The Evolution of Breast Pump Technology

Choosing the most suitable breast pump can be a difficult task. Breast pumps allow a lactating person to pump and store milk to feed their newborns when they are not around. Additionally, breast pumps have become a fantastic solution for babies that have trouble latching, as well as for assisting with engorgement, for those with an abundance of milk supply or for situations when the child cannot be chestfed for some or all meals. Over the past 200 years, breast pumps have evolved and improved the lactating and feeding experience for many generations. Today, pumping breast milk allows: longer stretches of rest with partner support and without engorgement, working, continuing education, travel, and even while doing multiple tasks around the house. Not only are breast pumps convenient and sometimes the only way someone can provide human milk, but the wonderful advancements in breast pump technology have allowed fathers, family members, and caregivers to feed and support the babies nutritional and connective needs. The evolution of the breastpump is fascinating and insightful.


The timeline below illustrates the history of breast pump technology (6). Breast pumps have continuously improved and evolved since the idea was first patented in 1854 to 1999, when breast pumps became available for use at home and on-the-go.



The first breast pump was patented in 1854 by Orwell H. Needham. The idea was to replicate a nursing infant. Fast forward to 1874, Robbery C. Gray and Charles E. Gassin added a milk bottle collection to the original design of the breast pump. You could now remove the bottle of milk from the device and easily clean it. In later years, a spring was incorporated into the design to mimic a “suck and release” in order to increase the comfortability of breast-feeding. In 1905 piston breast technology, which included an air chamber and finger holds, was introduced. Then, in 1908, the first “hands-free” pump was created. Further technological advances in breast pump technology included faster speed cycles, portable hospital grade breast pumps, and an addition of microprocessors and backflow protectors. Finally, in 1998, breast pumps became available for at-home and on-the-go usage.


To this day, breast pump technology continues to improve. There are breast pumps on the market that are wearable, have integrated memory, and are hands-free. Buying and choosing the right breast pump for you can be a difficult decision. Today, many breast pumps come with options to decide on like electric or manual, bottle and nipple brand preference, attachments, flange size and shape, noise level, single or double pump, varying massage settings, weight, size and storage options as well as financial variances. When it comes to picking your breast pump(s), there are many resources, such as midwives and lactation consultants, in the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara area that can provide recommendations and help you find a breast pump that satisfies every single one of your specific needs.

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If you are in need of some more inspiration, below are some popular breast pumps available online! There is a breast pump out there for every lactating person’s individual needs.

  • Efficiency- spectra S1 plus

  • Budget-friendly- bellababy double electric

  • Travel-Friendly- medela freestyle flex

  • Comfortability- philips avent comfort

  • Custom fit- evenflo deluxe advanced

  • Single-Electric- nuk expressive

  • Manual- lansinoh manual

  • Hands-free- willow wearable pump

  • For Working Moms- motif duo

  • Bag-free wearable pump- elvie bump

  • Quiet- spectra S2

Authored by, CCCN Intern Ashley Vu

Sources

  1. Bologna, Caroline. “200 Years Of Breast Pumps, In 18 Images.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 30 July 2020, www.huffpost.com/entry/200-years-of-breast-pumps-in-images_n_57871bfde4b0867123dfb16d.

  2. “The Evolution of the Breast Pump.” Elvie, www.elvie.com/en-us/blog/the-evolution-of-the-breast-pump.

  3. Lawrence, Tiffany Eve. “The Breast Pump's History Is Pretty Fascinating.” Romper, Romper, 29 June 2021, www.romper.com/parenting/history-of-the-breast-pump.

  4. Pumpables. “Breast Pumps Through History.” Pumpables, pumpables.co/blogs/tips/breast-pumps-through-history.

  5. WhattoExpect. “Best Breast Pumps for Breastfeeding Moms.” What to Expect, WhattoExpect, 4 Jan. 2021, www.whattoexpect.com/baby-products/nursing-feeding/best-breast-pumps/.

  6. Image: The Evolution of Breast Pump Technology created by Ashley Vu.

Disclaimer: The opinions or beliefs expressed by various authors on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs, and viewpoints of Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC. Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC does not offer medical advice. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only. The author's opinions are based upon information they consider reliable; thus, Central Coast Childbirth Network warrants its completeness or accuracy and should not be relied upon as such.