Having a reliable and effective breast pump makes pumping less miserable and helps maintain a mother's milk supply, if she needs to be separated from her baby or if the baby has difficulty latching or sucking properly. If I were buying one breast pump today, I'd buy—or even better, request my health insurance cover—the Limerick PJ's Bliss Standard, because it's effective, comfortable, and quiet.
After 33 hours of researching 55 models of breast pumps and testing 14 of those models (nine electric; five manual) for a total of 18 hours over the course of seven months (including one 800-mile move for this family of five and my very first bout of mastitis!), as well as interviewing two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and several representatives of breast pump manufacturers, we found that the Limerick PJ's Bliss Standard sucks—in the absolutely best possible way.
Who Should Buy This?
Expectant moms who anticipate they will regularly need to be away from their baby within the first year of life. For many moms, hand expression of milk is a viable (and free!) alternative if they would only need very occasional access to a pump. (Here's an excellent but NSFW video showing an effective technique for hand expressing milk.) However, there's no question that having a reliable pump (either manual or electric) on hand can ease a new mom's anxiety about the potential need to be away from her baby, either so that she may pump milk in advance of her absence (especially if baby is still feeding every 2-3 hours) or to relieve engorgement upon her return, if baby is asleep. Additionally, some parents may feel it's helpful for mom to pump a bottle so that her partner may participate in a feeding. And then there are the times when a mom has sore nipples and pumping and bottle-feeding is an interim solution while nipple pain gets resolved or baby's latch improves with the help of a lactation consultant. In short, there are plenty of times when a pump may be useful, even if a new mom isn't planning to return to full-time employment or leave her baby on a regular basis.
For moms who are struggling with low milk supply or those with premature babies or other situations where baby is not yet an effective feeder, Kate Sharp, an NYC-based IBCLC, would recommend renting a heavier-duty hospital-grade pump. The good news is that breast pumps are now covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act, so moms should expect and demand that this pump be covered. However, despite the new healthcare law, insurance companies have interpreted their obligation to nursing mothers in a wide variety of ways. You can check out how well your insurance company has served nursing moms by referring to the National Breastfeeding Center's Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard. Moms can also reach out to breast pump manufacturers for help dealing with their insurance companies.
Note: for reliable information on preparing to breastfeed or pump as well as troubleshooting for moms in the thick of it, here are a few good starting points:
- KellyMom.com (evidence-based information on breastfeeding, written by an IBCLC)
- La Leche League International (an international nonprofit breastfeeding advocacy group that also offers local hands-on support for breastfeeding mothers)
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (a classic bestselling guide to breastfeeding from La Leche League)
- The Nursing Mother's Companion (another classic breastfeeding handbook, written by a registered nurse and IBCLC)
- BestforBabes.org (a non-profit dedicated to supporting breastfeeding moms and changing the cultural perception of breastfeeding)
- WorkandPump.com (a site specifically for breastfeeding mothers returning to work)
The Basics of Breastfeeding
Before moving into the details of breast pumps and our testing, it may be helpful to have a bit more background on breastfeeding and milk production. It seems pretty miraculous: the idea that not only can a woman's body grow a baby inside of it, but that once that baby is born, its mother's body can continue to sustain its life solely through breastmilk. Being a mammal is pretty cool.
Pregnant moms may notice some leakage from their breasts as early as halfway through their pregnancy. (But don't worry if you're not leaking; that's no reflection on whether your breasts are preparing for your baby's eventual arrival!) At this point in time, milk production is driven by hormones (and not the supply-and-demand we often hear about when discussing breastfeeding), and a mom's breasts are producing a thick yellow-ish fluid full of antibodies and immunoglobulins called colostrum. Available in small quantity (to match baby's marble-sized stomach) in the breasts until a mother's mature milk comes in (usually 2-3 days after birth), colostrum is important as a baby's first food, as it is extremely nutritious (often referred to as "liquid gold" because of its golden color and value to the baby) and easy to digest; it also has a laxative effect for newborns, helping them to pass their tarry first stools known as meconium and thus expel bilirubin, all of which helps to prevent jaundice.
At birth, the delivery of the placenta causes a sudden drop in progesterone/estrogen/HPL (human placental lactogen) levels, and when progesterone levels drop when prolactin levels are high, this cues a mother's body to begin full milk production, which may lead to a feeling of engorgement when a mom's mature milk initially comes in. Luckily, shortly thereafter, control over milk supply shifts to supply-and-demand, so that feeling of engorgement should subside, as baby nurses frequently (8 to 12 times per 24-hour period) and empties the breast.
