On September 20th & 21st, 2014, the MIT Media Lab will host its second “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon where MIT students will work together with parents, medical professionals, designers, and engineers who want to work on a radical redesign of the breast pump as well as other innovations that could improve life for children, families, and employers.
Breast pumping is an experience many women hate, yet it saves the lives of premature babies and permits working women to continue a nursing relationship with their baby. The health benefits of breastfeeding, both to mother and baby, are numerous and include the reductions of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, female cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. Despite the overwhelming data and worldwide endorsement of breastfeeding for at least two years, many women do not breastfeed or wean after several months. In particular, low-income, working women are rarely able to take extended maternity leave, to afford the cost of a pump, or to pump breastmilk at their workplace. In emerging economies around the world, women who go back to work wean their babies rather than using a breast pump.
The breast pump is the rallying cry for the event because it is a symbol of a technology that could be vastly improved in order to save lives, save money and lead to healthier and happier families. At the same time, our goal is to make space for innovation in family life more broadly and support a wide variety of different kinds of projects at the event.