Wireless technology allows us to talk on the phone, listen to music, and print spreadsheets without using a cord. But women who pump breast milk find themselves isolated in a room and tethered by tubes to a machine, with sets of bottles dangling from their chests. Willow, a pair of lightweight, battery-powered pumps, offers a solution. Each bra-cup-shaped device slips into a nursing bra—no undressing required—and holds a 4-ounce, BPA-free storage bag. With one two-hour charge, the pump can last up to five sessions, and through an app, mothers can track milk expression, compare data across pumping sessions, order additional bags, and set timers and alerts. Willow CEO Naomi Kelman plans to release the pump this fall.
Working with Ideo, Willow conducted dozens of interviews with mothers and realized that they think of pumps as personal-care items rather than milk-delivery systems. So the exterior of each cup features a sleek control pad and a texture “like fine linen,” Kelman says. Her ultimate objective is to allow women to provide for babies without having to pause their everyday lives—or choose between breastfeeding and work, since only 10% of nursing mothers employed full time continue breastfeeding for six months. “We really want to support moms in establishing whatever goals they set for themselves,” Kelman says, “and not step out of life to pump.”