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Thread: Anxiety over pumping at work

  1. #1
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Anxiety over pumping at work

    I am on my 3rd day back to work. I am pumping milk 3 times a day for my 4 month old DS.

    I work in a cubicle and my company has a "quiet room" set aside that pumping mothers can use. The thing is, this room is not only for pumping moms - other employees are free to use the room to lie down if they are not feeling well, etc. Also, you can't reserve the room for specific times... you have to just go to the room and hope that it is not already occupied when you need it. It is on a different floor from where I work also.

    I used this quiet room only once before I decided to try to make other arrangements. There are a number of empty offices on my floor, and I got permission from the admin of our department to use one of those offices. It has a locking door, etc, so I have the privacy I need.

    The thing is, even though this particular office is not in a high-traffic area, there is someone in the office right next to it. When I'm in there pumping, I can hear him talking on the phone, etc. I am already having so much anxiety worrying about whether or not he can hear my pump (I try to muffle it as much as possible), and if it bothers him... or even if he can't hear the pump, does it weird him out knowing that I am in there pumping? I haven't talked to him but he may have guessed by now what's going on due to my visits to that office 3x a day and my "privacy please" sign I tape on the door. :/

    When I'm in there, I can't stop thinking about him and worrying about it. I don't want to openly talk to him about whether or not I'm disturbing him because that would just make me even more anxious. I really feel like this is already having an impact on my pumping output. Normally I respond very very well to pumping, but during my sessions that I can hear him talking in his office - I output dramatically less than when he's not around.

    I'm not sure what to do about this situation. I am pretty certain that my company won't give me a private office to work in full time because they have strict corporate policies about who is "allowed" to have an office vs. a cubicle. And even if they DID let me have an office, I'm 99% sure it would be the one right next to my boss, with not 1 but THREE people on adjacent walls who might be able to hear me pumping. That would not work at all!

    Help!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    Ah, mama, I think you need to let go of this anxiety! You'll feel better after a time, I think. So what if he can hear the pump? I mean, seriously, it's not a loud or obnoxious sound, it's not likely to bother him, what's the issue? You don't know - he may have a wife at home who pumped for his kids, it may not bother him one bit, right?

    Could you put on some headphones, read a fun novel, and just try to relax? Could you bring a small fan into the office and turn it on - the white noise will drown out the pump? Just for your comfort, really.

    Which is to say, I doubt you are bothering him, I think this issue is about YOU, and not about this other guy, who at most hears a muffled drone. You'll get more confident over time.

    I used to participate in conference calls while pumping.

    I think we pumping moms, we sometimes have to pretend that we're not at all embarrassed by what we're doing (even if we are a little), just project confidence in what we're doing for our babies. If that's the vibe you're putting out to coworkers (whether you're talking about it or not - this is about your energy, not your words), they will likely follow suit. If we project embarrassment, like we're doing something wrong, people will totally pick up on that and be more likely to respond negatively. You are being a GREAT MOM, this is for your BABY, sometimes you have to turn on the "mother bear" thing, and just be like, my baby comes first, don't push me!!


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    with the pp. We need to work on YOU mama! I want you to feel at least confident enough that you don't give a crap if someone realizes you are pumping. You are doing what is best for your child AND you are working to normalize nursing; you are showing that moms can work and maintain a nursing relationship and that as a society we should support that.

    For the short term, when I find myself overly concerned with what others think of me, I remind myself "If I really knew how infrequently others thought of me I wouldnt worry" that sounds harsh but although YOU may think this dude spends a portion of his day noticing you, hearing a noise and wondering about it...he's actually probably barely noticed, forgotten about it immediately and is thinking about a million other guy things instead.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    Yeah, it isn't easy!! It does sound like your company is doing very nice things to accomodate you, which is awesome. I pump in a bathroom (which has a chair to sit down and an outlet, but it isn't private). I do wear my zip-up sweater when I go in, so I can sort of cover up if someone is coming in. I just keep it at my desk and take it with me to the bathroom. It has helped my anxiety a bit. I also use my iphone to surf the web and keep that time to "me time" where I can relax and not feel bad about surfing the net.

    I am also in a shared office, so I feel your pain! I wish I could just have an office to myself to pump too. :-/ And I will be honest, sometimes when my office mates are gone I pump in my little corner...but it will be a bit crazy if they walk in on that!
    EBFing, CDing, BWing, co-sleeping mamma to Bennett (9/5/11).
    Excited to be a BM donor through Indiana Mothers Milk Bank (http://www.immb.org/).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jenna562 View Post
    For the short term, when I find myself overly concerned with what others think of me, I remind myself "If I really knew how infrequently others thought of me I wouldnt worry" that sounds harsh but although YOU may think this dude spends a portion of his day noticing you, hearing a noise and wondering about it...he's actually probably barely noticed, forgotten about it immediately and is thinking about a million other guy things instead.
    This is so true! I often try to remind myself that, essentially, most people are too self-centered to really bother with micro-judging me, you know? I mean, the guy probably has more important things on his mind that what that whirring sound is next door. Like the next major sports event that he cares about.

