Going to work while still having an infant to take care of is anything but a simple undertaking. Mom has tremendous feelings of guilt for leaving her baby at home or in a daycare facility, in the care of someone else. For breastfeeding moms, the guilt can become even more cumbersome.
Trying to breastfeed while working can be a real challenge, so much so, in fact, that many mothers decide (reluctantly) to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula feeding. For those who do decide to continue breastfeeding, they may opt to pump while they are at work. Not only does pumping at work provide their baby with the valuable breast milk that he or she needs, but it helps the mom avoid encouragement.
Plus, it can help mom stay more connected to her little one while she is at work. However, be that as it may, pumping while on the job can be trying for the breastfeeding mom, especially if she works for a company that doesn’t provide a supportive environment to pump in.
Thanks to the federal law, breast feeding mothers who are paid on an hourly basis are entitled to a break and a place to do their pumping while at work. But despite the steps that have been taken towards helping breastfeeding mothers there are still a lot of trials that mothers who choose to pump while at work endure.
For those moms who just started back to work after having their baby and they decided to pump on the job, or one who is thinking about pumping at work when they do return, they might want to know if what they are experiencing is normal, or what you should expect when you do start pumping at work.
Reading what others are moms in the same situation have gone through, or are going through, might encourage them to continue and power through it, or confirm their decision. We interviewed 15 women who were generous enough to share some of their experiences of pumping at work.
15 Not Having Any Privacy Is Hard
When Lilian went back to work, she had made the decision to continue giving her baby breast milk. “I was the first one at my office to have a baby so there were no facilities for mothers. After a week of using the bathroom, I decided to approach the management and check whether I could get better conditions."
"When I talked to the management, I was offered the conference room to act as the lactation room. This was a great option but the problem came with my co-workers who would drop in unannounced in to the room even during the times I had scheduled for pumping."
"As there was no lock on the door, people kept walking into the room and disturbing my pumping session that I was unable to produce the milk I needed. I ended up going back to the washroom just to get some privacy,” Lilian told us.
14 I Went From Pumping In A Cubicle, To Pumping In The Janitor's Closet
When Lena returned to work, she was not sure how she would manage to pump at work but did not want to stop breast feeding. “I was determined to make it work no matter what. But what I did not expect was how hard it would be,” she explains. Her office had an open floor plan with her workstation a cubicle surrounded by many others similar to hers."
"When she approached the management for some assistance, no one seemed to understand. “As most of the management is made up of men there was no one who could relate to what I was saying and their response was that they could give me the corner cubicle where I could add curtains so I could have the privacy I needed."
"Needless to say I ended up using the janitor’s closet and brought in a stool to have something to sit on while I did my pumping.”
13 Spilling Milk At Work Makes You Want To Cry
In-charge of customer relations for her company, Nikki’s days are normally filled with meetings and phone calls with clients. “Juggling a busy day and pumping was always tricky and at times I’d find myself running from a meeting to squeeze in some pumping before another meeting started,” she told us.
“One such day I had meetings back to back with several important clients and I rushed out from one and quickly went into my office to pump some milk before another started. In the hurry, I did not notice that I had started without attaching the bottles only to realize after I felt something trickle down my legs."
"Luckily, I was leaning forward and had a skirt on so the major casualty was my legs and office floor. I was able to clean up quickly with some tissues and go for the next meeting looking presentable. Unfortunately, I did not get any milk pumped that day.”
12 There's No Time In The Day For It
“Working at the front office means that you cannot leave your post during working hours as every visitor or client is supposed to meet someone who can help them on entry as well as answer incoming calls. When I came back from maternity this became another extra hindrance to pumping. I was always busy answering calls and helping out clients that I did not get any chance to pump."
'When I talked to my boss she was very understanding and after a day gave me someone who could help sit in for me while I went to pump. The problem came in when I approached the lady who was to help. She would not come to help at the times I scheduled and always claimed to swamped by work."
"I kept missing my pumping sessions and would only pump once in a day if I was lucky enough. My milk dried up within two weeks,” recalls Tesa.
11 I Always Find Myself In Awkward Situations
“Our small office did not have much space for anything extra, so when I started pumping the only option was the lady’s bathroom. I normally would pump during my lunch breaks or ask one of my colleagues to fill in for me while I took a 10 minute break to pump if it was a busy day. "
"As there was only one lady’s bathroom it would get quite awkward when people tried coming in when I pumping then leave and come back and find me still in there. It was also quite tricky trying to explain why there were baby bottles of breast milk in the office fridge. Sometimes, if people came with too many things there would very little or even none space for me put the milk."
"To avoid this, I started coming with my own cooler packed with ice to keep my milk in while at work,” explains Monica.
10 Pumping And Driving Might Be A Time Saver, But Not More Private
“On most mornings, I am too busy getting the kids ready for school and making sure that they have remembered their homework and lunches that I barely have the time for my morning pump. So after dropping them off at school, I have gotten into the habit of strapping on the pump and pumping as I drive to work."
"On one such morning, I had to stop at a red light and a car pulled up next to me and this guy looked at me and just started staring at me. As the window on the passenger side was down he could clearly see into the car and I turned so red. All I could was wave at him as I quickly rolled up the window and started considering having my windows tinted,” Leah told us.
9 I Had To Work And Pump
“Working in telemarketing means I am always on the phone. When I came back to work, I approached my boss and explained to her that I wanted to continue pumping and therefore needed a place where I could find the privacy and breaks in my schedule to do so. I was told to wait for a few days while she looked for a solution so I used the bathroom or the supply closet whenever I could."
