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.; 

  • AlisonG

    I would love a pump that self cleaned or had some sort of cleaning system built in. Also a retractable power-cord and tubes. AND if there was any way to avoid the special bra, hells yeah.

    • nancyholtzman

      These are great suggestions – I don’t think we addressed the self-cleaning feature during the first hackathon. I will bring it up. Wearable pumps are certainly being looked into.

      • AlisonG

        Thank you! Some sort of sterilization system that uses steam could be a solution. Also, my colleague just piped up and said “I want to pump in bed… lying down.” It would be interesting to have a pump system that pumped at certain times while you slept. I will say as a professional, making the time to pump during my busy work day is a significant challenge and causes me anxiety.

        • Andrea White

          agreed. pumping at work, even though I had my own office and schedule, was a pita – it took so.much.coordination. Once it was set up, I could work. On short tasks that could be interrupted. But then I had to get up again, store everything (I’m trying to block out memories of having to scald in a bottle warmer under my desk while dealing with an excess lipase issue.), fridge the milk, and get back to work. ugh.

          • Charis Loveland

            It’s such a setup with so many contraptions: hands-free bra, etc. Once you’re configured, you’re immobile. It would be awesome to have the hands-free attachment system built in so that it was a put it on and go scenario. Better options to pump into, like freezer bags so you’re not transferring from bottles later. And easier sterilization, maybe like the Medela steam bags but a bit larger.

          • Julie Fitzgerald Frangos

            This is what I was thinking….a self contained unit. Battery sits in the hands free bra. All you have to do is put your bra on and turn it on! They do have a system that you pump into bags…Called kiinde. Can get on amazon and by babies r us carries it. They go from freezer to warmer and drop in special bottle. Never transfer a drop! They fit all pumps too. I have the hygiea. They gave adapters to fit any pump though.

          • Shannon R F Schröder

            Andrea, YES. I had excess lipase, too and scalding is a nightmare.

    • Amy Schlotthauer

      I love the retractable power-cord idea!

  • guest

    Haven’t even started to pump still exclusively nursing at 5 weeks but am dreading the pump when I go back to work. If someone wants me to try a new kind of pump I’m all in. Stopped at 3 months with my first because the pump was so ineffective I dried up despite trying everything.

  • K Short

    I would love flexible shields that changed fit as milk left your breasts. And oh my gosh, something that was wearable and discrete!!!! I have an office with a door, but I still have many challenges like today, where I had back-to-back interviews from 1-4. I have a colleague who was planning to breastfeed her child until he was at least 1 year old. She came back to work when he was 2 months old and is now planning on only breastfeeding til he can start table food. The time commitment and the interruptions to your day are very hard to work around.

  • Kathleen Garber

    This is great. My biggest annoyance is that if you lean over while pumping, you spill the milk. It’s hard to not lean over when you are pumping and also taking care of kids and such.

    • Jon Gillan

      Try Pumpin’ Pals angled breast shields. I invented them specifically to create flexibility and added comfort for a pumping mom. If they don’t help you I will refund every dime including shipping. Although I will be at MIT for the event, you don’t need to wait to have your problem solved….already done:-)

      • Bethany

        Pumpin’ Pals are my best friend!!! Thank you for inventing them!

        • Jon Gillan

          I never get tired of hearing that. So glad you approve. Take care and please help spread the word…Pumping does not have to hurt!

