Pumping breastmilk? Sometimes you just have to laugh!
Breastfeeding brings about itís own share of culturally awkward situations as it is. Of
course, we wish it werenít so. It would be great if it were such as non≠-issue here as it is
in, say, Mozambique or Spain. Since it isnít, awkward glares, rude comments, and even
hilarity often ensue prompting some brave women to just go with the humor and buy
shirts and onesies with witty sayings and baby beanies shaped like boobs. But if you
thought breastfeeding in public can pose issues, pumping is even more awkward.
Personally, I have no problem nursing in public. I prefer that no one sees my breasts, but
I donít use a cover up. I do my best to keep them covered for my own comfort with my
shirt and if someone happens to see some book skin or even a nipple when my son
suddenly latches off, whatever. Iím over it now. Pumping, though, is something that I
feel I must absolutely do in private. I could not ever imagine any situation in which Iíd be
comfortable pumping with a public audience.
I havenít had to pump in any terribly awful places, really. At home, I generally choose the
kitchen table as my preferred spot, and at work I pump from my desk when there arenít
any students in my room. If I have to leave a class to pump, a custodian has kindly lent
me his desk in a comfortable, private office that he graciously vacates for me a couple
times a week as needed. I did try to pump in the faculty bathroom once or twice, itís very
clean as bathrooms go, but still not the best place for pumping. It was my first time back
at school after my first child was born and it was so awkward trying to get a chair in there
and to set everything up on the counter that I abandoned the idea almost as quickly as Iíd
implemented it. I finally just maneuvered my pumping schedule around the classes I
taught that year and everything worked out fine.
The most awkward place Iíve pumped is in a car. Even more awkward, I did it while
packed into a backseat with my sisters. Had it been anyone but my sisters, I would have
decided not to commit to the plans that took me away from my little guy for a few hours,
but we shared a room together for years so a little awkward exposure in front of them is
okay for me. But pumping in the car can be awkward for other reasons. Like trucks. And
if youíre in a sedan, SUVs and minivans. Especially if youíre caught in traffic. I donít
know about you but if someone accidentally sees my breast or nipple when I have a baby
attached to it, thatís one thing. But I sort of feel like livestock when Iím attached to the
pump. I donít really want people seeing that. And this is just me. We all have different
levels of comfort when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping.
Right after my son was born, I found it necessary to pump a few times to help reduce
engorgement that wouldnít go away after many feedings. I know, they say pumping
makes it worse in the long run, but for the first few weeks with both my kids, my supply
was excessive and it was the only way to keep it in check until my body relaxed and got in
tune with my baby. I sat at the kitchen table as fully exposed as ever and my 3 Ĺ year
old daughter walked in and stopped in her tracks at the sight of me, wrinkling her face like
a raisin. She just stood there staring with all the tact that usually comes in one so young
and then finally asked what on earth I was doing. I explained it to her, but that only
brought up more questions. In my exhaustion and post≠partum delirium I finally just
asked her to go in the other room if she was going to continue to stare at me like that. It
had been funny at first, but it was starting to stress me out which can stop milk flow.
Pumping in my classroom is remarkably relaxing. If I can actually just forget the stack of
papers to grade and lessons to plan, itís quiet and familiar. However, if my pumping
manages to bump into the time when the bell rings and the halls flood with students, that
can be stressful. At first, I hear them around my closed door saying, ďWhatís wrong?
Whereís Sra. G?Ē Then I have to quickly put things away while hear their comments
escalate to things like, ďMaybe we should get someone to unlock the door.Ē I had hoped
not to tell my students that I had to pumpónot because itís inappropriate but because it
made me uncomfortable to do soóbut it was inevitable. I told all my classes that if my
door is closed and there is paper over the window, thatís what Iím doing so please donít
intrude. So now, they know. Well, they should. High schoolers tend to have a selective
memory. But usually when I hear them out there complaining that they canít get in or
wondering if Iíve flown the coop, Iíll hear one wise voice say, ďRemember guys?
Remember what she told us?Ē
The most awkward pumping experience I ever remember is back with my daughter. It
was one of those days when I was locked into my peaceful classroom. A fellow teacheró
maleówho shared my room in the mornings, let himself in with a key. As the door
opened, I dived under the desk and screamed, ďGET OUT!Ē He had been made aware of
my situation and it must have dawned on him what heíd done because he immediately left
the room without a word and we never once mentioned the situation to each other again.
Really, Iíve had it easy, though. Iíve never had to pump next to a cold≠hearted fellow
passenger while using public transportation. Iíve never had to pump in a public
bathroom. Iíve never had to pump in a room full of strangers witnessing the awkward
ordeal. The situations Iíve described above have been only slightly uncomfortable, and
not truly scarring in any way. People who realized I was pumping have been
understanding and sensitive about it. I have heard horror stories of people whoíve had to
pump in airplanes or other public places and have gotten flack for it. Iím thankful that my
awkward and/or uncomfortable pumping situations have been mild in comparison.
So how about you? Whereís the most awkward or uncomfortable place youíve had to
pump? Any funny stories about it?
Bri Date 2/24/2014
I've had my principal AND my secretary unlock my door to let in students. Thankfully I was facing the other way and shouted out to warn them before any students came in and were traumatized. ;)
Of course both my principal and secretary felt bad, but we laughed about it afterwards.
