Privacy, Pumping and Protection

Virginia Woolf made famous women's need for A Room of One's Own. We've come a long way since 1929 when the book came out. Now we're all getting a room of our own -- to pump breastmilk at work. And it's about time; reading comments on Mommy Track'd about bosses barging in or co-workers wondering what you're doing in the bathroom for an hour is enough to show you why.

According to yesterday's Washington Post Health section, a new D.C. law joins Maryland, Virginia and federal laws that protect a woman's right to breastfeed and pump at work. The Child's Right to Nurse Act requires employers to provide a private, clean space, presumably with an electrical outlet, for pumping breastmilk. The room must be located outside a restroom; anyone who has pumped on a toilet seat understands why this clause is critical.

If your company doesn't comply, tell them what Wiley Rein law partner Todd Bromberg told the Post: "Ninety-nine percent of all employers can do this without any hardship at all." Many companies apparently agree. Many offices and project sites at consulting firm Accenture offer lactation rooms and/or health suites. The firm, which has more than 170,000 employees in 150 cities worldwide, also makes available advice from lactation consultants and offers discounts through its LifeWorks program to purchase or rent lactation supplies.

Roughly 50 percent of employees at PriceWaterhouseCoopers are women, and the firm has "Mother's Rooms" in every employee location -- a private space with a refrigerator, comfortable couches, and, of course, electrical outlets, according to Jennifer Allyn, Managing Director, Office of Diversity. PWC also subsidizes a top-of-the-line breast pump for female employees and the spouses of male employees. Law firm Hogan & Hartson provides a company lactation suite; other solutions have included converting an office, a basement room, and even one creative woman who pumped in a phone booth (before the D.C. law was passed).

I was lucky at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey, where I could close my door and have my own lactation suite (although a male co-worker busted in once -- and boy did he regret it). There was a shared employee fridge to keep the milk fresh until I could take it home. J&J now has a program called NurtureSpace that supports breastfeeding moms; as part of the program, some sites have established private lactation rooms where breastfeeding moms can express milk. These rooms include a locked door, electrical outlets for equipment and a comfy chair. Moms also have access to a support network of peer support counselors to help them with breastfeeding issues -- and to get the advice and encouragement they need to continue breastfeeding.

By the time I got to The Post, I didn't pump at work. By baby #3 I'd figured out I didn't need to pump so often to keep up my milk supply -- my body adjusted to breastfeeding in the morning and night, plus an occasional quick trip a few blocks over to the daycare center at noon. The rub came when I traveled. I've pumped in airport bathrooms, hotel rooms, and at one sales conference in a golf course clubhouse manager's office. Nutty -- but worth it.

What about you? Where have you breastfed? What's been your biggest challenge? What are your solutions to juggling work, babies and breastfeeding? Have you ever had to fight the good fight to get your employer to provide a clean, safe place for women to pump?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 14, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Workplaces
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My agency is incredibly supportive. I pumped three times a day to supply enough milk for my daughter while she was in day care. We had a private room and a separate bathroom to wash your supplies. You did have to supply your own breast pump.

I did pump for 19 months with my daughter and will pump as long as my supply holds out for my son.

The only thing more supportive was my old agency provided a multi user hospital grade pump. I was never pregnant while working there. But I heard you supplied your own gaurds and maybe tubing and they supplied the pump. Considering a good pump runs $200-400 that is quite a big savings.

I still have my old pump in style and plan to use it for baby #2. So I am all set. Yeah pumping.

The worst and it wasn't too bad was about a few weeks after returning to work I had a three day conference. I had to pump in the conference hotel bathroom. But everyone was very supportive. I did not sit in the toilet. I just wore a shirt that I could pump and pull my shirt over it. They had a small sitting type room inside the bathroom and I pumped there. Everyone was very supportive and kind.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 14, 2008 7:23 AM

I work at the NIH, so you bet we have great lactation suites, including multi-user pumps. However, I had to rent a super duper top-of-the line pump to produce anything, so I just pumped in my office. That worked out better because I could use the computer while I pumped. Gotta love the hands-free pumping bustier!

