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 :-)