.
You know, like, are they dressed in the right clothes? Well, no, she's always filthy. But that's because she's been playing outside in the mud, which I think is a good thing. So I think I just,
yeah, I don't really have that too much. I did feel guilty that I wasn't feeding her properly. But since she's gotten older, and, you know, we, I was sort of worried like, Oh, um, you know, breast milk is, you know, it says here that it's better for them, and you know, better for their development. And like, what if I'm stunting our growth or, or making a too big? Or like, what if, you know, she's not able to,
you know, develop emotionally because she's been fed formula, all that stuff, like at four, there is nothing wrong with this kid. And it's, like, I think,
I think I sort of,
in the sort of emotion of that time, I think I took overall statistics,
too seriously. And, you know, I'm sure there's cases where that's the truth, but you know, you're not looking at it holistically, like, you know, she's got, you know, she's lucky enough to have parents who love her and look after her and she's fine. So I think I'm, I'm much less concerned about that. And that that was like a fairly big lesson. And so, you know, when you go through all those milestones of kid hood, you know, toilet training, really, like we're going through breeding right now, like, I'm not too fussed about it, I just figure well, you know, she'll figure it out. When she's ready. We'll just keep teaching, she seems to like to learn. You know, the only time I get upset is when she's not nice to other kids. And I think I'm kind of
a psychopath. But But like, you know, all of that is fixable as well. So I think like, it's not pretty age appropriate.
Yeah, I just don't get too stressed about that. And I think she'll, you know, she'll be fine. She's, she's, she's not the one that, you know, we need to be improving things for. Hmm, no, that's really great answer. Yeah.
And I'm wondering if I were going before when you talked about living with your parents and having perhaps that, that village that we don't sort of, say so much every day now. And you talk about coming from a European background? I wonder if that I'm not a psychologist, by the way, I'm just I have ideas and I say them out loud.
I wonder if that's contributed, like that level of support has allowed you to relax and mother the way you want to mother and not feel any outside? You know, expectations from outside? Because you're really secure in the unit that you've got. Potter? Yeah, I think so. And I've never really been particularly like that concerned about peer, maybe peer pressure or like, perception of others. I think I the thing I do care about is if someone felt that I was being unkind or untruthful or mean or anything like that, I would be totally distressed. But in terms of like, someone judging me to be parenting the right way, or cool, or any of that stuff, I've never cared, and I don't think I ever will. And so, I think that really helps because
going into parenthood, you're just like, well, this is, you know, this is what I think is good for my kid. And I just look around at the other parents and I see and I like, take what I like and don't do what I don't like, and, you know, every kid's different, every parent's different. Everyone's juggling their own thing. Like I actually think there's probably less judgement than we think and a lot of that
actually, coming from ourselves. So yeah, I mean, I've got really supportive parents.
You know, my mum's a super practical, like, pragmatic woman. And, you know, sometimes I'd go to her and say, How do you think I'm doing this? Right? She's like, after worrying about it's fine, you know?
Like, she just sort of shuts it down. You're like, Alright, cool. And you're like, well, that's kind of drama. Yeah, that's, that's obvious. Yes. I think that's nice. Yeah. It's nice to have that grounding. Because I think if you're like on your phone, and you start Googling this stuff, you're like, Oh, my God, I'm doing all these terrible things. And
I think, you know, you can't hear one thing that made me feel better was like, okay,
You look at like Louis, for example, in those parents, like super involved in their kids lives and into their imaginations or whatever, but then you realize it's a seven minute episode.
Seven minutes. So
you've got like, 24 hours times, 60 minutes, whatever that is, like, you just can't perform to what's out there. So as long as you're keeping them safe, they know they can come to you, if they've got a problem. They get to try to do things and meet different people nurture their curiosity, like I just,
you know, we're going to stuff them up in some way.
