Today’s post is from Cassidy. She is going to share her experience with pumping in the workplace today for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. Take it away Cassidy.
Let’s talk about my 30 month experience pumping in the workplace!
I didn’t try to make my new boss as uncomfortable as possible… it just happened. He had only been on the job for a couple of days and this was my first time meeting him.
After shaking his hand politely I went for the jab, “So, I’m a breastfeeding mom. I pump 2-3 times per day and it doesn’t take away from my focus at work.”
He blushed heavily and nodded while trying to think of what to say. Then, putting his hands in front of his chest, looking like he was mimicking what a pump would do to a woman’s chest he said, “Do you have a place to… you know… do it?”
It wasn’t the only embarrassing encounter I had with my boss concerning breastfeeding or pumping. When he and his wife had their first child, he would talk to me about his wife’s breastfeeding pumping habits.
Since I had pumped for my first baby for 15 months while working, he considered me experienced in that arena (as did I), but there’s a time when your boss describing his wife’s nipples in relations to milk bottle nipples started to make me uncomfortable.
It was mutual. When we would have long meetings, I would quietly slip out to pump. In the beginning, my boss would stop meetings but the timing of my pumping sessions became inopportune for him. Eventually, he asked me for a favor.
Boss: “Could you just wink at me or get my attention somehow so I can schedule a break for us?”
Me: “I pump at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.”
Boss: “Just email me and I’ll make it happen.”
The email notification would have shown up on his presentation on the wall for all my co-workers to see…
What would I have written? “Hey boss, gotta pump!”
Or even worse… “Hey boss, how about we take a break?”
With my second baby, I didn’t care as much. I scheduled it on my calendar so there would be no excuses. When my reminder chimed, I left to go pump. When my boss questioned me, I told him that I had it scheduled on my public calendar for all to see.
My co-workers were pretty oblivious at the beginning. One of them started taking phone calls during meetings, thinking that if I was being so nonchalant by leaving meetings for extended times without getting chided, then he could too. The boss had to set everyone straight and told them I was pumping breast milk for my baby so I had freedom to leave if it was needed.
That’s what I’m talking about! This is what every boss needs to do for working, pumping moms!
But then came the new guy…
One time we were meeting at a different location that didn’t have a private room for me to pump in so I went to my car. I saw him from the window on the second floor meeting room watching me get in my car. So I adjusted my sun shades on the windows accordingly so he wouldn’t get a show.
One of my co-workers told me later that the new guy had interrupted the meeting to say that I was making a get-away! Even better, several people in the room corrected him, saying that I was pumping for my baby.
My most uncomfortable moment of pumping while working actually took place after hours. I was driving away from work, all hooked up to pump while driving on the way home. I would wear a pump bra and a cover so nobody would get a peep show and I could multitask: making food for the baby while stuck in traffic.
One of my clients came out of the building and waved me down. I waved back, hoping I could pretend I didn’t know he wanted to talk to me but he came right up to my window.
The pump made it’s pumping noises and he looked down, noticing suddenly that my chest was shaped funny and covered oddly. He got super embarrassed and backed away as quickly as he could!
Pumping at work wasn’t fun but if I was resilient, I knew could I make it work. The hardest part was traveling for work and pumping. I pumped for both of my girls for about 15 months each. On top of that, I was able to pump extra with my second daughter (my after hours pumping sessions) and I was able to donate 1500 ounces of breast milk.
My working situation didn’t dampen my ability to pump because I stood up for my rights and I didn’t let anybody change my mind. Even though I couldn’t be home with my baby, I was providing for her every minute of the day.
Some moms are challenged with hard working hours or they are the only person working the shift. Some moms don’t have a really weird but understanding boss like I did. Some moms think that their conference call is more important than pumping because they might be looked down on for making pumping a higher priority. Some moms have a hard time making milk. Sometimes stress makes the milks flow less. And the stress comes from work or trying to find time to pump or fear that pumping will make you seem like you’re not as interested in your job as your co-worker.
But you know what is the one thing that every working, pumping mom has? A baby at home who needs her. I know that if more companies and more moms remembered that priority, pumping would become more prevalent in today’s society.
Walk out of that meeting with pride, ladies! You’re doing something that not everyone can and your baby is worth it!
Did you face any challenges while pumping at work? Or did you just avoid pumping at work?
This post was written by guest blogger, Cassidy Cruise, a wannabe stay at home, working mom with 2 kids and a husband going to medical school. Visit Tuesday’s Tantrum to read more about her crazy life and on tips about pumping power.