Posted by: atb | May 14, 2008 7:40 AM

i never pumped at work,but worked with people who did. I'm a big advocate of breastfeeding. That said, when you finish pumping, put your milk in some sort of bag in the fridge. It always skeeved me out when I'd see a bottle of breastmilk sitting next to my sandwich! That's all I have to say. Good luck to all the pumpers out there.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 14, 2008 7:42 AM

I only worked at one company after my second was born. They had many female employees, and to all of outside, always wanted to appear to be progressive. So there were two rooms that had been set aside for pumping, and they were quite nice - little fridge, table, and people would even leave some magazines in there. You could schedule the room via MS outlook.

The weird thing was on my first day back to work - and I had to tell my gay male boss, within a few minutes, that I needed to know where the pumping room was so that I could go pump. I mean - it could have been slightly embarrassing. I pumped twice a day for 6/7 months - until my son was a year old.

Once, in a dept meeting (me, boss, three other men) - boss said something about traveling to conferences and I said that I couldn't travel (odd, since it was a hotel company...:) - until XXX date, which was when son was 1 year old. Of course, boss didn't realize why and said something like: oh, is that when your parole is up? And I had to explain.

There was a conference that was local (ga tech) - and it was one day. So when I got there early, I found who was 'in charge' and I spoke with her - she was a grad student - she was a little perplexed, but found me a room with a fridge, so I even got to leave my stuff in there! It worked out well.

My coworker actually had taken many trips while pumping - so she would travel to australia, then to china, and along the way would keep the milk - one trip she said she was in the same hotel in the beginning and at the end, so they stored the milk for her, til she got back. That was well before this whole liquids thing with the TSA.

Posted by: atlmom | May 14, 2008 8:23 AM

Wow, another topic Leslie has already worn out. I guess we can expect FMLA to come up again soon too.

Posted by: tired | May 14, 2008 8:55 AM

Another blog about breast feeding??????? B-O-R-I-N-G!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: kattoo | May 14, 2008 9:09 AM

Curious to know how people handle nursing (not pumping) in public. We have a friend whose wife nurses her infant in public (in a restaurant, for example, with the baby's head etc. covered under a shawl). I don't have a problem with this, in fact I barely notice it because she is so discreet about it, but it really bugs my husband and he's basically made it clear to me that he doesn't want me to nurse in public when we have a baby. Which I guess means pumping and bringing a bottle? And--yes I know that once we actually have a real baby and not a theoretical one, this might not be an issue at all if he suddenly finds that he can deal with it when it's his wife and his child. But I'm just curious how other people handle this - both moms and dads. Thanks.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 14, 2008 9:12 AM

you don't need to read this blog everyday. in fact, it's kind of sad if you do.

Posted by: to kattoo and tired | May 14, 2008 9:16 AM

tsp: With my first, I nursed everywhere. I would try to be discreet, and put a blanket over him, and it wasn't a problem, for me. I suppose that your husband wouldn't even have noticed me - that happened to me a zillion times, where people didn't even know I had a baby, let alone I was nursing.

I have a friend who wouldn't nurse outside the house - so she didn't do it for long, she was too nervous about it, etc.

My second would knock the blanket off, he did NOT want it covering him. So it was less than ideal, but I still did it wherever I was - I mean, he had to eat, right? The reality is that once they are on solid food, you don't need to nurse in the same way (if they're hungry they can have solid food, and you could nurse when you're less likely to be in public). So that's typically 6 months - sometimes 4 (yes, sometimes people nurse exclusively til a year, but that's rare, I believe).

Posted by: atlmom | May 14, 2008 9:25 AM

to tsp 2007:

One of the enormous advantages of BF is the fact that you always have the food available, at the right temperature, when you're out with the baby. OF COURSE you will want and need to BF in public, and I think (hope and pray) that your husband will come to his senses once it's not just theoretical. You've already seen that it can be very discreet. Remember, expressed breastmilk needs to be kept cold but then needs to be warmed (w/o a microwave) before use, so why go through that hassle when you're actually with your baby when s/he's hungry?

