Pumping in the Bathroom is like Putting a Blanket Over Your Head

My first attempt at breastfeeding I consider unsuccessful. I nursed my daughter for the first 4 months of her life and then returned to work. I bought a pump and was determined to use it but found lack of support for the ability to continue to feed my daughter breastmilk.

When I approached the subject of a place to pump in my workplace, my (female, childless) boss was kind and supportive and offered to let me use her office space. As the weeks went on and I visited her office at the same time every day (there was only ONE short break in my schedule that allowed time) it became more and more inconvenient for her. Some days she had a meeting, other days she had too much work to get done and could not spare her office for that time, and some days she was just gone at the scheduled time and the door was locked.

The only other option was the public bathroom. The pump was LOUD. It sounded weird coming from one of the stalls, and I was the only woman on that campus that recently had given birth. Somehow, pumping in the bathroom made me feel ashamed. I was so stressed-out by the situation that I was not able to relax, not be able to release as much milk, and I wanted the bathroom horror to be over as quick as possible so I would sometimes give up pumping after only going at it for a few minutes. You can imagine what happened.

The office availability became less and less, which led me to the bathroom more and more. The stress of being forced to pump in there, combined with my lack of authority, led to days where I had less and less milk to bring home to my baby. I then resorted to pumping while driving home at night in my car for my hour-long commute. This did not work either but was a last-ditch effort that my hormones told me was a good idea.

I was an emotional wreck to say the least. You can ask my husband; I was not a fun person to live with. I would come home every day and just cry almost uncontrollably for hours over the guilty feelings I was having. Not only was I leaving my first born to the care of someone else to go back to work, but also now I was faced with a situation I was unprepared for. I am a breastfeeding advocate, just like I am a natural birthing advocate and here I was, giving up nourishing my daughter with the best food I knew was available, her momma’s milk.

I did not choose to stop breastfeeding my daughter. I was forced to by a society that does not place value in breastfeeding. I believe it is the same issue as nursing in public. Why is feeding a baby breastmilk so unsupported by our society? Why are new mothers made to feel bad about this? What I am hearing is “cover your head with a blanket”, “pump in the bathroom”. Why are we doing this to our mothers? It’s an outrage that our society is treating ANYONE this way. Why are we made to feel shameful for something that is natural and that we know is right in our hearts, bodies, and minds?

If anything, this negative experience has made me a stronger breastfeeding advocate. This is a human rights issue. The next time around I choose not to be quiet. I choose not to be ashamed. I choose not to feel guilty, though I will always suffer from the guilt of quitting the first time around. I am nursing my next daughter come hell of high water. And watch me do it whenever and wherever she needs it.

Much Boobie Love,


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11 Responses to Pumping in the Bathroom is like Putting a Blanket Over Your Head

  1. mamapoekie says:

    Oh dear, that’s just awful. But you are bringing a very little discussed topic to light here. It must be hard to be away from your child, having to pump and then be totally not supported
    putting this in Sunday Surf

  2. Kiki says:

    ‘at a way!

    Our society can’t fathom the real reason we females have breasts.

  3. AmyD says:

    So glad that I live in Canada – not only do we have 52 weeks of leave in total (the dad can take some of that, but for most people, the mom does) & when you return to work, your company is legally required to provide a place for you to pump that is not the bathroom.

  4. Shawn says:

    I too have on many occasions had to pump in the bathroom!!! I tried not to care as much about the noise, but was so worried that I couldn’t get as much out on battery power as I could if it were plugged in. my weekly class at the county college got changed to another building that had an area with an outlet and a shelf, and so I wound up pumping with my back to the door half-naked, profusely apologizing to everyone that walked in (of course we all took break at the same time in a class of 50 people, the only time I had to pump)! Then after two weeks, I figured if they had a problem with it, maybe THEY should go find another bathroom on the other side of the school! I stopped apologizing, I figured it’s a lesson for all these younger girls that breastfeeding takes work and dedication, and it doesn’t matter how or where you pump, you try your best. Which is what you did! 4 months is HIGHLY successful. I only lasted 3 weeks with my first son, and now I’ve made it to 7 months today with my second son, and I’m still pumping every 3-4 hours at work every day! You should be very proud of yourself ;)
    “I did not choose to stop breastfeeding my daughter. I was forced to by a society that does not place value in breastfeeding.” – beautifully stated.

  5. Amy says:

    It is wonderful that you are taking this experience to make you stronger. I love hearing mother’s experiences, especially those that empower breastfeeding. I hope to let these stories empower me, so that I can be a strong breast-feeder when I have my baby in February. Thank you so much for sharing your spirit.

  6. Krista says:

    This was almost exactly my experience with my first son. It caused my supply to dwindle, my son to lose weight, and our breastfeeding relationship ended way too early. You WILL be able to nurse your next child on your terms. My 2nd son nursed until he was almost 2 and I hope you find the same success!!

  7. Krista says:

    This was almost exactly my experience with my first son. The struggle to keep up my supply with the pump caused it to dwindle, my son to lose weight, and our breastfeeding relationship ended way too early. You WILL be able to nurse your next child on your terms. My 2nd son nursed until he was almost 2 and I hope you find the same success!!

  8. Natasha says:

    I completely agree. This is a human rights issue. I’m a bit teary eyed reading your post. I’m so sorry that it all worked out the way it did. Go for it momma, the next time be loud and proud.

  9. I really feel for you. I have been pumping at work three times a day, every day, since I returned to work in November 2009 from my second son’s birth. I must say that I work for a lovely Nike affiliate and New York State Law states (since 2007) that a woman must be allowed non break time (doesn’t have to be paid though) to pump in a room that is not a public bathroom. My office is very supportive. I have left long meetings to pump, they give me a bathroom in a part of the office that is not available for public use. I have traveled extensively and I have pumped in airplanes, airport bathrooms, a port-o-potty, the bathrooms in countless Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, parking lots, rest stops, you name it, I have pumped there. Hahaha–I am pumping right now and typing with my right hand!! My son turns 1 next month and I am thrilled that it has turned out so well. My first son started refusing the breast shortly after I returned to work and I was left with the same stress and emotional trouble you mention. If you make it a priority for your next child it is doable. I highly recommend a Medela Freestyle pump. They are amazing and lightweight and worth every cent. It has been 8 months of non-stop pumping for me while I am away from my baby and I can honestly say I do not hate the machine like I did the first time around!
    Good Luck to you! you can do it!!

  10. Melodie says:

    Why am I not subscribed to you yet? Oversight obviously. Okay, RSS feed established. Where was I? I have the utmost respect for pumping moms. I don’t know if I could have endured that – the sound rumbling from the bathroom stall or anywhere. I worked with mental health clients and I can just see myself in the staff bathroom next to the communal kitchen, with my pump going and the clients listening. (shudder) I guess I am also very lucky to be Canadian where we get a full year off, but even so….

  11. Deann says:

    When you breastfeed you really do have to be your own advocate. With my first child, it was super hard- and my doctors wanted me to give up trying. (Of course, the fact that formula companies buy doctor’s lunch and fill their closets with samples doesn’t help). I was determined- and ultimately successful and nursed my daughter until she was two. Things have been much easier with my son- and my number one suggestion – get a medical grade pump. I could pump in 15 minutes what took double the amount of time with my regular pump. My son is still going strong at 15 months-
    and by the way… we do have rights here in California!

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