MIT’s Breast Pump Hackathon Could Mean Great Things for Us Moms


If someday a talking breast pump hits the market featuring the gravelly yet seductive voice of new dad Ryan Gosling, I’d like you to know that I deserve partial credit. Not full credit, mind you, because even though it’s my idea, I know virtually nothing of the technology required to make such a wondrous invention possible. Happily, a group of very smart people is about to convene at one of the world’s leading universities to brainstorm breast pump improvements and they’re taking suggestions from the public, including weirdos like me, on how to make breast pumping “not suck.”

The “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon is a two-day event starting Sept. 20 that will bring 150 parents, engineers, designers, lactation specialists and others together at the MIT Media Lab. Participants will be divided into teams and given access to tools and supplies like 3D printers and wearable prototype materials as they work on solutions to the many problems facing breastfeeding women who use breast pumps: having too many parts that are hard to clean, the stressful and uncomfortable nature of pumping, pumps that are too loud, etc.

“We really want to bring the breast pump out of the lactation closet,” Alexis Hope, a research assistant at the MIT Media Lab, told NBCNews.com. “If you talk to moms about something that makes the first part of having a baby miserable, they always say the breast pump … They’re completely impractical for the realities of your life.”

My own miserable breast pumping days are in the past, but I’m so excited for the innovation that might come out of this hackathon and what it might mean for new moms in the future. Will we see more in the way of smaller,  “stealth” breast pumps? Perhaps “smart” pumps that will sync with our smartphones? Or maybe my own — admittedly far-fetched — idea of using soothing celebrity voices to mask the annoying whirring of the breast pump motor will gain some traction? Because, really, what pumping mama wouldn’t want to hear Ryan Gosling say, “Hey girl, your let down reflex never lets me down” as she prepares to make her baby’s lunch?

Good luck to all the pump-minded Poindexters heading to MIT this week. Lactating mamas around the world can’t wait to see what you produce.


Image courtesy of ThinkStock

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