One of my first really public BF experiences was when my first child was about 4 weeks old; halfway through the Race for the Cure (don't be alarmed--we were walking), it was feeding time. Off to a bench in a shady spot on the Capitol grounds, pull out a receiving blanket for privacy, and chow time!

Posted by: ArlVa | May 14, 2008 9:31 AM

you don't need to read this blog everyday. in fact, it's kind of sad if you do.

Posted by: to kattoo and tired | May 14, 2008 9:16 AM

_______________

I don't think it's sad to read the blog everyday. I always "peak"...at least to see if there's anything interesting to read. To me, today's topic is way overdone. But "On Balance" is just one of a few daily stops I make on the Internet each day...

Posted by: Kattoo | May 14, 2008 9:45 AM

DH owns a restaurant, and doesn't even have a private office of his own there. I can't imagine where a woman would be able to go and pump. It's tiny! Best case scenario, he could rig up some room dividers to offer privacy temporarily.

He has allowed employees to bring very young babies to work at certain times (mostly evenings), but these employees have ended up being unreliable and he recently had to fire one (she said she would show up to work and never did on a regular basis).

I did a year of pumping, so I am sympathetic. I once pumped in a public restroom, standing at the sink as women went in and out. At the time, I didn't care, but now I think back on that and wince at what those women must have thought (although who knows, perhaps they were fine with it).

I work from home today, so pumping will not be an issue when I have a baby this September. However, I agree that employers should provide women with a clean, non-restroom space to pump, and a small fridge (the little college ones are easy enough to pick up at garage sales -- doesn't even have to be new).


Posted by: SJR | May 14, 2008 9:49 AM

DH owns a restaurant, and doesn't even have a private office of his own there. I can't imagine where a woman would be able to go and pump. It's tiny! Best case scenario, he could rig up some room dividers to offer privacy temporarily.

He has allowed employees to bring very young babies to work at certain times (mostly evenings), but these employees have ended up being unreliable and he recently had to fire one (she said she would show up to work and never did on a regular basis).

I did a year of pumping, so I am sympathetic. I once pumped in a public restroom, standing at the sink as women went in and out. At the time, I didn't care, but now I think back on that and wince at what those women must have thought (although who knows, perhaps they were fine with it).

I work from home today, so pumping will not be an issue when I have a baby this September. However, I agree that employers should provide women with a clean, non-restroom space to pump, and a small fridge (the little college ones are easy enough to pick up at garage sales -- doesn't even have to be new).


Posted by: SJR | May 14, 2008 9:49 AM

"Remember, expressed breastmilk needs to be kept cold but then needs to be warmed (w/o a microwave) before use"

That's what we did -- for our first. By the second, we just took it out of the fridge and stuck it in his mouth. :-) Boy was not exactly picky -- if it was food, he'd eat it.

I was an uncomfortable public breastfeeder. Of course I did it when I needed to, but generally tried to plan outings before/after a feeding, and/or carried a bottle of breastmilk in a cooler pack in the baby bag. Nordstrom's was the one place I didn't have to fret about, though -- I LOVED their mothers' room! SO much more relaxing than sitting on a public bench outside of Safeway.

Posted by: Laura | May 14, 2008 9:54 AM

"Where have you breastfed?"

Thankfully those days are behind me. Although I worked for a very supportive employer that provided a room on-site, I had my fair share of traveling and off-site meetings. So several times I pumped in normal restrooms (with an extension cord running from the stall to the sink area), in a handicapped restroom at Midway Airport, in my car, in someone's corner office and I could go on.

I know that this offends some people. But the way I looked at it is that my obligation and responsibility to feed my child far outweighed adult objections. And that's the same response I give to the woman saying her husband is bugged by women breastfeeding in public. I was never in-your-face about it and bent over backwards (sometimes literally) to be discreet. But this is a baby who depended on me for food; not an adult who could always walk away.

