Nursing Free Stock

We live in a hub of technological innovation. Our kids spot self-driving cars on city streets with increasing regularity. There’s an ongoing debate about whether robots should be allowed to deliver our food. And yet, breast pumps haven’t changed significantly since their invention . . . over 60 years ago.

I remember following the news of the MIT breast pump hackathon in 2014 with excitement. It took place only a week after my third child was born, when the pump and its accompanying indignities were on my mind.

It’s three years later. While the pump isn’t yet “as elegant as an iPhone and quiet as a Prius,” it’s getting closer.

Naya Press Kit Image

The Naya is a smart hospital-grade pump originating from the MIT hackathon. Its claim to fame is using a soft silicone suction cup and water-based system to more closely mimic the feeling of a baby’s mouth.

Surely VCs are tripping over themselves to scale this innovation in maternal health and wellness, right? No.

A recent New Yorker article (tellingly titled "Why Aren't Mother's Worth anything to Venture Capitalists") describes Janica Alvarez, the founder, pitching the pump. She recounts stories of VC reps commenting on her body, questioning her ability to run a company as a mother of small children, and refusing to touch the device, calling it “disgusting.”

After a small initial round, Naya Health has turned to Kickstarter to continue its research and development. It's worth visiting their campaign just to watch the "If Men Breastfed" video near the bottom of the description page.

In other breastfeeding news, San Francisco’s lactation policy, the strongest in the nation according to Supervisor Katy Tang, will go into effect in January. The ordinance expands on current state and federal protections requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a space other than a restroom for pumping. Expect new workplaces in San Francisco to have lactation rooms.

If you’re currently breast or bottle feeding and have questions about latch, positioning, infant sleep patterns, and more, check out the Drop In Breast and Bottle Feeding Support Group at Sprout San Francisco on Tuesdays from 1pm-2:30pm. The group is led by Susan Bordon, a lactation educator and counselor. The cost is $20, but GGMG members receive a 15% discount.

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