Menu

This mama is building coronavirus ventilators from old breast pumps

Mom Brandi Gerstner (with fellow engineers) hacked her old pump for a new purpose.

breast pump ventilators
facebook.com/BreastPumpVent

As the United States grapples with the coronavirus, it's becoming more apparent that hospitals need to have ventilators to save lives. The Society of Critical Care Medicine claims that 960,000 coronavirus patients in the United States may need to be put on a ventilator at some point during the outbreak, but sadly our country has only about 200,000.

But in the midst of chaos, a team of engineers in Southern Maryland, believe they can help hospitals save thousands of lives by repurposing breast pumps. Gerstner, along with her husband, Grant Gerstner and Alex Scott and Rachel LaBatt discovered that reversing the suction in the pumps turns them into an "intermittent positive pressure ventilation" device, which is essentially a ventilator.

FEATURED VIDEO

"A breast pump does pulsing intervals. It is a sanitize-able biomedical device that's approved by the Food and Drug Administration. You know they're reliable, they've been used by moms everywhere for decades. What if I could reverse it," Brandi Gerstner explained to The Bay Net. "What if I could make it blow rather than suck? And so I grabbed my old one from the basement, grabbed a screwdriver and an X-Acto knife. Sure enough, you can turn it around very, very easily."

According to the New York Times, ventilators can cost up to $50,000, but the team's device will be around $500. The next step for the team is to get a review from a pulmonologist so that they can have access to a biomedical simulation laboratory, and ultimately get approval from the FDA.

"The beauty of looking at breast pumps as a potential solution is, it's a thing that is available for free in a lot of mom's basements and closets." Gerstner says.

It's a journey, but they aren't giving up. "I'm very hopeful that we can find the right collaborators in the biomedical community to get this design validated and replicated as quickly as possible," says Gerstner. "Our 'good' would look like rapidly getting into a high-quality biomedical simulation lab, and getting into a hospital."

To find out how you can contribute to the cause, donate an old breast pump (any model) or support the engineers, contact them at breastpumpvent@gmail.com.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


Keep reading Show less
Shop

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

FEATURED VIDEO

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play