New Breast Pump Could Benefit Pharmacists

JANUARY 12, 2018
I just had a kid, or rather, my wife delivered a son a few months ago. It was quite an exciting day, followed by friends, family, and the lactation consultant asking about our plans to feed our son.
 
Now, we had been talking about this for some time, and the one big concern facing us was that my wife is also a pharmacist and works in the community retail setting. This was a big issue for us, as there is practically no suitable space to pump when at work. (I mean, you have the small breakroom potentially with everyone else, or the slightly unhygienic public restroom.) My wife didn't want to breastfeed him very long as she anticipated going back to work and not being able to pump.

Then, I came across a new digital health product that seemed geared towards women like my wife, someone that didn't have the time to sit down for 20-30 minutes and pump. This is a cordless and rather seamless design (compared to other breast pumps currently on the market) that could slide into a bra, be out of sight, and, amazingly, silent. This product, called Willow, is a new breast pump currently in beta.1 It hopes to be released this year.

The pump will sell for $480, which is a significant cost compared to other pumps, and milk is collected in disposable 4 oz bags (24-pack for $11.99). I would say that this is a potentially expensive system, considering that I doubt it will be covered by most insurances, and the lack of reusable bags can increase the costs. But for pharmacists, this system could be all the difference in having a comfortable set-up.
 
My wife had signed up to enroll but did not get into the beta. The other issue is that, unfortunately, our son developed some feeding issues after a few weeks and had to go on formula. So, she was not able to test out the Willow. But, discussing the future, she would still love to have one. So, for a change, I'll interview my wife and let her talk about why she was/is excited about this product and how it can help other breastfeeding mothers. 
 
Question: What do think is the coolest factor about Willow from what you have seen?
 
Answer: "I love the hands-free and discreet nature of it. I had looked at the other hands-free versions available on the market, but they still require you to undress and sit with bottles sticking out from your chest. Willow fits inside your bra, allowing you to continue about business as usual, whether that be checking prescriptions at work or playing with our son.
 
Q: Why do you think this could be a good product for other pharmacists who are pumping at work?
 
A: I think it'll allow those women, especially those who work in retail chain establishments, to feel like they don't have to sacrifice time from the bench to go pump. I know that even though my employer would allow me to pump during my shift, it would have to be unpaid. That's potentially lost income for thousands of women. And if you're the only pharmacist working, it makes things very difficult.
 
Q: Who do you think may be the best to benefit from this product?
 
A: I think pretty much any woman can benefit from it, even stay-at-home moms. It was so frustrating when I'd be in the middle of pumping, and the baby would start crying. I knew my production would get messed up if I stopped pumping, but the baby needed me. Had I had Willow, I would have been able to take care of him and still pumped. If I had to pick one group of women, though, I would say those working in demanding jobs that require them to be on their feet and in the view of the public most of the day, like retail pharmacists, nurses, and teachers.
 

I think Willow has a great market, especially women in the healthcare field, such as nurses, doctors, PAs, etc. Now, I am not saying that having a system like Willow necessarily means that women have to work and pump at the same time, but for situations where it could be beneficial, this platform has a lot of promise. It's my hope that I can have my wife write about her experience in the next few years, but if you happen to end up with a Willow, contact me and we can write about your experience.

 
1. Willow. www.willowpump.com/
 
 
 


Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
SHARE THIS
1147