  • CloverandBlueberry

    Part of the reason I became a WAHM is because there is no way pumping at work would have worked for me! I used to work at a hardware store that shall remain nameless, but between customer issues and making sure other associates had their breaks on time (I was a supervisor) meant that my breaks were at the mercy of whatever was happening that day (and oftentimes got skipped altogether). I would have had to ask my managers to leave their office (the only room in the building without security cameras) so that I could pump multiple times a day. I would like to see a much more discrete means of pumping, personally. With the manual pump I have now, you have to be sitting up perfectly straight to use it. If you lean back, or forward even the slightest bit, it loses suction. Also, as someone else commented, a self-cleaning pump, or at least something with fewer little bits and pieces would be awesome. Cleaning that sucker is a pain! I can’t imagine having to do it at work every time you needed to pump…

  • Amanda Hicks

    Can I get a pump that is not the size and weight of a 2 month old child? I’m glad my hospital grade rental is much quieter than the Phillips that I had (seriously sounded like it was yelling “F-you” when running), but it is impossible to hide it anywhere so it sits out in the open in my office, because what else am I going to do with it?

    Would love a retractable cord, but if the unit was smaller I wouldn’t mind wrapping up the cord.

    Using pumpin pal flanges has helped saved my nipples some extra pain, but those flanges are HUGE! Half my mini-fridge in my office is filled with just my pump parts alone.

    And sometimes everything is going great and then you realize (when you’re covered in milk) that the little rubber tamper decided it wasn’t going to open (because… reasons?) and everything has now backed up the flanges and into the tubing… nice. Why is there no backup something to let the pump or the user know that it is overflowing?

    • Tish

      Ha! I have a medela pump in style and I too constantly hear “F-You”‘when it pumps. Your comment cracked me up.

      • Nkese

        OMG! I thought I was crazy, but my Medela says awful things to me too!

  • Caitlin

    I can’t even express how much I admire those who exclusively pump. I hate pumping so much and I’m not a great producer so it’s disheartening for me. I’m still breastfeeding my four month old and I’m done having kids but I really hope they figure out how to make pumping better for future moms.

  • Jennifer

    Great initiative!!

  • cambridgeknitter

    I was lucky enough to be able to work with my baby, so I didn’t have to pump except on the rare occasions when we were apart long enough that I would have exploded otherwise. The Isis manual pump was a new thing then. I got one and loved it; it was quiet because it was manual, but very efficient (at least on me it was), and it actually felt a lot like a baby. I hope you can come up with something that resembles that.

  • Jena Crable

    This is great, and I only hope something awesome comes out of this! I left an office job to be a WAHM, and there’s no way I would still be nursing at nearly a year if I hadn’t. When I think about weaning my baby, who has multiple food allergies including cow’s milk, it’s not the nursing that I want to stop – it’s the pumping. I have a fancy, top of the line Medela Freestyle (#thanksobama) which is smaller, quieter and more portable, but it still hurts, and doesn’t fully drain my breasts which affected my supply. Like others have said, I would love something small, portable, easier to clean/less prone to mold (in the tubing and parts, and I sterilize everyday), more comfortable and also, more durable! I’ve had to replace mine already, and I doubt it will last another few months.

    Thanks so much for doing this!

    • disqusPoster

      “…something small, portable, easier to clean/less prone to mold…”

      …Like a baby?

      Kidding, of course! My wife is dragging her pump stuff to work and hating every minute of it. She’d love it if someone made “the breast pump not suck.”

      • Jena Crable

        My baby is small, portable, and more prone to whacking into walls/the floor while “attacking” aka dive-bombing his toys, but luckily, no mold on him! And I don’t sterilize him every day 🙂 I never gave any thought to breast pumps until I needed one. But they suck so bad!

  • Jenna

    This is AWESOME, as some who just weaned after spending 14 (very long) months pumping when I returned to work, I welcome some innovation in this area! I had 3 different pumps (one at home – the hospital grade rental, one in the car, and one at the office)…carrying/commuting with the milk bag/bottles was bad enough, I didn’t want to haul the heavy pumps, laptop, lunch, milk, etc. too…) Please come up with something good so many more moms and babies can benefit from the health outcomes associated with nursing and breastfeeding! Cheering you on and hoping you commercialize something before the next kiddo (?) happens!

