Ask any mom who's ever pumped breast milk on the regular, and they'll tell you the same thing: it kind of sucks. Aside from the obvious downsides — feeling "like a cow being milked" or having to step away at work for long spells at a time to pump in some weird closet — there are the actual mechanics of the breast pump itself that leave a lot to be desired.
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.
On September 20 and 21, the Cambridge, Mass., school's Media Lab is holding an event dubbed the "Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon." During the two-day sprint, up to 80 engineers, designers, parents, public health researchers and lactation consultants will be invited to bring some serious innovation and out-of-the-box ideas to the much-dreaded pump.
Why such a sudden call to arms? As the website explains, maternal and neonatal health technology is an often overlooked area for innovation, but the impacts of improving it could be immeasurable:
"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."
We don't know about you, but we're a little giddy inside to think that there might actually be a non-annoying breast pump invention to hit the shelves some day soon.