MIT Hosting Hackathons To ‘Make The Breast Pump Not Suck’

Earlier this year, writers Courtney E. Martin and John Cary posed an important question in a New York Times piece entitled, “Shouldn’t the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by Now?” In this age of constant technological advancement, it is pretty unfathomable that the notoriously loud and even sometimes painful breast pump has hardly changed since it was first invented in the early 20th century. Now, it looks like mothers might finally get the upgrade they deserve.

Following the model of popular computer programming competitions, MIT is hosting the aptly-named “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon.” On September 20 and 21, a large group of engineers, designers, moms, dads, nurses, lactation consultants, and public health researchers will come together at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts to share innovative ideas and work on giving the breast pump a much-needed redesign.

As the official hackathon website states, “Breast pumping helps parents give their babies breast milk for a longer period of time. It saves lives for preemies. The public health benefits are off the charts. But pumping sucks!” The site goes on to list some of the many areas in which today’s breast pumps are lacking. “The motor is loud. There are too many parts. They are hard to clean. You can’t lay down and pump. There is no good space to pump. It’s hard to keep track of what you pump.”

According to the hackathon creators’ public Facebook group, the MIT Media Lab hosted its first breast pump hackathon back in May, after a group of personnel read Martin and Cary’s eye-opening blog post. As one member of the organizing group wrote in an article for Medium, “Our own stakes in the matter are personal (we are parents and parents-to-be) and professional (we have designed medical devices, created open source hardware, and organized communities to change the world).” They used May’s event as an opportunity to fully familiarize themselves with breast pump design challenges and the issues that real nursing mothers face.

While about 20 people participated in the first breast pump hackathon, this second meeting of the minds will be attended by 60-80. Their goals are simple: “bring innovation to maternal health and make the breast pump not suck.”

We’re rooting for you, hackathon-ers!

(hat tip: Boston Magazine)

via Huffington Post

Non-profit photographs men in breastfeeding poses to raise awareness


to see more images, visit

Hector Cruz never thought he’d become a breastfeeding advocate. But after the birth of his first child, Cruz had a wake-up call about how important fathers are to the process.

Cruz, 33, and his wife, Nicole, had been trying to conceive for 10 and a half years before Nicole finally became pregnant in 2013. Cruz was eager to learn everything he could about raising an infant; but when Nicole signed up for breastfeeding class, Cruz wasn’t allowed to attend.

After the birth of their daughter Sophia, Nicole had difficulty breastfeeding and their pediatrician advised the couple to switch to formula because jaundice was causing Sophia to lose weight too quickly. But Nicole was determined to breastfeed – and though Cruz wanted to support her, but didn’t know what to do.

“I wish I could say I was an enlightened guy, but I wasn’t,” Cruz told “I figured women have breasts, a baby has a mouth, it all works and there are never any issues. I was very, very wrong.”

Cruz turned to the Expressions! Lactation Services group on Facebook, a breastfeeding support and infant feeding page that Nicole had been a part of. Cruz posted a plea for advice— Could they do donor milk? How could they make breastfeeding feasible?—on the group’s wall and within minutes had over 50 responses.

“This was my first foray into the whole breastfeeding advocacy and understanding,” Cruz said. “I started learning what a proper tongue latch is, tongue-tie…clogged duct… hand expression.. I had no clue.”

Based on the advice they received on Facebook, the new parents ended up working with a lactation consultant who came to the hospital and Nicole was able to breastfeed.

Hoping to educate more fathers about the importance of breastfeeding, Cruz founded Project: BreastFeeding in November 2013, a campaign to bring awareness to destigmatizing breastfeeding in public, educating men and empowering women.

As part of the campaign, Cruz began photographing men, some shirtless, holding their babies in a breastfeeding position. Accompanying the photos is the phrase, “If I could, I would.”  Cruz’s first photoshoot was with military families at Fort Campbell military base in Kentucky.

Cruz, a photographer, chose this unusual image to bring attention to the need to support women who choose breastfeeding.

“We’re a society that thrives on controversy, so what better way to… get people talking than a dad saying it,” Cruz said. “I had to ask myself, if I could [breastfeed my child], would I do this? It took a few days of me really processing that because it’s completely bending the stereotypical role men take. I was really honest with myself and I would do whatever it takes for my wife and my child.”

The key, he believes, is engaging the father right when a couple find out they’re pregnant.

“I think that’s where it starts for a lot of guys, where they start checking out of the process because we’re not really a part of it; [feeling like] they’re not making me a part of it,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s original goal was to post a billboard of one of his photographs in their home community of Clarksville, TN, near Fort Campbell. But now, his project has evolved into a much bigger campaign and Project: BreastFeeding is traveling the country, taking portraits of families and fathers at MommyCon, a natural parenting convention.

