Finally, Silicon Valley has moved beyond funding yet another food-delivery or Uber-like app and is bringing something truly revolutionary and necessary to market: a breast pump that won’t make you feel like a sad bovine attached to a medieval torture device.
It’s called the Willow, and its makers say it will be available in the spring for around $400. Unlike other pumps, you can use the Willow while fully dressed. It’s also hands-free and doesn’t require a plug, so you can move around while using it. Its makers claim it’s so discreet you can wear it while commuting, cooking dinner or working at your desk.
We’re not sure we quite buy the part about using this thing in public or around the office ― it looks kind of bulky, after all. However, it does seem a lot less dehumanizing and humiliating than what’s on the market right now.
The startup behind the device debuted the product this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an event not exactly known for being mom-focused. It’s where you typically find video game stuff, cool new TV technology, maybe even an electronic fork that buzzes when you eat.
Dreamed up by two male inventors in the health care business, the Willow seems like a fairly complete overhaul of the breast pump. As many mothers know, the typical pump must be plugged in, involves a lot of little plastic parts that all must be separately cleaned and sterilized, makes a lot noise and requires you use it while partially naked. “A breast pump is analogous to a milking machine used in commercial dairy production,” is how Wikipedia puts it. Fun!
Under Obamacare, workplaces must offer women a private room for pumping. A lot of parenting advice websites helpfully tell women to make these rooms ― typically windowless ― less depressing by putting a photo of their baby on the wall. You tell me if you think that’s less depressing. It seems much nicer to not have to hide in a room while expressing breast milk.
The Willow pump, according to its makers, doesn’t need to be plugged in. Instead, you can use it for at least four of five pumping sessions once you charge it. And you can toss it into the dishwasher to clean.
You don’t need to be naked while pumping, either. You can just tuck the pump ― it sort of looks like a bra cup ― into your bra. The expressed milk goes into little bags inside the pump. The device is quiet, so you could theoretically do a business call while using it.
You’ll never have to dangle baby bottles from your breasts while at work again!
Also, since this is a tech product, it comes with an app that records how much milk you’re expressing and saves your history so you can track the best times to use the device. Think of it like a FitBit for your boobs.
In 2014, Massachusetts Institute of Technology devoted a hackathon to coming up with a better breast pump. However, Willow’s inventors seem to have come up with their idea separately.
Also thanks to Obamacare, you can also get breast pumps for free through your health insurer. Willow initially won’t be covered under the law, the company’s CEO, Naomi Kellman, told The Huffington Post. However, the company ― which won’t say how much money in venture capital it has right now ― is looking to register itself with insurance companies as soon as possible.