"After two days, I was offered an office to use but with the condition that I would continue to answer and make calls while pumping. I had customers ask what the noise in the background was when I talked to them and I had to pretend that I did not know what they were talking about or that it had something to do with the connection."
"After a week of trying to juggle selling and pumping my milk started becoming less and I decided to just quit and become a stay-at-home mom,” Mercy told us.
8 My Choices Are Either Pump In The Bathroom Or In The Supplies Closet
Erin was super happy when she given a room to be pumping in after she returned from her maternity leave. “I had been so worried that I’d have to use the bathroom like all those other mothers I had read about and so I was ecstatic when the HR assistant told me they would provide me with an empty room to use."
"This helped a lot and I was able to pump enough milk. Unfortunately after the second month, I received an email telling me that the room was now being changed into the copier room. When I tried to pursue the matter I was informed that I had been given sufficient time and they had to make use of the space available."
"So I was back to the dilemma of looking for another place to pump in and would juggle between the supplies closet and a stall in the bathroom,” she said.
7 My Workplace Provided Me An Old Office With A Broken Door
For Naomi, going back to work was a hard decision but as a single mother leaving work wasn’t really an option. “I choose to continue breast feeding as it made me feel like I was still there for my baby and really enjoyed the bonding experience,” she explains, “the only issue was finding a place to get the privacy I needed to pump as I could use the office fridge to store the milk afterwards."
"After talking to human resource, I was given an office and was really happy about it until I went to check it out. I could not lock the door and since the office was opposite the supply and copier room there was always lots of traffic which made pumping difficult as I was always worried someone could just walk in at any time."
"I tried bringing this up with HR but nothing was ever done so I started using the handicapped stall in the toilet instead.”
6 Pumping And Travelling For Work Doesn't Really Work
“As a pharmaceutical rep, my work involves quite a bit of travelling. On one of these trips the plane I was on was diverted to another airport and we had to stay onboard while we waited for a couple of things to be sorted out. So I talked to one the flight attendants and informed her that I needed to pump and got into the bathroom at the back."
"While in there several people came by knocking and I could hear them talking outside and even asking what was going on. After 5 minutes it was quite obvious that a line had started outside the door and soon an attendant got on the intercom informing everyone that there was a haul-up at the back bathroom and instead use the one at the front."
"It was quite embarrassing to get out of the bathroom as everyone immediately assumed I had a bad stomach,” Natalie told us.
5 Sometimes I Have To Pump As Soon As I Get To Work
As a mom to three kids as well as working full time, Andrea’s day is always full of activities and when she went back to work, pumping joined the to-do-list. “When trying to navigate a preschooler and a pre-teen on a busy morning and pump at the same time, I always find myself pumping while shouting orders or when running out of the house to the car before I drop the kids off at school."
"Sometimes I don’t even get it done by the time I’m out of the door and have to pump immediately when I get to work. There are other times my morning schedule is too hectic that I end up missing my morning pump and only get to it around 11,” she told us.
Many women find themselves in this situation where there's not enough time to fulfill all the responsibilities they already have and pump at the same time.
4 Sometimes What I Pump Goes To Waste
For Rachel, pumping while at work was not very problematic. But when she took her class for a field trip she found herself facing a new set of problems. “When I took the kids to an animal farm for a class field trip, I did not have the comfort of pumping in my classroom while the kids were at a gym, music or lunch. I had to walk up to the farm’s foreman and ask him if there was any place that was private enough."
"It didn’t look like he understood what I needed but luckily for me his wife came towards us at that moment and I was able to explain to her my predicament. She showed me to a small shed where they stored the animal feed and after giving my fellow teacher a short explanation I was able to do some pumping."
"Unfortunately, as there was no place to store the milk it ended up being wasted as it was spoilt,” Rachel recalls.
3 I Had To Pump And Dump For Two Weeks
“When I went back to work, there were no facilities for breastfeeding mothers so I decided to approach the management and ask for an office and a small fridge. My request was mauled over and accepted, but as all things do, the purchase of the fridge was going to take some time as there was a procedure to be followed."
"In the meantime, an office was made available that provided enough privacy for me to pump. But with no place to keep it cold enough I had to result to throwing it all away. My attempts to preserve it by submerging it in water did not work and for two weeks I watched my precious milk go down the drain. When the fridge was finally delivered I almost cried with joy,” Agnes re-counts.
2 Sometimes My Wardrobe Becomes A Casualty
“Working in business development, I am at times called in for meetings with clients out of the blue. On one such meeting where the client needed me to meet her for lunch and I rushed out with my bags. During the meeting the client had to a call and I took the chance to go into the bathroom to pump, but all I had was a manual pump."
"So I just hooked myself up and started pumping. But since I had always used the automatic ones I did not know that if you pump on one side the other starts leaking. By the time I realized this one side of my bra was completely soaked and had gone through to my blouse."
"One look in the mirror and I knew I could not go back to the meeting looking like that. Luckily, I always carry company branded t-shirts to give out and quickly wore one,” Linda disclosed to us.
1 I Had To Leave Work To Find Privacy And Peace
“As a civil engineer, most of my work is usually out in the field on different sites. When I came back from my maternity leave and started pumping, it became difficult to schedule times for pumping with most of my time spent on dusty construction sites. Finding a private and comfortable place to pump was tricky due to the noise and bustling activities going on."
"After a week of missing pumping sessions or pumping and dumping because I did not have a place to store it, my husband suggested carrying our cooler. So my second week I started putting a reminder for when I needed to pump and started putting my milk in my cooler. I came to realize that if I drove off the site and found a nice secluded place I was able to produce enough milk,” Daisy told us.