You can't predict it. Like you just kind of wait to see what happens and try to build there. Like, I think you just got to build the sort of
building blocks of coping and joy and curiosity and
hope that they come to you when they have problems.
that's, yeah, no, I really like that. It's very, like I can, I can tell you a lot like your mom like that pragmatism and straightforward. It's like, Yep, it's fair. I mean, I'm not really Yeah, like, I still. So we live, like I said, we live in Brighton, there's a lot of
people who are very good at sport here, I'm not one of them. But the kids around here are very free. You know, they're the bike track, they ski, they climb, they do all sorts of stuff. And they're very,
I would say, like, physically aware, like, physically pretty good. And so, and some of the other parents are a lot better at this than I am like, they'll let their kids you know, experiment like, you know, ride down that steep slope that ends in a, you know, Cliff, and they'll be totally fine with that. And I'm like, Oh, my God, this is my group is child. I don't want to know how to self I just wanted to be competent, you know, so I definitely have issues with that. But I also know that if she learns her limits now, it'll be better for her later. So yeah, I mean, you know, I'm not perfect. No, apparently, is. It is that balance, isn't it? It's because that's the thing. We still have to sleep at night, you know, even if they want to do like, jump off the roof. It's like, well, hang on a sec. Oh, that's where I draw the line. You know? Yeah. You gotta hit boundary. Yeah. Like, my, my boys are so active in so into everything. And yeah, they're great. I just let them go to the point where I don't feel comfortable. It's like, yeah, I figure. If they think they can do it, they probably can. And if they're willing to give it a go, that probably means it will go okay. Yeah. And if they don't know, then like, I think where I draw the line is like, how they treat other people. So
I think that stuff I try to come down fairly firm on.
And sort of, yeah, treating other people with respect to being kind and all of that, but like in terms of everything else. Just go for it.
We've met a few broken out.
That's quite a lot, isn't it? Yeah. The Rite of Passage.
Yeah, so I wanted to, I wanted to ask you, back in the beginning, we talked, you mentioned a little bit about how art and science used to be really close together.
And you mentioned a little bit in your email that you'd send to me, and it really got me thinking,
at what point did these two sort of practices for one of a better word start to go away from each other? You know what I mean? Because you're right rennet. The Renaissance period was massively, massively science, all of that. Yeah, no thinking. And then art somewhere has just floated off into this thing. That's, it's unnecessary for pretty much everything. Things need to be designed, like the designer of art, but then almost the I don't want to say the frivolous element of art, because it's not about probably seen like that, in terms of a capitalist society. So things sort of, yeah. What's your take on that?
I think it's shocking that we don't fund it more like one of the sort of down point down.
Down points for me, it was I don't know if it's last year, the year before when we started defunding, pure mathematics, and arts degrees and things because they don't have practical application. And as someone who is in the business of practical applications, I think that is the stupidest thing that we could do as a country. You know, our, our new ideas, the things we're going to be using in 30 years time come from people doing art, we're doing pure
Mathematics or doing pure?
You know, even studying history like these are these are things that, you know, don't have like a monetizable tangible outcome, yet they're absolutely critical, you know, yeah, they're so linked. The idea that universities have to beg industry to do research projects, because the only research projects that have value are ones that industry can use. I just, I just think it's disgusting. Into You know, we've, we are a country that has benefited off, you know, really strong science for such a long time. And then, I don't know, 2015 20 years ago, we started defunding it now with like, the lowest
spend on research and development as a proportion of GDP in in the whole OECD, I think, you know, that is really short sighted to me, yeah, when it cut in. So that's just like the, that's just, you know, if you think about it as a spectrum from like, engineering, through mathematics, or applied mathematics, mathematics,
and then you get to these humanities and art, like, you know, we're just, we're struggling in applied mathematics right now funding that. And to me, that's all wrong. In terms of, I think, you know, there are people who are mixing these together. And,
but it feels more like a luxury than common place, you know, it might be like one artist in residence, might come in and do a few research projects or something like that, but it's not ever part of how we function so much. And I think that's a real shame. And I think it's going to bite us in the air soon. Maybe it already is.
And I think art is really important for communicating, and exploring how we feel about things, I think that
is responsible for, you know, going into the sort of imaginary world and dreaming up what things could look like. And if you can't dream up what they look like, how can you possibly make them?