Once nursing is well-established, milk supply is typically greatest in the morning (which makes it a good time to pump, should a mom need to start building a supply of frozen milk in preparation for a return to work). During a typical nursing or pumping session, a mom may feel a tingling or burning sensation during letdown (also known as milk ejection). The letdown reflex is an involuntary reaction when baby suckles at the breast, sending a message to a mother's brain to release the hormones prolactin (responsible for milk production) and oxytocin (responsible for release of milk from milk ducts). During letdown, a mom may see milk dripping or spraying from the breast not in use (and some moms find it particularly effective to pump on that side while baby nurses on the other, in order to take advantage of baby's help to release the milk—but this is by no means necessary; many moms choose to wear a breast pad on the side not in use so as to collect any leaking milk and then switch baby to that second side, should baby still be hungry after nursing at the first breast). And while the initial letdown at the start of a nursing session might be the most noticeable physically for the mom, many moms have multiple letdowns during a single nursing or pumping session.
What Makes A Good Breast Pump?
At the most basic level, a good breast pump is one that effectively and painlessly removes milk from a mother's breast, allowing her to maintain her milk supply (which is eventually based on supply and demand, after the first few days postpartum when it is driven by hormones) even when her baby is not nearby. Ideally, it should be efficient (pumping sessions should usually run no more than 20 minutes), easy to use (and clean!), quiet, affordable, and physically comfortable for a wide range of consumers (which may mean that flanges come in a variety of sizes to accommodate a wide range of nipple sizes). While most pumps are adjustable to some degree, we found that pumps that offer individual controls for both vacuum strength and cycle speed (as opposed to a single option to pump with greater suction strength) made a big difference in how much milk was collected.
Some moms may need a more portable pump than others, especially those who spend workdays out and about without reliable access to a wall outlet or private space in which to pump—so for those moms, a travel adapter for use in their car or a battery pack would be more of a necessity (but many moms never need to use either of those accessories). Before springing for a more expensive pump or loading up your cart with travel accessories which may not be covered by insurance, it's worth considering just how frequently you might be pumping away from a wall outlet.
Other features that may be offered but fall into the "nice to have" category instead of "must have" include timers and recording devices to capture a baby's cries to help stimulate letdown. Both of those can be achieved easily via one's smartphone and shouldn't be reason to lay out any additional monies. To that point, many breast pump manufacturers make a tiered system of pumps, ranging from fairly basic to top of the line, complete with all the bells and whistles (e.g., cooler packs and bags, extra bottles and flanges, pump transport bags—which are unfortunately usually pretty ugly, etc.). Usually the pump motor remained the same throughout the product line, however, until a jump into heavier-duty hospital-grade rental pumps. For this guide, once we had narrowed down the brands of pumps we wished to test and zoomed in on specific models (explained in further detail below), we reached out to those manufacturers to ask which pumps were most reliably covered by mothers' health insurance and tested those which are most accessible via insurance.
In our research, we found that the baseline cost-of-entry to get a breast pump was about $200. Anything less didn't provide a strong enough motor or ability to tailor one's pumping session via separate controls for cycle speed and vacuum strength.
While many of us are the lucky beneficiaries of hand-me-down baby gear and clothes, the FDA urges caution when it comes to used breast pumps. While it's true that hospitals and breastfeeding supply stores can rent out hospital-grade pumps over and over, breast pumps available for purchase may not be meant for multiple users. Those hospital-grade rental pumps are designed as a "closed system," meaning that milk never comes into contact with parts that might be shared by other mothers; renters are required to purchase (or acquire via insurance, should there be a documented need for a hospital-grade rental) their own accessory kits, which are meant for individual use. Why the concern? Breast milk is a bodily fluid through which viruses may pass, and while your baby has already been exposed in utero to any viruses you may carry, exposure to a virus via the milk of another mother has the potential to make your baby seriously ill.
How We Tested
After careful consideration of 55 models of breast pumps, including reading through countless user-submitted reviews on sites like Amazon.com, BreastPumpsDirect.com, and BreastPumpComparisons.com, replies to Facebook queries and email responses to a questionnaire sent to TheNightlight.com mailing list subscribers, as well as interviews conducted with two IBCLCs and several spokespeople for breast pump manufacturers, we narrowed down our options for testing to nine double electric pumps and five manual pumps.
