MIT Is Hosting a Breast Pump Hackathon

Yup, you read that right.
breast pump image via shutterstock

breast pump image via shutterstock

When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a competition to improve the condom, it was impressive that an organization decided to take an intimate problem and expose it globally. Now, MIT wants to tackle another under-the-radar, yet needs to be addressed issue—breast pumping.

MIT says that maternal and neonatal health is a space that “lags behind others” in innovation, and they want to change that. Plus, breast pumping flat-out sucks. As MIT points out on its website:

The motor is loud. There are too many parts. They are hard to clean. You can’t lay down and pump. There is no good space to pump. It’s hard to keep track of what you pump. Your colleagues think pumping is weird. People are skeeved out by breastmilk. People are embarrassed by breasts.

Also, let’s not forget that you just pushed a baby out of your body. You’d think that would be the hardest part of being a new mom. But no, then you also have to deal with the annoyances of pumping.

That’s why the MIT Media Lab is holding a “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon” September 20 and 21 in Cambridge, where they’re bringing together 60 to 80 engineers, designers, parents, public health researchers, and lactation consultants to bring innovation to maternal health and make “the breast pump not suck.”

MIT says on its website that they’re holding the challenge because improving breast pump technology can save lives and money:

Breast pumping is an experience many women hate, yet it saves the lives of premature babies and permits working women to continue a nursing relationship with their baby. The health benefits of breastfeeding, both to mother and baby, are numerous and include the reductions of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, female cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. Despite the overwhelming data and worldwide endorsement of breastfeeding for at least two years, many women do not breastfeed or wean after several months. In particular, low-income, working women are rarely able to take extended maternity leave, to afford the cost of a pump, or to pump breastmilk at their workplace. In emerging economies around the world, women who go back to work wean their babies rather than using a breast pump.

The breast pump is the rallying cry for the event because it is a symbol of a technology that could be vastly improved in order to save lives, save money and lead to healthier and happier families. At the same time, our goal is to make space for innovation in family life more broadly and support a wide variety of different kinds of projects at the event.

Tickets are free; Starts Saturday, September 20, 10:00 a.m.; eventbrite.com 


Melissa Malamut
Melissa Malamut Melissa Malamut, Senior Editor, Health, at Boston Magazine mmalamut@bostonmagazine.com


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