Breastfeeding is touted as one of the best and healthiest things for new babies, so why is it so stinking hard for working moms to find a place to express breast milk? It’s no surprise to many nursing (or pumping-only) moms to find out that mothers everywhere are pumping in weird, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright gross situations.
In fact, there’s even an organization that started in retaliation to milky moms’ fight for clean and appropriate pumping spaces at work. Among other issues, MomsRising advocates for nursing moms to highlight their experiences and demand change. Which is fantastic, because moms who are making milk for their babies shouldn’t be resigned to pumping in their cars or hiding in closets hoping no one walks in.
Here are the fifteen worst places moms have had to pump, and this is just the beginning of awful pumping locations moms have dealt with while nursing.
15 Do It Standing
Mom Audrey shared this snap via Twitter, in which she’s standing in her company’s bathroom while pumping. We applaud this mom’s courage in pumping in the wide-open, since a lot of moms are shy about pumping and would prefer to huddle in a corner. We’d hazard a guess that she could be walked in on any time, since this looks like a bathroom with multiple stalls.
Obviously the outlet location isn’t ideal, since she’s forced to stand to pump, and there’s no way she can hide if someone walks in. Plus, when women are washing their hands at the sink, she could get spritzed with water. Luckily, Audrey says this was at her last job, so we hope she’s moved on to a better workplace with a dedicated lactation room!
14 McDonald’s Slammed For Bathroom Pumping
Huffington Post reported on a fast-food worker who returned to her job after having a baby. After breast feeding for the three months she was home with her new baby, the mom wanted to continue making milk by pumping on her breaks. Even though her manager required a doctor’s note, which the mom provided, her supervisors refused to give the mom a private area to pump that met the legal requirements for nursing moms on the job.
This determined mama resorted to pumping in the (public) bathroom at the McDonald’s location, which is bad enough, but then her manager forbid her the use of even a dirty public restroom to express milk for her baby. The employee had to clock out, travel to a nearby library, and use their bathroom to pump in. Ultimately legal action earned better conditions for lactating mamas at this particular store.
13 While Moving At Top Speeds
Mom Jen shares on Twitter that while on an Amtrak train, she had to pump in a cramped and dirty bathroom. There also wasn’t a lactation room at the Chicago Union Station, which she stopped at during her travels. Being on a train has to be one of the worst places to pump just because it’s moving so fast, and we hope Jen keeps a good hold on the milk so she doesn’t end up sloshing it all over the place.
Being in close quarters with a bunch of other people isn’t fun anyway, but being stuck on a train and needing to pump, only to find out that you have to use the bathroom truly sucks. Maybe this tweet will spur change with Amtrak, and they’ll at least add some lactation rooms to their station facilities.
12 Stains Of Past Pumpers
Mom’s serving up milk for her baby, so the name might be appropriate, but the location is lacking in a few basic pumping amenities. Apart from an outlet, nursing moms need a (somewhat clean) surface to set their pump and the resulting milk on. As KUOW employee Isolde Raftery wrote after her return to work following maternity leave, lactating moms plug their pumps in to an extension cord that hangs from the ceiling.
The dated office chair is stained with old milk spills, and there doesn’t appear to be a sink or other counter space. Any mom who’s done the pumping and pouring routine knows that there’s a high chance of spilling milk if you’re trying to hold one bottle between your knees while pouring the other one into it. But hey, at least this location has a door that locks.
11 The Irony Of Dairy Storage
KUOW shared this image of mom Stephanie Parker’s pumping space, which happens to be a storage room at the dairy export company she works for. This pumping mom says the irony of pumping in the dairy supply room isn’t lost on her, and the room does have one thing going for it- it’s not in a bathroom.
By the looks of it, there might even be a fridge in the back corner, although that office chair doesn’t look very comfortable for pumping moms. Plus, is there a sink in this room? We doubt it. So mom probably has to wash her pump parts and store the milk in the bathroom, or risk embarrassment or judgment from coworkers if she uses the employee break room. Then again, since it’s a dairy facility, maybe they won’t mind.
10 Soggy In More Ways Than One
Every nursing or pumping mom is used to getting a little soggy from time to time from spills, but it looks like this pumping scenario has the potential to turn into a full-body drenching. We suppose that a shower is a step up from a toilet area as far as bathrooms go, but a shower with an uncomfortable chair isn’t our idea of the best milk-producing ambiance.
The worst thing about this pumping setup, a group of moms told KUOW, is that this medical center actually has lactation rooms. A group of moms (eight of them for this one shower stall) can’t make it to the lactation room in the time they have to pump. It’s either don’t pump at all, or pump in the shower room, and for these nursing moms, it’s clear that making milk is a priority.
9 This Mom Almost Broke The Internet
Mom and social worker Mazzalai Nguyen became internet famous when she shared a pic of herself pumping in a hotel lobby. She told US Magazine that she was fed up with the staff at the hotel she was attending a seminar at, since they shut down every reasonable request she made for a space to pump.
Their excuses ranged from they didn’t have any clean rooms to put her in (Nguyen says she found vacant rooms on Expedia), to the hotel’s conference room doors didn’t lock (Nguyen said she didn’t care), to only the General Manager had a private office and it had glass windows (Nguyen also didn’t mind this option). In the end, Nguyen sat down on what we hope was a comfy chair in the hotel’s lobby, set up her pump, and got to work making her baby’s milk. We hope she gave the staff what-for too.
