Breastfeeding can be a wonderful communal experience. There are breastfeeding support groups, breastfeeding circles, even nursing covers in gorgeous prints designed to make you feel comfortable nursing in public.
Breastfeeding is wonderful because you are holding an adorable, peaceful, content baby, breathing in that sweet new baby smell.
For the most part breastfeeding doesn’t require any special supplies or equipment.
Pumping is none of those things.
While it achieves the same goal of supplying milk for your baby, pumping can be confusing, messy and isolating. Been to a pumping circle lately?
Most of us pump alone, maybe in a windowless closet, supply room, or if we are lucky, a dedicated pumping room decked out with a comfy chair and plenty of outlets.
I have spent months, actually years of my life pumping away in various locations and circumstances. There was the ivy league university that had one dedicated pumping room – clear across campus – with a paper sign-in sheet.
In the interest of time and convenience, I chose to pump in my office – which I happened to share with a very understanding, childless coworker. We sat with our backs to each other, working in sync to the waka-waka-waka of the electric pump, and trying to come up with discreet excuses when students tried to open our locked office door during office hours.
There was the hospital where I had an empty office all to myself – yet still managed to get walked in on by the only male coworker in my department. My pump and I have traveled all over the city, looking for quiet places to plug in for a few minutes. (And you thought finding a public restroom in NYC was difficult!) I have pumped in dressing rooms, airport bathrooms, and in a shower stall at a hotel gym during a conference.
Pumping can be difficult and inconvenient, as anyone knows who has started leaking while trying to wrap up that last meeting, or been asked, “what’s that sound” while trying to discreetly conduct a conference call.
We all have our pumping battle stories. The time we forgot all our flanges at home, the time we forgot to button our shirt back up and flashed our coworker, the time you cried and cried when you spilled 8 freshly pumped ounces of liquid gold.
I’ve smelled oddly of maple syrup when taking Fenugreek to boost my milk supply, spilled my share of milk, and even pumped into urine specimen containers the day I left all my bottles at home (hey, they’re sterile!)
Pumping takes dedication, and commitment, and it can be very, very lonely.
I’m so glad to see people sharing their pumping room stories and photos, and like to think of this as my virtual pumping circle.
To all you hard working mamas out there, I’m glad to be a part of the club. Keep up the good work and Happy Pumping!