Weird Thoughts While Pumping at Work

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    Nurses who are also breastfeeding mothers struggle to find the time to pump at work. This article is for them, and for all working mothers who can relate to the difficulty of balancing work and motherhood.

    Weird Thoughts While Pumping at Work

    With my first baby, I worked full time as a registered nurse in the hospital setting. I was reorganizing my kids room today and as I was moving my trusty old Medela to a new shelf, I was flooded with memories of my struggle to balance my responsibilities as a nurse with my responsibilities as a mother and wife. My second baby absolutely refused to take a bottle (I tried them all), and so my family had to make changes that allowed me to stay home until she is no longer breastfeeding. Part of me misses working, but to be honest, I am really enjoying staying home and just being a mom for a while. In a way, am thankful that my second child didn't give me any other options.

    With my first baby, like many breastfeeding mothers who work in this country (because our maternity leave is utterly [hehehe] absurd), I pumped at work. Pumping at work as a floor nurse was extremely difficult for me for a few reasons. Of course, the most difficult aspect of it was managing my already-oh-so-limited time in such a way that I could pump at least 3 times during my 12 hour shift. However, like all nurses I have a talent for finding time to get something done because it must be done. I am eternally grateful for the many nurses who covered me and took great care of my patients while I was off pumping. Even on the busiest days, my fellow nurses were all incredibly supportive. Some days, they would come and take my notes from my hands and force me to go and pump!

    I have heard that some hospitals have "nursing rooms." In my dreams, they are like little heavens with coffee and cookies, soft music, comfy couches and lots of easy to reach electrical outlets conveniently located near a perfectly placed table where I can set up my pump and maybe eat something. Also, they would have computers for charting. In reality, I have never seen one. And finding a place to pump was sometimes difficult too, especially if anyone else also needed to pump. Once, when I floated to another unit, I was told I would have to pump in the cramped (and gross) staff bathroom! I did not pump in the bathroom, and no working mother should ever be told to pump in a bathroom, but you get the point. Also, even if I did have the luxury of a "nursing room," I imagine it being extremely far away from my unit and my patients, only adding to the time it takes to get the job done and to the stress of being too far away from a patient teetering on the line between stable and unstable.

    Despite all of the many obstacles of pumping at work, I did it because it was extremely important to me to breastfeed. And below, you will find my rambling inner monologue on any given day, not all on the same day, and in no particular order.


    How long have I been pumping? Five minutes? Too long. Maybe if I turn up the suction.
    Ouch ouch ouch! No.

    Oh thank god. I was about to explode!

    Damn, only 1 oz? I need to drink more water. Have I peed today?

    I wonder if this batch has too much caffeine in it. *Yawn*...I need more coffee.

    This room is so creepy, cramped, and dusty.

    So this is where they are hiding all the wheelchairs!

    Did my patient just code?

    Damn it, I forgot to give that lady dilauded for her headache.

    This hands free nursing bra is ********! *fumbles with flanges and nipple placement*

    I hope my milk supply doesn't drop since I'm 3 hours late!

    I cant believe I just spilled milk all over myself *tries to eat lunch and pump

    How on earth do my nipples stretch like that? Its amazing every time I think about it.

    I am a human cow.

    I hope my baby is okay.

    **** this job.

    I love this job.

    I wish I could chart while pumping.

    Did I wash my hands long enough?

    I hope my breast milk doesn't get MRSA.

    Who the **** just knocked on the door? Am I just hearing things?


    Please comment below with your funny or not-so-funny experiences pumping at work. I would love to read them! Keep an eye out for future articles. I plan on writing one called "Tips for the Nursing Nurse...Pumping at Work." I looked all over for that kind of an article when I was first going back to work after pregnancy leave and I couldn't find it. Now that I did it myself, I hope to help some other nurses out and perhaps alleviate some of the anxiety of going back to work. It's not easy, but nurses can do anything!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
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    About elenamdib

    Elena Mazzella is a South Florida mother, wife, nurse and author of the book Survival Secrets for the New Graduate Nurse.

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  3. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    I am 29 weeks with my first baby so I don't personally have a story yet.

    I have no idea how I'm going to do pumping at all at work - I guess in my car? (I'm doing homecare).

