LorelNicolette's Journal

Confessions, reflections and rants

I currently work outside the home on a part-time basis.  I have a four month old daughter whom I am still nursing.  Our current office doesn’t have a private room available for pumping so I use the executive bathroom.  The space is big enough for a chair, and there is a surface for me to set my supplies on.  The executive is long gone, and even when he was here he preferred to use the public restroom anyway.

When the company announced that they were moving to a new location, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to communicate my need for a private pumping room.  I knew that my request was reasonable given they had an open space to work with.  When I shared what I had requested with others I got the same reaction every time,  “Can’t you do that in the bathroom?”.  Mind you, the bathroom at the new place would be used by all.  I have to admit, I got a little annoyed that so many people failed to see the absurdity in that. 


It is no secret that a large portion of our society views breastfeeding as obscene.  I believe that this has made the acceptance of pumping at work painfully slow.  To make matters worse, fellow employees are not so understanding of why pumping moms should get special treatment, hence the suggestion to pump in the bathroom.  Whatever the reason, I am here to give my opinion of why it is not acceptable to expect moms to prepare their infant's food in this way. 



The first question that ran through my mind was where would I sit?  The toilet is the obvious answer, but don't you see the problem with that?  The toilet has a very specific purpose.  It is not intended to be used as a chair.  The other dilemma is space.  If you have been in a bathroom stall recently you can agree that there isn’t a lot of room to work with.  


What about those times I walk into the bathroom and have to hold my nose?  I am an adult, and can handle people going poo in the bathroom.  The thing I am not down with is being expected to pump in those conditions.    



It is common knowledge that formula needs to be prepared in sanitary conditions.  That means clean bottles, surfaces and hands.  Why is breast milk any different?  


I doubt I need to go into much detail as to why the cleanliness of the immediate surroundings of a bathroom stall are questionable.  Not to mention, every time you flush the toilet a cloud of germs fills the air.  I don’t exactly feel safe setting my supplies down let alone preparing my daughter’s food in that type of environment. 



Our bodies are very sensitive to our surroundings and how we feel.  If a mom is not relaxed and comfortable then she will have difficulty achieving let down and extracting all of the milk from her breasts.  The constant commotion of a public restroom can make it difficult for anyone to relax.  Add in the other things I mentioned above, and you have one nervous mama.    


Really, it is a shame that this even needs to be explained.  I think we can all agree that we would never eat a meal prepared in a public restroom.  It is absurd to even consider the prospect.  Why then do we expect this of our babies?

If anyone is wondering about the pumping room I requested...well, it is a moot point now.  As a result of a company-wide lay off, I am only employed through July 2nd.  Oh well, I tried :-)

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Dude, that sucks.  Do you feel that the "company wide lay-off" was partly an excuse to fire you?  I mean, would you still be employed if you hadn't made the request?  Wow... I'm sorry!  At least you don't have to worry about dirty bathrooms when pumping/nursing now!

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:09 PM

I'm proud of you for standing up and making the request at all. There are a lot of women who feel uncomfortable doing that, sadly. It's unfortunate that so many people, even other mothers, don't immediately think Ewwww! over anyone being forced to pump in the bathroom.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:12 PM

They announced the lay-off initiative back in January.  I always knew there was a possibility that I might be let go.  I couldn't let that interfere with my right to have a clean place to pump.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Pssst... "Moot point"


It's too bad that they see the request as absurd or unnecessary.     Perhaps in the next company they will be more willing to see reason.    It might help sometime to form the request in "what can this do for the company" way.  Such as the pumping room can be multi-function like for a private intimate meeting or small meeting room.    Also pointing out that women who breastfeed will likely have less need to call out sick and valuable employees in their childbearing years would be more loyal  wouldn't hurt :)

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:46 PM

I had to pump at work in the bathroom stall with no sanitary conditions for me at all. There was no place to put the equipment but the floor and no toilet seat (I worked for a print shop when I had my 2nd) so therefore I was literally sitting on an open seat. It was disgusting! I could never relax enough and having to share the room with constant interruptions and people going poo was just.... Ugh ! My supply and his demand never met up due to these conditions and he was on formula by the time he was 2 months old. There were offices not in use but I was not allowed to use them in case someone needed to make a private phone call or have a private meeting.... **eye roll** ~Which was very rare I might add.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:53 PM

Good catch, correcting it now ;-)

To the company's credit, the decision maker never got back to me.  I think he didn't respond because he knew they were letting me go. It was my fellow co-workers who responded in this way. 

The parent company I work for has break rooms that are used for pumping so I know they are sensitive to this issue.  I was just surprised that so many others have no clue.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Since I am a teacher, I used the nurses office for pumping.  There was a lot of aranging because we had a student that had a catheter and used the adjoining restroom, but I thought that I was the luckiest woman on the earth.... Until the VP (who shared the "other" door) unlocked it and let a student in to get something.  Duh.... outside door was LOCKED for a reason!   Thankfully, I always kept my back to the doors, but I will never forget the look on the student's face.  Open mouth shock and then bright red.  After all, the poor teen boy just saw his teacher's boobies.  The VP never even apologized, I don't even think he knew what happened.  About a week after that I stopped pumping because I just couldn't relax.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 4:38 PM

I hate that mentality.  You are preparing food.  My response would be I will prepare my babies food in the bath room when you start preparing your and your children's food in there.

There rest is semantics.  I am not poopoo-ing what you are saying.  I am just saying you shouldn't have to go into the rest of it.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 4:43 PM

This is wonderful, Lorel. I am going to share this. Thank you.

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Jun. 24, 2010 at 6:26 PM

I never imagined how lucky I was to have such a supportive employer, which actually has it's own lactation consultant on staff to support new mothers and hosts a breastfeeding support group. Plus, dedicated lactation rooms with hospital grade pumps provided that you just had to hook up your own attachments to. I had my own office to pump in, but if I hadn't, I wouldn't have had to worry like so many other women. (Of course, my employer is complying with the law in CA, but they did go beyond the requirements of the law). Employers need to understand that supporting breastfeeding is good for their bottom line!

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