Many mothers have found themselves sitting atop a porcelain throne while pumping away. It's no fun, it's undoubtedly dirtier than most places, and it's just overall not cool. Because unless you're in a nice bathroom at a fancy hotel, pumping on the potty sucks. Heck, even if you're in a nice restroom it still sucks. If you find yourself in a potty-pumping situation there are some ways to do it that are cleaner and more comfortable. Learning some of these helpful tips for pumping in a bathroom stall is neither ideal nor the greatest solution to the problem, but it's still helpful. And helping mothers feed their babies should be top priority.
If you find yourself in this situation at work, know that you don't have to pump in a bathroom stall. In accordance with the Affordable Care Act, employers have to provide break time for nursing mothers and a clean place for them to pump (other than a bathroom), as explained on the National Conference of State Legislatures website. If you feel more comfortable pumping in a bathroom, then that's totally your preference, but know you're entitled to a space that is not a bathroom or unsafe utility closet.
Unfortunately, traveling mothers, emergency workers, and even news reporters don't have a regular office. In this case, sometimes bathrooms are the most private places available to them. That's where these seven tips come into play. By applying these tips to your — unfortunate — stall feeding session, you can create a space that's more sanitary for your liquid gold and more comfortable for you.
1. Wash Your Hands
"Pumping in a bathroom stall is gross and less than ideal, but some parents do not get a choice," Tori Sproat, author and international board certified lactation consultant with Tiny Tummy Lactation Services, tells Romper. "If you’re stuck in this situation, the key will be hygiene and limiting exposure time." The mantra is get in and get out as cleanly and as quickly as possible. She advises nursing moms wash their hands before pumping and "try to use a stall away from other ones being used if you can."
2. Put Your Pump On Top Of Toilet Paper Dispenser
Emily Silver, a certified lactation consultant, nurse practitioner, and co-owner of NAPS, recommends a couple of things to make it so your pump minimally touches yucky bathroom surfaces.
"Put your pump on top of the toilet paper dispenser in it's case, so the actual pump isn't touching anything," Silver tells Romper. "You can also leave your pump in your pumping bag and hang it from the back of the stall door so just the tubing comes out and that way nothing touches anything in the bathroom."
Additionally, she said you can try to pump standing up and leaning forward. This position is optimal for gravity and helps you with flow and collection of breast milk.
3. Bring Pump Wipes
"Have pump quick wipes . . . that way you can wipe down all of your pump products to keep them clean," Silver recommends. "With wipes you'll be able to avoid washing anything in the bathroom sink."
They don't have to be breast wipes specifically, just as long as they're hypoallergenic and bleach and alcohol free, you're good to go.
4. Bring A Small Towel Or Blanket
"Always have a small towel or blanket on you so if the bathroom doesn't have a shelf available next to you, you can lay your pump down on the ground with the towel underneath it," Helen Anderson, a registered nurse midwife, lactation consultant, and co-host of The Boob Tube, tells Romper. "That way you're still being safe and hygienic, and you're not trying to balance it on your lap, which is definitely not relaxing."
If there are paper towels in the bathroom, you could even roll out one of those on the ground or several squares of toilet paper. Getting creative on the commode means cleaner milk.
5. Invest In A Hands Free Bra
"Have a hands free bra that goes around your back and zips up the front," Silver says. "That way pump parts can be in place without you have to hold onto anything, leaving your hands free to work the pump and not touch anything."
6. Bring Ear Buds
Relaxation is key to having a successful pumping or breastfeeding session. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can hinder your body's ability to let down. Whether it's music that relaxes you, a podcast, or a meditation app, Anderson recommends you "have some relaxing music on your phone" to listen to while you pump.
7. Pour Milk In Another Location
"I would recommend pouring milk into containers in another location, if possible," Sproat says. "The less the milk is exposed to the floating feces particles, the better." Additionally, you may want to have some ice packs with you depending on how long you'll be away from a refrigerator or your baby.
It's no fun pumping in a bathroom, but many mothers have been there. Just know there are ways to do it safely, cleanly, and more comfortably, even if you are sitting on a commode.