Vecna Sponsors MIT Hackathon to Improve Breast Pump Design

Vecna is the lead sponsor at MIT Media Lab’s 2nd annual “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon September 20-21. An advocate of local and global health, Vecna supports the mission to apply technology in novel ways to solve an under-recognized maternal-child health problem that affects women and families everywhere, every day.

This Saturday and Sunday, 150 people that will self-organize into teams of 5-10 people per team. Hackathon teams will be a mix of breast pump users, engineers, designers, healthcare and lactation specialists, and educators.

Deborah Theobald, Vecna’s Co-Founder, CEO, Charitable Trust Executive Director, and mother of five, will take the stage with six other professional women from academia, business, and the medical field to kick off the event.

Women comprise only one third of the science and engineering workforce. In order to increase representation of women in technology, Vecna is committed to lowering the barriers to career advancement by meeting the unique needs of working mothers.

MIT Media Lab’s blog post cites several challenges that they are hoping to address through this Hackathon. The challenges include lack of education on proper use of breast pumps,  biological factors in milk let-down, inelegant design of breast pump apparatus, the noise breast pumps produce, and social stigmas associated with breast pumping at work.

Yet, the health benefits of breastfeeding (both to mother and baby!) are numerous and include the reductions of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, female cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. Despite the overwhelming data and worldwide endorsement of breastfeeding for at least two years, many women do not breastfeed at all or wean after several months. In particular, low-income, working women are rarely able to take extended maternity leave, to afford the cost of a pump, or to pump breast milk at their workplace. In emerging economies around the world, women who go back to work wean their babies rather than use a breast pump.