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Pumping in Public

Nursing in public is one thing, but pumping in public? That’s a whole other trick. Don’t let the anxiety of pumping in public stop you from protecting your milk supply for your sweet baby.

First, make sure you have the gear. You probably want a way to cover up, even if you wouldn’t normally use a cover when nursing in public. Some great options include a nursing cover, an infinity scarf, or a wrap sweater.

You also want an A/C-free option for your pump, like a battery pack or a car adapter. Better yet, try a hand pump. Have you mastered this yet? It is the most portable, quietest, and most inconspicuous way to pump on the fly!

Going hands-free helps you to stay discrete, too. Freemies collection cups and a hands-free pumping bra like the Simple Wishes bra are perfect for this. And, of course, you need to have a way to collect the milk.

Be sure to bring collection bottles or bags with you. Or at least have a way to improvise. Dawn offers this tip:

“Since I use the Freemies, I don’t travel with bottles. Whenever I need to pump outside of my office, I seem to forget my milk bags and end up buying a bottle of water and then pouring milk into the plastic bottle.”

There are a few things you’ll need when your pumping session is done. First, you will need a way to store the milk without a fridge. A cooler with ice packs will do the job. Medela includes one with their double-electric pump. And, if you can’t get to a sink, you need a back-up plan to clean your parts before your next pump. Either bring a second set of pump parts or invest in some pump wipes for a quick, on-the-spot cleaning.

Next, make sure you have the confidence. Wherever you are, don’t be afraid to ask for a place to pump. What do you have to lose? Just ask! Head to customer service, the concierge, or the manager and simply say, “Do you have accommodations for nursing mothers?” Be ready to use the words “medically necessary” and “accommodations other than the bathroom for sanitary reasons” if you get an answer you don’t like.

Here’s a post from Pumpin’ Mama Amanda:

“I’m currently at a training session in the New Castle County Courthouse right next to all the family court judges’ chambers. I felt kind of shy about asking for a place to pump but it turns out there is a nursing moms’ room two doors down! They were so happy to show off the room. Now, I’m feeling pretty fancy and praying I don’t spill any milk on this leather chair!”

Pumpin’ Mama Lara shares her pumping in public success story:

“One of the bravest things I ever did was pump in the end floor lobby after a Wicked matinee. I asked for a place to do it but they didn’t have a mother’s room. So, I found a nice couch near an outlet, plugged in, and pumped. The security guard was so nice and kept saying things like, ‘I got you. You do you, baby girl.’”

To boost your confidence, remember to act inconspicuous. Most people don’t look at each other long enough to realize what everyone else is doing. Frankly, most people are looking at their phones. You may think it is blatantly obvious that you are milking yourself, but chances are, it’s not.

Carolyn shared this story with the Pumpin’ Mamas Facebook group:

“Pumping in the hotel lobby of the Philadelphia Marriott—here for a work conference. I was nervous at first because I’ve never pumped in ‘public.’ Also because there must be 27 high school sports teams checking in right now. But literally no one has looked at me or made me feel weird. Feeling stealth!”

And Emily recalls her multiple experiences pumping in public spaces during a trip abroad:

“I went on a five-day trip to the UK when my daughter was 11 months old and pumped in any manner of places.

I pumped at the Minute Suites in Philadelphia International. They will give you a room for free for half an hour. It’s located between the A and B terminals. Once I landed in London, I pumped on the two-hour bus ride to my final destination. We were there for a wedding, and as it was an all-day affair, I ended up pumping three times at the venue! The wedding coordinator was great in finding me a secluded spot to set up, and the bar staff were excellent in supplying me with fresh ice throughout the day.  I then pumped on the bus ride back to London, and in the family restroom at the Dublin airport on a layover, which was very spacious, with multiple seats intended for wrangling kids. And on the flight from Dublin back to Philadelphia I pumped three more times.

I was surprised at how easily it all went. I used to pump on the drive in to work, so I’ve become accustomed to hooking up and unhooking while using a nursing cover. I didn’t receive any unkind comments or even any funny looks. I think just having a “try me” attitude helped. I was polite but very matter of fact when I asked about pumping; I approached it as something I had the right to do, not something I was asking permission to do.”

Finally, hunt down the accommodations. Nowadays, most major establishments have them. Check out Moms Pump Here, an amazing app/website that helps you find a pumping room nearby!

Pumpin’ Mama Tiffany has found plenty of accommodations for nursing and pumping moms on a recent trip:

“I’m now officially having an awesome trip. Thank you, Dallas Love Field, for a dedicated nursing room with sink, rocker, etc., that is well marked outside and even noted on the airport map with a little nursing symbol. Fast and easy to find during my tight connection!

Also, look what I found at BWI! Inside the women’s restroom before security by concourse C, just past Subway and Dunkin Donuts. A comfy seat, with power outlet and room to spread out a little! :-)”

Pumping in public can be a hassle–inconvenient, time consuming, and potentially a bit messy. But with a little bit of prior preparation and some confidence in your rights as a pumpin’ mama, you can protect your supply and bring home your precious milk even when you have to be away from your baby.