The Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon

Our team is thrilled to produce a weekend with the leading innovators in breastfeeding and postpartum health, along with many mamas, papas, babies, students, and newcomers. This time around we have a focus on equity and inclusive innovation in breastfeeding. We want to catalyze the development of tech, products, spaces, clothing, programs and services that have an eye on affordability and access as well as cultural diversity.

The event takes place at the MIT Media Lab (75 Amherst St, Cambridge, MA 02139).


Friday, April 27th, 6PM-9PM:

6PM - 6:30PM:  Music and Food

6:30 PM - 7:00PM: Icebreakers and Intros

7PM - 7:15PM: Welcome and the Origin Story 

7:15PM - 7:45PM: The Big Picture with Kimberly Seals Allers: Breastfeeding, Equity, Policy, Innovation

7:45PM - 8:45PM: A launch of the book, "Speaking our Truths: 27 Stories of What it's Really Like to Breastfeed and Pump in the United States" with parents from across the country

Saturday, April 28th

8AM - 9AM: Registration & Breakfast

9AM - 9:15AM: Welcome from Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab

9:15AM - 9:45AM: Keynote – Why We Are Here
By: Catherine D'Ignazio, Binta Beard, Becky Michelson, Alexis Hope, Kate Krontiris, and Jenn Roberts

9:45AM - 11AM: Equity & Innovation Workshop

11AM- 12:30PM:  Hackathon Orientation, Idea Sharing, and Team Formation

Hear from Alexis about the structure of the weekend. Share your ideas for the future of breastfeeding with the rest of the participants! After a round of 60-second pitches, join or form a team.


12:30PM - 1:45PM: Lunch. Check out the Innovators Gallery, Art Exhibition, Zine Library, and Baby Village

1:15PM - 1:45PM: Lamia’s Lactation Lottery in the 3rd Floor Innovators Gallery. Bring your ticket from registration to see if you won a prize!

(Optional) 2PM - 3PM: Wikipedia Editing Training by Phoebe Ayers, Hackathon Room

1:45PM - 5:30PM: Time to hack! Spend some time exploring the research book with your teammates. Check out the materials table, 3D printers, sewing station, and more to get some ideas!

6PM - 6:30PM: Closing Circle: Group up with your fellow hackers to reflect on the day and tell us your plans for tomorrow!

6:30PM: Dinner

(Optional) 7PM - 8PM: Zero Weeks Documentary Screen and Panel, the Policy Room

Come watch an insightful documentary that weaves together stories from policy makers, economists, researchers, and activists to lay out compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. The film’s award-winning director Ky Dickens will facilitate dialogue before and after film, along with Nicole Rodriguez from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and Adrianna Logalbo from 1000 Days.  

(Optional) 7PM: Mocktails in the Pumpspotting RV

Sunday, April 29th

8AM - 9AM: Breakfast

9AM - 12PM: Hacking

(Optional) 10:30AM - 11:30AM: Wikipedia Editing Training by Phoebe Ayers, 6th Floor Lecture Hall

12:15PM - 12:30PM: “Innovation Show-and-Tell” Announcement

(Optional) 12:30PM - 1:00PM: Book Signing: The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business, and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding by Kimberly Seals Allers

12:30PM - 1:45PM: Lunch. Check out the Innovators Gallery, Art Exhibition, Zine Library, and Baby Village.

(Optional) 1PM: Artist Talks: Lakisha Cohill and Aimee Gillmore, 6th Floor Lecture Hall

1:45PM - 2:30PM: Prepare for “Innovation Show-and-Tell”

2:30PM - 4PM: “Innovation Show-and-Tell” & Judging!

4PM - 5PM: Awards Ceremony and Community Commitments

How is this hackathon different than the first?

The Future of Breastfeeding means that we innovate systems, services and care in addition to breast pumps and products. The Future of Breastfeeding means that we center equity in the innovation process. 

At the first hackathon in 2014, we primarily focused on the breast pump. We are proud to say that a LOT of innovation has happened in the breast pump and lactation space since then. New pumps by Medela, Willow, Lansinoh and Spectra have come to market. New services like Pacify and Ellie are filling in systemic gaps in lactation support in the US. 

But these new products and services are coming in at a high price point and aren't fully covered by insurance. Breastfeeding isn't free, it isn't easy, and it's only even remotely thinkable as a choice when you have the time to be with your baby and establish your milk supply. Yet only 14% of parents in the US have access to paid leave and 25% of women return to work 10 days after giving birth. These parents could have the best, smartest, quietest breast pumps in the world and it wouldn't solve the problem that they have to choose between nursing their babies and paying their rent. That is a choice between your baby's health and your family's home, and it's not fair.

So this time around we are addressing innovation systems, services and care in addition to breast pumps and products. We are hosting the Make Family Leave Not Suck Policy Summit, supporting examples of wide-ranging community-centered innovation to the hackathon, and centering the voices of women of color, low-income workers, and LGBTQ+ parents who have stories of breastfeeding triumphs despite structural racism, classism, patriarchy and other systems of oppression. 

What will teams work on?

At the hackathon, teams will definitely work on improving breast pumps. But they will also work on other kinds of breastfeeding-supportive technologies like apps to connect parents to real-time lactation lactation consultants and data visualizations of the places most in need of breastfeeding support. Teams might also work on lactation-friendly spaces, handy accessories, and functional as well as stylish nursing clothing. And not everything has to involve tech or products - teams can also work on designing programs and services. There is a lot to do to support mamas and parents and babies!

What about my baby or toddler? What about nursing and pumping?

Babies and toddlers are welcome at the event! If your application is successful, then we welcome you to bring your small kiddos aged 3 and under. While liability costs prohibit us from offering daycare on-site, we extend the invitation to all accepted participants to bring a partner, friend or caregiver to the event to help watch your baby while you participate. We also plan to have a “Baby Village” lounge with plenty of toys, snacks and baby wipes so that babies and parents are happy.  Breastfeeding and/or pumping is welcome throughout the space; private spaces will also be available for these activities, for participants’ comfort.

How can I participate?

Participation is by application and applications closed on March 1st. We will notify applicants whether we are able to accept them by March 25th. 

How can my organization or company participate?

Please get in touch if you are interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities.


Outreach Partners