As a mom who has used my pump in lots of great and not-so-great places and also nursed in mostly great places - I have encountered many different reactions to the question, "Do you have a place where I can use my breast pump?". Here are five - notice I'm not saying "Top 5" or "Worst 5" - there's a good mix in this list!
1. "We can give you Mr. President-of-the-Company's Shower Room. Would that work?" This came from the local HR manager for the company I was working for when I was pregnant with my oldest son. She hadn't really experienced anyone asking here for a place to pump and she felt a room with just a shower (no sink, no lock) and a janitor's mop would be an acceptable place to pump.
2. "Hmmmm, good question. I don't think so. Have a nice day." I get this response the most. Employers are usually not expecting a woman to desperately ask for a place to pump and they haven't been sufficiently trained in answering the question.
3. "Hmmmm, good question. Let me find out. Please wait here while I ask someone for you." This is an awesome, appropriate response. The employee isn't really sure if their establishment has a place but they want to help you out and are willing to do so. I really appreciate when I get this reply because I take it as an opportunity to promote awareness and concern for our cause.
4. "Absolutely. Let me show you to the ladies' restroom." This is my least favorite response but we at Moms Pump Here frequently hear this reaction. The employee believes they are being helpful and then are often frustrated when I say that won't be acceptable for us. Please know you do not have to take this response - keep asking until other accommodations are provided.
5. "Absolutely. Anything you need to feed your baby, just let us know and we'll help you out." This is the ideal response yet we rarely receive it. I received it from my direct supervisor when I returned to work after one pregnancy and she truly meant it. I had a locking door, new blinds installed, and a noise machine (a simple fan) installed in my office and I was given all the time I needed to pump, no questions asked. This made my pump-at-work experience so much easier and pleasant for all of us. For me, I knew my needs were met. For my baby, he was receiving the best nutrition possible. For my employer, they took away the stress of where/when/how I would be making food fo rmy baby and I could then concentrate on my work for them.
We want to help all places to respond with #5 when we "Can Moms Pump Here". Check back next week when MPH will explore ways employers can help improve their employee culture so they keep all members of their staff educated on policies, laws, and procedures which help lactating moms find places to pump and/or nurse.