As the tester and author of this guide, I'm a mom of three currently nursing a toddler and have spent just over four years of my life nursing one baby or another. While I am at home now with my nearly two-year-old and nurse her primarily because I don't need to pump at this point in time, I have pumped regularly in the past (primarily with a Medela Pump In Style Advanced purchased before the birth of my first baby in 2007) for my children as well as donated pumped milk to other babies in need (via local Facebook groups for Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies). While some of the breast pumps tested are designed to potentially be used by multiple moms (each with her own set of accessories like bottles, flanges, etc.), not all are, and in the interest of a side-by-side comparison (instead of distributing the pumps to a variety of testers who would each only see a fraction of the overall sample set), I was the sole tester (much to the dismay of my nipples). The downside of this: obviously, I only have one set of breasts and their corresponding nipples (I recognize there is a wide range of nipple and breast sizes in this world). And alas, this is one of the things that makes knowing which breast pump to buy (or order through insurance) such a challenge: other than renting a hospital-grade rental pump and giving it a trial run before a long-term rental, it is nearly impossible to test out a pump (combined with the fact that many moms acquire a pump before the arrival of their baby and are cautioned against using a breast pump during pregnancy as doing so may stimulate uterine contractions and potentially bring on premature labor).
I tested each pump for 10 minutes at a time, for five individual sessions, for a total of 50 minutes per pump in addition to pumping-related tasks like the initial set-up and regular washing and re-assembly of the pumps. When using a double pump, I wore a Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra ($30) that I already owned to make the process as painless and uncumbersome as possible. While we did track how much milk was produced in a session, that was not the primary measuring stick we used. Given that a mom's body may need several days or even weeks to adjust to an individual pump and maximize her pumped output, our testing focused more on how well each pump worked, e.g. if it was effective in removing any milk at all (some barely did), if its use was painful, whether it was especially complicated to get started using it or to clean the parts and re-assemble it, and how well it worked compared to the other pumps in our test.
Our Pick: Best Double Electric Breast Pump
At the conclusion of our testing, I'm confident to report that Limerick PJ's Bliss is the breast pump to buy, because of its efficiency, comfort, quiet and ability to adjust both the vacuum strength and cycle speed.
One of the main reasons we found the PJ's Bliss to be such an effective pump is that it has soft silicone cups instead of the hard plastic flanges used in most pumps. Not only was the silicone much gentler on the breast (no angry red marks like those left by the edges of some other breast pump flanges), and without the push-pull motion used in many other pumps that often led to nipples like Stretch Armstrong, the silicone allowed for compression and vacuum, which felt much more akin to a baby's suckling. (You can check out the difference in this video from Limerick.) As far as our research extended, Limerick PJ's pumps were the only ones with soft cups (excluding Dr. Brown's Double Electric Breast Pump, which has been discontinued and which we never actually saw or tested).
It extracts milk efficiently and painlessly, which is absolutely critical in a breast pump (plenty of them fail to extract milk that well or do it without causing the user some pain). When I had to travel away for a weekend without my daughter after testing was completed, although I had 14 pumps to choose from, I didn't hesitate to pack the PJ's Bliss. It's that good.
At around $300, the PJ's Bliss is priced at the higher end of breast pumps available for purchase (as opposed to rental), but we think it's worth it (and hopefully your insurance company should cover the cost). It is a closed system preventing any contamination of the milk, and it comes with a built-in timer to track nursing sessions (not necessary, but certainly handy) and a one-year warranty on pump parts and labor. Telephone and Skype support are both available. The pump has a one-micron filter between the kit and the pump, which prohibits bacteria, viruses and milk from entering the pump and is safe for multiple users. Separate controls regulate vacuum strength (15-250 mmHG) and cycle speed (36-250 cycles/min). It has an exhaust filter, heat sensor, vacuum sensor and warning lights, which indicate vacuum build-up, filter occlusion, overheating or tube kinking. (Note: during testing, none of these warning lights came on, so I have no personal experience with them.)
The PJ's Sof-Touch™ kit comes with a pair of silicone cups (again, one size fits all), tubing with that one-micron filter, a spare filter, two spare gaskets, two bottles, a cleaning brush, bottle cap (for storing milk) and a clamp (used to block air flow on one side to allow for single pumping). Optional accessories include a storage cooler, 12-volt car adapter (lighter plug), rechargeable battery pack, and more. Limerick is a family-owned and -operated company, run by Patricia Kelly and Joan Ortiz (mother and daughter), the former of whom is a registered dietician and the latter of whom is a registered nurse.