Yeah, so yeah, I think it's, I think it's really important. I used to I once
had this workshop, a guy in, in our company was working with some city designers, and
government, people who are in charge of designing cities. And he used to run these workshops for people. And on day two or three, he would put a creative writing piece up on the walls, like he would go home and write this story about the future of this city, from the perspective of a person, and then the whole exercise in the workshop would get these, you know, very pragmatic people to go and highlight the things in that story that kind of like, got them thinking. And then you know, and then the next the next part of it was like, Okay, well, what could we create today that would help us test whether that idea could exist? Now that whole exercise came from him being able to do some really, really beautiful creative writing that got people thinking, and so, yeah, to me, like, all of that is critical. And, you know,
and yeah, just because it's not
monetizable doesn't mean it doesn't have value. And you can argue that the case for so many other different things, like just because our ecosystem is not monetizable doesn't mean it doesn't have trillions of dollars of value in all of the things it does for us clean air, clean water, all of these, you know, safe climate to live in, you know, yet we devalue them because we can't monetize them straightaway. So I think that that's a real issue that we're going to have we're facing at the moment, and we're going to have to get our heads around, you know, the value of things that are intangible.
Anyway, that's my rant on it. Ya know, I look honest, I don't know how to fix it. Yeah. Yeah, that's it, isn't it? Like it really frustrated? The hell out of me in COVID? And I know, you're probably in Victoria, you have a lot worse with the lock downs. And we did. But the thing that shocked me was that the sport kept going, like the all of the AFL footballers, could travel around Australia do what they want, but all of the arts like, at a very basic level, like I had gigs canceled, you know, and then you've got people like, more people traveling into state to do concerts, they couldn't do it.
And then all sudden, you'd have 40,000 people at a football match. And I was like, What is going on? And Devin said to me, it's because it doesn't make as much money or you know, that's dumb, money stuff. But you look at this stuff that we look at the things that we identify ourselves as even as a culture like they're not, I mean, sport is a part of it, but it's there's a huge cultural value to these things. And even within the arts. Like I was listening to Richard Flanagan, the authors speak about the value of writing versus film. He's not saying that films
would be de invested in, but he was just saying like, you know, Australian authors, like we have an enviable, enviable, you know,
culture of writing here, which actually is a very, it sounded like it was a fairly new thing like Australia used to be looked at as like an outpost of British writing, right? Like, yeah, British authors will write, and then Australians will buy it. And then somewhere along the way, they started investing in Australian stories. And, you know, it's been remarkably successful, but we've had the any funding, and it's easier, just like, well, there's all these parts of the arts that are so critical to who we are and what we do. And I just, I think we've kind of like skewed over to this, like,
you know, practical, which is great. I don't just obviously, I'm benefiting from it. But I just, it just makes me a little bit sad. And
yeah, I sort of,
yeah, remember this one? I had this friend at uni. Who's, who was?
Who was talking to his dad? He was like, oh, yeah, I've got this friend Alex. And his dad was like, oh, yeah, what does she do? And he was like, A, she's studying engineering and commerce. And then his dad was like, oh, charming. And so my friend, my friend told me this, and I was like, super offended at the time, because like, today, you know, I'm doing all these great things. And then, as I've gotten older, I'm like, Oh, I get your point, like,
things are not things are very practical things that are very useful, but like, what am I actually contributing to? Like, what am I really learning? Like, am I actually getting an education? Or am I just like, you know, learning how to get stuff done, which is a useful skill, but, you know, shouldn't be at the expense of people.
You know, interpreting the world and thinking about how I'm, you know, telling stories and
thinking about how things could be different imagining how things could be different, which is where I see, you know, arts or arts could be if they were funded better.
Yeah, no, I totally agree with all that. It's just like, I think they cut the CSIRO. Like, they just was at the Liberal government that did that. I can't remember when it happened.
