Hey Technology, Could You Tackle The Breast Pump, Please?

by Ashley Austrew
Originally Published: 
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Tech start-ups are finally working on better breast pumps for moms

Any mom who’s ever used a breast pump knows the process is less than glamorous. You’re hooked up to a giant machine, your poor nipples are being stretched and pulled like taffy and, in case that’s not sexy enough for you, there’s also that insanely loud whakka-whakka sound that lets everyone within a 15-mile radius know you’re milking yourself like a literal cow. For most moms, pumping is a shit show, and it kind of makes you wonder, why haven’t our breast pumps gotten the modern makeover we deserve?

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There’s been no shortage of tech innovations since most of us started having kids. We’ve got smart phones and smart cars, we can stream whatever we want on TV 24 hours a day, and we can even track how much we walk with a tiny little device we wear on our wrists. Yet, when it comes to breast pumps, we’re still lugging around miniature suitcases full of tubes and cords.

The Associated Press (AP) recently ran an exciting piece about breast pump innovations. There are apparently a growing number of engineers and clinicians brainstorming on how to create better breast pump technology, and many of their products are hitting the market sooner rather than later. There’s Babyation, a start-up by a mom who launched a successful Kickstarter in March to fund her new quiet, discreet cordless pump. There’s also the Freemie milk cups that allow moms to pump with their shirts on, and a new “smart pump” by Naya that’s arriving this fall.

But, as the AP points out, the process of innovating pumps has been slow, mostly because it only involves people who rely on breast pumps in their every day life. Others in the tech industry — read: dudes — don’t really care about mom products. Writes AP‘s Barbara Ortutay, “For the male-dominated tech industry that’s working on ‘disrupting’ everything from meal delivery to taxicabs, the idea of reinventing the breast pump has simply not been on the horizon.”

If men used breast pumps, you can bet your suction cups things would be different. We’d probably have 30,000 different brands to choose from by now. Every breast pump would be be sleek and shiny, and have a motor that fits in the palm of your hand. They’d come with snack holders and wifi, and have tiny little screens and speaker systems so you could watch all your favorite shows. Guys would probably spend a significant portion of their time with friends comparing ounces pumped and who has the best machine.

If dudes used breast pumps, there’d probably be a line of business suits with cordless pumps built right into the breast pockets “for the working dad.” Every office would have a designated spot for pumping, and every break room would have a separate, special fridge for storing breastmilk. In other words, if men pumped, more people would probably give a shit about the fact that we’re still shoving our boobs into hard plastic cones that the New York Times reports haven’t changed much since 1956.

It’s awesome that people are starting to work on innovating breast pumps, but as a mom who’s spent quite a bit of time attached to one of those medieval torture devices, I can’t help but think so many of these changes could’ve happened sooner if only we valued and respected “tech” that’s solely for moms the way we do almost any product intended for a man.

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