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Where Moms Pump at Work

Mom Forced to Pump in a Not-so-Sanitary Location

When new moms return to work, one of their biggest concerns is finding a safe space to pump. Although the Nursing Mothers Provision Act requires employers to provide a proper place for breastfeeding moms, they don't always abide. Bobbi Bockoras, a mother and employee at Saint Gobain Verallia, learned this the hard way when she was forced to pump in an old locker room filled with dirt and dead bugs.

Before the birth of her second child, Bockoras knew she would be breastfeeding, and she made sure her employer was aware. She informed them in person and, to insure she would return to a pump-friendly environment, provided them with a copy of the Nursing Mothers Provision Act. When she returned to work, however, the accommodations did not meet her expectations.

Bockoras was initially told by her supervisor and HR to pump in the restroom but relocated to a first aid room when she told them the act ensured her a separate space. Unfortunately, her move was met with interruptions and crude comments from male co-workers. With nowhere else to go, Bockoras found an abandoned locker room. Though the new space provided privacy, there was a lot of filth and no furniture, forcing the mom to pump on the unsanitary floor. Bockoras continued to complain to HR and her supervisor but was met with more harassment and a shift in her schedule that left her with less time to pump. As a result, Bockoras switched her baby to formula.

Bockoras has shared her story on the American Civil Liberties Union's website and is working with legal organization to prevent others from facing a similar situation. As she simply, and accurately, puts it on the ACLU site, "no woman should have to go through what I did simply to do what's best for her baby."

When it comes to pumping at work, what has your experience been like? Weigh in with our poll and in the comments!