Cruz has submitted a 501(c)(3) application for federal non-profit status and Project: BreastFeeding is now fundraising to develop a curriculum for co-ed-taught breastfeeding support classes for men and women. As the group travels the country taking portraits, Cruz’s goal is to post a billboard of his photos in every community they visit.

Project: BreastFeeding is also partnering with the Mama Hope, a non-profit that works with in-need communities in sub-Saharan Africa, and together they’re going to visit Uganda in May to educate fathers in the pregnancy and breastfeeding process.

While Project: BreastFeeding’s goals are focused on breastfeeding and educating fathers, Cruz says it’s all about family support.

“We don’t want to bash moms who choose formula; every partner has the right to choose how they want to feed their child,” Cruz said. “All I’m trying to do  is be a dad, a good supportive husband and a good father. I think any guy would want to do that.”

For more information visit Project:

Article via FoxNews

More hospitals promote breastfeeding by forgoing unhealthy formula samples

A recent NY Times (NYT) article covered the trend of more and more hospitals no longer giving out free samples of infant formulas to birthing mothers provided by the manufacturers.

The article cited expert consensus for the benefits of breast feeding and the infant formula manufacturers’ understanding that breast feeding is “the gold standard.” But it also focused considerably on the mothers who protest the ban.

Considerable commentary both in the article and in the comments displayed the pro and con sides of this issue. The con-side declared some mothers cannot breast feed, and formula is expensive. They weren’t reminded how inexpensive breast feeding is.

But the pro side points out that when a hospital provides free samples of infant formula, it makes it appear that there is no difference in how someone feeds an infant. And it also makes it seem there is no support for overcoming actual breast feeding difficulties.

Here’s one example of support from this pediatric guide for breast feeding issues.

Granting longer periods of paid maternity leave would be helpful. The US.. ranks lowest among industrialized nations for paid maternity leaves, which emphasize the mother’s recovery more than giving her space and time to breast feed for at least six months.

Comparing infant formula with mothers’ breast milk

One weakness displayed both in the NYT article and its comments was the lack of nutritional awareness. Soy-based infant formulas were often referred to as a good solution. But the fact is that soy, even non-GMO soy, has problems. And most soy is GM.

The only soy that’s beneficial is fermented, organic soy, such as that which comprises natto, tempeh, misso, and some soy sauces. Soy as a health food is a con. Even non-GMO soy, which is very rare, has several anti-nutrients that block or impede the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Soy products dampen thyroid activity, promote excessive blood clotting, contain phytoestrogens that create hormone imbalances, and carry toxic levels of aluminum and manganese. Soy crops, especially GMOs, are very heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals. Even non-soy milk infant formulas contain some soy products.

Infant formulas contain massive amounts of sugar that may be GMO (beet sugar) and even worse, GMO corn syrup compounds or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Unlike sugar, corn syrup or HFCS is not fully metabolized into energy. Almost half of it is stored in the liver as fat.

Mike Adams jumps all over what Similac contains after analyzing the label. Similac had to be recalled around that time because beetle larvae was found in some of their formula products.

But Mike asserts the bugs are not the issue; the formula itself amounts to “nutritional child abuse.”

Water needs to be added to instant formula powders. Unless a family resides in a non-fluoridated water supply area, they’ll be poisoning their children further without using reverse osmosis filtered water. The child’s IQ will be lower in addition to suffering some brain damage and other health consequences.

One solution is for the mothers who find it impossible to breast feed to purchase infant formulas with added prebiotics and probiotics, which can also be added to standard infant formulas.

Goat’s milk colostrum powder may be a way to replace the mother’s milk colostrum that’s missing from infant formulas. Goat’s milk resembles human mother’s milk more than cow’s milk. Colostrum protects the infant’s fragile immune system. Lactoferrin supplements can also be added.

Even pediatricians agree that breast feeding for at least the first six months is vital for you child’s overall future health. Just say no to pediatric pushiness on vaccinating your children.

Sources for this article include:
New York Times
Pedatrics About
Pediatrics Publications
Wall Street Journal

Article via Natural News

Breastfeeding proven to lower risk of Alzheimer’s in moms

As more research becomes available, it is increasingly clear that breastfeeding children provides infinitely more long-term health benefits to both baby and mom. Now, a new study shows that mothers who breast feed run a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

The research, which was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, indicates the link may have something to do with key biological effects of breastfeeding. Scientists also found that breastfeeding for longer periods of time decreased overall risk.

From Britain’s Telegraph newspaper:

Previous studies have established that breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of other diseases but until now little has been done to examine the impact of breastfeeding duration on Alzheimer’s risk.

Biological changes could be responsible for the additional protection

Researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biological Anthropology conducted the study using data gathered from a relatively small group of 81 women. But, they said, the correlation between breastfeeding and Alzheimer’s was especially consistent and significant, though it was much less common in women who had a history of dementia in their family.

