Standing in the middle of a show floor, a woman was explaining to me the pains of being a new mother. Every few hours, you’re faced with a loud, noise machine going at your breasts for milk, which require your full attention and both hands to hold everything in place. She’s not talking about the baby itself. Nope — she’s talking about a traditional breast pump machine.
The Willow smart breast pump system is designed to alleviate that pain by being hands-free, tubeless, and relatively un-noisy. It was difficult to test the latter factor in a large event space, but the Willow device did look less intimidating than the average pump. The teardrop-shaped machine rests on the mother’s breasts under her bra, and collects milk in a pouch that’s stored inside the device. One bag holds four ounces of milk. For safety reasons, the bags are not reusable — the system comes with 24 bags to start but you’ll need to buy replacements that cost 50 cents each.
Willow runs on rechargeable battery that lasts up to two days. As with all things gadgets, it is connected to an app over Bluetooth. When you breast pump with the Willow, it will automatically track how much milk was collected, the collection date, and how long each session was.
The company hopes that Willow’s discreet and hands-free design will enable mothers to breast pump more frequently. While I think the machine still looks rather conspicuous (I’m uncertain I’d be comfortable with this kind of wearable on at work), the tubeless aspect does seem helpful for moms who could use the extra hands to take care of other things, or simply relax.
Willow will be available in spring 2017 for $430.