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Join The Conversation
AngelicaRambaran AngelicaRambaran 3 years
As a mom that was in the military when I had my first child I knew I had a couple of options...I could buy a pump that I could wear; yes they are available and you have to really be willing to pay big bucks for it. Or ask one of my coworkers to use their office because it would provide privacy. Luckily when my son was born our Headquarters made sure that we had the room, time and privacy we needed. I'm not saying in any way that as a mom that just happened to breastfeed I'm any better, but companies should understand that to get more out of employees you must make all needs for new moms a priority. The major difference between breasfeed babies and bottle feed babies are not ever waiting for you to warm up the bottle. Another difference is that the daycare/sitter can only offer the formula once abottle with breastmilk can be offered over and over because breastmilk does not go bad in a day.
April14377653 April14377653 3 years
This is purely my opinion and not an attack on working mums. To me, a workplace is for... Working! Some workplaces are relaxed enough to give a lactation room. The majority may have to accept bfeding/ pumping, but a business is about money making and times are tough. Do it at home and be poor (as we are). If your bub is so young that it needs milk, your time is best spent with them. It's not just a breast thing. Besides, apart from long chain fatty acids, breast milk isn't the bees knees! Has anyone remembered Genetics? Plays a far greater role in a child's development. Ladies, we all do our best in our own way, with what circumstances we have. Don't beat yourself up if it's too hard and you can't be a Superworker AND a Supermum. I tried to juggle both and it burned us all out. Take Care x
VanessaSullivan VanessaSullivan 3 years
I can't believe any of you justify employers making employees pump in the restroom. If it's not okay to actually breastfeed your child in a bathroom, why would pumping be any different? Why do men get so much slack but not women for employers? How is agreeing with employers on this make for more fair parenting arrangements? How does it push forward the idea of equitability? Men and women alike should not be penalized for becoming parents!
CareyWickerham CareyWickerham 3 years
Well said JenD37146. I nursed my son for three years and I pumped in the bathroom at work. I never felt humiliated or wronged by the experience. I also never asked for seperate "pumping time". One woman complained about the area and amount of time she was given. Surely she got a lunch break and certainly they had a bathroom if she found the accommodations too uncomfortable. I have nursed and pumped in bathrooms without illness or emotional scarring. Why do we need some posh mini nursery to pump in? Why should I become a less reliable employee because I choose to feed my child naturally. I did take seperate pumping time once or twice when I first got back to work and I felt like I was being unfair to my coworkers. I mentally compared it to taking a smoke break. As a non-smoker I always hated when a smoker was hired and afforded "cigarette breaks" in addition to their regular breaks. I never felt it was fair for anyone to get extra breaks to keep up with bad or good habits. All I'm getting at is when I took the extra time I personally felt I was being unfair to my employers and coworkers. I work hard every day to prove to them that having a child doesn't have to equal a less reliable employee and I think too many moms aren't as reliable as they could be.
JenD37146 JenD37146 3 years
I wish this law had never been passed. I breastfed 3 children, but nursing moms are not some kind of protected class. If we're honest, we have to admit that many employers are reluctant to hire moms with young children, and for good reason. Moms of babies are more likely to be sleep-deprived and therefore less productive, more likely to miss work because of sick kids and doctor appointments, and more likely to get calls and texts from baby's caregivers. When I pumped at work (and it was not in the 50s, it was this century) I pumped in the bathroom. There were no outlets so I used a manual pump. It wasn't the most fun experience in the world, but I was grateful to have a job, and to have a boss who was flexible about my hours and understanding of my family obligations. Pumping (or breastfeeding) in a bathroom is NOT unsanitary, no matter what the condition of the bathroom. The milk goes directly from mom's breast into either the baby or a sanitized collecting system, so the environment is irrelevant. It sounds like this woman's boss gave her a couple different options for a breastfeeding area. Does anyone really think lawsuits are going to help the breastfeeding cause? It's only going to make employers more reluctant to hire moms.
CynthiaBenjamin CynthiaBenjamin 3 years
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had a private room (with a lock) to pump. It actually had a label outside the door that read "Lactation Room". Not only that, there were comfortable "lounge" chairs with connected tables to set pump on, a sink, a refrigerator, and lockers. In addition, I had supportive managers (both were men) and this enabled me to nourish my two children with breastmilk until they were each one year old. I know that this is not necessarily the norm and I feel for women who aren't afforded the same accomodations. Being a working mom isn't easy whether you are breastfeeding and pumping or feeding formula exclusively from day one. I applaud all Moms who do what they can to nourish their babies the best that they can. I did what I felt best for my children but don't fault another mother for doing something different.
