Success Stories for Finding Time for Milk Expression
I was a teacher in the infant room while nursing and pumping for my son as I did not want to nurse him in the classroom. I was able to take a fifteen minute break in the morning to nurse him, then I was given another paid fifteen minutes with my half hour unpaid lunch break to use our lactation room. It was convenient because we have a hospital grade pump I was able to put my attachments on so I did not have to carry my own pump around, I also had ample storage space provided to keep my things there so I did not run the risk of forgetting them at home. I would then clock out in the afternoon and nurse my son before our drive home. If there was no teacher available during the times I needed my lunch or fifteen minute breaks to follow my schedule, my assistant director or director would come in for me to make it work. We also had another teacher in the infant room who had a daughter she was exclusively nursing as pumping did not work well for her at all. She was able to nurse her daughter in the classroom as it was seen as the same commitment as feeding a bottle to a child. This worked well because she was able to take breaks around her daughters feedings and not need to leave the room to nurse.
I was a Speech Language Professional working in a public elementary school. I had my own private office to pump in. I was able to work on paperwork at my computer while pumping, which was so convenient. I was able to make my own daily schedule, so I just scheduled my speech therapy session and IEP meetings around my pumping schedule. When I returned to work, I informed my school administration of my pumping plan – they just asked that I delineate those times in the weekly schedule I posted outside my office door. We also had a classroom teacher who was pumping and they had a para go in her classroom twice a day all year long so the teacher could go pump.
I was working for our city Recreation Department and was fortunate to have my own office with a lock. My team (mostly women, but several men were aware and equally supportive) was super supportive of me taking the time I needed to pump…a few of the veteran moms would remind me that they hadn’t heard my pump recently and shouldn’t I get on that before our next meeting. I typically set my own schedule and was able to arrange pumping session as needed, and supported if I chose to leave for a “nursing lunch” with baby, and generally found that any challenges were of my own making. I typically did computer work while pumping – quickly found that the pump was too loud for phone calls with anyone not “in the know” about the source of the background noise.
I was a server when my daughter was born. Whenever the rush was over, I’d give my manager some heads up so that I could pump. He’d finish some things in the office and clear out so that I could have some privacy. I was able to lock the door, and put up a sign so that nobody would just walk right in. I must say that even though most of my coworkers were men, everyone was extremely supportive. I initiated the conversation the day I went back to work (I think she was 3 months old at the time). I was so nervous to ask him where I could it privately, but he immediately suggested the office and asked how often and how long I’d need. Once in a while I had to miss a pumping session, but overall it worked out.
I work in an office/lab at the NOAA campus and it’s been great. There is a room with a fridge and a couch, and sometimes a couple of people are in there at the same time, but it’s never been a problem. I found out about it from another woman who had babies and I did have to apply for access (we use badges to get in the outside doors and they had to add lactation room access to mine) but that part was easy. The only downside was there is no sink in the room so I had to wash my pump parts in the common kitchen area shared with a bunch of (mostly male) coworkers. That led to some awkward interactions but no one actually said anything and I just refused to be embarrassed about it. In terms of finding times to pump there were a few busy days, but for the most part I had no problem fitting it in.
Hospital (12 hour shifts)
I am a nurse working at a hospital with 12 hour shifts, so I needed to be efficient with my pumping time and I needed my time covered by someone with the right skills and credentials. I was able to bring my pump and set it up before my shift, so when I had a quick break I could go into the lactation room and pump, without spending the time to put it all together. Then when I was done I put everything in my cooler – I didn’t spend time breaking it down or washing the parts each time. At the end of my shift I stored the milk, washed the parts, and took my cooler of milk and everything home. It was a bit more work to always have a designated coworker to cover me during my breaks, but my supervisor helped with that and I have offered to cover more break time for others in return.
I work as a trial attorney, which requires me to be at different court locations around the state. Finding space and time to pump could have been challenging, but I worked out a system that allowed me to reliably pump breastmilk, no matter the courthouse. In terms of finding a private space, I would contact the court bailiff ahead of the trial date to reserve a conference room next to the courtroom where the trial would be held. The door locked from the inside for privacy while I pumped and I didn’t have to spend valuable time walking a long distance to find an acceptable space. I was often able to leave the trial for a pump break by calling my witnesses around my pumping schedule and allowing my trial partner to take over in my absence. I didn’t want the jury to infer anything about my departure from the courtroom that could affect my client’s case, so I always asked for a jury instruction where the judge simply stated that attorneys might be entering and exiting the courtroom at any time and that this is normal practice. Finally, getting through the courthouse security with my pump was a potential hurdle as the guards weren’t used to handling breast pumps. I learned that by separating my pump from the rest of my belongings, I wouldn’t set off the conveyor belt’s X-ray (thus avoiding having security handle my clean breast pump!).