Even after carrying a pregnancy to term and going through labor, many nursing mothers find that the real challenge starts upon returning to work. Most breast pumps require secluded privacy to use, oftentimes leashing women to wall outlets and/or bulky tote bags. The Willow wearable breast pump, showcased at CES 2017, promises freedom with a wireless hands-free design that slips right under one's clothing.
The scientifically-proven benefits of providing breast milk to infants are bountiful. However, the current methods of pumping milk can lead mothers to feeling somewhat like a food factory. Whether hand-operated or motorized, modern pumps typically involve bottles and/or hoses, with the latter type also throwing an element of mechanical noise into the mix.
Willow Pump offers mothers a portable, quieter, and less limiting way to achieve breastfeeding goals. Instead of having separate parts connect together in succession, each pair of Willow pumps incorporate the flange, tubing, food-safe storage bag, and hardware as a single unit. The pieces snap together seamlessly without any dangling or exposed parts.
Nursing mothers affix the Willow pump so that the flange is correctly centered, just as with any other type of breast pump. Controls on the top of the unit offer easy operation, and the milk is collected in specially-shaped spill-proof bags. The smart pumping mechanism is designed to sense each individual's milk production and automatically transition from let-down to expression phases. At the end of the day, one recharges the Willow pump through the included wall adapter.
Since the overall shape closely resembles that of a natural breast, women can wear the Willow pump discreetly under a normal bra. Not only does this mean that pumping can be accomplished without first having to undress, but the bra provides continual support in order to free hands for other tasks. And thanks to its battery-powered wireless operation, one doesn't have to be confined to a single spot for the duration.
The Willow Pump mobile app features practical tools to complement the experience. Users connect smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth in order to track milk volume in real time, compare data from previous sessions, set alerts, and more.
For those concerned with health and safety, the company states that all the parts that make contact with milk are FDA cleared and BPA-free. The flanges and Flextubes are also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning – the company offers replacement bags, flanges, and tubes, recommending that users do so once every three months.
The Willow wearable breast pump will be available to order sometime this spring (Northern Hemisphere). At an expected retail price of US$429, the Willow pump ends up being two to four times the cost of most electronic, double breast pump systems. However, there's something to be said about freedom and portable convenience versus having to lug around a tote bag filled with milk-collecting machinery.
Source: Willow PumpView gallery - 4 images