IseultBourke IseultBourke 3 years
When I was working as a teacher in 1992, I had to pump out breastmilk in the tiny toilet cublcles of the school, It was a disgusting confidence-sapping experience. Not only that, but the staff regularly made negative comments about breast-feeding and children who had been breastfed for what they considered too long a time. I hope you modern women never have to do anything like this and that you are proud to breastfeed your babies anywhere you like.
LoriJones4640 LoriJones4640 3 years
Um Katherine just to let u know, it is not always as easy as that to give a bottle when out. Everyone is different. I have a friend who tried pumping n feeding her son n he wouldn't take a bottle at all! Plus not all Breastfeeding moms think they r special so stop stereotyping. I didn't Breastfeed my first n he was rarely sick n grew up just fine. This time I am n I am going to take full advantage of the law n pump in a clean private area when I go back to work n that has to do with the fact that I want to make sure the milk is not contaminated when I give it to my baby. I know people boil the water n cool it before making formula or boil the bottled. Why? So that what they give their babies is clean n sterile so why shouldn't I be able to have a clean place to pump so what my baby gets is clean n sterile? It shouldn't be one against the other. Ppl do what they think is best for their child but don't group everyone the same just cuz a few ppl looked down on u for giving formula. Maybe Breastfeeding moms push more for their rights cuz they have had to fight for them like being able to do it in public without being told they have to leave. Everybody just needs to get over themselves cuz no matter what, the law is the law.
KatherineHauswirth KatherineHauswirth 3 years
@Actionshots15088014: I have a 10 month old who has been formula fed since day 1. She has never been sick outside of ear infections, which are caused from the awful sinuses she inherited from me. I totally agree with what you've said! The article here states SHE chose/found the locker room after being harassed by MALE co-workers. Sounds like a sexual harassment suit as opposed to a rights suit! She should've complained about the sexual harassment, as opposed to where she was pumping. For the record, I have formula fed my baby from a bottle in public and have gotten dirty looks and received nasty comments, because I was formula feeding and doing it in public. Breast feeding mommies are not as special as they make themselves out to be! It just comes down to this: don't care about what others feel or think. And for the record, breast feeding mommies CAN use a bottle to feed while in public. That isn't too much to ask, and you don't have to cover your baby up.
Actionshots15088014 Actionshots15088014 3 years
...hit post before finished, clumsy fingers. Posting her children are sick. So back off formula feeding moms. That being said, private area, check...ask for a chair and ask for the person in charge of cleaning to clean it or clean it yourself and stop compaining. As for the harassment, that is the only complaint I can see.
Actionshots15088014 Actionshots15088014 3 years
@Amburhubbard all three of my chldren were formula fed...personal choice, but they have never bern sick other than a cold hat might have lasted a day. The older two are stait A students and all excell in every area. I am so tired of people saying formula fed kids are smaller, sickly children at higher risk for allergies blah blah blah. . Know of women whom have breast fed multiple childte past toddler age snd all her children habe allergies snd sheis constsntly posting
MelanieSinka MelanieSinka 3 years
That's terrible!
KathrynChow69355 KathrynChow69355 3 years
I was serving in the active duty Army with my first child. We didn't have a private room specifically dedicated for breastfeeding, so I used a small file room when I needed to pump. It was private and clean, mainly because we kept the areas clean. If a surface was dusty, then I cleaned the area with a cleanser and life went on. I brought in a chair from the other room and made do with what I had. I was grateful I didn't have to use the restroom. Of your company has the space for a dedicated breastfeeding room, that is wonderful. But we did not, so I made it work for me.
Trent14429931 Trent14429931 3 years
Further proof that we Americans have no Rights, even if there is a so-called "Act." I disagree with her showing compliance by switching to formula, but I also don't know the whole story. God forbid she wants to do what's best for her baby.
AmburHubbard AmburHubbard 3 years
I hate that people treat breastfeeding as a privilege instead of a right. Baby formula, though it isn't poison, will never be as good as mothers milk. Also, formula is expensive. And formula fed children get sick more often and severely than breastfed babies. Are the employers going to compensate for the cost of formula? How about the increased illnesses and missed work days? Another thing is that going around with engorged breasts can be very painful. It can put mom at increased risk of developing mastitis or a plugged duct. Not fun events.
ElizabethJones45135 ElizabethJones45135 3 years
I am very fortunate. I work for a local (Phoenix Metro Area) family owned carbon neutral taxi cab company. My company not only allows me to bring my child work but my bosses set up a changing table and swing in our call center so that I would have them available to me at work. Since it is a taxi cab company, there are always tons of male drivers around. Everyone is very respectful of my situation and no one ever makes crude comments or makes me feel uncomfortable. I can nurse my daughter anywhere I wish as long as I use my nursing cover or we have a couple of offices I could use as well if I wanted more privacy. I can't imagine having to deal with a company that would make me pump milk in a dirty locker room! Shame on them!