Posted by: cm9887 | May 14, 2008 9:54 AM

Worst place I ever nursed in public was on the plane from California to Australia and back. I actually ended up nursing in the bathroom because it was just too cramped to try to nurse in the seat.

And before anyone jumps on me for traveling that far with a 3-4 month old, it was possibly the only time his terminally ill grandmother will get to meet him.

Pumping accomodations at work have been great, and also great was the availability of a private room to pump in when I was called for jury duty in Montgomery County in March.

Posted by: nj | May 14, 2008 10:07 AM

I work at a university and didn't have any problems. The building I'm in doesn't have a dedicated lactation room, but they gave me a key to a rarely used space with sink, fridge and electrical outlets.

One thing that I did after a few weeks of pumping 3 times a day was NOT to wash the whole set-up everytime I pumped. I just detached the cones (flanges) from the pump, kept the bottles screwed on, and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. (My husband's suggestion). That saved a lot of time on clean-up.

As much as I enjoy reading all these posts, I get the sense that we're all kind of preaching to the choir here. We mostly all get that breastfeeding is wonderful if you can do it, make a big effort to pump if we work outside the house, and work for employers who are mostly willing to make it possible. What about women working in retail or (as one poster already mentioned) restaurants? I think that they're the ones who really have it hard.

Posted by: JYinCT | May 14, 2008 10:09 AM

I had no problem with nursing in public. You just try to be discreet about getting the baby attached. I really didn't want anyone seeing me bare-chested. I have that much modesty, at least. This is no small feat at first, but you figure it out. Once the kid is attached, it's not much of a show, just a baby's head, really. Neither my husband nor I had an issues with me or anyone else breastfeeding, so I'm not sure I have any advice for tsp.

Posted by: atb | May 14, 2008 10:10 AM

thanks everyone. I'm sure we'll figure out what works for us when the time comes but I'm glad to have the benefit of your experience. (And, my husband is awfully principles-based until he's confronted with reality - then he becomes pragmatic - so I'm not that worried!)

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 14, 2008 10:11 AM

Oh, and I do agree with moxiemom about putting the milk in some kind of bag in the fridge. I just kept the Medela cooler in the fridge. I figured if the cold pack pooped out, at least everything would stay cold.

Posted by: atb | May 14, 2008 10:13 AM

Since the topic is nursing, I really need help - I know this question came up a few weeks ago, but I'm looking for good advice on how to get my son to take a bottle. He's almost 4 months old, and he's only done the bottle once -- at 5 weeks. I'm getting ready to go back to work. I've tried Avent, Dr. Browns, Playtex nursers, and the little Gerber bottles. Am desperate for advice.

Posted by: Help? | May 14, 2008 10:41 AM

to Help?
-------------------------
Our daughter took a bottle earlier, around 7 weeks, but I'm sure you'll be able to get your guy to do it. This may be advice you've already heard but here's what we did:

-pumped breastmilk, warmed
-Avent bottle
-I disappeared
-husband swaddled our daughter
-tickled her lips with the bottle, made sure there was some milk on the nipple so she got a taste of it
-tried for 4 or 5 days straight with no luck
-Finally she took it- much to my relief since I was headed back to work soon!

Good luck!

Posted by: JYinCT | May 14, 2008 10:49 AM

This is a rehash of a rehash of a retread of a topic. I don't think it's even been 2 weeks since the last one.

If this is what "no guest blogs for awhile" means, I'll spend my time reading the comments on Dana Milbank's tour de force instead.

Posted by: golly gee | May 14, 2008 11:10 AM

I work at a major university. My office is in a high-rise owned entirely by the university. Last year when our office manager was pregnant, I realized that there was no place where she might pump in private. She worked (as do many of us) in a cubicle. And while we have a boss who is always happy to share his office when he's not around, what do you do when he is around? Not until two months ago did the building management and the university find a way to carve out a space for nursing mothers, and considering all of the remodeling going on in the building, I'm not sure it exists yet. I've never heard of similar spaces elsewhere on campus.

And don't even get me started on the differences between faculty and staff maternity benefits.

