Nursing Mother Says Her Co-Workers Are Annoyed By Her 'Pumping Breaks' — 'No One Bats An Eye When They Take Smoke Breaks'

Breastfeeding moms face special challenges when returning to work.

mom pumping milk RandomMoment/BaLL LunLa/Asier Romero - Shutterstock

Breastfeeding mothers have to deal with discomfort and pain it is when they're unable to pump, so it's vital that they have time and a private place to go and pump to relieve that discomfort. But for one working mom, finding a private lactation location is the least of her worries. In a post shared on the r/cna subreddit, the postnatal mother said she had not been getting adequate time to pump at work and really needed to get her frustrations off her chest.


Her real concern involves her co-workers, who she described as being annoyed when she takes pump breaks.

The biggest issue is that when she takes extra breaks to pump her co-workers need to cover for her, and they are not happy about it. "You would think I'm asking coworkers to cut their legs off with a rusty saw," she said of their reaction to her asking them to back her up briefly so she can pump. She understands that they are frustrated because of the heavy workload, but insists that skipping these "bonus breaks" is not an option because the discomfort is unbearable. 

The situation is making her irritated, frustrated, and hesitant to approach her colleagues with the request for coverage. The irony that, as she explains, "no one bats an eye when certain coworkers need to take smoke breaks," is definitely not lost on this aggravated mom.


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People in the comments made the likely suggestion that perhaps her co-workers don't understand her dilemma. 

One person recalled a man comparing her pumping to him pleasuring himself, advising that she should wait until she got home. As asinine and possibly harassing as that comment was another person suggested, "Maybe ignorant is a more generous word. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about until I had my [baby] and started nursing. So maybe we give him the benefit of the doubt?"

That opened the floodgates to a barrage of undeniably dumb comments made by men about the bodily functions of women such as, “I wish I was a girl so I could use tampons and feel like I’m having --- all the time” and questions like "Did he also think women can hold their periods too?" All of the commentary culminated in a consensus that perhaps more education in schools is necessary. 


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Failing to pump while nursing can have excruciating consequences. 

Stepping away from work to pump is not a matter of convenience or slacking. Not releasing the milk from engorged breasts can result in several medical conditions like infection, clogged milk ducts, and reduced supply for your baby, all things that leave you unable to focus at work and put your best foot forward. Not only that, but thanks to the PUMP Act, employers are required to provide "reasonable break time" for nursing employees for up to a year after the baby is born. That means despite her co-workers' complaints, she can take the breaks she needs by law.

It's important that we recognize that everyone's personal experience is different. Showing compassion in the workplace and empathizing by putting yourself in the shoes of another person can go a long way when it comes to treating people with kindness and respect. Not only is is acceptable for nursing mothers to take pumping breaks throughout the day, but most companies have designated spaces just for that. So, like it or not, pumping is medically necessary and everyone should make concessions for working moms to do it. 

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington. She covers lifestyle, relationships, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.