Photo by Vanessa Simmons of Normalize Breastfeeding

The Winners of the 2018 Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon

And why we chose celebration over competition

Everyone won at the #MITBreastFest on April 27–29th, 2018, when 300+ people gathered to catalyze innovation in products, research, storytelling, and policy-making, all with a focus on equity. Participants were galvanized by keynote talks on systemic change, equity x design workshops, and boob-shaped cupcakes that served during the launch of the book, 27 Stories of What It’s Really Like to Breastfeed and Pump in the United States. There was dedicated time for empathy with those effected most by breastfeeding inequities alongside playful and vibrant artwork and installations. Everyone won through absorbing formal and informal learning experiences, meeting like-minded passionate people, and collaborating across diverse skillsets while hacking.

To celebrate the diversity of ideas (rather than incentivizing hierarchical competition), we offered twelve relationship- and experience-based prizes. Read more about this strategic process, led by Willow Brugh in her post, “Judging Towards Equity, Not Individualism”. All of the prize descriptions along with the judging information can be found here.

Who Won?

Transformation Award​ (W.K. Kellogg Foundation)

Team MommaSanctuary, led by Chelesa Presley, is building a live-in community in the Mississippi Delta serving housing insecure pregnant and postpartum women with a focus on breastfeeding, postpartum care, parenting and women empowerment.

Healthy Communities Award​ (W.K. Kellogg Foundation)

Team Indigenous Women Rising modified traditional regalia to be more breastfeeding friendly so that Pueblo women could participate more freely in their traditions.

Impact Award​ (Medela)

The Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project focuses on the birth of a statewide movement to bring forth birth and breastfeeding equity in MS communities of color from the roots up. They are designing a wrap around approach that involves whole families, doulas, and the community.

Superhero Award​ (MomsRising)

Team Harambee Care crafted a lactation empowerment plan for women of color to self-advocate for breastfeeding. “My Lactation Plan” is designed to increase access to timely lactation support based on acuity, foster self empowerment and self advocacy as well as remove specific determinants of lactation care barriers. It is a tool that will be used over a period of time during visits with pregnant mothers and their support team.

Media for Change Award​ (MIT Media Lab)

Irth is an app conceived of by Kimberly Seals Allers to fight bias in the healthcare system. Irth is Yelp for the health equity movement. It helps users find a hospital and doctor rating & review from someone similar to their socio-demographic profile. Irth builds awareness and accountability about bias in care and gives the power of knowledge
back to the people.

Technology Frontiers Award​ (Lansinoh)

Virtual Letdown, spearheaded by Pinar Delul, is a virtual reality app that aims to increase oxytocin levels
and help letdown for moms by transforming pumping pods, toilets, and at work into a nursery that is decorated with pictures, videos and sounds of their babies.

Global Mom Appeal Award​ (Pureen)

Udder for non-traditional breastpad design aims to bring normalcy back to Moms during postpartum, by bringing innovation and humanity to our products. The duo- Camille Sabino and Hannah Park are working on a first product of re-usable and sustainable lactating pads, that are functional, hygienic, and help moms feel like they are ready to take back their life and take on the world.

And Still We Rise Award​ (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere)

Team BreastFedEd is formed by students Skylar Tate and Ayanna Smith with guidance from Dr. Tyra Gross of Xavier University. Their project is a health education program to increase breastfeeding awareness among HBCU students, which first starts with a needs assessment to determine baseline knowledge and attitudes. Through this they hope to provide students with a foundational knowledge around breastfeeding for their future as parents, health professionals, and community members promoting health equity.

Start-Up Starter Pack​ (Moxxly)

Team VIP, spearheaded by Chelsea-Joy Wardle, works on breastfeeding solutions for visually impaired parents.

Information is Power Award​ (Spectra)

LacPack is a kit for lactation in disaster. It is a portable, affordable, water-proof preparedness kit designed for mass distribution to families with infants and health workers, before and during disasters and crises. The toolkit includes an illustrated educational booklet on techniques such as hand expression and psychological first aid, and infant feeding supplies designed to protect breastfeeding and feed babies safely in moments of crisis. This team includes leadership from Latona Giwa and Nikki Greenway of the New Orleans Breastfeeding Center as well as Lactation Consultant and Equity & Inclusion Strategist Nekisha Killings

The Connections Award​ (Ameda)

The Vital Village Community Transformers project, led by local community leaders in Boston, is clearing the path for more lactation professionals of color by the use of public health art. They aim to take the first picture of 100 women or more of color breastfeeding on August 11, 2018. This effort will launch their Black Breastfeeding week Boston initiative.

Listening by Design Award​ (Continuum)

Team MamaShelf prototyped a pop-up shelf that allows a mom on the go to comfortably pump in public, often unsanitary spaces. They’ve focused the design to help moms who face these challenges everyday because if you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to have a letdown. Team members include Jon Gillan of Pumpin’ Pal and Christine Ernest Short.

Who were the judges?

The judging process was facilitated by Willow Brugh. Read more about the judging strategy toward equity here.

Stay tuned with the #breastfeedinginnovation movement by following the additional hashtags #MITBreastFest and #makepolicyleavenotsuck. In the coming months, we’ll be reflecting on the equity-driven and cross-disciplinary efforts toward building a better future of breastfeeding.