Posted by: KateNonymous | May 14, 2008 11:26 AM

Actually, when people freak out cause they're going to be traveling with a newborn, I always tell them that it's the easiest time to travel with kids - that when they get older, it's a whole new ballgame.

I was able to just sit there with the kids when I traveled with them that young, and they'd nurse in the seat, and it wasn't so tough.

Posted by: atlmom | May 14, 2008 11:28 AM

Even though there was a nursing room at my company, it was much easier to just go to someone's office and pump. Typically, since I worked for a hotel company, there was someone not there - either traveling on business or vacation (there were 5 directors and a VP in my dept).

So I would go into one of their offices and pump - made things much easier. Except for when MY boss was out of town - SHE always locked her office. The only person to do so.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 11:33 AM

Posted by: atlmom | May 14, 2008 11:28 AM

Agree completely. My daughter was dream traveler as infant -- she was one of those kids where the rumbling of the engines would sack her out, usually before we even left the ground.

Alas, baby boy was one of those who gets so excited that he refuses to nap. Sigh. But luckily, he is usually a very happy kid -- I can't tell you how many times I've been complimented on being such a good mom, just because I was lucky enough to have a baby who was happy to sit in his seat and play puzzles and look at books. :-)

Of course, when they hit about 18 months, all bets are off. . . .

Speaking of planes, I'm off to Denver tomorrow AM to see my brand-new niece (yay!!), so I'll take this opportunity to wish y'all a happy weekend.

Posted by: Laura | May 14, 2008 11:43 AM

Since the topic is nursing, I really need help - I know this question came up a few weeks ago, but I'm looking for good advice on how to get my son to take a bottle. He's almost 4 months old, and he's only done the bottle once -- at 5 weeks. I'm getting ready to go back to work. I've tried Avent, Dr. Browns, Playtex nursers, and the little Gerber bottles. Am desperate for advice.

Try a nipple with a bigger hole. We had the same problem wit, and a number 2 nipple worked for us.

Posted by: Emily | May 14, 2008 11:53 AM

Since the topic is nursing, I really need help - I know this question came up a few weeks ago, but I'm looking for good advice on how to get my son to take a bottle. He's almost 4 months old, and he's only done the bottle once -- at 5 weeks. I'm getting ready to go back to work. I've tried Avent, Dr. Browns, Playtex nursers, and the little Gerber bottles. Am desperate for advice.

Try a nipple with a bigger hole. We had the same problem wit, and a number 2 nipple worked for us.

Posted by: Emily | May 14, 2008 11:53 AM

I'll also take this as an opportunity to seek advice. My baby is 8 months old and is doing great with solid food. I nurse three and sometimes only 3 times a day.

When she is thirsty should the day care provider give her formula, water or juice? I tried pumping-- can't do it.

she's plump and lovely and healthy. Currently we have the providers give formula. Is that so OK? Seems like formula is really OK, especially when it is just one part of what she is consuming --or am I just sleep deprived and missing a big problem? did I mention she loves solid food?

thanks!

Posted by: city mom | May 14, 2008 12:13 PM

oops! meant to sat sometimes only twice a day. I guess I just hate to admit this.

Posted by: city mom | May 14, 2008 12:14 PM

city mom, you're insane, or perhaps just clueless

Posted by: Anon | May 14, 2008 12:21 PM

TSP 2007 -- I have the good feeling that once you have a baby and breastfeed, your husband is going to be one of those converts who starts a La Leche League in your home. It probably makes him uncomfortable because it's not something he's been around. But as a dad, he will be around a whole lot of stuff that's far more intimate than a breastfed baby. And you know the truth is -- women breastfeeding makes lots of people uncomfortable and/or curious, even those of us who've done it. I suspect his feelings are pretty normal.

City Mom - Talk to your pediatrician and see what he or she advises. Formula is definitely okay, as is lovely old water. And maybe your baby is ready for solid food earlier than most. Maybe she is just really advanced. Go, girl!