Beyond the pump working as well as it does, it is also incredibly easy to clean up after a pumping session, as there are only three parts to clean: the silicone cups, the gaskets, and the bottles (assuming milk is being transferred to storage bags).
A few minor complaints about the PJ's Bliss pump: it requires a little advance planning to have spare parts on hand, as replacements and spares are primarily available online (there is a just handful of retailers across the country), so it's not like a quick trip to one's local Target would solve the problem of a part gone missing. Additionally, at the end of a pumping session, it's crucial to put the bottles in the holders attached to the side of the pump or risk them toppling over because the breastshields make them top-heavy. (I learned this the hard way when I spilled a bottle of milk all over my lap—and yes, there absolutely was crying over spilled milk that day.)
Finally, I wish the travel bag were a bit better quality; this one feels and looks rather cheap. That being said, virtually no breast pump manufacturer offers anything near a "stylish" travel bag, so I'd recommend just using a bag of the mom's choosing.
Who Else Likes It?
We couldn't find that many folks who had even heard of this brand, let alone had personal experience with the PJ's Bliss. Consumer Reports offers a breast pump buying guide, but didn't actually test or rate any pumps, nor does it mention any specific brands in its guide. BabyCenter.com rounded up its readers' favorite pumps, but again, there was no mention of Limerick PJ's pumps, nor in TheBump.com's breast pump coverage. BabyGearLab.com actually tested several pumps side by side, but again, the PJ's Bliss wasn't included in their testing. Two moms at Best for Babes positively reviewed the Limerick PJ's Comfort pump, but that pump has a stronger motor, qualifying it as a true hospital-grade pump—and insurance coverage for it usually requires that a baby be in the hospital and separated from its mother.
On Amazon, the PJ's Bliss has a score of 3.4 out of 5, with a mere eight reviews (as of press time, the pump was unavailable for purchase via Amazon). One customer says "Beats the Medela by a long shot! I got one of these free through my insurance company. I was so disappointed that they wouldn't provide a Medela like the one I had used before. But as soon as I started using it, I was in love. It hurts less, gets more milk out, and does it faster than my old pump. And I have two or three letdowns in each 15 minute session. Most importantly, it's DOUBLED my supply… I can't say enough good things about it. Honestly, I'm amazed that more people don't know about this pump. It's the best!" (One critical reviewer does mention having to pay for additional replacement parts but still gives the PJ's Bliss 3 stars, and another mentions that the one-size-fits-all breastshields don't seem to fit her large nipples.)
The Also Great
While we ultimately landed on the PJ's Bliss for its overall effectiveness, efficiency and comfort, we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge how good this the Spectra S2 (listed at $170 on Amazon, 4.3 out of 5 stars) really is. Smart functionality (again, separate controls for cycle speed and vacuum strength, as well as a timer function, and a closed system), a very reasonable price, and even a built-in nightlight for moms who need to pump during the night. Our one complaint: the backflow protectors seemed to pop off easily, which was rather annoying. It was neck and neck throughout most of our testing, but ultimately the effectiveness of the soft silicone breastshields made us go with the PJ's Bliss. If you decide to go with the Spectra S2, though, we can assure you that you'll be happy with it. It's great.
The Step Down
If you only plan to pump occasionally or are looking for a second pump to have on hand as a back-up, you might consider the Lansinoh SignaturePro (available for $115 on Amazon, with a 3.6 out of 5 star rating). It's a closed system with separately adjustable speed (3 settings) and vacuum strength (8 settings) controls, is lightweight and compact, and comes with breastshields that have soft edges that don't dig into the breast tissue as much as ones made from hard plastic alone. Larger flanges (30.5 mm) are available for purchase in addition to the standard flanges (25 mm). I would question using it as one's only pump for an extended period of time simply because of the size of the motor—but I haven't tested it for long enough to know if there would be any problems. Additionally, potential buyers via Amazon should confirm that they are purchasing the SignaturePro and not the older Affinity model (which we did not test), as in some cases, we saw both packagings advertised in the same link.
