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A woman in Santa Clara, CA wrote in to Dear Abby about having to pump in public. The new mom works at a corporation that does not provide a "mother's room" and subsequently has taken to pumping her breast milk in the public restroom. She feels uncomfortable about "the weird noise” and isn't sure how to respond to women when they come in.

Do you think pumping in public is okay? Should companies be required to have mother's rooms? Where do you pump? Tell us your thoughts!

Tags: breastfeeding, in, public

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I pumped at my job when i was breastfeeding. Luckily I had my own office. It was my first day of work (my baby was 3 months old and at home with my husband) I closed my office door and started pumping and my new boss walked in!! I almost had to throw myself up against the door. He came in because he heard the breast pump motor and wanted to know what it is. I was so embarrassed.
I stopped breastfeeding that day.
Companies should HAVE to provide a private room for pumping. What the hell has society turned into that women who are trying to provided breast milk for their children while they work have to be relegated to a public toilet. I'm not saying that the room has to be anything fancy - but for god's sake a closet would be better than the bathroom.
I am so sad her company does not offer her a private place to pump. It is not fair she has to pump in the bathroom for "privacy." What is even sadder and more shocking to me is that not one person in her place of employment who had office (and I am assuming at least one person had an office) offered her their office to pump. While I worked at one point our office space was VERY full -- every office and cube space possible was being used. The gentleman who ran our office made it clear that if a woman at our office needed to pump (because their was a few) it would be nice and appropriate for someone to offer their office space for the short amount of time it took to her to pump. The Moms who pumped used to joke that they never even had to ask to use someone's office because the moment the grabbed their bag and walked down the hallway there was one or two people offering their office!!
Pumping in public is a-ok in my book -- baby's gotta eat, too! It would be nice if companies provided places for a mother to pump...I mean, in a bathroom stall where someone might have gone poo 20 minutes earlier?! Ew.
I pumped in the bathroom with my 5-yr-old and in a spare office with my 3-yr-old. I was a little uncomfortable at first, but all the women who came into the bathroom either ignored me or praised me, so I got over it. I don't know about companies being required to have mother's rooms...I think as long as there is a reasonable place to pump such as an office that can be borrowed or a bathroom that doesn't require you to go into the stall, a mother's room isn't necessary (the bathroom I pumped in had another counter at the far end with no sink, so I just sat up there and was pretty well out of view). I've also been known to pump in the car on the way to and from work (don't worry - my husband was driving).
I agree with Jackie that I don't consider a bathroom "public" in that she's in there specifically for privacy because there's nowhere else to go. I would personally NOT want to do that because bathrooms make me feel EWW and I'd be making FOOD FOR MY BABY. I would rather throw a blanket over myself and pump in my cubicle.....although I've never had the need or the "opportunity." Either that or go out to my car.

Basically, yes, I think pumping in public is ok because it's something that HAS to be done. BUT I also think that companies should have adequate space to accomodate for that, even if that means blocking off the lunch room for a block of time.
Companies should not be required to have mother's rooms - but should allow breastfeeding mothers to have access to another non-bathroom room.

I have an office now, but when I was pumping for Woodstock, I had to use the bathroom or my car. I chose my car, parked in the corner of the lot, as I felt it was more sanitary and I could listen to the radio or a book on CD while I pumped. It was discreet - no one passing by could tell what I was doing.
I pumped in my work restroom for both of my younger kids, despite the requirement under California law that employers provide both time and a suitable place for pumping. I was grateful for the time required not being an issue, and was concerned about looking as professional as possible to my coworkers and managers; so I didn't make an issue about having a different private place assigned for pumping. I was concerned about my privacy - for my sake, not for anyone else's comfort level - so I found a relatively secluded bathroom and would just stop pumping when others came in and out, which was minimal. I also had found (by my 4th baby) that I could hand-express milk much faster than I could pump it with either a manual or electric pump, and that helped a lot. (I could fill an 8 ounch bottle in 3 minutes by hand-expression!)

Feeding my baby exclusivly breastmilk, with no formula supplementation, was a joy to me. I recommend that other moms do the same, even if it is inconvenient and sometimes embarrassing.
I pumped at work for all three of my kids. In both cases, I spoke to my bosses and explained the situation (one a high tech start up & one a law firm). There wasn't a designated place for this so they made one and were very accomodating. In the start-up, "the place" was the decked out bathroom my bosses (the CEO/President) shared. Sure, it was a little strange having these discussions with male bosses...but hey, it's life! Sorry the situation didn't go so well for the Santa Clara mom.
I say it is totally up to the woman who is pumping. If she is comfortable pumping out there, then she should stand proud and not worry about explaining anything! If she is uncomfortable about pumping in public, then she should maybe only pump at home, or find a quiter model pump (Like there is such a thing!) I breastfeed at the park while my kids played. Mind you I wasn't bared all out, I had a blanket covering myself and my breast, and I was sitting in my van not in the middle of the park. My point is that as women we have to do what we feel comfortable doing or else it won't matter how good the thing is we are doing.
Really the bathroom is an unsanitary place to have to pump in the first place. I've had to do it but looking back I could have asked if there was a room that I was aloud to use. People are generally just curiouse they may think its strange at first but everyone just gets used to it after a while. Fantastic for pumping regardless! It was really hard to keep going once I went back to work.

Melissa
I don't feel that bathroom and food go together. Employers should definately have some kind of arrangement if a mom asks for one. It's sad that a mom has to sit in a gross place to pump milk. Pumping should be a relaxing experience, it should resemble feeding you baby. I would ask for a specific place to be free at a certain time. It's tough...I wish we could have our baby brought to us every feeding time, it's less awkward to feed the baby in a public place.

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