Why not a pump?

Why not a pump?

“So why not a pump? Why would a mother invest money in a pumping accessory?” These are questions we’ve been asked over and over again and questions we’ve pondered and thought extensively. The more the questions came up, and the more time went by, the more certain we became about our decision.

According to the Journal of Human Lactation, 62% of mothers say that they are unsatisfied with the way their pump works, with inadequate milk extraction and lengthy pumping being at the top of the list. Then, going out and doing some digging of our own, the results were confirmed. From a survey of 500 mothers who pump, 2 out of 3 moms reported massaging their breasts while pumping. When asked why, they explained that they did so in order to produce sufficient milk, and in order to pump faster.

“Every minute and oz. count”, they explain.

Even though pumps are covered by insurance, an increasing number of mothers, dissatisfied with the results of their pump, end up switching between 2–3 pumps during a year, sometimes even renting out or purchasing medical-grade pumps, spending up to $1000, hoping that the issue will be resolved. But unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Breast Center Director at the Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr Ari Brooks, explains:

“Breast pumps only provide suction and suction does not exactly mimic what a child does when breastfeeding. The suction pump will just elongate or compress the nipple without adequate extraction of the milk. Compression and breast massage are probably the most effective ways to get a large volume of milk out in a short period of time.”

In essence, when looking at the components of successful milk extraction during breastfeeding, the equation is twofold. Milk in the breast is produced in small clusters of cells called alveoli, in mammary glands. From there, it travels through the milk ducts, which can be found dispersed throughout the breast, and towards the nipple, where it is then extracted.

Image source: Histology of the Mammary Gland, Human Biology Lab

While a pump’s suction is the perfect solution for extraction, the traveling of the milk remains stagnant, with technology failing to assist it. In return, and without a better alternative, mothers resort to applying hand compression and massaging their breasts, bringing the milk forward and preparing it for suction.

At Lilu, we wanted to change this. We wanted to give mothers a solution that solves the initial part of the equation, providing compression and allowing the milk to travel forward, assisting and enabling satisfactory suction. A solution that works in conjunction with the pump, improving and enhancing the way it works and overcoming its inherent shortcomings.

By mimicking compression movements recommended by lactation consultants, the Lilu bra’s embedded compression massages a larger area of the breast, initiating movement and helping the milk travel forward through the milk ducts, emptying the milk into the pump, without a mom having to do it herself. In short, Lilu provides the more efficient, modern alternative to hand massage, helping the breast pump better empty the breast.

At Lilu, we don’t want moms to have to purchase additional pumps anymore. We don’t want moms to use their hands and sacrifice time to make their pumps work. And we definitely don’t want moms to cut their pumping goals short.

So, why not a pump, you ask. Because we wanted to build something that would improve the way pumps work. Lilu’s in-built automated compression bra allows mothers to successfully use the pump provided by their insurance, no matter how rudimentary it is, and instead invest money in additional breastfeeding technologies, that look beyond suction and aim to improve the shortcomings of breast pumps. With Lilu, moms can solve the need for compression, and save some money while doing so, as well.

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