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Pumping in Progress

**this post was featured on ScaryMommy. Read it here:

Medicine tells us "Breast is best." Society tells us to say "I am woman, hear me roar". So here we are - Empowered. Educated. Employed. We're making our own money. We have careers. We have husbands. We have wives. We have babies. Sometimes, we do this whole gosh darn thing ON OUR OWN as single moms. And then when we have babies we say "OK,  I want to breastfeed! But...wait...How do I breastfeed if I'm gone 8-12 hours a day away from my baby?! I can't go back to work after 6 weeks! I need more time home.We need to bond. My milk is still regulating and my baby isn't sleeping! My incision isn't healing." The United States heard our cries - loud and clear. But instead of giving us what we wish we could have - a more plausible, realistic maternity leave option - they gave us the opposite. They made it easier for us to come back to work EVEN EARLIER. They gave us: The Right To Pump. Gee, Thanks, USA.

I can't speak for all women, but when I had to leave my 8-week-old babies with someone besides myself or my husband, I was literally filled with dread. You know that feeling you get in your stomach when something bad has happened? Like that stomach drop? That's the feeling I had all day. Every day. For a very long time.  It's like my brain and my body just knew something wasn't right. My heart was literally aching for them. My brain knew something was missing. I get teary-eyed as I type that. My baby was missing - 56 days after giving birth, and my body knew it. That feeling, that anxiety/dread was a physical and emotional reaction to my baby being away from me. It was an absolute shock to my system. And even though I knew it didn't feel right. Even though everything in my being screamed "NO!", I went back. Because I am the breadwinner and insurance holder. I am valuable to my family and our survival and we cannot go without my income. It's not even an option for us. Not even for a few weeks. No way. But, in addition to being the breadwinner, I am also our baby's food source.

So, to my fellow working & pumping mommas,

I know you're using your break time to pump. I know you're eating while pumping or eating while working because your lunch break is spent making sure your baby has lunch for tomorrow. I know that each and every time you stand up to say, "I need to go pump now." you are wondering if it is convenient for your co-workers. I know you will pick up your pump bag and go to a room that BARELY fits the legal requirements set forth by the government. You will hang a sign on the door - warning people not to enter - they will still, undoubtedly, enter. Or maybe you'll just cover yourself and pump in your office or cubicle while others work around you.  I know you will milk yourself until you get enough for a feeding. I know you will do this as often as your baby might be eating.  A 6-week-old baby eats often - very, very often. I know that sometimes you will not come home with enough milk for your baby. I know you will feel like a failure. I also know that these "right-to-pump" breaks aren't paid. And maybe your employer requires you to clock out for all these pump sessions. And for every minute you're clocked out you need to stay longer. This just adds more time onto the end of your already very long day and makes it even longer until you're home with that sweet, warm baby. I know you will stand up and announce that you need to go pump and you will hear a symphony of comments from your co-workers:  "Again?", "How long are you going to do that?", "Haven't you weaned yet?", "Ugh, that's so gross.", "Doesn't it make you feel like a cow?", "You don't put your milk in the employee fridge, do you?", " I wish I got to take 'breaks' like you do".

I know the guilt you feel because all you really want to do is what is best for your baby, and milk "from the tap" is nutritionally superior. I know you yearn for lunch with co-workers again. I know that looking at those videos on your phone of your little lovey while you pump, REALLY does help your pump output. I know that those close-up videos you take, you know, the ones where you can actually hear those little panting breaths that babies do, can literally bring tears to your eyes. I know that a "good pump" deserves a high five and a hug. I know that a fellow pumping co-worker will be your new work BFF, because she gets it. I know that when you're home the LAST thing you want to do is pump. You want that baby in your arms and nuzzled into your neck. You want those big round eyes looking up at you and that cheesy smile while they're still latched. I know that pumping is a labor of love. I know that our stay at home mom friends just don't get it. I know that it makes you feel like you're under yet another microscope at work. "How many minutes has she been in there pumping?", "How many breaks does she get?", "How long do we have to let her do this?", "Is her work getting done?", "Why can't she just formula feed?".  I know that while you're up all night with that sweet little baby, you are worried about how you are going to perform the next day at work - but at the same time you are cherishing those quiet moments. Those moments where no one else is around. It's dark and it's calm...and you can just feed your baby and stroke his hair and TRY not to think about how you're going to pull yourself together in 3 hours when your alarm goes off. I know that dry shampoo and pumping friendly tops are your new best friends. I know that coffee makes your world go round. I know that hearing "you look tired." becomes a mainstay.  I know that mastitis and nipple blanching and vasospasms are a son of a b-word. And between using all your PTO for maternity leave and sick babies - you CANNOT miss anymore work to care for these ailments. And even if you did miss work, no one would understand anyway. I know what it feels like to have your professionalism questioned, and I know you already worry about how they can even take you seriously when you leaked breast milk through your top last week, and you cried the other day for no good reason, and you are barely, BARELY keeping up on your work. I know that between the housework, and the mom-ing and the working and the pumping, you are at the end of your rope.

This is the reality of a working/breastfeeding mom. 

