Maternity tech company Elvie has developed a silicone bra insert that allows mothers to pump hands-free from one breast while feeding their baby from the other.
Called Elvie Curve, the design is an evolution of the wearable, wireless Elvie Pump but functions without the need for batteries or a motor.
Instead, it works through the natural suction created by pressing the flexible cup to the breast and forming a vacuum.
While similar silicone pumps typically resemble large, dangling bottles that are easily dislodged, Elvie Curve looks more like a push-up insert that can be worn inside any nursing bra.
This means it can be used discreetly in public, allowing women to multitask without the need for removing clothes or being tethered to an electrical outlet.
“For too long, women have been made to feel embarrassed and stigmatised about such a natural, beautiful and vital function of their bodies,” Elvie product manager Saskia Hill told Dezeen.
“And they’ve had to do it all with outdated pumps that are restrictive, bulky, uncomfortable and loud.”
To create a more user-friendly experience, the pump consists of a hemispherical silicone cup housed within a hard plastic shell that prevents unwanted compression from the bra.
A clear window at the top allows women to align their nipple with an opening in the pouch before pressing down on the silicone body to create a vacuum.
“Unlike conventional manual breast pumps that require repeated compression to create suction and draw milk out of the breast, silicone breast pumps like Elvie Curve create a vacuum that applies gentle suction by deforming the silicone pouch,” Hill explained.
“Many moms are looking for a way to make the most of the milk produced from the breast they are not using when breastfeeding but they don’t want to deal with the hassle of an electric pump while they have a baby in their hands to feed,” she continued.
“Silicone breast pumps are ideal in this scenario for their simple design.”
Tucking the pump safely away in a bra keeps hands free for holding the baby while preventing the pump from being dislodged by unexpected kicks or grabs.
Users simply have to give the pouch a subtle squeeze every one to two minutes to top up the vacuum.
Elvie Curve was created by a team of female designers, and mothers were consulted throughout the prototyping process to gather feedback about different aspects of the design such as the release mechanism.
“Some shared that they would essentially have to tug the pump away from the breast with a large ‘pop’ and risk spilt milk,” Hill said.
“That led us to build in the pressure release valve, enabling you to comfortably release the pressure before removing the product from the breast and protecting those precious drops of milk.”
Elvie Curve is nominated in the wearable design category at this year’s Dezeen Awards after Elvie Pump took home the top prize in the same category in 2019.
Other projects in the running include a flexible body cast modelled on pangolin scales and a sew-your-own clothing kit for children.