Yeah, and I just think, oh, like you said, it's gonna bite us in the ass. And it might already be doing that. But there has to come a point where all of a sudden, they go off sheet. We've stuffed this up like, yeah, and this obsession with everything happening, like you said, the money, the monetization, if you can't make money out of it. It just diminishes the value of it so much. And that really, is something that really annoys me. Yeah, but I mean, I guess like the consolation is at the community level, people still love it. Like, I mean, you remember the first gig you played when you got back? Right? Where people crying, you know, like, I think, you know, it's pretty overwhelming and even even after you know, log, it's been what, a year and a half since lockdowns here. And anytime I see live music, I'm still super emotional about it. And everyone is. So I think at the community level, like people get it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it's not. Yeah, I guess it's easy to get down about I'm not in that position. But yeah, yeah. I just don't like the way that
you write about, like, people. It's the people in front of you that make the difference. And then the people that make the rules and tell everyone what to do, especially with all that locked down stuff, it's like it just shows you what they think of it. And it's like, even the people that aren't the performers, you know, the people that were allowed to dance but a just like everyone was frustrated at how this whole industry
was being judged. I don't know just anyway, I gotta stop.
No, no, I can I can unless.
With when you were growing up, did you have
like your mum, your mum, sort of these cultural norms that are like to sort of look at about where you learnt your stuff. I suppose you have talked about how you mum, you know that pragmatic nature to sort of? Yes, yeah, that's fine. Oh, no, that's not
did she work? Like after she had you or anything like that? To sort of show you how you could do it? I guess. Yeah. Probably not at the time you realizing that, you know, you weren't taking note, but you know what I? Yeah, I mean, so I mean, I was I was I had a mom and dad. So dad is a scientist. And so he's
The opposite, right? It's super intellectual, very slow pace, slow thinking, precise, like, wants to get to the bottom of everything analytical. And mom is like, on the other end of the spectrum, like, get it done, get it done quickly. 8080 20 rule, like, just come on, you know. So the balance of those, you know, I sort of feel like it's almost a superpower. Like, who am I going to channel today? Like mom or dad?
Because both of them are, you know, right for the moment. Hmm. Um, so in terms of like the family balance, I guess.
It like on the surface, I guess it would seem very traditional dad worked a full time job. He was like the primary breadwinner. Mum is a physio and
she worked locum jobs. So she just only it was kind of like being a replacement teacher equivalent. But she was a physio. And it was with the same group every time, she was really good friends with all the people she worked with. And if someone you know, someone went away for a holiday, or whatever, she might cover them for a couple of weeks. And she actually was kind of working full time. But doing loads of work. Yeah. And what it meant. And what I've learned since is that it allowed her to like, it allowed her to work, but not be emotionally involved in it. So she loved it. She loved helping people. She loved working with those people. And then but she had no like, she didn't have to do paperwork. She didn't have to do admin, she didn't have any politics. She had no commitment. It was just like all the good parts. And I think I remember thinking like, how could you do you know, like, don't you want to like sink your teeth in a bit more. And now I'm like, Oh, I get it. This is awesome.
That is fantastic. So I think
that's sort of how she made that work.
Whereas dad was much more like,
you know, I'm, I'm here working in this job. And, you know, he loved I think he loved the job, but there was much more sort of obligation and doing the right thing and
Yeah, sort of a more
balanced like, you know, slog slog like, yeah, yeah, I know, he loved his work and like the the work that he was doing, and the people that he worked with, and all the rest, but it was definitely much more like, I'm going to plod through here and this is you know, I need to do this and yeah, so I think, yeah, they were different. And in terms of home life, like mum basically just made everything happen. So, you know, dad's job was pretty full on. So he, he was working and then, you know, mum looked after us. You know, all the extracurricular stuff. Got us for school organized. All it just everything for mental load. Yeah.
So yeah, but I think I learned a lot from them. They had a very even sort of even decision making it home so that, you know, the power dynamic was very even.
You know, I think, especially when it came to discipline.
Yeah, it was it was quite even there as well. I don't know. You only kind of like, Yeah, I think they did a remarkable job. I'm grateful that I was born into the family.
Yeah, can't really can't really take too much. I was lucky.
Sounds very balanced. Yeah, I mean, it wasn't perfect. No family is perfect. Like, we definitely have our flaws. I'm sure if you spoke to my husband.
