The Trials and Tribulations of Pumping at Work

I’m pumping. The phone rings. I answer it without thinking twice. It’s a male colleague who has a question only I can answer, so rather than telling him I’ll call him back, I answer the question. “It sounds like you’re using one of those old matrix printers,” he says. I don’t respond. Because what would I say? 

I’ve stopped answering the phone while pumping unless it’s my husband calling. 

I am fortunate to have a lock on my private office door. Not everyone is so lucky. At my last job, I pumped in a conference room. A maintenance guy almost barged in to fix a broken light but thankfully my coworker caught him in the nick of time. 

I know I am lucky. My boss gives me time to pump and I pump in the privacy of my own office, surrounded by pictures of my kids. 

But it’s still awkward and embarrassing despite the best of circumstances. Where am I supposed to clean the pump parts? I’ve tried the bathroom but it’s kind of gross with all those bathroom germs. I’ve tried the break room sink. But should I be washing breastmilk off pump parts in the same sink as dirty dishes? I’ve tried Medela wipes but those don’t get into the crevices and inevitably mold starts to grow. Am I supposed to be taking the parts home every night to deep clean? I have so many unanswered questions. 

Last week I decided to wash the parts in the break room sink. A female colleague looked at me and said, “I remember those days. My boobs will never be the same. It’s not the nursing, it’s the pumping.” Sorry, I do not want to discuss boob sagging with you, kind and empathetic lady I barely know. 

Last time around we made it 8 months. We are fast approaching that age with Junior and while I’m hopeful I can make it a full year this time, I really won’t be sad when this phase is over. There. I said it. I’m the horrible mother who doesn’t cherish every moment I have left to breastfeed. 


4 thoughts on “The Trials and Tribulations of Pumping at Work

  1. I had read in a few places that for those with less than favorable cleaning conditions (like myself at a prison…) you can rinse everything in cold water, dry as much as you can then put in camo bag/container in the fridge until next use at work. This worked well for me as everything was so disgusting around me and then at night it all got washed in hot soap and water. And don’t feel bad, I booted Nik off at 6 months and I love it :). Breastfeeding/pumping was never enjoyable for me and all I felt was resentment that I could never really go anywhere or do anything without having to feed or pump :P. My goal was just to reach 6 months. Happy momma=happy baby, no matter what they’re eating! You’re doing awesome!

  2. Oh and you are very lucky , which you said😄. With #1 I had a private office with locking door and bathroom. #2 I have pumped in medication room-non locking, a storage room, that males/females have keys to, and a locking office with window, all in a prison and all with a sign (pumping in progress). Most of custody/healthcare staff male & female knew I was pumping and I had no problem telling them because, frankly, I’m trying to feed my child and I’m not apologizing or being embarrassed, and the conditions to pump in? Ridiculous! Keep at it! Be proud of every day. It’s a huge commitment and lots of dedication.

  3. You are awesome, Mari. Make it however long works for you! I hate pumping too. I try to tell myself that I am doing a good job because of how much I pump and nurse in spite of the fact that I really hate both of those things. You are awesome having made it eight months. My goal is six months (but before it was six weeks, then two months, then three months, and at three months I said six months which may be too ambitious). What I do at work is I pump, use the Medela wipes, then put my pump parts in the fridge. I take them home at the end of the day and throw them on my sterilizer, pack them up and bring them back the next day. I have committed myself to the back and forth.

  4. I pump on the days that Lucy goes to daycare or stays home with my husband on his days off. And I rinse everything off in the break room sink, which is kept pretty clean in front of everyone. I usually answer the phone of I’m pumping, nobody has ever commented on the noise. My let down is completely affected by what I am doing while pumping though, so for example, I’ll get a stressful email that I read while pumping, and the milk will completely stop! So I’ve started to try relaxing rather than continuing to work while I do it. I don’t mind it, but I get really stressed about output, etc…

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