Pumping is no glamorous task. There are the various pumping parts and necessary assembly, the noise factor and its telltale sounds, and (of course), the mess. So honestly, it's no wonder most breastfeeding moms prefer to pump where there is privacy and comfort. Life doesn't always comply, though, especially if you're constantly on the go or living in a city without mom-friendly amenities (ahem, most of America). There are a lot of other places every mom should try pumping, if it's safe and she's feeling somewhat comfortable doing so, because normalizing breastfeeding and breast pumping will lead to more mom-friendly places in the country. Hopefully.
When I was breastfeeding I spent lots of hours out of the house and running in and out of the city (both with and without my baby). He was a fussy nurser at times, so I never knew when he would refuse to nurse and when I would still need to pump to help fight engorgement. After carrying around the unwieldy motorized pump everywhere, I finally wised up to the gloriously compact hand pump, which is kind of a pumping game-changer. The hand pump let me pump in more places than I thought possible, and gave me the freedom to just pump whenever I felt like it without feeling like I was hunkering down for the long haul of a 30 minute pump session.
So with the assistance of a hand pump, and its accompanying pump bag, I pumped in a myriad of places; from cars, to spare offices, to movie theaters. Honestly, you should consider doing it, too.
In An Uber
One time, when I was on my way to some place, I had really pushed myself to the limits of not nursing or pumping. Luckily I had my pump on me, and was wearing a big winter coat and a large scarf. I kept my eyes steadily on my driver and like it was nothing at all (nothing to see here!) started pumping just to get the edge off until I could really pump when I got to my destination.
He didn't notice, thank goodness, because yeah, it was definitely one of the weirder pumping scenarios. But I think it is not a place to write off as a pumping location, if you really need to do it. A mama's got to do what a mama's got to do. Just don't make a mess. Responsible pumping y'all.
In A Coffee Shop
Has your baby been sleeping for hours and your boobs are killing you and you're just sitting and staring at that baby that everyone told you you should never wake up on purpose? Pull into a coffee shop, find a corner of a comfy couch, drape yourself in one of those nice swaddle blankets, and confuse everyone as you pump while rocking your still sleeping babe in the stroller. "Who is under the nursing blanket?" they'll wonder. "What is that sound?" Who cares? You're getting you-know-what done. That's what matters.
In A Car (While In The Passenger Seat)
Why wait until you've reached your destination to pump if you're feeling engorged? If you're worried about people in vehicles that are higher than yours, cover yourself with a nursing cover or blanket. If you're really feeling weird about it, and you have time, pull over and pump in a parking lot or other location where it is safe to park and pump.
Since I'm more of the exhibitionist sort, I often pumped sans cover and guess what? Not a single person ever seemed to notice what I was doing. I was never met with stares and no one veered off the road. Either no one was impressed, or this is the kind of thing people do all the time so it is just no big deal anymore. Power to the boobies!
At A Nice Brunch Place
If you want to have some time out with your friends, but away from your baby, you most likely will need to pump if you are breastfeeding. But why should you miss out on precious girl-time, annexed in the bathroom? Every minute counts so make the most of it. Make use of your nursing cover (or go without, if you feel comfortable doing so) and the solidarity of your tribe and take the most private seat at the table to pump it up. Pump away! If the waiter looks at you weirdly, just say, "Oh, we have milk at the table already, thanks."
In A Dive Bar
On one of my first post-baby dates with my husband we went to restaurant in Chinatown. There was a wait, however, so we went to a dive tequila bar. While he enjoyed a margarita, I went to pump in a minuscule stall in one of those coed bathrooms where you share the same wash area. With the hand pump, it took me quite some time, and I could hear some college kids talking about "the guy in the stall taking a huge dump" (I surmised that I was "the guy"). I felt like quite a bad ass afterward, and I got my five ounces.
In An Airplane
I always thought it was fun to nurse and pump on airplanes. It felt kind of irreverent and free. If you have a motorized pump and you haven't loaded it up with batteries, you'll have to make sure you're in a seat next to an outlet. If you're not next to an outlet, you may have to do some sweet-talking to one of the extra legroom people to borrow their seat for a bit.
I have a dear friend who did this on a flight when she had to attend a wedding and leave her infant at home. The person who switched with her was really sweet about letting her borrow his seat for the 25 minutes she needed to use the outlet, even though she was super embarrassed about asking and that she had come unprepared with regard to needing an outlet.
In A Movie Theatre
A hand pump would ideally be your best bet in this situation, but if you're strictly a motorized pump kind of gal, go see a noisy action flick and sit in the back of the theatre (so that the noise doesn't bother the other movie-goers).
When I was nursing, I carried my hand pump everywhere because my boobs were so unpredictable. I never knew when I'd suddenly spring a leak or just have that blown-up-left-boob feeling. A movie theatre was a great place to nurse because no one would be looking at me (eyes were focused on the screens) and also, it was crazy dark.
In A Spare Room In A Doctor's Office (Just Ask!)
So you've just finished up at your doctor's appointment (any doctor, not necessarily an OB-GYN) and it is "that time". You know, the time when your breasts are about to explode and you are far, far away from your usual pumping environment. Instead of suffering the pain of engorgement and having to deal with leaking all over your shirt, simply ask your doctor or one of the staff members if you could use a spare room to pump.
I pumped after several of my doctor's office visits. Every single time I asked, I was always met with a gracious offer to use a room for as long as I needed. No one ever sent me to a bathroom. Once, my neurologist told me how when she was in medical school, she used to hand-express her milk for her baby, and how painful and long a process that was and how she wished she had one of the breast pumps moms these days have. I even pumped after a therapy session, in the office that wasn't being used by the child psychologist. So it was just topless me pumping next to an oversized dollhouse with the people that therapists use to get kids to talk about their feelings and it wasn't weird or creepy at all (insert sarcastic tone here).
Honestly, Any Damn Place You Want
Know your rights, breastfeeding mamas. And remember, you got this.