Latest Innovations in Wearable, Hands-Free Breast Pumps Give Busy Working Moms More Options & Freedom
Breast pump design has come a long way, thanks in no small part to 60 years of scientific research by Medela, one of the partners behind Kin. The latest innovations include wearable pumps that are compact and feature discreet in-bra collection cups. We’re finding that the majority of moms need at least two pumps to sustain and protect their milk supply. For working moms, that can mean a hospital-grade tabletop pump for use at work and a hands-free wearable pump that provides exponentially more freedom to carry on other tasks and pump on the go. With the new PUMP Act already in effect, the strongest possible lactation program will include both types of pumps so nursing employees have optimum flexibility about how, when and where to express milk.
Tabletop vs. Hands-Free Pumps: Why Employees Need Both
Despite the tremendous commitment of time and energy, Kin research shows 97% of women plan to continue breastfeeding after returning to work.¹ And the time needed is staggering. It’s estimated that mothers may spend as much as 1,800 hours per year breastfeeding, which is nearly the equivalent of a full-time job.² This postpartum ‘fifth trimester’ when mothers return to work is riddled with distinct challenges, as they juggle providing critical nutrition to their babies while transitioning back into their careers. To accomplish this monumental feat, 71% of moms indicate they prefer two or more pumps to maintain a healthy milk supply while away from their babies.³
For most breastfeeding employees, their primary pump will be a tabletop model used in a private lactation space. For the workplace, we recommend offering the Symphony PLUS® breast pump. This high quality, hospital-grade pump is at the core of a lactation program and is specially engineered to help build and maintain breast milk supply. To use these medical devices, breastfeeding employees typically need to pump every 3 to 4 hours in a designated nursing area.
As a secondary source, a hands-free pump designed with the very latest features, such as Medela’s newly released Freestyle™ Hands-free, provides the ultimate convenience for expressing milk on-the-go or as a way to supplement or reduce the time needed for longer pumping breaks. The term ‘hands-free’ can often be confused with the term wireless. Just because a pump is wireless, does not mean it is hands-free. A true hands-free option does not need to be held against the breast and is wearable under clothing. The compact size means the pump is portable and lightweight.
Key Features of Hands-Free Breast Pumps
According to industry analysts, the emergence of wearable breast pumps for hands-free use is a significant market breakthrough.⁴
Medela’s Freestyle Hands-free innovation, for example, draws on 60 years of clinical research in the field of lactation and breastfeeding and is the award-winning company’s smallest and first wearable pump. Some key benefits:
- Lightweight with discreet in-bra collection - The entire pump system weighs less than 450 grams (1 pound), making it the lightest pump on the market and easy to carry in a pocket. The in-bra cups are uniquely shaped to fit and complement the lactating breast.⁵ Each cup weighs only 76 grams and can hold up to 5 ounces of milk.
- Thoughtful, science-backed design - The pump features Medela’s patented 2-Phase Expression technology and is the only pump on the market to include an anatomical design that provides a comfortable fit while maximizing milk expression with a 105-degree breast shield angle that maximizes milk flow, yielding up to 11.8% more milk.⁶
- Fewer parts to clean – The Freestyle Hands-free pump has the fewest parts (only 3) of any wearable pump.
- Charges while in use – The only pump that offers the time-saving ability to charge and pump at the same time.
- Transparent design to better track milk collection - Its transparent design allows mom to check alignment and confirm milk flow. This is a critical time saver, since the first milk release accounts for more than one-third of the total milk volume⁷, yet milk let-down is often not sensed.⁸
- Access to support - The Freestyle also connects via Bluetooth to the Medela Family mobile app, which tracks pumping sessions and provides trusted guidance from lactation experts.
Benefits of Hands-Free Pumps for Working Mothers
New parents are always appreciative of any company programs that alleviate stress and help them manage their workloads. Adding a hands-free pumping option provides nursing employees with greater control, mobility and flexibility over their daily schedule. In addition to the primary pump, a hands-free option means a mom can quickly fit in a productive pumping session when needed. Some typical scenarios might include:
- Commuters who want to take advantage of time in the car and also cut down on the amount of time needed to pump at the office.
- Workers who are more mobile, such as nurses or doctors on rotation, who may not have the time to stop for longer pumping sessions.
- Employees who have to travel for business or are on the go frequently.
- For employees who appreciate having more mobility and flexibility to handle other tasks while still accomplishing a pumping session
- Hands-free pumps offer employers a way to show support for workers who otherwise don’t have protected break times under the new PUMP Act, such as flight attendants or pilots.
If you’d like to learn more about how hands-free pumps can transform a typical work day for your nursing employees, the experts at Kin are here to help you assess your current offerings or create an easy-to-implement plan that leverages the very latest lactation equipment on the market.
¹ Mom’s Thoughts on Breastfeeding Survey of 2,500 respondents, Medela, October 2022.
² Nelson, How to Make the Full-Time Job of Breastfeeding Compatible with Work, Inc., 2019.
³ Online Survey, dated November 6, 2022, 469 participants (data on file with Product Marketing PUP)
⁴ Breast Pump Market Trends Forecast and Industry Analysis to 2030, Analytics Market Research, January 12, 2023.
⁵ Patent number EP22182874.2
⁶ Clinical studies comparing 105 degree opening angle on shields vs. 90-degree angle.
⁷ Prime DK et al. Breastfeed Med. 2011; 6(4): 183-190.
⁸ Kent JC et al. J Hum Lact. 2003; 19(2): 179-186.