Headed by Susan Thompson, Kohana Inc. has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the development of new breast-milk pumping technology.
Kohana's Gala pump was a result of the MIT Hackathon, where a competition was held to design a better breast pump (manual or electric devices that extract milk from the breast). The Gala pump is radically different from most of the pumps that are available today.
The Gala pump uses compression to draw milk from the glands at the base of the breast, rather than creating a suction between the breast and the plastic cone of an electric pump. The electric pump imitates the technique of hand compression which women have been using for centuries to extract milk from lactating breasts without using heavy machinery.
The Gala pump feels more like blood pressure cuff but less painful which is a benefit to moms since they find the usual conventional pumps to be uncomfortable. When its time for mothers to pump milk at work, they usually do it in bathroom stalls and storage closets so that privacy is assured. But Gala pump eliminates this situation.
The Kohana's pump is made up of a special bra that has extra space in each cup of the bra for "inflatable bladders". When you turn the pump on or start manually pumping (device works either ways), the little bags or "inflatable bladders" fill up with milk. Since the pump is battery-operated, women don't have to plug it into a wall.
The setting up of the device simply involves placing the milk-collecting bags inside the bra and then turning the pump on. After that, mothers can button up their shirts and get back to work. In fact, women can even sit at their desks and do work while pumping.
Thompson has already tested the product on breastfeeding moms and is preparing a trial to compare the total milk volumes expressed over 15 minutes from her compression pump with the standard vacuum breast pumps in the market.
She has worked with experts in the field to design this experiment and has collaborated with Northeast Biomedical, a medical device company, to manufacture the prototypes that the subjects will use. In total, the trial is set to cost $110,000.