Building a better breast pump

Health |  2 min. read

One of the stories we tell regularly in these pages, is how there’s a lot more to a barrel of oil than what goes into a tank of gas.

Odds are, you could find proof of that in any room in your house.  That’s because most of us (ok, just about all of us) are using things made with materials that are made from petrochemicals.  (And all petrochemicals are made from petroleum or natural gas.)

Now today’s story is not about something ALL of us use every day.  But for new moms who are nursing, every day you use a breast pump these days, there’s cause to give thanks for new thinking and new technology.

We might not like to remember it – but the mechanical breast pump for moms got its start from – yeah, the mechanical milking pump for cows.  And from that starting point in the mid-1800s, it’s taken a long time to get much better.  Even then, better was still not good.  So enter, the 21st century, Silicon Valley and modern polymers.

The new pump technologies have names like Willow and Naya, Babyation and Moxxly.

Pumps you can wear UNDER your shirt or dress – the whole pump AND the bag for the milk.  So you can pump pretty much wherever you are (instead of ducking into the bathroom for 20 minutes, a few times a day).

3-D printed pumps.  Pumps that use water instead of air to create suction.  Battery-powered pumps.  Pumps that are quieter.  Pump parts that are more comfortable on your skin.  Pumps that DON’T hurt.  Pump bottles that don’t, um, dangle.

Some of the advances come from 21st Century tech (smaller, quieter, battery-operated gear).  Some of the advances come from Silicon Valley thinking (why CAN’T this be different, and better).  And some of the advances are made possible by modern materials – like today’s polymers (printable, durable, affordable).

Now this is definitely a work still in progress.  Some of the new pumps aren’t on the market yet.  Some are much better to use, but also pretty expensive – so not a solution for every mom.  And not every new pump has gotten rave reviews.  But, breast pumps HAVE made some giant leaps forward in just the past few years – and that part of being a new mom, is definitely getting a level of attention that’s not been true before.


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