PARENTING
08/01/2016 12:22 pm ET

200 Years Of Breast Pumps, In 18 Images

Fascinating.

The breast pump is an invaluable invention that allows nursing moms to travel independently, avoid infection and be able to continue breastfeeding while in the workforce.

While the use of mechanical devices to extract breast milk dates back to ancient Greece, the earliest recorded breast pump patents in the U.S. appeared the mid-19th century. Fascination with the history of these inventions persists, as there are articles dedicated to tracing their roots and even antique breast pumps listed for sale on sites like Etsy.

Looking at older images of breast pumps, they seem rather outdated and yet in many ways, very familiar. We looked through photo archives and compiled a roundup of historical images and original designs of breast pumps.

Without further ado, here are 18 fascinating glimpses into their history. Modern mamas, be happy you don’t have to contend with some of these.

  • 1
    Breast pump, late 18th century. "Glass collecting bowl with brass syringe. Breast pumps were used to help women express
    Claire Richardson/Science Museum/Getty Images
    Breast pump, late 18th century. "Glass collecting bowl with brass syringe. Breast pumps were used to help women express milk when breastfeeding."
  • 2
    "Pump for extracting breast fluid." Woodcut. 1830.
    Bettmann/Getty Images
    "Pump for extracting breast fluid." Woodcut. 1830.
  • 3
    Breast pump patent for Orwell H. Needham, Jun. 20, 1854. Text excerpt: "The flexible shield has the following
    Breast pump patent for Orwell H. Needham, Jun. 20, 1854. Text excerpt: "The flexible shield has the following advantages: First, those of softness and elasticity, by which a great degree of pain and irritation caused by the use of glass is obviated in cases of sore nipples or inflamed parts; secondly, the india rubber shield will not act as a ligature on the lacteal vessels in breast pumping, which is likely to occur with a glass shield, and lastly by properly managing the pump and supplying air to the glass through the vent hole in the tube the effect and sensation produced upon the nipple and breast are exactly similar to those produced by a sticking child, the shield collapsing down upon the nipple like the pressure of the child's tongue and other parts of the mouth."
  • 4
    Breast pump patent for Robert C. Gray and Charles E. Gassin, filed Aug 11, 1874. Text excerpt: "Our invention relat
    Breast pump patent for Robert C. Gray and Charles E. Gassin, filed Aug 11, 1874. Text excerpt: "Our invention relates to an improved breast pump, combining with a flexible tube and removable air-chamber a removable cap or diaphragm, for imparting suction to a tubular flexible rubber cushion for the nipple, substantially as hereinafter set forth and claimed."
  • 5
    Image from "An American text-book of obstetrics. For practitioners and students," 1897.
    Image from "An American text-book of obstetrics. For practitioners and students," 1897.
  • 6
    Patent for Joseph H. Hoover. Publication date: May 3, 1898. Filing date: Aug 9, 1897. Excerpt: "The purpose of my invent
    Patent for Joseph H. Hoover. Publication date: May 3, 1898. Filing date: Aug 9, 1897. Excerpt: "The purpose of my invention is to avoid all of these objectionable features, the object aimed at being to provide a breast-pump not so sudden in its action as to produce pain when the breast is distended and sore and at the same time produce a continuous flow of milk accompanied with the pulsating movement which occurs when an infant is at the breast."
  • 7
    Breast pump patent for Joseph Lane Hancock, filed Dec 16, 1889. Text excerpt: "The design consists of a cylindrical body
    Breast pump patent for Joseph Lane Hancock, filed Dec 16, 1889. Text excerpt: "The design consists of a cylindrical body, terminating at the forward end in a coneshaped breaseplate and at the rear end in a nipple."
  • 8
    Image from "Infant-feeding in its relation to health and disease," by Louis Fischer, 1903.
    Image from "Infant-feeding in its relation to health and disease," by Louis Fischer, 1903.
  • 9
    Breast pump patent for Hubert H Halstead, filed Mar 6, 1903. Text excerpt: "The purpose of my invention is to provi
    Breast pump patent for Hubert H Halstead, filed Mar 6, 1903. Text excerpt: "The purpose of my invention is to provide a simple, durable, and economic form of breast-pump capable of being conveniently applied and operated by the person to whom the application is made and which will cling tenaciously to the breast during the operation of drawing the milk, but which may be almost instantly released when desired, and,furthermore, to provide a construction of pump or air-exhausting device which will not have a tendency to make the breast sore."
  • 10
    Breast pump patent for Joel S Gilbert, filed Mar 13, 1906. Text excerpt: "[M]y improvement comprises a shield
    Breast pump patent for Joel S Gilbert, filed Mar 13, 1906. Text excerpt: "[M]y improvement comprises a shield adapted to be applied to the nipple of the breast, a single tube affixed to the neck of the cup, a tubular fork ... a tube on each branch end of the fork and a collapsible suction bulb or bulbs, made of resilient material, connected with the branch tubes, and by the re-expansion of which bulbs, after having been collapsed, a suction is exerted through the ducts of my device."
  • 11
    Image from "Dr. Evans' How to keep well," 1917.
    The Library of Congress/Internet Archive
    Image from "Dr. Evans' How to keep well," 1917.
  • 12
    Image from "The breast: its anomalies, its diseases, and their treatment," 1917.
    Image from "The breast: its anomalies, its diseases, and their treatment," 1917.
  • 13
    History Of Medicine, Breast Pump, 1930.
    BSIP/UIG/Getty Images
    History Of Medicine, Breast Pump, 1930.
  • 14
    Breast pump patent for Woodard Colby, filed Nov 3, 1926. Text excerpt: "In the present invention, I provide means whereb
    Breast pump patent for Woodard Colby, filed Nov 3, 1926. Text excerpt: "In the present invention, I provide means whereby only a small amount of air is necessarily admitted to interrupt the suction, and the pulsations are created directly in the bell mouth tube without materially interrupting the vacuum in the milk receptacle or suction tube."
  • 15
    Breast pump patent for Erik Lindqvist, filed Sep 18, 1929. Text excerpt: "The present invention relates to an auxiliary
    Breast pump patent for Erik Lindqvist, filed Sep 18, 1929. Text excerpt: "The present invention relates to an auxiliary device for the suckling of babies, which is to be used in the first time after delivering of a child if the suction power of the child is too little or the nipples have to be protected against inflammation."
  • 16
    History Of Medicine, Milk Pump, Museum Of Notre-Dame a La Rose Hospital In Lessines, Belgium.
    BSIP/UIG/Getty Images
    History Of Medicine, Milk Pump, Museum Of Notre-Dame a La Rose Hospital In Lessines, Belgium.
  • 17
    Breast pump patent for Dietrich Von Grolman, filed Jul 26, 1939. Text excerpt: "Said novel breast pump is desi
    Breast pump patent for Dietrich Von Grolman, filed Jul 26, 1939. Text excerpt: "Said novel breast pump is designed. to enable the extraction of the milk to be performed in strict accordance with the sensitivity of the patient and the device may also be used for massage and for stimulation of the glands."
  • 18
    Breast pump patent for Paul W. Saunders, filed Jul 11, 1945. Text excerpt: "The apparatus is designed particularly for s
    Breast pump patent for Paul W. Saunders, filed Jul 11, 1945. Text excerpt: "The apparatus is designed particularly for self use in maternity wards."
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