  • Molly Ober Fechter-Leggett

    In my dream world I’d like a pump that I can wear lying down while sleeping. Milk supply is often highest (because of prolactin levels) in the middle of the night. I could boost my supply, pump enough to feed my baby when I’m away from him without worrying about breaks (although I’d still need to take a few or I’d get uncomfortable), and get a good nights sleep. We can breathe for people, take all their blood out of their body, clean it and put it back in, heck we even have machines that cows can walk up to in order to pump their milk automatically (while they sleep standing up), why can’t we just make a comfy pump I can use while I sleep?

  • caitlin peace corps

    Make a breast pump for the other side as baby is nursing. That always leaked for me anyway and then you can save up milk. Right now you have to physically hold it on the breast while trying to feed an infant- impossible.

  • Sandra Nauwelaerts

    maybe a pump that you can sterilize by adding some water and put the entire thing in the microwave? A pump that expresses the milk without the nipple being tugged on, negative pressure of some sort that is built into a bra and drops are discretely gathered in a sterile, cooled bag?

  • Jess C

    How about pump accessories that aren’t so incredibly awkward for women w/ very large breasts? My shields are 24MM and fit fine, but I don’t get good suction around the outside because of the way they fit on my breast, even with a hands free bra- and I am constantly losing milk out of the bottom of them because of how heavy my breasts are.

  • Amanda Bandziukas

    A pump with an alarm that automatically lets you know when it’s time to express again so that you don’t oversleep or one you can sleep with that will automatically start pumping when it’s time (preset by you) so you don’t have to wake up that will also keep the pump milk at body temp so it doesn’t spoil in the middle of the night (like maybe a separate attachable unit that has a heater in it that the milk drains into) . Maybe wider tubing that makes it easier to clean? Breast pumps designed for women with bigger breasts!!!! Ideally we’d all wear an A-C cup but a lot of us have very large breasts and it makes pumping harder.

  • Erin Fisher Yancey

    something that mimics an actual baby’s mouth, not a funnel! and something that is stabile so you dont spill the precious milk. sleep deprivation… something that is actually hands free. I find that using the hand that is not holding the bottle to squeeze the breast yields more milk. but you cant do anything else while pumping when you do that. make it sense the efficiency and make it adjust until it is getting efficient production. maybe have a little heating functionality to help with let down.

  • Erin Fisher Yancey

    consult the dairy industry, its an abomination that cows have higher-tech equipment than we do

    • Adrienne Smart

      I was thinking the same thing…Why the heck do cows get good machines and why not us humans?

      • kaydee

        If you think pumps are loud… try being hooked up to a cows milker. The whole neighborhood would no what you were up to. You dont want that noise in your house or office.

        • Adrienne Smart

          I didnt care who heard me pumping…I was the only woman at my job place and I still pumped (even customers heard the machine). All I cared about was feeding my baby

      • Amy Zucker Morgenstern

        The motion needed to milk a cow is very different (despite my darling wife saying “moo” to me when I pumped! no, I didn’t kill her–I agreed completely!). But milking technology is a place to start, because baby cows, like baby humans, don’t just suck. As many other people here have said, they use a massaging motion that’s much more effective than the pump’s suck-pause-suck-pause.

  • Stephen

    They gotta suck but not “suck” while sucking!

  • Adrienne Smart

    I would like a machine that massages the areola much like a babies latching does….not just sucking. The funnel should feel like a soft pliable material but yet still easy to clean. Make some better options for women who want to lay on their side and pump both breasts maybe while sleeping because pumping and breastfeeding =no sleep for 4 months or more…Just use some common sense.

    • Adrienne Smart

      Also like me some women have big breast, big areolas and small short nipples…small shields dont work so well and large ones do not work either…

  • Rebecca Shapley

    It’s really not fair that suction can fail silently on plastic pump parts over time. It’s far too easy for a mom to *worry that her supply is low*, rather than think “oh, it’s time to replace these plastic tubes that look just like when I bought them.” or whatever other part has been deteriorating invisibly. I was on this psychological ride, then had the good fortune to use a different pump & discover it wasn’t me! Please fix this….