Posted by: Leslie | May 14, 2008 12:26 PM

And don't even get me started on the differences between faculty and staff maternity benefits.

Posted by: KateNonymous | May 14, 2008 11:26 AM

___________________________

If it bothers you so much, go get a PhD and become a faculty member.

Posted by: Faculty Member | May 14, 2008 12:32 PM

I'm one of those who nurses when the baby is hungry, wherever we are. Sure I'll be discrete, but not to the point of trying to hide what I'm doing -- babies need to eat too. Yes, I was the one who nursed my daughter half way through a 20K race (glad she had no teeth at the time).
Also lucky enough to have lactation rooms where I work with hospital-grade pumps. Takes time out of my day, but well worth it. Not looking forward to the first trip next week, TSA has changed all the rules since I traveled the last time. So I'll be checking on rules for carrying frozen breast milk on (can pump and freeze at my hotel) or checking through.
As for travel, no issues nursing on the plane. However, major issues pumping on a plane (anyone know of any airport with lactation rooms?). A flight attendant demanded I cover up with a blanket (try and pump holding a blanket) even though I was in a beside-the-galley seat and people would have had to work hard to see what I was doing. Airline's response to my complaint? Pump in the bathroom. Goody, pump in a filthy airline bathroom while there's a line of 20 waiting to use it.
Things are getting better for nursing mothers, I figure my job is to help make it even better for the next generation.
Finally, TSP -- hopefully your husband will wind up as supportive as mine. It takes a partnership to make this work.

Posted by: Stroller Momma | May 14, 2008 12:34 PM

"I don't think it's sad to read the blog everyday"

Me either. I don't want to miss the Songster. Always makes me smile.

but leslie should be careful. Her column is affectionately known to WashPo bloggers as the "Mommy Blog". Too many topics about breast feeding and it could very well get nicknamed the "Booby Blog" by some very unscrupulous posters.

Posted by: DandyLion | May 14, 2008 12:51 PM

I also am one of those persons who can nurse pretty much anywhere. I try to be discreet, although I have probably flashed my nipples getting the baby to latch on. And I do cover up with a light blanket. I also pump at work, twice a day, but I have my own office and my own mini-fridge, so that has never been an issue. I don't really travel for work, so I have not had to deal with airports or airplanes. I have to say it's been easier the second time around than the first, just because now, I am more comfortable nursing in public. I second Laura's opinion about the mother's room at Nordstroms. I always go in there to nurse when I am at Montgomery Mall (although I usually don't shop there unless there's a sale -- too expensive for my budget). More places should have comfy rooms like that for nursing.

Posted by: Emily | May 14, 2008 12:54 PM

city mom- Use formula until she's a year, then start with cow or soy milk and water. If you're feeling really ambitious, get her on a sippy or straw cup ASAP.

Posted by: atb | May 14, 2008 1:35 PM

city mom - my 2 cents would be to give her some water. She shouldn't likely be very thirsty. Giving her formula would be like giving her another meal on top of whatever it is that she has eaten (I'm assuming she's on baby food at this point). She will drink as much water as she needs and stop. Babies know what they need and its never too early to develop a taste for water. Good luck, its all so hard to figure out sometimes. Just remember, its not transplant surgery - it is highly unlikely you will kill your baby and highly likely you will look back and wonder how it is you spent so much energy on these things.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 14, 2008 1:56 PM

I pumped for one year. Luckily, I had an office. I'm now in a cubicle, so that would be harder to do. I'd just put up a blanket on my "door", or use a shawl to cover, like I did when I had to pump in cars. I also had to pump in bathrooms, although at one conference, the concierge let me use her back room, and at another, the hotel gave me access to an unused room. That was wonderful!
I don't see why someone should have to hide or cover a baby for them to eat. There's not much to see. And the time where you don't eat in public is long gone. Our baby would refuse any blanket or covering anyway, so that was not an option.

