Tuesday’s PediaBlog post examined the safety of breast milk available on Internet breast milk exchanges. These exchanges, or breast milk banks, wouldn’t be possible without a machine called the breast pump. Megan Garber has a brief history of these now ubiquitous devices in The Atlantic:
The first pumps were patented in the mid-19th century, typically as medical devices used to treat inverted nipples and to help infants who were too small or too weak to nurse. But as widely available consumer products, they’ve been around for only a little more than 20 years. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Swiss manufacturer Medela introduced its first electric-powered, vacuum-operated breast pump—a pump not intended for in-hospital use—in the U.S. Since then, Jill Lepore noted in a 2009 New Yorker piece, the device’s sales quadrupled. Pumps have become such a common parental aide that new mothers, when discharged from hospitals after giving birth, are often provided with a complimentary pump as a parting gift.
Read Garber’s story, which includes sketches of the first patented breast pumps, here.