The experts talk about how “natural” breastfeeding is, but I’ll tell you what’s not natural: taking your shirt off at work in a cold room and hooking your boobs up to a machine that milks you like a cow. However, pumping is a required task for the mother who wants to continue breastfeeding her child beyond her maternity leave. And sometimes when you have to pump on-the-go, even more awkward situations are inevitable, such as if you ever want to leave the house without your baby for more than a couple of hours (which, believe it or not, most sane adults do).
So, I now present to you, the top five places I have pumped milk from my boobs.
5. In a Narrow Hotel Bathroom Stall During a Conference
Nothing makes a woman feel more polished and professional than having to maneuver out of her top in a bathroom stall the size of a coffin while attending a conference with her company’s biggest clients.
4. In a Fancy Hotel Room During a Company Meeting
For a good time, try telling a 21-year-old intern that you require special accommodations for the all-day work offsite because you will need to pump milk from your breasts. The confused and slightly repulsed face that greets such a request is enough to make you want to turn into a puddle of silver goo and slide into a storm drain a la Alex Mack (yeah, ’90s Nickelodeon reference!). Bonus points for having to sit on the floor of your reluctantly provided hotel room while you pump, because the room’s single electrical outlet is located at floor level due to the hotel being a hundred years old.
3. In the Bathroom of My Potential New Home…While It Was Being Inspected
In the sleep-deprived, shell-shocked state of new parenthood, my husband and I decided it would be a great idea to shop for our first house. Fortunately, we were very lucky to have an offer accepted after a relatively brief search. On the day of the home inspection, my morning pump time coincided with the appointment, and I had to make an excuse to use the bathroom of our potential (but still occupied by strangers) new home. I’ll never forget overhearing the inspector ask my husband if I was all right, and my husband floundering to offer an explanation that protected my privacy without implying I was suffering from a bout of explosive diarrhea.
2. At a Wedding Reception That Had Only One Bathroom…For Everyone
This was perhaps the most awkward and nerve-wracking pumping experience I had. When my son was 6 weeks old, we went to a wedding. It was the first time I’d had to pump anywhere outside of my home, and with a manual hand pump no less (which means only one boob at a time). I’d considered checking with the venue in advance to see if there was a place I could set up my electric pump, but I never got around to it. When we arrived at the reception venue, I discovered that there was only one bathroom for all of the guests. Oops.
1. During a Prince Concert
I bought my husband tickets to see Prince at a casino when my son was about 4 months old. Because we were going to be away from him for many hours, I needed to pump at least a couple of times. I managed to put it off for the first two hours of the concert, but in the time between the first set and the encore, I rushed to the bathroom to get it done. It was a surreal experience: While the crowd in the arena screamed their heads off for the return of The Purple One, I was squirting milk out of my left boob as fast as you could say, “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” Then, as soon as I switched to the other side, the beginning strains of “Purple Rain” sounded. Noooo! Luckily, I made it back to my seat in time for Prince’s big guitar solo.
So, there you have it. Sometimes you have to get creative (and super awkward) in order to keep up that milk supply. And even though pumping comes with its own fair share of inconveniences, discomforts and indignities, you’ll at least have some pretty memorable stories to tell in the end.