    • Lara H

      a wear/life indicator would be great.

  • Amy Blake Dennis

    This is so awesome! As everyone has said breast pumps are so awkward. It might just be my breasts but when I put the pump on it always pointed up, I would always have to leave over so that the milk didn’t pool under my nipples and loose precious milk when I took them off. Was never able to find a comfortable position to pump in. And I am quite positive that minites my supply.

    • Amy Blake Dennis

      Oh and one more thing…instead of plastic shields, maybe something more like silicone.

      • Sarah Leighann Winland

        Silicone would be so much more comfortable!

        • andr3ana

          Limerick PJ breast pumps have silicone breast shields. I picked it over Medela & Ameda exactly for those soft moldable flanges! They are a lot more comfortable than Medela plastic flanges I used while at the hospital. Compared to Medela, Limerick PJ pump not only suck but it massage the areolas as well due to the pliable silicone material.

  • Lucy

    Great idea! Tips = Babies are the best suckers, so study them. And Hands Free for the Win!

  • Brenda Smith

    We can breathe for people, take all their blood out of their body, clean it and put it back in, heck we even have machines that cows can walk up to in order to pump their milk automatically (while they sleep standing up),

  • Sarah Leighann Winland

    If the milk could go straight into a storage bag that’d rock. Also it doesn’t mock a baby’s nursing, which it should. It’s not just suction it’s the mouth moving. If you need videos of mom’s nursing, let me know!

    • Jill Rackow

      Medela does make bags that you can pump directly into!

      • Sarah Leighann Winland

        Omg really?! Amazing.

        • Lara H

          they have the option, the problem is that they are very tipsy so if you try to multi-task and pick up your child, etc.. you are at risk of spilling the contents from the top of the bag

          • Liane Allen

            I kept thinking it would have been great to have some kind of lightweight vest that you could wear under your clothes, with built-in pockets of various types so the transition to and from pumping would be as simple as plugging in a tube, and plopping the collection bag into a vest pocket. When you’re done, unplug, seal the bag, and drop it into the insulated pump pack. Pack your pockets before you leave for work in the AM, unpack and wash the parts when you get home.

          • Adrienne Smart

            Thats a very interesting idea…seems like it would feel uncomfortable but I love that the machinery and stuff would be attached to you rather than how it is now

  • Melissa

    Hi everyone, Melissa here from Boston magazine. I just wanted to let you all know that MIT is reading and archiving each and every idea that you share here to possibly use at the event. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful ideas and keep ’em coming!

  • jbetz

    Several years ago I was part of a video (what would have been the instructional DVD included with the product at purchase) for a new Evenflo product – a hands free pump that fit inside the bra, with storage bags attached to collect milk. From what I understand, the product did not make it through the (FDA?) approval process primarily due to cost – but it was quiet and modest, easy to use and easy to clean. Perhaps someone from Evenflo will be part of the Hackathon…

  • Lara H

    I have so many ideas as a mother who exclusively pumped for a year… first of all, hands free is a MUST. i spent more $$ on the medela freestyle, which was a great start, but far from perfect. having pump parts that don’t protrude as much as they do would be ideal. i often had to multitask and pick up my baby while pumping to comfort her/change a diaper/etc… and i had to hold her on my hip away from my body to make sure not to unplug any of the parts or spill milk. further more, i hated the feeling of separation from my baby as i pumped…a very sad experience for a mother whose baby won’t latch on and wanted so desperately to breast feed! i also had to be very “hands on” while pumping… there’s a lot more to milk production than pumping your nipple – i often had to use breast compressions while pumping to empty fully. it would be nice if there were a soft mold that covered more of the breast. the hard parts were also very irritating – there were days when i was hooked up to that pump for 4 hours a day – i ended up with sores and irritation and changing shield sizes, styles did little to alleviate the problem… it was just the laws of friction! i always fantasized about a low-profile soft mold-like system that i could just slip on or even wear in my bra without all of the parts/pieces/hassle…. i really hope some improvements can be made. good luck with the hackathon!!

