Here's a not-so-surprising secret: I hated breast pumping. Absolutely hated it. I had an electronic pump, which I thank my stars for because I have nerve damage and can't hold my grip for long. A manual would have (not literally) killed me. Still, the whole process would eat up too much time, was unbearable, and didn't always produce the amount of milk I needed. And I'm not alone in this experience: millions of breast-pumping parents can relate. But there's a compression bra that could make pumping easier, providing relief to nursing parents everywhere.
Breast pumping technology has evolved over the last few years, with the most significant advancements made in 2017 — so far. Among those innovations is LiLu, a hands-free automated bra designed to help nursing parents to boost their milk supply. How, exactly? The LiLu bra, which hits the market in September, uses compression to imitate the massaging techniques lactation specialists suggest that parents who are breastfeeding use in order to extract more breast milk, according to Mothering.
That means you won't have to sit there, pawing at your chest just so more milk can flow into that bottle or bag you have attached to the device. Or, in other words, freedom!
And it's easy to wear. All you have to do is hook the adjustable LiLu bra on to an existing nursing bra, or use its straps for extra support, according to TechCrunch. The LiLu bra will then use air, rather than your hands, to massage your chest as you pump. The LiLu bra could hold a charge for up to two days, and is compatible with standard breast pumps.
LiLu founder Adriana Vazquez Ortiz said that she and co-founder, Sujay Suresh, drew upon existing studies on hand compression, as well as conducted their own research, to inform the design of the product, TechCrunch reported. In their survey of more than 500 moms, for example, Vazquez Ortiz and Suresh found that the most common things nursing parents do while pumping are: Hold the pump, do work, and massage their chest. The LiLu bra aims to tackle all three issues, according to TechCrunch.
Vazquez Ortiz, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011, told MIT News:
There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to find equally talented, motivated, and passionate people to improve a product that's so important to motherhood. We set out to see if we can be as good as hands or better. That's our goal.
So far, the LiLu bra seems to be producing results (pun intended). Nursing parents who tested the LiLu bra reported between 30 and 50 percent increases in milk output during sessions and over time, MIT News reported. Vazquez Ortiz told MIT News:
It's really rewarding that we are making a difference ... we can't move fast enough.
Although the LiLu bra isn't available for sale until the fall, parents who plan to nurse can preorder the revolutionary bra, which will run $249, according to the official LiLu website. The cost includes the hands-free bra, a rechargeable controller, and a charging micro-USB cable.
The LiLu bra would have been heaven-sent when I was still breastfeeding my now-toddler son. Same goes for the Willow Smart Breast Pump, the other new innovation in nursing technology that has everyone talking. The hands-free breast pump slips easily into any nursing bra, allowing you to extract milk while tending to other tasks. Imagine how much easier pumping could be if you combined both products.
Of course, these pumping items don't come cheap, and will be out-of-reach for many new breastfeeding parents. But my hope is that more and more startups will tackle pumping technology, and, eventually, these revolutionary products will be standard on the market.