8 Milk Making On The Fly - Literally
It’s hard to pump when traveling- even if you’re only driving 20 minutes from home. Packing supplies, tubing, the pump, extra bottles, and a cooler with ice is just the beginning. Add luggage and layovers to that mess, and you’ve got a pumping mom who learns to dread traveling. Plus, TSA requirements state moms can take pumped milk on the plane, but we’ve seen one too many social media posts about agents who unceremoniously dump out moms’ milk anyway.
At least this mom found an outlet and was daring enough to pump in a public spot! For moms who travel a lot for their jobs, their first priority is often to find a pumping-friendly location. Even if the bathroom was her first choice for some semblance of privacy (without considering the ick factor), outlets aren’t always conveniently located.
7 Flooring It For Baby
This mom will do anything to get her baby fed, including sitting on a germ-infested bathroom floor to pump milk. It’s infuriating to see moms pumping in bathrooms in the first place, but this mom’s employer didn’t even provide a chair. Luckily her pump is a portable, battery-powered one, so she’s not tied to an outlet to get the milk out.
We suppose sitting on the floor is a better alternative than sitting on the open toilet, since it doesn’t seem to have a lid, plus we imagine there are germs on every surface in there. It almost makes me grateful for the times I had to pump in a bathroom, because at least I was responsible for cleaning it, so I knew it would be somewhat sanitary. That, and I had a spot to sit that wasn’t an open toilet.
6 Multitasking Like Only A Mother Could
With MomsRising’s hashtag, #ipumpedhere, this mom shares her less-than-ideal pumping situation. We imagine she’s parked for this pumping selfie, but at least she’s handsfree, so she probably pumps on the road too. Of course, many moms do, especially those with a long commute or lack of pumping location if they travel during the workday.
What sucks about this pumping location is she has to either run her AC or heat, depending on the weather, and people walking by can just look in while she’s parked. Definitely not the privacy of those cushy pumping rooms that we’ve seen elsewhere. Plus, she then has to transport the milk, and what happens if she spills some in her car? Rancid mama milk smells just as good as any other spoiled milk, but now it’ll be all over the car.
5 School’s In (Pumping) Session
This pic bugs us for so many reasons, but we’ll start with the fact that there’s an extension cord running under the door for mama’s pump. As if lugging a pump and supplies and bottles around isn’t enough, this mom also has to find and plug in an extension cord, drag a couple chairs into the bathroom, then get started pumping. We sincerely hope she has enough time in her schedule to fit in the actual milk making, because this setup would have us dreading each pumping session.
Whether she’s a teacher or school staff, there’s no excuse for this mama not having a more sanitary and convenient place to pump, considering that many teachers have offices, plus there has to be a nurse’s room or something, right? Wouldn’t a first aid setup room make more sense than an unhygienic bathroom that doesn’t even have counter space or an outlet?
4 Unwelcome Visitors
Another contribution to MomsRising campaign, this cluttered photo shows a variety of supplies in a storage room with very little space for mom and her set of milk makers. Is that chair with the box on it where she’s supposed to sit? And are those cords plugged in somewhere, or is there an outlet buried behind the stacks of junk that are piled up?
We’re a little nervous for this mom’s safety, but at least the space has a door that closes and hopefully locks. Still, with the range of supplies that are in here- projector, coffee pots, electrical components- odds are, someone’s going to come looking for an item while this mom is pumping. Every pumping mom dreads hearing someone try the door while they’re pumping, and this is the worst since she’s in storage central for the entire office.
3 The Copy Room Cliche
This awkward setup has us shaking our heads for a few reasons. First, there’s clearly a copy machine right inside the door, likely the primary use of this room. We can imagine a queue lined up to make copies as this mom exits with her pump and freshly made milk. Then there’s the fact that this is some kind of control room- is that a wireless router we spy on the wall?
We hope that tech support or computer engineers don’t need to get in here for any reason, especially when this mom is pumping, because interruptions while you’re trying to make milk are obnoxious and uncomfortable. However, this mom told KUOW that her agency was planning a location move, and that the new space would have a dedicated lactation room. Hang in there, mama!
2 Taking Care Of Business Times Two
Mom Lee Ann Yonker shared on Twitter that she was going to Vegas for business, and that her little girl was back at home. We’re sorta jealous of this mom because she wrote that she has Freemie Cups, which every nursing and exclusively pumping mom lusts after! Freemies are a hands-free pump that includes cups that fit into your bra. So it’s not that shocking that this mom was pumping in the airport and inside a casino, because her pump is fairly discreet.
Other than the odd tubes coming from her chest, this mom’s pumping situation isn’t that noticeable. However, pumping in a smoky casino isn’t our idea of enjoyable milk making, especially knowing that we’ll probably have to visit a bathroom after to pour the milk into bottles and store it. Then again, maybe this mom has a hotel room and a fridge, in which case this might not be the worst pumping scenario we’ve seen.
1 Uncomfortable In Every Way
This mom told KUOW that her office is too small for her to pump in, and her company doesn’t offer a lactation room for milky mamas. At least she has a portable pump, so she’s not tied to an outlet for power, but it can’t be comfortable pumping in her car. Trust me, I’ve been there, in 80 degree temps with the windows up and trying to hide from coworkers as they walked past my car.
We also wonder though if this mom shares an office with coworkers, and maybe that’s why she pumps in her car rather than negotiate better pumping conditions. At least this way, her entire office doesn’t know that she’s taking a pumping break, because we know some uneducated types feel squeamish when we talk about making milk for our babies.
Sources: MomsRising.com, KUOW.org, HuffingtonPost.com, USMagazine.com, Twitter