Breast Pumps at the MIT Hackathon

Image: Wikimedia Commons

I spent four months pumping milk for my firstborn, and I’m in the middle of (probably) six months pumping for my second. I work full time and have two children, and breast pumping is an integral part of my life—one I’ll be glad to see the end of. What do you mean I can’t lean back in a chair and read while I’m pumping? I have to lean forward? Do you know what that does to my (already aching) back?!?

All of which goes into why I was super excited to see the theme of this year’s MIT Hackathon: Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!

According to the website: “On Sept 20-21, 2014, 150 parents, engineers, designers, and healthcare givers will gather at the MIT Media Lab for the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon.”

As many sources point out, the health benefits of breast milk are legion. But it’s also really, really hard to be a working mother (or just a mom with a kid who has trouble nursing) and keep up with your child’s needs. I cheat: I nurse, use expressed milk, and also formula. It can be difficult to find space. Where I work right now I’m lucky—there are three nursing mothers, and they’ve reserved an office for our use. But at my previous job my pumping quarters were a curtained-off portion of the ladies restroom. Not my favorite place to spend 15-30 minutes on any given day, much less for months of my life. And I really worried when I had to take an out-of-state trip for work. I can nurse more easily in an airport than pump. Pumping can also be painful at times, although I’ve gotten depressingly used to it. As Courtney E. Martin and John Cary wrote in the New York Times: “Shouldn’t the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by Now?

I join women of all circumstances in cheering on the MIT Hackathoners this weekend!