I'll be honest, before becoming a mom, there were certain things about motherhood I didn't consider or care about because they didn't concern me. Breastfeeding and pumping definitely fall into that category. I would hear women complain about it and I would sympathize with them, but I'd quickly change the subject and ask, "So, where we going for happy hour?"
I'm in a workforce overwhelmingly dominated by women who work with children and have children, yet there are no formal provisions made in my workplace—or nationwide—to protect the sanctity of breastfeeding.
The benefits of breastfeeding are so plentiful, yet teachers and other salaried workers are unprotected under federal law. The most that's afforded to nursing women is a place, other than a restroom, to pump and hourly employees are guaranteed breaks—possibly unpaid—in order to pump.
My day starts around 5:30 a.m. when I wake to change and nurse my 8-month-old. Then I'm out the house by 7 a.m. for work. A counselor or substitute comes to my room at 9 a.m. so I can be relieved to nurse. But often, these persons are amidst duties that take priority over my priority. When no one comes to my room, my neighboring coworker graciously looks after my 20 students, meaning she then has 40 third-graders to keep an eye on! Have you seen the energy level of 8- and 9-year-olds?
I need to pump! And it should be something I do alone rather than with an audience.
I'm then rushed to pump while at work because I know that I'm causing someone else to be away from their regular duties. I rush because I know that it's possible to get into my fellow pumping buddies' time slot of 9:20 a.m.
This takes me back to the title of this article, which I almost called: "Things My boss Should Know About Being a Breastfeeding Mom."
There have been a few times that myself and this fellow mom have had to pump together because we both need to be on our pumping schedule.
"Pump later," a person uneducated on this topic may say. But here's the deal: When I'm not nursing my child, that's a missed feeding. Too many missed feedings means my body begins to think I don't need milk at that time. There’s also the possibility of becoming engorged, which can be uncomfortable and even painful for some, but could cause you to leak!
So, I need to pump! And it should be something I do alone, rather than with an audience.
Maybe one day mothers will have an easier transition back to work while pumping.