Our Pick: Best Manual Breast Pump
Although I have long been a fan of Lansinoh's milk storage bags and Lanolin nipple ointment, in addition to their SignaturePro, I was happy to discover that they also make a great one-hand manual breast pump, the Lansinoh Manual Pump ($28; 4.1 out of 5 stars; they also make the Lansinoh Comfort Express manual pump, which we did not test and which has a kind of triangular shape as opposed to the rounder manual pump). Surprisingly for a manual pump, it offers two modes for letdown stimulation (a shorter, shallower pumping) and expression (kind of fuller, deeper pumping) and comes with both a standard and a large flange. It felt comfortable to hold and ergonomically designed, and the soft edges on the flanges felt gentler on breast tissue than other pumps.
The Big Brands
When I accepted this assignment, I initially assumed that my research and testing would lead me to confirmation that a pump from one of the big three brands, Medela, Ameda, and Hygeia, was the standout best, as they're the names moms see in published articles and parenting message boards over and over again. How could a pump I'd never heard of possibly compare to brands with such name recognition and user loyalty? And so it feels necessary to address these three brands separately from the rest of the competition.
As a first-time mom back in 2007, most new moms I knew had either a Medela or Ameda pump. I purchased a Medela Pump in Style Advanced ($228 for the tote; $230 for the backpack on Amazon) way back then and until researching and testing for this piece, that same pump was still what I used when I needed to pump—which certainly says something about its longevity. Medela is still very much a trusted and well-respected brand—and the fact that their pumps are ubiquitous can undoubtedly be a bonus if one is looking to replace a missing or broken piece on short notice. However, the single control for both cycle speed and vacuum strength (beyond the initial faster cycling that encourages letdown but switches off after about two minutes) isn't necessarily the most effective means of expressing milk. In order to go faster, the pump automatically sucks harder, which has left me with bruised nipples on occasion. Ouch. Unfortunately, the Medela Harmony ($26; 4.1 out of 5 stars), the company's manual single breast pump, didn't work that well for me either. While it was comfortable to hold and use (as opposed to some others which felt poorly designed from an ergonomic standpoint), it just wasn't very effective at extracting milk.
Moving onto Ameda, sadly, the Ameda Purely Yours ($159; 3.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon) just didn't compare with many of the other pumps. Although it has separate knobs to control cycle speed and vacuum strength, even at the highest speed, its cycling didn't get nearly as fast as its competitors and failed to stimulate a really good letdown. The Ameda Manual Breast Pump ($21; 3.5 out of 5 stars) also fell short in testing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pump comes with a roomy cooler bag, which feels particularly generous for a manual pump. But when I boiled the pump parts to sterilize them as directed in the manual, one part in particular came out feeling rather brittle. I double-checked and then triple-checked to make sure that I hadn't inadvertently boiled something I shouldn't have, but the manual directs users to boil all pump parts. Regardless, after the boiling, the pump gave a little squeak with each squeeze, which was mildly annoying. I had also had trouble with milk leaking from the flange down my shirt, despite trying a number of different angles to hold it while I was pumping.
I was probably the most stoked about trying Hygeia's pumps, after reading numerous positive reviews online and knowing that Hygeia is the only brand of breast pump endorsed by La Leche League International. I tested the Hygeia EnJoye without Internal Battery ($240; again, having asked a company representative which pump was most frequently covered by insurance) and the Hygeia EnHande one-hand manual breast pump (there is also a two-handed manual pump, which I did not test). Overall, I liked the Hygeia EnJoye fairly well—it was successful at extracting a fair bit of milk and has separate controls for cycle speed and vacuum strength. However, even the lowest setting for vacuum strength felt pretty powerful—as in actually painful sometimes (and with a teething, nursing toddler, it's not as though my pain threshold is nil). The Hygeia EnJoye can be used by multiple pumpers, provided they each have their own accessory set, and it has the ability to capture and play back audio, so a mom could record her baby's cries at home and then play them back to help trigger letdowns while she's away pumping. The main downside of this feature was that I couldn't find a volume control, and it seemed to play back fairly loudly—which in an office setting might feel rather awkward. The Hygeia EnHande ($36; 4.5 out of 5 stars), however, was a close second to the Lansinoh manual pump. It's also available with a medium (27 mm) or large (29 mm) flange. It was effective for a manual pump and comfortable to hold and use. While the product photo shows a silicone insert, the pump I tested did not have one included.
The Rest of the Competition
We considered these alternatives from manufacturers, but can't recommend them.
