The breast pump’s last significant redesign was in 1956, the year Elvis Presley released his first single.
That changed in 2015 when, while on vacation, Samantha Rudolph read The New York Times blog article that asked, “Shouldn’t the breast pump be as elegant as an iPhone and as quiet as a Prius by now?”
Although she and husband Jared Miller hadn’t yet started a family, she imagined the discomfort of being hooked up to a noisy and unwieldy machine.
Miller recounted that she turned to him and said, “Women deserve so much better than this.”
The couple worked nights and weekends to develop a new design. Rudolph, who was working as an executive consultant, read medical literature and interviewed moms to pinpoint what would make the pumping experience significantly better.
She and Miller, an electrical and systems engineer, designed a prototype that eliminated the device’s hallmark bulky bottle attachments and loud noises so women could pump discreetly, quietly and comfortably.
A key component that enabled the new product, called The Pump by Babyation, is a pair of valves that controls the vacuum function. Solenoid valves on older breast pumps are noisy; the couple realized that in order to fundamentally change the pumping experience they needed to find a silent valve.
Pumping new life into an old design
Sourcing a valve proved to be a challenge. For its initial trials, Missouri-based Babyation experimented with a wide variety of valves from several domestic and international sources. Some valves were too loud, others too expensive and some didn’t meet the need for a long life cycle.
Then Miller reached out to Emerson’s ASCO medical team to solve the startup’s dilemma.
“We understood how important it was for Babyation to source a silent valve — without delaying its tight production timeline,” Emerson business development manager David Wyandt said.