Posted by: Toni | May 14, 2008 2:07 PM

I work in a private medical office and pumped for a year for my daughter. I was able to use one of the patient exam rooms. No lock, but it does have a light I could turn on so people know it's occupied. My biggest challenge was when I went to a conference. The hotel (I wasn't staying in the hotel) could offer me nowhere to pump. Bathrooms don't have electric outlets. So, I pumped in my van in the parking deck - thank goodness for the ac convertors to power the pump there. I also pumped in the old van while tailgating at a college football game. Overall, I had it pretty easy compared to some of my friends who pumped at work. I usually kept my milk in the freezer pouch of my pump with ice packs. The few times I forgot the ice packs, I put it in a paper bag in the communal fridge. The way my office is, someone would have probably used it for their coffee if they had seen it sitting on the shelf. Nothing in that fridge is safe!!

Posted by: ruffinm | May 14, 2008 2:32 PM

city mom - my daughter didn't even start any solid food until 9 months, she just didn't take it well. I started giving her some whole milk in a sippy cup around that age. You certainly wouldn't want to change over to whole milk that young if she that was all she was getting. But, I still breastfed her several times a day until about 16 months. Whatever you do won't make a big difference, there really isn't a wrong choice and it's great that you are still nursing her, but I personally wouldn't do formula...just the cost and there is no reason for it since she is getting most of her nutrition from you and the other foods.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 2:36 PM

anon, I am probably not insane, but certainly clueless!

After reading the blog, i was really feeling bad because I just couldn't pump-- my boobs just don't work that way. I mean I could, but it was pretty exhausting and took waaayyyyy too long. So now I'm feeling guilty because I'm not pumping and instead she's getting formula.

This is a ridiculous concern-- I know that. she is perfectly healthy, she is getting some breastmilk when I nurse two or three times a day, and she is getting three solid meals a day from real food, plus snacks, so whatever "problem" formula will cause is going to be very minimal. And yet I asked the question anyway. why? The "breast is best" mantra eats away at me, certainly.

But I suspect it is mostly an attempt to distract myself from the overwhelming sadness and ineptitude I feel when confronted with the disasters in Burma and China.

People have different ways of handling these things. I guess distraction with minor problems that are theoretically resolvable is mine.

anyway, anyone have ideas on how to move on when confronted with these terrible events that DON'T involve annoying other people with your minor little "problems"?

thanks!

Posted by: city mom | May 14, 2008 2:40 PM

Why exactly don't we support wet nurses? That should be a booming business these day, it solves so many problems!

Posted by: Liz D | May 14, 2008 3:06 PM

"So I would go into one of their offices and pump - made things much easier. Except for when MY boss was out of town - SHE always locked her office. The only person to do so."

Maybe that was your boss' way of telling you she didn't want you to use her office for pumping!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 3:31 PM

I have an idea. Instead of the rehashing over breastfeeding, Leslie, why don't you talk about the Morrisons? You know, that crazy sports-loving family that the Post wrote an article about. If there's any family that should think about "balance", it's them!

Posted by: Ryan | May 14, 2008 3:42 PM

Liz D, I can't imagine very many women who'd want to be wet nurses. I could do it - while I was nursing my babies, I could ramp-up my milk production very easily, and had little or no problems with *anything* that resembled a functioning pump. Some of us are just lucky!

In my mother's family everyone nursed their babies, and nobody ever used formula at all. I remember Grandmother remarking about one of the in-laws, something along the lines of feeding a baby formula to show off how well-to-do they were, and considering it a complete waste of money. I suspect the origins of the family's dairy business went back to the old country (great-grandparents emmigrated from Germany in 1905) where my ancestors might have been wet nurses. We all have the genes for abundant milk production.

But honestly, I wouldn't have wanted a job as a wet nurse. First, I couldn't have afforded to give up my regular employment, and I seriously doubt we'd find many (any?) people willing to pay a wet nurse what it would have cost to replace that income.

Second, when older son was 6 months, and my sister's brand new baby was having problems with latching on, one of the things that we tried was swapping babes. Her little girl got a good latch with me - for whatever reasons - and got a full tummy, with funny faces which I suspected had to do with different tastes. But my boy wanted nothing to do with his auntie, and was completely upset by the whole experience.

