Part Three of our three-part series to assist with your return to work as a pumping mom…
Anytime you have naked breasts in the workplace, you open yourself up to some awkward times. While part one and two of this series looked at what you can do to prepare yourself for pumping at work and how to hang in there that first week, this third part will shine a light on those uncomfortable moments you might experience.
Unless you’re the most confident, pro-breast milk mama we know, you’re bound to feel a bit awkward about pumping at work, especially in the beginning. There are a lot of ways your breastfeeding experience can go south while you’re surrounded by co-workers you don’t know too well, you’re way too familiar with, or you simply don’t like.
If you want to know what could go wrong and how to best prepare for it, read on.
The Embarrassment of Leaks
If the idea of getting a leak at work is mortifying to you, you’re not alone. It’s not fun in any setting to be talking to someone and suddenly know you’ve just soaked the front of your shirt. But in the workplace, that can be twice as awful.
If you don’t want to find yourself in that position, you can always carry a supply of breast pads with you. If you search hard enough, you’ll find ones that look natural in your bra. And it helps if you don’t wear shirts made out of thin material either.
Make sure you carry a spare shirt in your breast pumping bag to keep you covered in case your breast pads don’t do the trick.
A Noisy Pump
It’s hard to discreetly pump milk at work when your breast pump is so loud your coworkers can hear it through a closed door. There isn’t much you can do to drown out a loud pump -- your boss isn’t going to relish you bringing in a radio and playing music to cover it up.
Before you buy a breast pump, search for a model with a good reputation for being quiet. If you have a loud pump already, your best bet is to keep the door closed at work or put a baby blanket over it to muffle the sound a bit. If your breast pump is battery powered, you can try pumping from your car on nice days.
Workplaces are busy -- there’s no way around that. People are moving around, often in a hurry, and they are only focused on their immediate tasks.
If you are pumping in a room that other people sometimes use, you may find that people unwittingly barge in while you’re pumping. It’s hard to say who will be more embarrassed when this happens -- you or the coworker who sees your bare boob.
You might want to consider using a nursing cover or putting a Do Not Disturb sign up whenever you’re in the room. It will let your coworkers know you’re in there so there isn’t any awkward encounter.
Although pumping at work is more mainstream now than it was a generation ago, there are still some people who don’t know how to handle it. Their ignorance can manifest in many ways -- awkward silence, creepy comments, or some not-so-funny jokes.
If you know your co-worker is a bit socially awkward, you may want to cut them some slack if they make you a tad uncomfortable. But if you start to feel harassed because of repeated lewd comments or completely inappropriate comments, it’s time to bring up the matter with your coworker, your boss, or the human resource department.
You Can Do This
Pumping at work won’t always be the easiest route you can take, but who said parenthood would be simple? Just remember, the first week or two will be the hardest, so stay the course and don’t give up.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a breastfeeding advocate, and a professional writer and editor for the popular parenting blog, Mom Loves Best. In her spare time, Jenny enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her family, hiking, camping and getting back in touch with nature.