Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor

13 Acceptable Reactions To Spilling Breast Milk

If you've ever pumped breast milk, then even the idea of spilling said milk is enough to make you wince in sympathy. Whether you're remembering your own incident(s) or you can just imagine how terrifically such a thing would suck, the reaction is visceral and strong. To the uninitiated, the list of acceptable reactions to spilling breast milk may seem decidedly unacceptable, but they don't know. They can't know.

Full disclosure, I loathed pumping. Like, I don't think most people super-duper love it, but I feel like I hated it more than most who choose to stick with it for any amount of time. I'm a gal who deeply values results and, when it came to pumping, the results weren't all that great. I could hook myself up to that devil machine for an hour (not recommended but, you know, in theory) and only produce a few ounces that my deliciously fat babies would down in about four seconds. I'm also extra as hell and have really big emotions, so maybe take this list with the necessary grain of salt.

That said, I stand by every word and think anyone who has pumped and/or spilled even a drop of their liquid gold will feel me on this. So with that in mind and in true solidarity with anyone who has spent even a modicum amount of time pumping breast milk for their babies, here are just some of the things you are absolutely allowed to do in the wake of a dreaded milk spill:


Let it all out cupcake, because there is use in crying over spilled milk when you made the milk. (Seriously, who even came up with that turn of phrase? I promise you they never pumped.)

In reality there's nothing to do but cry your heart out, so you may as well do as much of it as possible. Every single tear is justified, even if you produce more tears than you did milk.

Trying To Save It For Way Longer Than Is Reasonable

I feel like every mom who has ever spilled breast milk has lingered in "the bargaining" stage for longer than is logical. I have absolutely tried to sweep milk that puddled on my desk into the storage bag like, "OK, I got it. NO ONE WILL NOTICE THAT IT IS NO LONGER SANITARY!" And, obviously, that's not how it works. It's gone and there's no saving it, but the mom part of your brain — the part of your brain that strives to make everything work no matter how impossible — is in overdrive trying to make it happen.

Going Into Full-Blown Victorian-Style Mourning

My high school goth phase sort of never ended and if I had my druthers I'd basically be dressing like a widow from 1885 at all times, complete with veil. Social norms and the desire to not be seen as a total weirdo, however, hold me back and I've made peace with that. But in a crisis, such as spilling breast milk, all bets are off. Let everyone see the turmoil you're feeling on the inside by displaying your lugubriousness on the outside.

Irrational Blame

Because how could something that has wounded you so personally be an accident? No. Someone is to blame... or they will be. Cast that net wide, friend. Reel in whatever poor soul happens to get caught in it and just lay into them, if only in your head. The co-worker who distracted you at an inopportune moment? Guilty. The husband who didn't wake up with the baby last night and left you tired and clumsy today? Absolutely to blame. Your employer, whose pumping facilities are not ideal? Trash. The company that made the breast pump? Criminal. Your childhood bully? Probably involved in some super secret spilled milk operation in which you are the target. Hell, blame your kid. Literally anyone will do. Put a face to the problem and just shriek at it (again, probably best if you do this in your head than actually do it).

Destroying Your Enemies

Do it now while you're full of rage and could potentially work with an insanity defense. This can be a spilled milk silver lining.

Black-Out Rampage

It's perfectly reasonable to enter into a fugue state and just go berserk at this point. You don't have to destroy your enemies, if that's not your thing, but you can just go ahead and destroy something. Anything. Everything. Might I suggest investing in a GoPro so you can have a record of your destruction for later?

Speak In A Morgan Freeman-Style Narrative For The Rest Of The Day

"Hey Jamie, how's it going?"

"I wish I could tell you that Jamie fought the good fight and her breast milk was all right. I wish I could tell you that. But pumping is no fairy-tale world..."


"She never said she spilled her breast milk... but we all knew..."

"... I'm going to go ahead and bring in Leslie from Human Resources, OK? Maybe you can talk to her..."

"... You gotta get busy living or get busy pumping."

Telling Everyone

This cannot and should not be suffered in silence. Everyone must know. Everyone must understand. Yes, the world keeps turning but would it if more people understood the enormity of your loss? I just don't think so.

There's no such thing as TMI when you're talking about a tragedy like this. The world is your therapy couch and everyone you meet — co-workers, your boss, strangers on the subway — your counselor. Get into detail about your breastfeeding struggles so they understand that the spilled milk is more than just spilled milk.

Question Everything In Your Life

Because how could this happen?! And how have you gotten to a point in your life when this could throw off so much of your entire day? What are you doing? Why? Why?!

Save It For Other Purposes

You know in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the dad suggests putting Windex on everything? Go ahead and save your ever-so-slightly-tainted breast milk for topical use. Put it on a diaper rash or eczema or any other kind of skin irritation. According to the Mayo Clinic, research is mixed as to whether or not it's actually effective but, like, it can't hurt and it can help you feel as though your devastating spill wasn't a complete tragedy.

Create Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories are a great way to assert a level of understanding and control we don't actually have in real life. That's why they're so appealing. The world is confusing and scary (and, when you've spilled even a little bit of your precious liquid gold, unfair and heartbreaking). But if you can come up with a good narrative about, like, Skeleton Spiders who crawl out of your head at night and cause mischief throughout your life, well, now the crappy things that are happening to you suddenly make sense, don't they? It's not an indifferent Universe and bad luck that caused your breast milk to spill... it was those damn Skeleton Spiders!

Not Work For The Rest Of The Day

Who can concentrate in the wake of something so Earth-shattering? What do these spreadsheets even matter anymore? Meeting with a big client? What client could be bigger or more demanding than my infant, who is going to be pissed that I'm four ounces short on my promised delivery today?

Take To Your Bed & Listen To Depressing Music For The Rest Of The Day

There's nothing else to do.