  4. by   spotangel
    Had me laughing! We had a tiny room(closet size) that seats one chair , a side table and a outlet in the wall to plug the breast pump. The lock would not lock and I sat with my feet propped on the door to keep it shut! I had nightmares of the door opening, my breasts hanging out and a bunch of residents gaping as they tried out the doors looking for the bathroom!
    The breast milk was pumped and stored in the sterile urine cups in the fridge with a sticker prominently proclaiming Annie's breast milk!
    One time an ER attending teased me that his coffee tasted better with my milk! Had me running to the staff fridge!
    Now , since we are a baby friendly hospital, "Breast is best" , patients are offered exam rooms or new lactation rooms(none of the nurses know where they are!)for breast feeding!The nurses keep hunting for rooms to pump!
    A shout out to all nurses who covered me while I pumped! Some days I felt and smelt like Diary queen!
    I stopped breastfeeding when my youngest whipped out my breast to feed during Sunday mass---!
  5. by   RNsansmerci
    I had the Freemie cups - they were a lifesaver, esp at work! They are essentially cups you stick in your bra. You hook your pump tubing up to them and you can pump hands-free while leaving all your clothes on, nothing hanging out! I highly recommend them to everyone! Anyway, one day I was pumping when I heard a code for our floor. I rushed out without taking the cups out of my bra. Long story short, the code team had me pushing iv meds... only the staff from my floor knew that i had more than just boobs under my scrub shirt!
  6. by   RNsansmerci
    In my experience, while the car charger for my Medela pump did not have as strong power as wall, it definitely works when you have limited options! I've pumped while driving and while not the most convenient way to pump, it's better than being in pain from engorgement. Just takes practice.
  7. by   Guy in Babyland
    We have two staff lactation rooms (one staff member each). They have a chair, microwave, and table. They have signs on the doors for reservation times. Since they are in staff access only area there is no chance of visitors using them. We have a larger room for the patients' mothers to pump. I have no idea what it looks like inside since it is a "no males allowed" room.
  8. by   amoLucia
    Not a mom here.

    I'm thinking of the song 'Staying Alive' as the rhthym for your pumping. Kinda of like singing 'Happy Birthday' when you brush your teeth. I doubt either tempo would do the trick.

    I did LOL with 'Human Cow'.
  9. by   talie04
    This was uplifting! I thought I was the only one with these thoughts. I can so very much relate.

    My first child , I had to return back to work just after 12 weeks (very very ridiculous , this country not family friendly). I wanted to breastfeed for as long as possible. I worked per diem, 8 hr shifts in the hospital. The 3p-11p shifts were extremely too busy for me to pump so I ended up changing my hours to night shifts 12 hours.

    Although there was the time for me to pump at night time, I was always tired and couldnt catch up on my sleep because of my baby staying up during the day.

    Working as a nurse, long hours while trying to pump in a very demanding job? Is a joke at times. Not very encouraging at all. Mothers who plan on breastfeeding should have maternity leave for 6months to 1 year paid (as like other countries).
  10. by   ShelbyaStar
    I lol'd at caffeine and MRSA. It's a wonder my baby ever naps with all the coffee I drink.

    I work for a TCU at a SNF. There is a pumping room, but it's way in the assisted living unit and there's no computer to chart on. So I put on Freemies and a scarf so I don't look like a Fembot from Austin Powers and I head for a side office or the clean utility closet. Neither are that private, but whatever, we all see naked people all day anyway, and I can get some charting done while I'm in there. Unfortunately the Freemies aren't quite as powerful, but pumping at work any other way would be totally unrealistic.

    Almost 8 months, the end is near...
  11. by   BlueDawnRN
    It's so hard to find the time to pump, and the support of your coworkers will make or break your ability to breastfeed. When I first returned to work they'd only cover me for one pumping session in a 12 hour shift. It was brutal. I'd often dip into the bathroom with a hand pump just to relieve the engorgement. None of them breastfed so they didn't understand, and I'm not a very assertive person which didn't help. On the floor I'm on now, I take two pumping breaks in 12 hours. Luckily I work nights and the baby is mostly night weaned. Any more than that, and it would be very difficult to get any work done.

    I'm also very afraid of bringing something home in the milk! I wash my hands well but my scrubs are probably dirty and I don't want my clothes touching the pump parts.

    Looking at baby pictures and videos while pumping definitely helps! I love my Medela cooler pack so I don't have to put anything in the staff fridge.

    Almost 11 months and still going!
  12. by   Davey Do
    Quote from elenamdib
    Please comment below with your funny or not-so-funny experiences pumping at work.
  13. by   JerseyTomatoMDCrab
    Quote from Davey Do
    Davey wins. as usual.