Published: 11th March 2019
You can now hear your unborn baby's heartbeat from anywhere, thanks to this engineer duo
Hyderabad-based Pregnitive, a women's healthcare company designs solutions to improve the health of mothers and babies
One in every four women describes giving birth as traumatic and up to 20 per cent meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. This signifies the burden she carries for a duration of nine months and the stress that a pregnant woman goes through. Thus, prenatal care is extremely important for the mother and her baby, which helps prevent complications in pregnancy and healthy and smooth delivery. Two BITS Pilani alumni, Pavan Kumar and Saad Md were working together at Ducere, when they saw pregnant women struggle and go through several tests at a nursing home nearby. And that's when Pregnitive was ideated — a women’s health company designing solutions to improve the health of mothers and babies globally while enhancing pregnancy and parenting experiences, Their realisation to build solutions that could help pregnant women gave birth to their first device Suno — a safe portable foetal heartbeat listener, which can be used by pregnant women at the comfort of their homes.
We spoke to one of the co-founders Pavan to know more about their device Suno — that they claim is the safest foetal heartbeat listener, for at home use by pregnant women. It is a non-medical device, CE certified consumer product, which doesn’t require any batteries and women don’t have to use sticky gel unlike other devices used at home or outside.
How and why did you come up with a device like Suno? What inspired you or urged you to create something like this?
Pregnancy is a very special journey for any couple and their family. Everyone wants to give their best to their baby. My co-founder and I were discussing how can we make the pregnancy experience better and were how listening to a baby’s heartbeat for the first time takes the parents on an emotional roller coaster and that they would definitely love to have more ways to connect with their baby. There is no product available which allows pregnant women to listen to foetal heartbeat safely at the comfort of their homes. All existing devices are bulky, not for home use. We wanted to solve this in a safe way unlike other devices in the market and developed Suno, the safest foetal heartbeat listener that allows pregnant women to listen to their baby's heartbeat at home.
Prenatal care: Two BITS Pilani alumni, Pavan and Saad were working together at Ducera, when they saw pregnant women struggle and go through several tests at a nursing home nearby, that's how Pregnitive was born (Pic: Pavan)
How does Suno work?
Suno enables pregnant women to listen to foetal heartbeat from the comfort of their home, without using ultrasound or any other radiations. Our device is passive, connects to your mobile and picks up the foetal heartbeat by receiving baby heartbeat sound waves from the pregnant belly. You can even record and share the baby’s sounds and heartbeat with your loved ones, friends, or family to get them involved in this precious journey.
How was journey when you build the first prototype? How many such devices have been manufactured till date?
It was a great learning experience. As a part of a young start-up, we get to work on various domains starting from market research, design, prototyping to manufacturing, business development, day-to-day operations and strategy planning alongside our core expertise in product development. It is definitely challenging to manage all these with a small team. Our previous experience with start-ups has helped us a lot in our journey and we have associated with few doctors, who have supported us throughout the journey. We did a launch of the product in May, 2018 and we have sold more than 350 units from our own website and Amazon till date at a selling price of Rs 2,000- Rs 2,500. We are on board with the FirstCry online store as well and planning to make it available in their stores as the best gifting product for a mom-to-be.
According to you, how important is prenatal care? Are advancements in healthcare technology helping women take care of themselves better and their baby?
Every pregnant woman deserves the best pregnancy experience. WHO guidelines stated that “Quality Antenatal care is very important to ensure positive pregnancy experience”. Complete antenatal care includes personalised care from doctors and also supporting them with evidence-based information from experts. According to WHO C-Section rates in any country range from 10-15 per cent but in India, these numbers are as high as 23-75 per cent with higher numbers in urban areas like the metro cities. We aim to reduce this number. There is a link between lack of knowledge of pregnant women and the childbirth experience. So, we are aiming to create more awareness about the subject and come up with more products that can be helpful.
What are your future plans?
The team is now in the process of building a medical grade Suno which integrates with clinical workflow for doctor and caretaker modules. Tracking of baby’s health is essential during high-risk pregnancies and baby’s heartbeat plays a vital role. Next version of Suno will be a medical-grade product which will enable them to monitor the baby’s health at home. We also have plans of using artificial intelligence and maternal health data to predict and improve many foetal health parameters and to help doctors make better decisions in case of pregnancy complications.
As childbirth education is a very important aspect of pregnancy which is often ignored due to lack of awareness and resources or accessibility, we are also currently working on nbirth: an online platform for complete pregnancy to parenting care through online consultations/sessions and support, which we plan to launch next month.
A mother's dream: Suno is a safe portable foetal heartbeat listener, which can be used by pregnant women at the comfort of their homes
Pavan, 26, is an Electronics graduate from BITS Hyderabad and has worked at a start-up for three years before setting up Pregnitive, which sparked his interest about start-ups and passionate teams working on products to solve current problems in the world. Saad, 28, has six years of experience in application development, also shares the same love for start-ups. "We have worked in a start-up previously for three years. We worked closely on many projects and shared a passion for building great products. We believed in this idea and the problems we wanted to solve in the healthcare space. We quit our jobs and started pursuing this. Solving problems in healthcare excited us and motivated us to pursue this," concludes Pavan.