If you're a breastfeeding mom who works outside the home, then you know the following statement to be true: breast pumping is the irrefutable worst. I can't stand it, but because I want and can breastfeed my son I find myself spending hours breast pumping at work. And while I'm privileged to work for an employer that supports breastfeeding parents, I have endured my fair share of awkward breast pumping moments. The worst, of course, being the moment someone walked in on me when I was breast pumping.
It's not like I'm ashamed of pumping, or feel guilty for taking that time out of my work day. After all, my employer is legally required to accommodate me and my breastfeeding needs, and I know how lucky I am to be able to breastfeed at all. It's just that whipping out your boobs in the middle of the work day to attach them to a machine designed to suck literal fluids out of you is a little, you know, weird. Like, objectively when you think about it, it just sounds kind of ridiculous. So the last thing I want is my coworkers or superiors walking in on me when I'm vulnerable and pumping and collecting milk for my child.
Look, accidents happen and no one is above making them. I should have locked the door, for example, so it would have said "occupied" and the poor soul that accidentally walked in on me would know that someone was using the pumping room. But I didn't, and what transpired as a result of that mishap was nothing short of humiliating. It also warranted the following responses:
Squirt The Person With Boob Milk
Unsanitary? Maybe. A waste of precious breast milk? Absolutely. But worth it when someone storms in on you when you're in such a vulnerable state? You bet your you-know-what. If someone is going to walk in on you pumping — when you're literally attached to a machine designed to suck the life out of you — then you are absolutely allowed to squirt them with milk until they leave the pumping area.
Flash Them With The "Men In Black" Memory Eraser
No one is going to want to remember this accidental encounter, and since a lobotomy doesn't sound all that pleasant you might as well look into the whole "memory eraser" thing from Men In Black. It's worth a shot, right?
Because OMG DENISE WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?!
I don't know about you, but I zone out when I'm pumping, if only because it's so mind-numbingly boring and time consuming. So when someone walks in on me pumping they're literally jolting me out of a trance-like state, and that's startling... to say the least!
Demand They Clean Your Pump Equipment For You As A Form Of Punishment
This is only fair, my friends. If someone is going to walk in on you pumping, they can apologize by doing arguably one of the worst parts about pumping: cleaning every damn little piece of the pump and pump equipment your breast milk touches. Get to work, Denise!
Moo Like A Cow
I mean, why not? Might as well lean into it.
Move To A Different Country
The first time someone walked in on me pumping I wanted to die. It's not that I have anything to be ashamed about, it's just that pumping is a pretty vulnerable thing and, personally, I feel more exposed when I'm breast pumping than when I'm breastfeeding.
So you better believe I wanted to leave the earth, or at least the country, when someone walked in on me during a pumping session.
Continue Pumping Like Absolutely Nothing Happened
Of course, you can also act nonchalant about the entire thing because, in the end, this isn't that big of a deal. Did someone see your breasts squished and pulled by an annoyingly loud machine? Yep. Did they witness actual fluids leaving your boobs? Sure did. But breastfeeding is a pretty typical thing a lot of moms do, and breast pumping often comes with the territory, especially for working moms. So, big deal. Someone walked in on you doing what you have to do to provide for your baby. If anything, they should thank you for the opportunity to see a human being doing something so badass.
Walk In On That Same Person When They're Peeing
All is fair in love and war, and you've just declared war on all personal space, my dude.
Demand To Know Why You're Not Being Provided Adequate Pumping Accommodations At Work (Or Anywhere Else)
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "The federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide basic accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work. These accommodations include time for women to express milk and a private space that is not a bathroom each time they need to pump." If you're pumping at work and someone is walking in on you, chances are you're not in a designated pumping room with a lock. And if that's the case, ask why. If you don't feel comfortable asking someone you work for or with, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Breastfeeding and breast pumping can facilitate a lot of awkward situations, but if you're pumping at work you have the legal right to support. Make sure you're receiving it.