August is National Breastfeeding Month. All I can say is that I wish there was this much exposure to normalize breastfeeding when I had babies. When Marie was born, I remember feeling so self-conscious when learning how to nurse her. I felt like I had to leave the room because I was afraid I would make other people feel uncomfortable.
When Tomas was born, I gave up after three months since it wasn’t working. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t nervous to feed him anytime anywhere that maybe we would have had a better chance.
And none of this took into account working outside of the home.
Here is a guest post from one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Her name is Ashleigh, and she is my cousin (or as I like to think of it, the sister I never had).
|Look at that beautiful mama and her sweet daughter!|
I asked her to share her experience when this awful incident happened at her office to highlight the need to respect nursing moms in the workplace.
It’s hard to reserve the Mother’s Room at my office.
I work for a large company. There are many nursing mothers and we have to book the room up to a week in advance to get slots that work on our individual pumping schedules. So, when I went to the room at my appointed time to find it occupied, I was frustrated, but I tried to be understanding.
Our days are full of meetings and deadlines. More than once, I’ve arrived late to my pumping appointment. Or worked through the end of it, realizing five minutes late that someone else was waiting outside the door, eager to pump.
So I sat outside the closed door, opened my laptop and let the minutes tick by, enabling the nursing mother in the slot ahead of me to collect her things and finish pumping.
Twenty minutes later, the door opened and a man walked out of the room. He had been using the mother’s room as a quiet place to sit in on a conference call. Another mother, I could forgive. But this, this was unacceptable. (I believe my exact words were, “You’ve got to be f@*#ing kidding me!”)
I understand that I am lucky to have a Mother’s Room at my disposal so that I can continue breastfeeding my five-month old daughter. But, even with these perks, there are still battles that I fight daily in order to be a successful working mother. I don’t need to add men stealing the Mother’s Room to the list.
Unfortunately, even with the benefits my job offers, I find being a working, nursing mother to be extraordinarily difficult. It’s no wonder – even though the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages women to breastfeed for a full year – most women quit early.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month and on behalf of all nursing mothers, I ask the following:
1. Please be sensitive of our time. We are still juggling the same number of meetings, the same tight deadlines and the same client demands. But we’re doing all this with 1-3 additional “meetings” on our schedule: pumping appointments. And those appointments are time sensitive, as any woman fighting through a conference call with engorged breasts will understand.
2. Please don’t comment on our pumping. I’ve had colleagues ask where I was when they dropped by my desk, only to reply “TMI” when I tell them I was pumping. It’s not gross. It’s not embarrassing. I’m literally just trying to feed my child.
3. Don’t make it sexual. I’m feeding a child, not filming a porno. Please, don’t make this uncomfortable for both of us.
4. Give women a chance. I know I’m lucky to have a Mother’s Room at my office. Some mothers at other companies have had to squat in empty offices and even closets. Others don’t have any respite at all (although a necessary update to the Affordable Care Act will change this). Breastfeeding has been proven to be beneficial to babies. Please give working mothers a chance to do this for their children, too.
5. Please don’t re-appropriate our facilities. Men, you flaunt free reign over the rest of the office. You don’t get to borrow our room, too.
Thank you for sharing your story, Ashleigh!