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New Device Means You Can Pump Milk Right in Front of Your Boss

Thanks to technology and innovation, moms can theoretically go hands-free while caring for an infant. There are slings to hold babies while dishes get washed and laundry gets folded. There are nursing pillows so Mom can send off a quick email without disturbing a breastfeeding baby. Portable carseats and fancy strollers. And, technically, there's hands-free pumping in the form of a zip-up bra to hold our pump parts in place.

Are these pumps better than the alternatives? Yes. Perfect? Not until now.

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Willow is a wearable breastpump. It's completely hands-free, cords-free, tubes-free, everything-free pump that runs on batteries. It’s made up of just three parts that are all dishwasher safe.

Here's how it works:

Put each of the two breast pump cups over your breasts, inside your bra. A bag that brings to mind squeezable Go-gurts collects up to 4 ounces of milk per side and is tucked into each cup. Turn the device on and silently(-ish) start pumping.

Willow includes its own optional app for your mobile device, which records pumping sessions and how many ounces were collected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 81 percent of new mothers initially start out breastfeeding, but by 6 months that number drops to around 50 percent. How many more mothers would continue to give their babies breastmilk through the first year if pumping were this simple?

In fact, it’s why inventor and founder, John Chang, created Willow in the first place—with his wife and three children in mind. The whole idea of this truly hands-free, silent pump is to let women go about their daily activities, whether it’s sitting at their computer, grocery shopping or commuting. As Chang put it: “ What we’re hoping is that this is transformative for moms, so that they don’t have to stop or pause their life. They can plug into life, not plug into the wall.”

For some moms, both who stay home and those who work, this is a game-changer in their breastfeeding success. No more being stuck next to a pump or using precious break times to find a place to go pump at work or balancing over a toilet seat getting carpal tunnel syndrome for a few drops of liquid gold. The two pieces of the Willow simply slip into a bra and moms are free to continue on with their day. For a lot of working moms who faced a difficult choice, they will be able to continue to pump with this new device.

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Chang admits that users have said their spouses and coworkers could tell they were using the pump, but being out and about, they didn’t think strangers even noticed.

Willow, which is FDA approved, only comes in one size right now. But developers plan to make a larger size as well, even though Chang says women of all sizes have found the pump to be successful.

The Willow pump, which was unveiled this week at the big annual tech convention, CES, in Las Vegas, is set to launch this coming spring and will retail for $430, with reusable bags priced at $0.50 each.

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Photograph: Willow