How Breast Pumps Came to Be by Dennis Vera

On June 20, 1854, the United States issued its first patent for breast pumps to O.H. Needham.  A couple years later  in 1863, L.O Calvin innovated the first breast pump ever made and got it patented. This basic pumps laid out the foundational structure of breast pumps. From then on, many people have tried to innovate the device one way or another.

In 1991, the first electrical breast pump was made. This innovation was controversial, because for the first time ever women were able to care for their baby and go to work. The current breast pump works by following the cycle sucking patterns of a baby which are 40 to 60 cycling patterns per minute.

What is the basic structure of a breast pump that was first created in 1854, that many people have tried to innovate one way or another?

  • First of all, you have the breast shield which is what goes over the breast and connects to the nipple.
  • Second of all, you have the pump, this what will cause the nipple to release the milk that the baby needs.
  • Third of all, you have the container in which the milk will be stored.

A breast pump, indicating the breast shield, the pump, and the milk collection container

Breast Pump Structure

In the design process of this product, a lot of research must be done in order for Mothers Do Matter to be guided towards the actual building of the product. In the research, as a team,  we learned the basics of a breast pump and the different varieties there were, such as the electrical powered breast pump, battery powered breast pump, and the regular pump. As well as, you can choose between a breast pump that covers one breast or both breasts.

Through the U.S Food and Drug Administration, we were able to figure out that our device was a medical device due to the fact that it is an instrument or machine that affects the structure or function of the body, which in this case would be the breast. It is not meant to achieve its primary choice through chemical changes within or outside the body. This lead to us figuring the breast pumps main purpose and why it was used to begin with.

When the first breast pump was ever invented, its purpose was to help mothers who had flat or inverted nipples to breast feed their children. Later on, the breast pump was used in order for the mother to supply more milk or be able to work while still providing the baby with breast milk.

As a team, we are going towards a more comfortable and productive type of breast pump. Through our research we know that we must have a breast shield, pump, and a milk container. Also, we are now looking into the suckling cycles of a baby and why it is important for a breast pump to mimic the suckling of a baby. One of our other goals is to figure out how we can get the breast pump to mimic the suckling of a baby.


*Taken by Dennis Vera

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