The findings could lead to new ways to combat what is being called a global Alzheimer’s epidemic. Also, researchers note that the study could offer some indications as to why some people are more susceptible to developing the disease than others.

More from the Telegraph:

The study argues that there may be a number of biological reasons for the connection between Alzheimer’s and breastfeeding. One theory is that breastfeeding deprives the body of the hormone, progesterone, compensating for high levels of progesterone which are produced during pregnancy.

Researchers note that progesterone is known to have a desensitizing effect on the brain’s oestrogen receptors; it may also play a role in protecting the brain against Alzheimer’s, they add.

Still another possibility: Breastfeeding boosts a woman’s glucose tolerance by restoring her sensitivity to insulin following pregnancy, which in and of itself “induces a natural state of insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s is characterized by a resistance to insulin in the brain,” the Telegraph reported.

“Women who spent more time pregnant without a compensatory phase of breastfeeding therefore may have more impaired glucose tolerance, which is consistent with our observation that those women have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Molly Fox, who led the study, said.

“Alzheimer’s is the world’s most common cognitive disorder and it already affects 35.6 million people. In the future, we expect it to spread most in low and middle-income countries. So it is vital that we develop low-cost, large-scale strategies to protect people against this devastating disease,” she said.

Cambridge University adds:

Prior research has established that breastfeeding can lower a mum’s risk of other diseases and a possible link between breastfeeding and cognitive decline later in life. But until now, little work has taken place on the effect on Alzheimer’s of the length of time women breastfeed for.

More research is warranted, but so far, it’s promising

The 81 women involved in the study were between 70 and 100 years old. Fox, along with Prof. Carlo Berzuini and Prof. Leslie Knapp interviewed the women; they discovered that “women who breastfed were less likely to have developed the disease and the threat fell still further for those with a longer history of breastfeeding,” Cambridge said, in a press release.

Researchers said the link between breastfeeding and Alzheimer’s was not affected by other factors such as the drinking and smoking history of the women, education history, age or other variables.

The university said its researchers hope the study will lead to more research into the relationship between the risk of Alzheimer’s and the reproductive history of women.

Cambridge News
The Independent

Article via Natural News

Is Breast-Feeding Really Better?

Many women who are unable to breast-feed feel guilty about it and worry they may be depriving their children of a range of benefits. Groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend six months of exclusive breast-feeding for all infants, citing studies that show breast milk is easily digestible and has nutrients that are superior to or absent from infant formulas, including immunological substances that reduce rates of infection and fatty acids important in brain development.

But now a new study suggests that many of the long-term benefits attributed to breast-feeding may be an effect not of breast-feeding or breast milk itself but of the general good health and prosperity of women who choose to breast-feed.

Researchers at Ohio State University compared 1,773 sibling pairs, one of whom had been breast-fed and one bottle-fed, on 11 measures of health and intellectual competency. The children ranged in age from 4 to 14 years.

The researchers recorded various health and behavioral outcomes in the sibling pairs, including body mass index, obesity, asthma, hyperactivity, reading comprehension, math ability and memory-based intelligence. The study, published online in Social Science & Medicine, found no statistically significant differences between the breast-fed and bottle-fed siblings on any of these measures.

By studying “discordant” siblings — one of whom had been breast-fed and the other not — the authors sought to minimize the possibility that racial, socioeconomic, educational or other differences between families could affect the results. Many earlier studies on breast-feeding failed to control for such factors, they say.

Campaigns to increase the rate of breast-feeding have been highly successful in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three-quarters of American mothers now breast-feed, compared with less than two-thirds in 2000, and about 49 percent are still breast-feeding at six months, compared with 34 percent in 2000.

Yet despite this increase, researchers have consistently found large socioeconomic and racial disparities in breast-feeding rates. A C.D.C. survey in 2008 found that 75 percent of white infants and 59 percent of black infants were ever breast-fed, and in 2013, the agency reported that 47 percent of white babies but only 30 percent of black babies were still being breast-fed at 6 months. Compared with bottle-fed infants, breast-fed babies are more likely to be born into families with higher incomes, have parents with higher educational attainments, and live in safer neighborhoods with easier access to health care services.

Still, sibling studies such as this latest one do not solve all the problems of bias. “We were not able to control for everything that could affect what would make a mom breast-feed one child and not the other,” said the lead author, Cynthia G. Colen, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State. “But we did control for premature birth, birth order, the age of the mother, and whether she was working when she had one infant and not when she had the other.”

Geoff Der, a statistician at the University of Glasgow who has worked with the same data in previous studies, said that the findings in the present study were robust and the authors’ method for eliminating selection bias was powerful. He had reassuring words for women who do not or cannot breast-feed.

“In a society with a clean water supply and modern formulas,” he said, “a woman who isn’t able to breast-feed shouldn’t be feeling guilty, and the likelihood that there’s any harm to the baby is pretty slim.”

Article via The New York Times