I was holding back tears in the airport restroom so, yeah, I suppose I looked as if I needed a friend.
The lady at the sink next to me smiled. “That’s liquid gold,” she said, nodding to the still-warm bottles of milk I had just pumped. “Don’t lose it!”
I tried to smile back as I tipped the bottles and watched the milk swirl down the drain. She looked aghast—and I felt like I was going to throw up. It was the first time I had to pump and dump in my almost three years of breastfeeding my two kids, and it felt awful.
I hadn’t been drinking in the airport (though on second thought, maybe I should have been.) I explained to the woman next to me that I’m traveling for work, and I decided not to save the milk I pump.
The other day, a friend of mine wrote online about the trouble she’s having pumping at work. Coworkers walk in on her while she’s pumping milk for her baby. She’s rushing to pump and still get back to her class in time to teach. And unsupportive colleagues are making insensitive comments.
Because that’s just what a working mom needs: Flak for doing her best to feed her baby, continue her career and maintain her own health.
(Skeptical that pumping is more than a luxury or convenience to breastfeeding women? Please read this NPR article about the health risks of not being able to pump breast milk regularly.)
Other moms and I jumped in to defend our friend online, since we can’t drive to work with her and stand up to those jerks in person. Unfortunately. Though I’d totally do it.
We suggested a handful of comebacks a working mom could use to the ignorant, curious or hostile comments she got. If you’re heading back to work—or are already back and are unsure of how to respond to coworkers—here are ready-to-use replies for an unsupportive colleague’s comments about your about pumping at work.