- Freemie Freedom Deluxe ($187; 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon) — I was really, really excited to try the Freemie pump. The idea behind it is that you can pump while not being half-naked (yay for feeling a tiny bit less awkward while pumping at work!). The "freedom" in the name indicated to me a sense of not being tied down to pumping, but in reality, this isn't a pump that's portable during a session—you're still attached to the pump, which is connected to a wall outlet. The pump itself didn't impress me (users can only control the suction, not the cycle speed, which remains static), but I still like the idea of the collection system (a pair of cups tucked into the user's bra in lieu of the usual horns and bottles), which can be paired with other pumps (specifics available on the Freemie site), so if a mom already has a pump she loves, she may find the Freemie collection system ($60) to be worthwhile. That being said, if a mom is used to massaging her breasts to help empty them during a pumping session or even just visually checking in to see how much milk she has collected, the Freemie collection system might not be a great buy for her.
- Bailey Nurture III ($125; 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon) — While the suction on this pump is fully adjustable, it relies on the user's thumb to manually cycle—meaning that even when using it with a hands free bra, the pump will never be fully hands free, as a finger must cover and uncover a small vent many times per minute during a pumping session. For someone who is really attuned to her body's rhythm of letdown and can spare a finger, it's an option, but most women we know would rather let the pump do the work while they use their hands for something else.
- Philips Avent Double Electric Comfort ($125; 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon) — The least effective pump for me personally. The flanges felt too shallow for women with substantial breasts and although I like the idea of the silicone inserts for the flanges, which are supposed to help massage milk out of the breasts, they didn't seem to do that and instead popped off at inconvenient times (like when trying to get them through the holes in my hands-free bra). Finally, the silicone valves that sit inside the pump and through which milk passes into the bottles are situated so high up that it's hard to release the milk that gets left in there at the end of a pumping session.
- Philips Avent Manual Comfort ($35; 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon) — As with its double electric counterpart, the flange felt especially shallow. It was difficult to get good suction going, like with the double electric pump, it was dismaying to see that milk was getting left behind in the silicone valves.
Care, Use, Maintenance, and Repair
Until you're actually lactating, chances are you haven't been in close contact with a breast pump—and that's fine! (Really, they might look scary, but there's no reason to panic.) Here's a few best practices for keeping the Limerick PJ's Bliss Standard clean and in good working order. When you've got a clear enough head (or your partner does, if you're feeling too overwhelmed by everything else—I burst into tears when we got home from the hospital after the birth of my first son and I tried to understand how to initially sterilize my breast pump accessories!), read through the manual, paying attention to the accessory kit sanitizing instructions (as well as the helpful diagram of what not to boil), assemble the bottles and breastshields and familiarize yourself with the controls (especially how to set up the pump for very gentle pumping in the beginning). Diagrams and clear instructions are also included to help users understand what needs to get washed after a pumping session and what shouldn't get wet. Limerick customer service is available at 877-Limeric (877-546-3742) from 8:30-5 PST, Monday through Friday.
Limerick offers a one-year warranty and in the event of a defect will repair or potentially replace the product without charge, but the user will have to pay to ship the faulty product to Limerick.
What to Look Forward To
In mid-September 2014, 150 parents, designers, engineers, and healthcare workers met at the MIT Media Lab for the "Make the Breast Pump Not Suck" Hackathon. Out of it came a number of innovative and interesting ideas, some of which will hopefully make it to market eventually—but even better than what specifically came out of this first hackathon was arguably the notion that breast pumps can and should be improved upon and that using them doesn't have to be quite so terrible. First prize went to the Mighty Mom utility belt, a hands-free wearable belt designed to log and analyze personal data (meant specifically for moms who need something portable and discreet); second prize went to the Helping Hands Bra, a hands-free compression bra designed to help moms express milk without the use of their hands or a pump; and third prize went to PumpIO, an open software and hardware platform designed to help moms pump "smarter." Second Nature won "Most Outstanding User Focused Design" with a pump meant to mimic the way babies suckle. And finally, Compress Express won the Pioneer Award with a pump inspired by blood pressure cuffs, meant to mimic hand expression instead of vacuum extraction. To stay up-to-date on developments from the hackathon, you can join its Facebook group or subscribe to its email list (it promises just a single email per month)—sign-up available at the top of this page.
Wrapping It Up
From the soft silicone breast cups and the unique compression and vacuum that feels much more like a baby's natural suckling motion, it's clear the Limerick PJ's Bliss is the breast pump of choice for now. I'm looking forward to continuing to use this pump as needed until my toddler weans.
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Melanie Monroe Rosen is a freelance writer on the move from Brooklyn, NY to Charleston, SC. Former senior editor at Parenting.com, current mom of three, doula, and childbirth educator-to-be.
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