You made the awesome choice to breastfeed your baby and you have been a rockstar at it the last month or so that you’ve spent at home bonding with your bundle of joy. Now it’s time to return to work. You’ll be pumping at work to continue getting the nutritious breastmilk to your baby.
Fortunately, the year is 2016 and the majority of people won’t think twice about it if they happen to see you pumping. People understand the importance of what you are doing. Unfortunately, there still exist a few people out there that don’t quite understand breastfeeding or breast pumping and the incredible benefits of it.
If you happen to have an unsupportive co-worker (or workers), it’s frustrating—isn’t it?! You already have enough on your plate with starting back at work, having a newborn at home, and dealing with hormones that are all over the place—an unsupportive co-worker is the last thing you need.
5 Things You Can Do
What can you do?
- You do not need to justify your decision to breastfeed or pump at work. It’s not their concern. It’s your life, not theirs. If you do wish to explain the benefits of breastmilk to them, feel free. There are plenty of studies and statistics out there to back up your claims.
- It's your right to be able to pump at work without being harassed or feeling uncomfortable. If you do feel like you are being harassed, it’s time to go to management. That shouldn’t be tolerated.
Now if you are feeling uncomfortable and being harassed, just keep in mind that you are probably a pioneer at your workplace. If there are other women there that have not yet had children, they are carefully observing and watching you and how you handle pumping at work. If they see you stressed and freaking out, most likely they won’t even consider pumping at work.
We’re dealing with breastmilk here, not some radioactive chemical! People will feed off your own energy. Stay positive and keep a glass half-full attitude. If you do get stressed, chances are you will have a more difficult time pumping. If someone says a snide remark or you overhear people chattering about you taking too many breaks to pump—keep a sense of humor and laugh it off. Show them it’s no big deal and you aren’t at all being bothered by their ignorance.
- Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Your boss and co-workers should be thanking you for pumping at work! Yes, that’s right—thanking you! Why, do you ask? Because babies that were breastfed have been shown in studies to get sick less than babies who were fed formula. If you didn’t pump and your baby didn’t receive the incredible nutritious benefits of breastmilk, then chances are that your baby would be getting sick more—and you would be missing work to care for your little one. With you missing so much work due to a sick baby, your co-workers would have so much more work to do! They would have to pick up your slack.
- Sometimes people are uncomfortable in their own skin and sadly they reflect that insecurity on to others. If another woman is giving you a hard time, perhaps she didn’t choose to breastfeed her babies and is feeling guilty about her decision? You just never know why people feel the way they do. If you feel okay asking and you’ll be okay with the answer—even if it’s not something too complimentary—go for it. It might lead into a really great discussion about breastfeeding and breast pumping.
- This one might come as a no-brainer but being that it is a very real and easy option, we’re including it. Ignore. That’s right, ignore the co-workers that are being rude, insensitive, ignorant, or immature. It might be easier said than done but soon enough their petty remarks will become a used tape recorder—nobody will find them funny and they’ll get bored and find something else to be outspoken and snarky about.
What’s Your Superpower?
You and your body are able to feed your child the most nutritious, beneficial stuff on the planet! Talk about a superpower!
So, Federal laws allow you to pump at work. You should have a secure room with a lock that you are allowed to go in and pump. You shouldn’t have to be stuck inside a restroom stall or at your desk with dozens of people around. If you don’t have a space to go where you feel comfortable, it’s time to talk to your boss. A secure location where you have privacy and that’s away from the noise and chatter of the office—but not in a not-too-clean restroom---will do good things for your anxiety and make pumping easier too.
If someone is giving you a difficult time at work, whether that’s being outwardly nasty, talking behind your back, or even catty passive aggressive remarks, just remember the ball is in your court. You have the upper-hand. What you are doing is amazing and special. Don’t let other people make you feel inferior or bad about yourself. They don’t have the power to make you feel bad unless you give them that power, don’t do it.
Be confident, and be proud of what you're doing. You're doing an amazing job giving your baby the best possible start in life. That's all that matters.