By Seona Emanuelli, founder of Bidibots

I’ve had an affinity with neonates ever since I first began working as a paediatric nurse in NICU surgeries in the UK. I instantly felt a need to improve the experience for premature and sick babies, as well as their families.

Premature babies are so precious and fragile and their plight became a problem I had to fix. In fact, it’s my life’s mission to make the treatment of premature babies as comfortable as possible both for the babies and parents, whose burden is always deep.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the No.1 type of respiratory support for sick and premature babies. The current systems used to deliver CPAP are cumbersome and bulky.

They’re often fitted via a hat, which is difficult to position and uncomfortable. The unit’s nasal prongs create trauma to babies’ noses and heads, an agonising process for parents and nurses to endure.

The physical ramifications of the prongs can sometimes lead to plastic surgery later in life.

Seona Emanuelli created Bidibots nasal cannulas to help premature babies.

 

As a NICU nurse, it’s heartbreaking to hear feedback from families who explain how incredibly difficult it is to watch nurses trying to position their baby in the current CPAP systems.

Even skin-to-skin cuddles, which some new parents may take for granted, are difficult for families of premmie or sick babies because moving the baby in and out of the incubator is challenging.

Ten years ago, to help overcome these heartbreaking challenges, I ventured out to create the Bidibots nasal cannulas.

It took nine years of testing and collecting data to ensure the cannula provided adequate and safe ventilation to babies. From the certification processes through to design improvements, it was a long road.

However, it was what was needed to provide a well-researched and effective device.

It took nine years of testing and collecting data to ensure the cannula provided adequate and safe ventilation to babies.

The Bidibots nasal cannulas securely fit to a baby’s individual needs. They have an adjustable bridge at the front, so no pressure is placed on to the nose, and are available in six sizes – for infants weighing less than 500g through to 6kg.

We have patents across the world to protect our design, with many hospitals eagerly awaiting Bidibots’ arrival.

Bidibots nasal cannulas are the second product in our range, the first being nappies. When I was nursing in NSW in 2004, the only nappies available were huge and bulky on premmies. The nappies also abducted baby’s hips – we unfortunately saw hip problems develop later on in life.

To help address this, I designed a nappy with neonatal physiotherapists to allow a baby’s hips to naturally position and suit their environments – they withstand humidity, include adjustable side tabs, have cut-outs for umbilical lines, and come in different sizes for different weight ranges.

I started my career as a paediatric nurse. After applying to work in the UK I was placed in surgical NICU – taking a very deep and quick learning curve. The neonatal surgeon allowed me to watch different surgeries, where I learnt the anatomy and surgical conditions in neonates. I loved it so much when I returned to NSW I went straight into medical NICU and haven’t looked back.

Alongside Bidibots, I’m currently in education supporting new neonatal nurses to further develop their careers. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Throughout my career journey there has been lots of learning, lots of mistakes and lots of celebrating the wins. It has been a roller-coaster, but I’ve loved the business experience and the connections I’ve created.

Some of the most gratifying aspects of my journey have been working alongside families and as a part of a multidisciplinary team, watching babies grow, heal and leave the units healthy. I have also loved the entrepreneurship of the work, which allows me to lean into business, design and manufacturing.

But most of all I love seeing Bidibots’ products making a positive difference to premmie babies and their families.