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Pumping Etiquette at work

Posted on October 12 2016

In a perfect, ideal world, we wouldn’t even have to pump at work, right?

Or, we’d have a beautiful, relaxing and completely private space to pump in, with all the time we needed to take care of our little one’s needs.

Don’t worry - that place is right around the corner, past the unicorns and rainbows.

OK, since we (obviously) don’t live in a perfect world, most working mothers who plan to pump when returning to work are bound to be nervous or concerned about how to handle pumping at work. Office cultures vary widely, as do styles of communication.

So the way you handle the situation will depend on the vibe of your workplace and what you feel comfortable saying to your co-workers.

When expressing milk at work, it’s probably best to realize early in the process that there are going to be some awkward moments, especially if you work in a male-dominated field (don’t we all?).

Just as office cultures differ from company to company, personal preferences on sharing personal information vary too.

How you deal with the issues that pop up with pumping will depend upon your specific work situation. Sometimes, a little pumping etiquette can help everyone know what to expect and how to react to pumping at work.

Educate - or Not.

First, you may want to educate your co-workers - or not. While some women are comfortable explaining that they’re expressing breast milk or pumping, others chalk it up to a medical reason (which it is) because they don’t want their co-workers to focus on their breasts.

Either way, just letting them know you’re unavailable during a specific time may be enough to clear your pumping time of unexpected interruptions.

Time of the Signs

If you’re using your own office to pump, or an empty room, try to post a sign so others know not to interrupt. Whether you use “Do Not Disturb”, “Privacy Please”, or a “Mother’s Milk Time, Please Don’t Interrupt” sign, make sure it’s obvious you don’t want to be interrupted. If possible, lock the door so no one can just walk in unexpectedly.


Another option is to let everyone know through email or at a staff meeting that you’ll be unavailable during specific times as you express milk. Inform them that when your DND sign is out, you’d appreciate it if they’d come back in ten minutes, send you an email, instant message or call you later.

Although breastfeeding rights are increasing, some women are concerned about the implications of informing their entire companies of their pumping breaks. If you’re concerned about how it will be perceived, it may be best not to send out your break notice en masse.

Milk Storage Solutions

Breast milk is not considered a bodily fluid so there is no concern about bio-hazards. But, some people may be uncomfortable with their lunch being stored alongside breast milk. While it’s their issue to deal with, some women prefer to store their breast milk in a cooler with ice packs to avoid the potential for conflict.

If you’re storing your breast milk in a community fridge, you can choose to label it to keep the noises away, or store it in a canvas or plastic bag so no one knows what is inside. Either way, if someone makes a comment that makes you uncomfortable, remember you can tell your supervisor or the HR department and let them deal with handling it.


Of course cleaning your pump is part of pumping at work, and you should never be embarrassed about it. If a co-worker is uncomfortable with your breast pump, that is their (ridiculous) issue.

Some women use cleaning wipes so they don’t have to find a sink to wash in, but sometimes a sink is the best option. If you use a community sink to clean your breast pump parts, you may want to rinse the sink afterward to prevent any backlash.

For hygienic reasons some women prefer to use a colander or other plastic basket to hold their parts when washing so they don’t contact directly with the sink. It’s also easier to dry the parts this way. But if anyone makes a comment that you’re uncomfortable with you can choose to deal with it in the moment, or talk to your supervisor or HR about it.

Pumping at work isn’t an ideal situation for new mothers, but it is the best option to continue nursing while returning to work. It’s the only way to guarantee your little one is getting the best of what they need. Working mothers with a good plan, lots of support and flexibility to deal with those awkward moments, make the transition back to work even easier.

Last but not least, grab one of the Kaylaa Breast Pump bags if you haven't not already.

Our breast pump bag will make your pumping life at work much easier, and you will be guaranteed a fashionable, stylish pumping mom at work.

Click here to choose your best breast pump bag. :)

Have a great day and keep rocking!