As if returning to work while you still have a child young enough to breastfeed isn’t enough of a gut-wrenching endeavor, there's the addition of a repetitive, robotic cycle of pumping that (if you choose) is thrown into the mix. Nothing strikes fear, or at least passionate frustration, in the hearts of breastfeeding moms everywhere than the mention of pumping at work, and everything that can go wrong.
Just think about it, there are way too many potential problems that can befall you when you mix a professional environment with a small machine designed to collect body fluids. Not that pumping at work is all that bad, or something that you should be scared of or shy away from if it is, in fact, something you want and choose and are able to do. Granted, I am thankful that I had to ability and the resources to pump when I was at the office, and that it allowed me to continue providing breast milk for my baby. I’m glad it forced me to leave my desk and feel a slight connection to my son, even though he was miles away. I’m even glad that it required me to sit down and scroll through the pictures of him I had on my phone, because I was tired, and I missed him, and I needed those moments.
If only it was always as simple as that all the time, right? Here’s just a snapshot of the many things that go wrong while pumping at work, because when you're a mother, nothing is as easy as it should be.
Your Feeding Schedule Can Get Thrown Off Each Weekend
In a perfect world, I'd have been able to pump at the exact times my son would eat so going from weekday to weekend would be a smooth transition. Actually, in a perfect world, I'd have had a three-year paid maternity leave, so never mind that first one. If I have to pick, I want the maternity leave, please.
Your Milk Supply Can Dip
Ugh, I see you, pumping moms who are currently struggling with supply issues. Hang in there. I wish I had something light or humorous to say on the matter, but I'm afraid I don't. Please simply accept my internet hugs, and know that I think you're simple magic.
Your Co-Workers Can Be Weirded Out
Listen, we're all adults here so let's just talk about the elephant in the room. And by "elephant in the room" I mean "breast milk in the fridge." Wait, now that I think about it, I move to make that a new turn of phrase.
Someone Could Walk In On You
I'm not sure who it would be worse for. Actually wait, I think it would be worse for the pumping mom. However, that's not to say that I still wouldn't feel a slight bit of empathy for the embarrassment of the other person, too. Just a smidge, though.
You Can (And Probably Will) Spill Your Breastmilk
I know why the little bottles have caps that fit inside their lids, but I just wish I had actual lids without giant holes in them, too. That's all I'm saying.
Your Wardrobe Can Malfunction
What's that, you say? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of my panic over the loose bra strap dangling inside my shirt.
Your Milk Is Just Chilling In The Communal Office Fridge
It's inside two differently sized canvas bags, but still. I don't like it's proximity to someone's leftover takeout anymore than they do.
The Door To The Room Where You Pump Could Be Getting A New Coat Of Paint And So The Lock Gets Removed
Not that this happened to me, and not that I'm still frustrated about it two years later.
You Could Be Sitting In A Meeting While Leaks Slowly Form On Your Shirt
Dark, pattered shirts were always helpful and doubled as camouflage and I will be forever grateful.
You Could Have Issues Getting Your Car Adapter To Work
The car adapter was always my last resort as a place to pump, so you know if I was trying that, I was really desperate. And, of course, it rarely actually worked. Universe: 1, Me: 0.
Someone Could Be Napping In The Room Where You Normally Pump
That's not what the room is for, Jennifer. We all know why you have that blanket.