  • Melissa Shera

    All of these comments are great! Another big thing…please get rid of the noise! I was horrified at the terrible, taunting noise the first time I heard my pump. And listening to it over and over is maddening. Plus, if you take it anywhere, your neighbors are wondering what’s going on, or know exactly what you’re doing. I breastfed two kids for over four years combined and although I loved nursing, pumping at work was one of the most hated things I’ve ever done. Pumping in general sucks.

  • Amber Piper Bergstrom

    I agree with the noise! And the bulky ness. Once I’m hooked up, I’m stuck at the table where I’m set up. Setting up all of the parts and putting everything away when I’m done takes a good chunk of time, is I have to cut down on pumping time. It really stresses me out. If it was more quiet and less bulky, I could sit at my desk and work while pumping. Pumping takes a good hour out of my work day, and I only do it twice at work.
    Flanges: I have large breasts with large areolas and small nipples so no flanges fit me well. They pinch and leave red marks. If they were something other than a hard plastic that could form to individual breast contours, that would be amazing. Also, currently the action is more of a “pulling” or “tugging” when a “rolling” motion might be more effective.
    I always pump one breast while feeding my baby on the other. I use a hands free bra which I just pull down on one side to feed. This means the pumping side isn’t very secure. If my baby moves at all, it dislodges the pump and I can’t get it to work again.
    It would be great if I could strap the pump on somehow to move around the house.

  • Alyssa Kolsky Hertzig

    The horrible loud noise is definitely the #1 problem. Fix that and you’re already WAY ahead. But in this (awesome!) dream scenario, I would also love a pump that was small and discreet enough that you didn’t have to take off your top/open your shirt to pump at work. (Idea: Maybe instead of having the bottles connected directly to the sucking part–so right by your boobs–when pumping, they were connected by long tubes that connected to the bottles sitting on your desk/couch/etc and then only the tubes slipped easily under your top?) When I was pumping at work, I was lucky enough to have an office BUT it didn’t have a lock. I’m sure that poor intern who walked in on me sitting at my computer with my boobs hooked up to a loud machine and my dress down around my waist is still traumatized!

    • Amy Zucker Morgenstern

      They learned something important in that internship: knock! 😉 Sorry for the embarrassing experience. I was so, so lucky to have an office with a lock at my small, FSLA-exempt workplace. But FYI, anyone who’s reading this, the Fair Labor Standards Act may guarantee you the time and private place for pumping.

      Thrilled about the hackathon! Thank you, MIT!

  • Erin Schroeder

    Definitely make one that is quieter! There’s nothing worse than waking up at 2 am, engorged, and having to get up and go into another room to pump because it will definitely wake up a newly sleeping baby! People saying softer bells are geniuses–and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost milk drippig off those things because they became detached suddenly or just trapped around the rim. Or tipping over the bottles because I’m half asleep and disassembling that thing while not losing milk is nearly impossible. Like others have said some kind of indicator that a motor or part is failing would be great. My medela is definitely not working as powerfully as it was before and my supply is suffering for it–but apparently unless it explodes the company insists it’s working fine.

