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Breast Is Best When It's Wireless


A woman holds the Willow breast pump at CES 2017. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
A woman holds the Willow breast pump at CES 2017. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Forgive any nursing mom who shrugs off the well-publicized benefits of breast milk. These women are not deniers. Rather they're just aware of the challenges that come with breastfeeding.

Even if you do get the hang of it, you're stuck with it. If baby needs milk, you need to be there, unless you pump milk for later or supplement with formula. And pumping breast milk, mothers are quick to point out, is the opposite of efficient.

Clunky, loud machines. Small parts to endlessly disinfect. And then there's the simple fact that you have to sit hunched over in one place, trying to guess how much bodily fluid you're holding in each hand, for somewhere around a half hour while a machine milks you. Oh, if you're at work? Why, then it's called a break! In a storage room that doubles as a nursing lounge.

A few new breast pumps are hoping to change that. First, there's the wireless breast pump that debuted at CES 2017 this year. Willow's wearable pump consists of two cups that go in a nursing bra, holding donut-shaped milk bags. A mobile device controls the pumps, so you can go about your day while completing a session. Does this mean it's quiet enough so that you'd be free to breastfeed at your desk? And would any nursing mom want to do that? We'll have to see when the pump rolls out in the spring. You can see the Willow pump in action in this CNET review:

Then there's Naya Health's introduction to the market: a "hospital-grade" pump that uses hydraulic water technology to express the milk, as opposed to the usual air pumps. Hospital-grade, to any nursing mom, means faster. It was developed by a medical designer and engineer who was familiar with the technology being used in cataract surgery, and the company claims it expresses milk more comfortably and efficiently. Users can pair it with an app that can help track sessions. And unlike the Willow model, which has the motors in each of the two cups, you need to be connected to the pump itself.

And there's yet more competition from Medela, the industry leader for breast pumps. The company is introducing the Sonata pump. Medela claims that not only is it hospital-grade, but that it also adjusts to your body's pumping patterns and connects to a tracking app that records details about the session. Tracking apps seem to be the norm.

All the products are set to be available this year, with Medela's already on the market and Naya Health's version on back order.



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