Maybe this should go in the more general BF forum. Mods, move if you think it should.
I am a bfing mama to a 10 month old. I BF in public and I really don't give a **** what people think about that. I'll whip it out anywhere, because honestly, I think seeing a flash of my breast is a lot better than listening to my son's hunger screams.
That said, I have this weird mental block at work. I pump, and one of our conference rooms (the only one with a lock that isn't in the client-access area) is reserved at certain times of the day for me. However, it's pretty frequent that I don't get to pump because a meeting before my time runs over, and I'm out in the cold. I've complained to HR about this, and they've tried reserving the room for 15 minutes before my pump times, but it doesn't really help.
Our company is about 80% male, and even though I consider myself a tough feminist, I admit it. I'm intimidated. I don't want to knock on the door of these meetings and interrupt them. I'm too shy to do it. I'm afraid they'll get angry, especially if they're on a client call or something. So what do I do? I sit outside the room, sometimes I get in, sometimes I don't, and when I don't, I have to try to find another place to pump my milk or just suck it up.
Today I lost it and just started crying. I spent an hour trying to find an open room somewhere. I ended up in a customer conference room, for just 15 minutes, with my back against the door (no lock) pumping as fast as possible, all the while nervous I would get interrupted or something.
No one here has told me pumping is bad or gross or anything. But it's just, I feel like I'm swimming in testosterone here and it's got me all discombobulated. I find myself acting timid about this when I am not usually a timid person.
I need some courage and encouragement. Pumping at work is protected by law, and I have a right to a private, clean space at appropriate times. Why can't I get as sassy about this right as I do about BFing in public? Help me, mamas. Tell me I can interrupt these stupid meetings...
"The Mothers are the brave ones." - Call the Midwife
I just wanted to say I feel your pain--I had to pump in a really gross, dirty bathroom. It was the only bathroom so everyone was always knocking on the door all the time. The air conditioner was messed up so that it was freezing cold, I had to bring my winter coat to work in the summer to put it over me and I was still freezing. I know legally I had the right to a nice, clean, non-bathroom space, but the reality ended up being different. I would end up feeling so angry sometimes that with that and the cold my milk wouldn't let down. For me I chose not to fight it because I didn't want to deal with the repercussions that I knew would result.
My do as I say not as I do advice is that you DO have the right to pump, it shouldn't be something you have to fight for, it is a right that is legally guaranteed. Maybe if you talked to the HR people again, emphasizing that a space has to be available and that it shouldn't take extra effort on your part to get it, maybe they could send out a memo saying conference room X is reserved at these times and meetings can not go over during these times. Also, you don't have to say "hey, I need to pump my breast milk out now or I will start leaking everywhere ", you can just say "I have this room reserved now, everyone out!"
Have you considered getting a nursing cover to wear and a little sign to post on the door if you have to pump in a place where you might be interrupted? I am an ambulatory vet and have to pump in my car with my tech or boss right next to me! luckily both are women but it's still close quarters and was a bit awkward at first. I just use a cover and as time passed, I just became more comfortable with the situation.
I suspect that your male co-workers would be more embarrassed by walking in on you than you would be. I find the best way to become more comfortable in an awkward situation is to be open about it and to laugh about it. Just make cow jokes and muddle through the best you can. As I have learned in my line of work, confidence can be feigned until it becomes real. Fake it till you make it! Good luck with your courage!
Wife to B since 6/2004, Mama to T (10/11) and (8/13). We:
I completely sympathize....even though you're always a mama (and that's really the best thing there is), at work you have a title and persona that's seperate, and by being forceful about the need to pump its bringing you're personal life into the workplace and possibly changing perception. Its not a weird mental block, but a reality of how we compartmenatalize our lives.
I'm lucky enough that I have a private office and don't have your issue, but my company is also 80%+ men, and older men at that. Like another poster mentioned, is your position such that you even need to explain why you need the room (i.e. could you be needing it for a conference call/meeting/whatever?)? I think going to the meeting room a few minutes in advance of your reserved time and telling them you'll be needing the room at XX time and that you're assuming they'll be wrapped up by then would not be seen negatively. Its easy for meetings to go over time, and maybe after a couple of instances of this happening they'll realize that the meeting schedule is more than just a guideline. You can do it!! Good luck.
Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon (4/10).
Um, so something weird happened. I just got two comments on my blog (which is listed under my profile here) from some really awful troll calling me all manner of awful names for posting this on mothering.com.
I wish I could paste what this person wrote here but I can't. I has way too many X rated words.
Has this ever happened to anyone else? WTF?!
"The Mothers are the brave ones." - Call the Midwife
I had a similar deal, and often times could only find a room (lots of windows!) with no lock. HR was less than helpful after I politely declined the folding chair in the bathroom.... but I didn't want to make a big 'official' issue out of it, so I just printed up a sign using the international breast feeding symbol, that said "Pumping in Progress. Please don't disturb & Thanks for your Patience".
That worked. Never had a problem with anyone, HR included. I think, especially for my male co-workers who weren't Dads or DH's, it 'scared' them off. Mostly, I don't think anyone besides me thought twice about it. Pumping has such a mental component--hard to relax when you are feeling guarded. It's hard, but try to think about your precious LO and not WORK when you are pumping. You CAN do it!
That's really weird about the trollish posts on your blog. Yuck.
In terms of the pumping issue at work...here's something to try. Just knock quietly and then enter the room, saying "don't mind me, I'm just going to set up and pump in the corner while you're finishing up." My guess is that will get the room to clear right away and you'll never have the problem again.
Good luck & keep us posted on how it's going for you!
Living in Wisconsin with my partner of 20+ years and our DD(Born 10/09/08 ). Why CI Mama? Because I love contact improvisation!
Go to HR and tell them that the conference room solution isn't working--other people are using the room and you don't want to be unprofessional by interrupting. Ask them to provide another space for you--or better still, figure a space that will work for you (do you have a walk-in supplies closet or something like that?) that's unlikely to be needed, and have it fitted with a lock.
I completely understand why you don't want to be confrontational. It's your workplace, and at work we have to get along with people from all kinds of walks of life! And you really shouldn't have to be, anyway. But in my experience with working with HR & other admin staff, the easier you make it for someone to meet your requests, the more likely they will be met, so if you can go to them with a solution that will work and simply make sure you have permission, I think you are more likely to be successful. (Or better. Forgiveness. "I've been finding the conference room schedule difficult to work with, so I've been pumping in X room. I want to be courteous to everyone that works here--can you help me get it fitted with a lock?")
If they weren't trying to find solutions I would say you should make a formal complaint. It may be that the situation can be resolved with a reminder memo to respect the meeting room schedule and clear out on time. I have found that I get great response from supervisors when I tell them the problem or my need and follow it up with a solution or make a request for an action and follow it up with the reason I am making the request.
I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that legally speaking, the company must accommodate you per federal law. If I'm wrong about that someone please correct me.
Are there alternate conference rooms available? I agree with another poster, I'd ask for a privacy sign and use an alternate room that doesn't have a lock.
I do think that if your situation isn't working, you should let your employer know. However, I also think that before you go to them you should look around and find another room so you can propose alternatives.