  • nina mackrain

    If I was to buy the perfect pumping machine…..1) portability would be great! with my second child I had to chase a two year old around, something small that I could attach to my hip with a rechargeable battery and doesn’t dump over when I lunge after another child 2) I don’t think that some of these breast pump companies realize that babies eat at different speeds, they start with quick short strong sucks that start the milk flowing and that turns into longer engaged sessions which can change a bit and turn back into the stronger quicker ones as the flow changes, some sort of sensors that detect milk flow would be awesome 3) babies mouths are not made out of hard plastic, the playtex embrace (no longer made) did a much better job imitating the feel of nursing and the suction strength and speed was manually adjustable 4) NOISE! and again I say NOISE, we hate feeling like a cow! My husband could hear me start the pump up from the other side of our apartment! And then he’d hear me singing “I feel like a cow, oooh I feel like a cow!” 5) something that allows us freedom to move around, that works proficiently and allows us to pick up a child and comfort them without danger of dumping that precious milk (and yes I HAVE cried over spilled milk!!!) that would be a God send! Because when we are attached to a clunky, noisy, not very efficient machine, every two hours for twenty minutes at a time it really limits what we can get accomplished, never mind having a newborn in the house and not being able to care for said child….this causes undue stress! and it’s easy to just give up! So thank you MIT for taking the time to address this long overdue issue! Many moms will lift our hands in thanks to you!

  • Cynthia Miller

    Finally! Hurray! I hope each person at the event tests out the current pumps on their own breasts and figures out how to make them more comfortable!

  • April Hiatt Ahlers

    This is soooo freaking EXCITING!
    *Definitely need something that has the option of being battery operated AND plug in to the wall AND come with a car charger.
    *I would love something that didn’t stick out 5+ inches off my body.
    *I would LOVE to be able to pump while lying down.
    *The “suction” could be vastly improved.
    *Make the milk collection bags/bottles spill-proof.
    *Make the machine quieter, much quieter.
    *Make pumping more discreet.

  • A Joffrain

    If it could be small and simple, and especially easy to clean, that would be amazing. Nursing moms need less to wash, less to carry and less to have to put together and take apart on 3 hours of sleep.

  • Nicole Heiney

    From a former westgater – replaceable parts in addition to all these other great comments. As an engineer ( you should have seen my Lego pumping stand) nothing was more aggravating than getting a tiny tear (from normal use) in a non-replaceable silicon diaphragm. Good bye $300 machine, good bye milk supply…Have a great hackathon!!!

  • ericavm

    Great project! Love all the comments so far. Make sure all parts pass through airline security.

    Also, option to pump directly into bottle to feed, or into bag to freeze would be great.

    • Kristin Justus Burke

      I did that with Medela…

  • heimot

    I’m excited about the ****** pump hackathon. I hope it’ll be portable, silent and easy to clean.

  • Jessica S

    I’d love to be able to hold my baby while pumping, to have fewer parts to clean, and to be able to lay down while pumping.

  • Kristi

    I recently had a baby who had to be taken to the NICU immediately after she was born. In order to build a milk supply without nursing my baby, the lactation specialists said I should pump every 3 hours for at least 15 minutes, around the clock. I did this using a hands-free pumping bra and a Medela Symphony hospital-grade pump. After 2 days, I started having severe back pain, which I attribute to the position I had to sit while pumping. You have to sit straight up and lean slightly forward. I tried supporting my back with pillows but it didn’t help! Even if I could have leaned back just a little, I think my back wouldn’t be hurting so much!

  • Angela Gustafson

    The cup(s) need to be able to fit a wider range of breasts. With my first child I was too small and couldn’t get a good seal, with my youngest I was almost too big, it felt awkward trying to keep the pump attached while it was running. (Also, my first pump was manual and actually worked better over-all than the one with the motor).


    A clean, comfortable, beautiful place to pump is a must for relaxation and let down. (We’ve got it.)

  • rixa

    Mom of 4 breastfed babies…I never pumped for them, but I did pump and donate to other moms. Lots of great comments already about the noise, about how the pump flanges have to be held just so to get the suction right, about how it’s awkward having these flanges and collection bottles sticking out…anyway the biggest thing I’d like to see is something that actually replicates the feel and motion of a baby’s mouth. Breast pumps work by suction to pull the milk out of the breast. But a nursing baby has entirely different mechanics. The baby’s mouth creates suction, but what actually expresses the milk out of the breast is the rolling motion of the baby’s tongue on the underside of the breast (relative to the baby’s mouth)–NOT suction. That is the biggest flaw in all breast pumps. They don’t replicate a baby’s mouth, and hands-down a baby is more effective than a machine in triggering let-down and in expressing milk.