Rachel Date 2/24/2014
I'm a flight attendant so a lot of times it was a "do when you can and how you can" situation. I've pumped countless times in the lavs, the aft galley with the curtain closed and my favorite place is the crew rest bunks! I do give my crew a heads up and they all know to come down to crew rest with caution but a time or two, a few jumpseaters who didn't know got the shock of their life ;-)
Leela Rao Date 2/24/2014
The most awkward I guess was in the Southwest terminal at LAX. I had an interview I needed to fly out for and thought it would be better to pump in the waiting area than on the plane. Turned out I had the row to myself and didn't need to deal with the packed terminal...oh well. I've also had my boss walk into my office while pumping; it's so busy here she didn't even realize I was pumping and I was like "Can we just continue this after I'm done; you can come in if you want, but I am pumping." It was then that she realized and apologized. I've also pumped while driving on the freeway here in L.A. You end up spending so much time in traffic here it really is best to multitask when you can :)
Melanie Date 2/24/2014
During Thanksgiving, we had family visiting us, including my 5 and 7 year old cousins. They were very curious when it came to feeding my son (who was 3 months at the time). While I was in my room, finishing nursing my son, my cousins were right there with me, asking many questions. Ian, the 5 year old, picked up the attatched bottles to my pump and asked "whats this?" I then went on to tell him that its how I get my milk out to feed baby. He proceeded to stick the flange up to his mouth and said "do you get it out like this?" It was so funny and I was so surprised by his reaction that i just said "yup!" He thought nothing of it and ran out of the room to continue playing. As he left, my Mom and I laughed so hard!!
Kim H Date 2/26/2014
I thankfully haven't had to pump anywhere strange, but my strangest nursing esperience was when we pulled into a rest area on the interstate & I was sitting in the front seat nursing my oldest & my husband took our dog out to do his buisness. We were parked way off by ourselves but an old couple pulled up right next to my side of the car & the old guy just stared & looked disgusted, even though he couldn't have seen anything because my son stayed latched! I finally just smiled & waved at him and he quickly walked away!
Sue B Date 2/28/2014
I have pumped in a car on my own, though I forgot I needed a nursing bra for the hands free attachment and had a sports bra on , that was just awkward for myself. It was also awkward trying to set up while driving and at a stop light as I was running late. I use a cover when I pump in the car. It's what helped me manage a girls day when LO was 4 months old. Thankfully I have good friends.
Amanda Stevenson Felton Date 2/28/2014
I had to pump in a car and it was awkward. First finding an out of the way spot in a parking lot and then maneuvering the machine and cleaning up.
I also did not have a designated spot at work so I would use different conference rooms and they did not all have locks on them, so I would prop up my chair against the door as I pumped.
Cynthia Downer Date 3/5/2014
I exclusively pumped for my cleft palate son for awhile, so.. I never had the option of breastfeeding in public. That being said, I've never pumped in "public" either. I've pumped in front of NICU nurses and doctors in our curtained off little area, in front of a lactation consultant, hand pumped in a car while my boyfriend was driving and while parked in a deserted parking lot, and in lactation rooms at the hospital. The most "public" has probably been while my boyfriend was driving, but I did my best to cover up with a blanket.
Becky N. Date 3/5/2014
I had to pump in the hall way at Public Health Conference once while another nurse (from another county) that I know sat and blocked the view of me the best she could. Oh and another time I had to pump while driving down I-94 in Michigan with my husband. I tried to stay covered with my shirt, but it was difficult while moving.
Taryn BUrt Date 3/7/2014
I had to pump in my car several times, even while driving! I also pumped at work in the supervisors office, and at my second job with a towel over the window to my office. It was important to me to get my milk in my son and after having issues, we had to milk share. I wouldn't look back on the choice nor do I regret it!!
Swtpjsmum Date 3/7/2014
I once had a fellow manager (a man) walk in on me while pumping.It was a women's restroom and his excuse was that he "wanted to see what that noise was". I was so mad but I didn't say anything about it. I should have. I'll have to figure out how to pump this summer while at camp with my teen daughter. All I have is a single manual pump and I can't hand express. That's going to be interesting. :/
Tiffany Sanders Date 3/10/2014
I strictly pumped for 11 months. I pumped on an air plane in the seat. I used a nursing cover like I would if I were nursing and pumped right there. The noise of the plane covers up the noise of the pump and my husband who is a big man was sitting next to me as well. So I was covered up that way. You got to do what you got to do.
Sarah McKelvy Date 3/10/2014
I only pumped at work, my apartment, and the church where my sister was married.
jennifer laur Date 3/16/2014
i exclusively pumped with my son, so there were many times i didn't feel like being banished to a hot car, or back room to pump while out and about. on two occasions, i pumped right on a crowded beach, in my beach chair =D
Ainee Ramos Date 5/16/2014
I an EPer and have pumped anywhere I would have to. Thankfully at work we have a quiet room that we could use to pump so I didn't get to pump in a washroom, thank goodness
sara walden Date 5/20/2014
i have pumped an feed in every Mcdonalds parking lot following these cities, London,ky, lexington, ky, manchester, ky, oak grove, ky, Nashville, TN an Kissimee, fL.
Melissa Date 5/24/2014
I have yet to pump but thankfully there's a lactation room in the building, though I heard rumors it got converted to an office. Still there's a sign on the door saying lactation room, so here's hoping! Would hate to pump in the bathroom. I saw a cockroach there!