The question of "How do we, as women, have careers AND feed our babies the food that is the best?" - fell on deaf ears. We wanted a solution and they gave us this : "Here is a pump, and a room. Your employer will not be able to penalize you for pumping.  They legally HAVE to let you do it, but they don't have to like it and they don't have to make it easy for you. Now, if you would be so kind, get back to work 42 days after you have a baby."

Wait, what?

In reality, all we really want are the same rights as dogs...bear with me here! Dogs can keep their babies until they're weaned at 8 weeks. In most of the 50 states in The United States of America, it is illegal to take a puppy away from it's mother before it's 8-weeks-old. As of today in the United States, female dogs have a better maternity leave than we do! Dogs can keep their puppies until they're ready for solids, which is 8 weeks. Humans should have that right as well. Why isn't it illegal to separate a human baby from its mother until that baby is ready for solids (6-months according to the AAP)? Dogs get it. Why don't we?

For my daughters sake, and my sons, I hope they will never have to choose between their job and what is best for their baby. Extended/paid maternity leave needs to happen and it needs to happen soon.

Until then, pump on, mommas. Keep on fighting the good fight.


  1. It's like you were in my head as you wrote this. Thank you.

    1. Hi Sara!! I'm so happy this resonated with you!! ❤️❤️

  2. Great read! I no longer pump at work but you brought me back to a reality I was once in. It still feels very real to me as I contemplate baby #2, how on earth do I do this with two? Thank you for shedding light on life as a working/pumping mom!

    1. Oh, I know that feeling! It's so hard!! You'll find your groove and do what's best for your family. Thanks for reading!

  3. This is so so very important & true!!! I am an IBCLC, this is just my opinion. Babies & Mom's should NOT be separated until they are weaned which is even longer than 6 months, ideally well over 1 year of age.

    As a society we have gotten away from the woman staying at home; because having a career or job is more important than raising healthy well adjusted children. I realize some have to work to feed their families because they aren't married, or the partner can't support their current lifestyle. Then it becomes a matter of personal choices... Let's continue to push the government for a more realistic maternity leave in the USA of at least 6 months!!!

    1. I agree 100% about the maternity! I wish a longer maternity leave was an option. Ideally, a year. But I think 6 months is totally doable.

      Having a career and a job is a necessity for most. We have 5 children and my husband does not make anywhere near enough to support us and he's a contractor so he does not get benefits. Some women work, yes, because they want to. But the majority of us do it because we have to. Healthy, happy, well adjusted children can be raised in a home with 2 working parents.

      Thank you for your work as an IBCLC! I wish I could do be one! Thanks for reading!

  4. This article is soooooo well said and the exact thoughts of any working/full time nursing mamas! I agree that maternity leave NEEDS to be longer for the entire family's sake, but please don't make us working mamas feel guilty because we have to do just that, work! Believe all of us when we say we do not want to be here and our hearts ache each time we drop off our sweet babies in the morning. It's not a matter of 'personal choices' for a lot of families. Just as the author said in this article, it wasn't an option for her family. Just as it isn't for many, many families. I know you didn't mean to, but please don't mommy shame us for having to work. We don't want to be here anymore than we have to be here. All that to say- YES longer maternity leave for ALL mamas out there!!!! Beautifully written article and I hope it makes a difference. Love and hugs to you!

    1. I'm happy you liked it!! And I feel ya on having to work! I know more than anyone that it's not a choice. It's a need. We need insurance and we need to be able to eat and keep the lights on! Never feel guilty for supporting your family! You are setting an amazing example for your children! ❤️ Thanks for reading!

  5. Wow, this is amazing! This is how I have felt since going back to work. My baby is 7 months and I am still pumping away. Work has been difficult and not to mention on top of all the things written I am battling postpartum depression. It's nice to hear I am not alone in this fight! #mommapower

    1. Thank you so much!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it. And I'm so sorry you're dealing with all of that "stuff". Momming is so hard. And when you add work, pumping, housework, AND ppd it can be absolutely debilitating. Kudos to you for putting one foot in front of the other. YOU GOT THIS. ❤️much love, Nicky

  6. I just broke down and cried when reading this article. Here I was thinking that at 8 months, I was going through post partum depression. I didn't think that anyone else felt this way and continued to feel this way. I felt like after 8 months of pumping at home and work and working full time, I'd have my life and feelings together. I'm a nurse and I work with a lot of women who seem like they never had an issue. It is so wonderful to hear that I'm not the only one. Thank you.

  7. Omgosh!! You are NOT alone!! Not in the least! These are very real issues and very real feelings! It can be so isolating. But so, so rewarding! Hugs to you, momma! Thanks for reading!

  8. Great blog post Nicole. Keep the writing coming! You are a talented mother, sister, provider and everything to everyone. I find inspiration in your writing. I am a doctor working on a bigger voice for all things woman. We as men have had enough time and could never do what you do with such grace and ease. Be well, love and continue to do what you do...

    1. Hi James, I'm just seeing your comment now, so I am so sorry I didn't respond earlier! Thank you so much for your kind words. And thank you so much for reading!

  9. Hey Nicole! Are you still pumping? We'd love to offer you one of our Milk Genie breast pumps if you'd like to try it out - they are SUPER quiet and really effective, and will hopefully make things a little easier for you.

    Here is the link if you'd like to check it out: and our email if you'd like to try one out is

    Good luck!!

    Pumpables Team xx


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