My sister wasn't well-served by having somebody more experienced making it look so easy. And she was miserable with engorgement, too. I wouldn't ever want to put another mom through that experience. I'd rather build up her confidence in herself, and praise her for the baby's great growth and weight-gain on formula. That will better serve mom and baby and their long-term relationship with each other, and with me.

Posted by: Sue | May 14, 2008 3:59 PM

The NY times had a good article on Saudi Arabia and the relationships between the sexes there.

If a woman breastfeeds a male child (this may happen with male babies who are first cousins to her own baby), then those boys, when they are grown, are permitted to see that woman's face (she can be in their company without a burka).

Posted by: SJR | May 14, 2008 4:44 PM

Kattoo: "I always "peak"...at least to see if there's anything interesting to read." I assume you mean "peek," don't you?

Posted by: babsy1 | May 14, 2008 4:51 PM

Maybe that was your boss' way of telling you she didn't want you to use her office for pumping!

Posted by: | May 14, 2008 3:31 PM

Nope - cause she ALWAYS did it, even before I was her employee, and before I worked there - it just came across as her being insecure, really (another in a series of things...)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 8:28 PM

I work for Intel and the company provides "Mother's rooms" at all our locations. When I had my kid, it was just a room with partitions, lock and fridge, now it also includes pumps! Its also a great place to run into the other mom's and get support for continuing to pump and nurse. I remember meeting someone my first day back and she had been pumping for almost a year! I pumped till my son was about a year old 2-3 times a day. Fortunately I didn't have to travel, but I did have a mandatory offsite class once a week for several months. I got a car power adaptor and pumped in my car. In general, no one really noticed where I was when I left meetings to go pump etc. The ability to pump milk was a huge factor in my remaining at work vs. quitting !

Posted by: Anon | May 14, 2008 10:32 PM

Hi, Faculty Member. I'm not saying that faculty members don't deserve their benefits, and for a long time women have had extra difficulties in gaining tenure. But here's the thing: essentially, we're all working for the same company. And yet staff has to cobble together various kinds of time off for maternity leave. That really doesn't make sense.

I'm all in favor of making it easier for mothers with children to get tenure, and the system has long been biased against them. But I don't see how giving equal maternity leave access to staff would harm that process. It might make it easier for me to pursue my career the same way faculty pursue theirs at my campus. And it would be more equal.

But I appreciate your thoughtful response.

Posted by: KateNonymous | May 15, 2008 11:45 AM

When my son was born in 1982, I had a manual pump, and pumped every day for 20 months, usually in a bathroom stall, and including the times when I was on business travel. I carried everything in a six-pack cooler with an ice pack in it. I nursed him everywhere, including during an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. When he weaned himself, I could have supplied a milk bank with the frozen "leftovers!" Wouldn't change a thing, except for the restroom bit -- no "lactation rooms" at that time.

Posted by: FC Mom | May 15, 2008 3:41 PM

As with anything, there are advocates for and against breastfeeding / pumping at work and in public.

Shamefully, Breastfeeding is not mainstream in our society. If it was, many more establishments would have lactation centers/rooms.

I disagree with the fact that employeers should be forced to supply "fridges," etc. for such a small population of the workforce. We aren't required to supply lighters to smokers. Yet, employeers should be required to have anti-discrimination policies and attempt to accomodate workers who have made the choice to breastfeed/pump.

Having lactation rooms is one more benefit employeers can tote and many larger companies are starting to offer this service to its employees.

I've had to breastfeed and pump in an assortment of places. It hasn't been fun, explaining your choice to someone as you try to convince them to let you perhaps use their office or a room in a public area for pumping purposes Yet, it was well worth it and I as many mothers made the best of whatever situation we had to confront in order to stick with our convictions to breastfeed.

PS... Ronald Reagan National Airport had a spot to nurse in the bathroom -- an empty stall next to all the toliet stalls.


Posted by: Senora Leche | May 21, 2008 12:39 PM

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