CoMMember13613549904472 CoMMember13613549904472 3 years
I had to argue with my bosses (yes 4 men very stuck in their ways) to let me take a break when i needed to pump...i mean we shared some words! I pumped in my car at work with a cover in a busy parking lot (I only had 20 minutes to pump & eat...usually I didn't even have time to eat) & in the bathroom while I was going to school...sitting on a toilet. We live in an efficient fast paced world. Not many have the space, money nor the mindset to make a place for breast feeding mothers when they build stuff (except disney) because quite frankly it isn't going to be used that often. I'm not entitled to's a privilege to be able to breast feed my children...I'll do whatever it takes to do so. I'm confused that any mother would stop breast feeding because a man said something or that it lead her to go to a dirty room...I would have brought a blanket to sit on or cleaned it myself if it bothered me that bad. As mothers we endure waking up every hour with a sick child, cleaning pee off the new couch, washing poop off our hands, etc. etc. what's the big deal sacrificing a bit of comfort for our babies? By all means ask for a place to pump. Recommend it in a way that isn't should be able to have that place but don't get crazy if it just isn't an option for ur company...make it happen. I see it as I need a pair of new pants & my daughter needs a pair of new pants but I only have enough money to get 1...whose pants would u buy? I'd totally sacrifice my needs for her wellbeing. Just saying!
LoriJones4640 LoriJones4640 3 years
Exactly! Jennifer Clark. It is law u r to be given a clean private area to pump. This woman didn't ask for the ritz. It's people with the mindset that u shouldn't be given an area to pump r the problem! I don't give a rats ass what people did 10, 20, 30 yrs ago or where they breadtfed. What matters is now n what the law is. Is it really that difficult to give a mom a clean private place for 15 min to pump as needed? Seriously, Breastfeeding is suppose to be so good n healthy for babies yet ppl want to make it difficult to be able to keep doing it. I want those women who say to do it in a bathroom to tell me they have never walked in a stall n have seen dirty toilet paper around the floor n piss on the seat. U would seriously pump ur milk to give ur baby in a dirty bathroom? If so then u r disgusting women! I have never gone in a bathroom that was 100% clean. Ppl saying a bathroom is fine really burns me!
JenniferClark40856 JenniferClark40856 3 years
Cheryl & Ashley, you can think a restroom is acceptable all you want. But LEGALLY it is unacceptable! As would be a locker room, and apparently the first aid closet didn't have a lock on it (another legal requirement). So she found a last resort where she wouldn't be disturbed (who wants interruptions while their nipples are being suctioned?). Acting as like she is all high & mighty is why I know you are part of the problem! All she was asking for was a CLEAN, sanitary place to pump, which complied with the law. She didn't ask for plush padded chairs, a radio & a pillow. Just not to be forced to sit in a dusty room filled with bug carcasses. Instead, she was ignored & forced into feeding her child crap formula, even when she was trying to do right by her child. That is unacceptable!
CynthiaBittner CynthiaBittner 3 years
I think it's ridiculous that there are people on here suggesting that a woman should be nice and not demand better. Even worse is the suggestion that this mother is just upset because she's hormonal, and that if she doesn't want to pump in a nasty locker room she should be a SAHM.
brianabeaulieu brianabeaulieu 3 years
My boss is awesome! she allowed me to use her office with the big comfy chairs whenever I needed to pump. If I were this mom the first time they weren't in compliance I would have been speaking to an attorney.
AshleyBurt AshleyBurt 3 years
I have to agree with Cheryl. Not in a mean way, but a realistic way. There is a law that forces the employer to help you find privacy to pump, but you can't just expect a private apartment at work. You can't be mean and demand it. If you get snarky about it then be a SAHM. Being reasonable and requesting/suggesting is the way to go. Just because you decide to breastfeed doesn't mean the world bends and the moon rises with your whims. The real issue was with the mean male coworkers not with HR or the boss. It's really difficult to decipher truth from fiction because let's just be honest, when a new mom is scorned hormones will fly. Been there got that tshirt. It's hard for me to believe unless I have data, video, etc. she could have asked housekeeping to clean the locker room and get her a chair and table. *shrugs* but getting made about everything the work place offered her. Is just a SMH kinda thing.
AshleyBurt AshleyBurt 3 years
Wow, I'm so appalled at women that say they're too good to pump or breastfeed in restrooms. An interview I watched with several moms from the 1950's all breastfed in bathrooms. They said simply "I excused myself to change my babies diaper. They didn't have changing stations or anything like that. I have changed many a diaper on my lap. And I also nurses my baby there too. Not in public, or a private parlor, or anything like that like they do now." The nasty locker room is too far, but I feel mothers should give suggestions to where to pump instead of demanding demanding demanding.
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