He really thinks I think, you know,
our two families are quite different.
We're definitely more argumentative.
We, but it's not like a mean, argumentative. It's just a question like, What do you think about this? So you're wrong? This is how it should be that kind of thing. Yeah.
Yeah, but, you know, strong families are the way which is very lucky thing to have, I think. Yeah, that's for sure. That sounds lovely.
You made the argument. My husband and I, we like to debate topics. Yes, we come from very different headspace and backgrounds. He's a financial planner. And yeah, I don't like maths at all.
And we have different views when it comes to politics. So we'll often be having discussions and the little one will say, Stop arguing. And we'll both be like, but we're not talking about this and I'm getting passionate about.
Yeah, yeah. So and I think that that's kind of like it's sort of like a, you know, you're not you're not gonna get in trouble. Yeah. Sometimes I find you need to sort of argue things out to understand what you think yourself as well. And so I'd agree with that. It's nice to have that space. Yeah. Less, you're less and less able to do that in public. Oh,
you basically get shut down for a while and I offending someone or saying the wrong thing or something. So yeah, you do need those safe spaces to debate things and to, to thrash out ideas and, and like my eldest child, he's 50, nearly 15. So he's asking some interesting questions and you want to be able to feel like you can ask them. You know, like I said before, you hope that your child does come to you. And he certainly comes to us with interesting things. And we're like, Yep, okay, we can talk about that, you know.
It's good. I quite enjoy a conversation like that. I enjoy conversation.
Can you share with us the website? Or any socials that you active on that you? Oh, yeah, sure. So, yeah, so milkdrop pumps.com.
in the new year, we'll be running a campaign.
You know, I mentioned a couple times about how there's not a lot of research in women's health, or not as much as they could be. And one of the things there's not much research on is women's nipple anatomy, and
lactating or otherwise. And
that's a real problem, because it means when you're trying to figure out how to design products for women, you actually don't have the basics available. A lot of research on women's nipples is older research that was about nipple attractiveness. Where should the nipple be placed on the breast? How big should it be? What shape should it be? That kind of thing.
Some of that was used for cosmetic surgery, some of it was used for breast reconstruction.
And then, the other area of nipple research is for social media, identifying female versus male nipples to take down the female nipples, because it's illegal to post them not illegal, but against, you know, Getty policy to show a female nipple, which we could go into another podcast about that. And so what we're trying to do is ask women to measure their nipples to help us build up an understanding of what women's bodies actually look like, so that we can design things for actual women. So we've got our campaign on that.
Coming up, in the New Years, watch out for that. Be on Instagram at milkdrop, underscore pumps, or tick tock, ah, your tick, DECA.
I still haven't gone there.
I feel like it's too much of a big rabbit hole for me to go down.
It's pretty full on
news. And I'll put hyperlinks in the show notes so people can find you. Yeah, thank you so much. It's been so lovely to chat with you and to you to your achievements. And thank you for for thanks for having me. I feel like a bit of an interloper in the in the art world. But who? Artists, hopefully Yeah, to hear from someone who appreciates it, but doesn't do it. No look, and I think that the things that you've shared are extremely relevant. So please don't feel like you're, you know, I don't know what the word is.
But you're not. You're not and you know, you, you've seen it, you've created something amazing. I'm really, really happy that you did it. And I'm really happy for you for what you've done to say. Good on you. And stop blabbing now to say thanks very much.
Okay. Awesome. All right. Thanks again.
Thanks for your company today. If you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love you to consider leaving us a review, following or subscribing to the podcast, or even sharing it with a friend who you think might be interested.
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Helen Thompson is a childcare educator and baby massage instructor. And she knows being a parent for the first time is challenging and changes your life in every way imaginable. Join Helen each week in the first time moms chat podcast, where she'll help ease your transition into parent
called Helen aims to offer supported holistic approaches and insights for moms of babies aged mainly from four weeks to 10 months of age. Helens goal is to assist you to become the most confident parents you can and smooth out the bumps along the way. Check out first time mums chat at my baby massage.net forward slash podcast