    I also agree that a breastpump needs not only adjustable suction levels, but also adjustable pump cycles. When a baby nurses, it starts with fast, short sucks until the milk starts to let down. Then the baby moves to long, deep, slower sucks. This cycle repeats several times while the baby nurses.

  • TheHeartographer

    This is so awesome! My only complaint (?) is that I wish you’d also called out how pumping can let the other parent help with midnight feedings, and allow them to share some of that baby bonding too. (I mean obviously formula allows that too, but I think we’re all on the same milk-is-better-when-possible page here, haha.)

  • Kristin Justus Burke

    In case another point is needed, my daughter was born with such a severe cleft in her soft palate that it was pump or formula or starve to death. I pumped and I hated that thing. Mine was top of the line, so it wasn’t loud, but super inconvenient and frustrating. Took forever, I had to buy a pumping bra and clean the parts constantly since I had to pump 8 times a day. They’re also loud and NOT easy to transport if you have a decent one, which are heavy and cumbersome. LOVE that they’re doing this!!

  • Crystal

    Make less parts that need to be cleaned. The tubes that attach to the machine even get funky after awhile due to condensation. And everything else everyone else has said. Easier, cleaner, quieter. We have sleek devices for just about everything else in life. Let’s be kinder to our boobs!!

  • sk8sonh2o

    Moms should be able to 3-D scan themselves in their preferred pumping posture. I envision a temporary measuring bra : it would be like sheer fishnet material with location marks on it to enable DIY smartphone-based scanning. Mama would put the bra on and get comfortable, and shoot a selfie video, panning the camera slowly so the fishnet lines could be resolved into a CAD 3D model. (She might outline her aureoles and nipple positions on the bra also). She could e-mail the video to a service provider that would make bespoke cups out of soft silicone. I would also explore foot-operated pumps, rocking-chair powered pumps, pumps built into shoes. The breast cups might have a return wall to catch spills and a secondary vacuum (or inflation) action to massage the breast intermittently outside the aureole. Designer, blazingpencils

  • sk8sonh2o

    How about if you used a peristaltic hose pump like #3 in the top row of this guide to types of pumps:

    This might emulate the baby’s sucking, especially if you had a stepper motor programmed to make it suck hard & soft, fast & slow. The milk never leaves the hose to go into any hard-to-clean chambers or diaphragms, and the hose might be accessible for cleaning & replacement. …not to mention it could be virtually silent.

  • sk8sonh2o

    Might want to have a hot-compress accessory.

    • Jennifer Aubuchon

      That would be wonderful!

  • Adrienne Smart

    I would love to hear/read about the results of the conference. This is a great idea to give many women options and opportunity to feed their baby breastmilk

  • Tracy

    This is so needed!!! I always say my breastpump is the best friend I never wanted!!! I’ve had quite the adventures pumping while working:

  • Guest

    Something to pump

  • Jennifer Aubuchon

    Something to pump while laying down would be awesome. A dry-erase “day dot” or spinning numerical dial on the bottle would save confusion (oops, I forgot when I pumped this!). It also seems like if you could Frankenstein together the best qualities of the existing pumps, a lot of these issues would be solved. A custom-fit sleeve that massages the breast to help with let down, and something to collect the spill from the side that’s not being pumped. I only have two hands!

  • Malinda Treiber

    Ideas: Have the feel of an infant sucking, not have the pump parts stick out so far, being able to pump while sleeping or in a hospital bed, being able to hold your baby while pumping, being more lightweight, smaller, portable without taking 12 AA batteries. Also, if the pump were very adjustable and was like the nest thermostat, so that after some time of manual adjusting, it could guess your preferences to maximize the milk output and comfort.