    You're only on day three. Just keep up what you're doing for a bit longer, and it's sure to feel more comfortable.

    ETA: I have an office of my own, but it has one glass wall. Soooo, I had to do what you are doing. It got easier in time.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    I use a hooter hider nursing cover when I pump so even if someone was standing right there they couldnt see anything.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jenna562 View Post
    I use a hooter hider nursing cover when I pump so even if someone was standing right there they couldnt see anything.
    I was thinking to suggest this too. Worthless as a nursing cover, perfect for pumping. I used this because I also pumped in a semi-public area, no locking door, etc. People knew to stay away, mostly, but occasionally someone would burst in, not knowing any better. I also used it when pumping in the car.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    It gets easier! I have been back to work 2 months now and at first I felt some anxiety too. I pump in a small windowless conference room and there are few people around but you can kind of head through the walls. It gets easier and your output will recover, promise. You'll get more efficient. My immediate peers know what I'm doing but if anyone else asks I'm happy to tell them. I think they've all figured it out by now and could care less, actually. They are busy with their noses in their monitors and hardly ever even look up. I kind of wish they would ask so I can do my part educating people on bfing.
    Lisa

    Mom to Aimee, born 8/22/11
    for 20 months!

  9. #9
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    Thanks for all the replies already.

    One thing you guys are right about is this is an issue with ME and my anxiety. I have always been the self-conscious and modest type so the idea of getting my boobs out in a corporate environment is pretty stressful.

    Not that I'm worried about being SEEN or anything... both my pumping room options have locking doors. So I feel pretty OK about that.

    I'm also comfortable with my immediate peers knowing what I'm up to. My favorite co-worker nursed her babies too so she gets BFing (although she was a SAHM at the time so never had to pump at work).

    As it happens, the guy in the office next to the room I pump in is a director in my department and I suppose he's always intimidated me a little bit simply because he's in a high level position. Also, he is a gay man and he and his partner don't have any children - so the idea that he understands because maybe he has a wife at home who has nursed does not apply.

    My plan for now is to try going back to the designated quiet room for my next pump session and see if I am able to relax more in there. At least up on that floor I don't know anyone so even if there are people around they are more "anonymous" and I don't care so much, know what I mean?

    Incidentally - yesterday on the Yahoo homepage there was a user poll about breastfeeding in public. It had about 27,000 replies. Exactly 50% of respondents were saying breastfeeding in public is NOT ok. I was kind of shocked the number was that high. That means potentially 1 in 2 people could be "weirded out" by my pumping at work.

    I know, I need to get over myself.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Anxiety over pumping at work

    I just gave up all dignity I might have once had Just kidding, but also, I totally do not stress out about the possibility of someone seeing my breast the way I used to. I do get that you would rather not have your co-workers even know; I also felt this way to an extent because basically my wish is for my coworkers to never ever ever ever think about my body or non-public parts AT ALL. Which is how I think about them - they may all be a bunch of eunuchs for all I know or care.

    Eh, but such is life. I sometimes work in the field, so I actually even had to pump right in front of coworkers. And they were respectful and it really was not the issue I feared it would be. Wouldn't have chose to do that if I hadn't had to, but pumping for my daughter was SO worth the minor mental discomfort and anxiety. One coworker who is definitely my firend but does have a touch of Asperger's and is therefore not super socially ept at all times was very supportive, because she EP'd for a year and like me has massive environmental allergies, and wanted me to be able to give whatever protection BM provides for that to my child. She happened to discuss my nipples and pumping loudly where others could hear at times, but it was in no way malicious. And I didn't die of embarrassment, and started to think about it exactly the way Jenna is describing. It must be normalized! People need to know working moms can and should pump, and to not think this is weird or fruity or gross.

    The person whose office adjoins mine is a very high-powered male principal in my company. I worried at first whether the pumping sound bothered him, and also whether it was causing him to think ABOUT MY BOOBS SEVERAL TIMES A DAY AHHHHHHHHH. But I let it go. Because I had to and honestly it got boring to be that socially anxious after the first few weeks. Because it is a chore, and it just needs to be done. No reason to make it harder or more onerous or more annoying or more fraught with issues than it needs to be. My baby needs my milk, I need to work, and the equation is simple. And high powered guy next door never said a word, once. All he has ever said about ANY of it after listening to me pump 2-3x per day for almost a year was how cute my daughter is

    ETA, you posted while I was posting, but to this:

    That means potentially 1 in 2 people could be "weirded out" by my pumping at work.
    Yup. And so what. They are the crazy and misguided ones, hopefully there will be FEWER of them in the next generation if women continue to refuse to be marginalized for BFing. And you are protected by law regardless of what anyone else may or may not think is weird.
    Last edited by @llli*ooky; January 11th, 2012 at 04:39 PM.
    Mom to Taiga born 6/2010

    Pocket cloth diapers. Baby led solids. Full-time working mom. I my DH, DD, kitty Dr. Benway, and my working border collie Odin!
    BF for 1 year and she and I still love it !!!!

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