Being a working mother is not easy. It is especially hard to be a working mom while you are nursing your baby. I went back to work when my son was seven weeks old and I was determined to feed him exclusively breast milk until he turned six months old. My plan was to continue working and pumping until my son self-weaned, which I hoped would be sometime after he turned one. The 13 months I spent pumping at work was a nightmare. From my experience I have compiled a list of the worst things to say to working and pumping moms.
It must be nice to get a break (or two) in the middle of the day.Yes, it is awesome to mechanically extract breast milk from one of the most sensitive body parts.
Pumping milk is work. In addition, many working and pumping moms continue to do their "real" work while hooked up to their horns. Yes, they may be getting a break from you but no, it is not a leisurely break.
Mooooooo.Do not moo at your breastfeeding coworkers. It is a shame that I even need to mention this one. Along with not mooing, please refrain from making any cow references.
Can I try some of your milk?No. Breast milk is liquid gold. Many women struggle to pump enough milk for their children, why would they give some up for your curiosity? Even if you are just joking, it is still creepy.
Why don't you just give your baby formula?Many times this one goes along with, I gave my children formula and they turned out just fine. Whether a mom feeds her baby formula or breast milk is an extremely personal and sensitive issue.
Don't you think it is about time to wean?No. If your pumping coworker thought it was time for their child to wean, they wouldn't be working and pumping.
What does it feel like?Creepy. I am not talking about how breast pumping feels. I am talking about you for asking that question!
Bonus Tips for BossesI survived the boss from hell while working and pumping. If there is a working and pumping mom on your staff, do everything you can to support them.
Do not ask about their weaning schedule or request a progress report on supply and demand.Even if you are genuinely concerned for the well-being of your staff member and their child, asking about milk supply or weaning schedules can throw up a red flag to the employee. There were times when my boss made it clear that I needed to cut down on my pumping room (read: bathroom) trips. It made me so tense that it was almost impossible for me to let down, and get the milk flowing.
A relaxed pumper is a productive pumper.
Help create a hygienic and comfortable place for your employee to pump.Even if your company is providing a legally acceptable pumping area, that does not mean that it is hygienic or conducive to pumping breast milk.
Do talk to HR on their behalf and try to get the best possible location for your employee.
Don't tell your employee that they should be happy with a locking bathroom.
Do try to provide a chair, an outlet, and a fridge for the pumping area.
Don't use the locking bathroom meant for breastfeeding moms to have your daily bowel movements.
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