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Do Not Disturb: Nursing Mama Pumping


One of my least favorite things about returning to work post maternity leave is pumping.  With regularity, every three hours despite being in my office or out and about I have to hook myself up and pump.  I close the door, draw the blinds, and turn off the lights hoping that it would prevent disruptions from coworkers. Short of putting a sign on the door stating that I am pumping, I hope every time that disruptions are minimal.  Inevitably someone knocks.  Uh, "I'll be right out in a few minutes," I would say.  I'm the kind that's a bit private about pumping at work and feel like I shouldn't draw attention to what is happening behind closed doors but I am wondering if I need to.  Should I put a sign on my door?  What should it say?  What have you done and is it effective?


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I put a sign up . ..pumpng with a little bottle drawn on it. Gave a few chuckles and avoided eyes when I was headed that direction. I work with a lot of males and they are a bit ignorant in that area. If I didn't put the sign up they would be expecting me to get some work done or answer pages while in there.

I just put up a yellow post-it that said "Please do not disturb" when ever I was pumping. Not very creative but it worked. I have a very small office, though, so it wasn't a huge secret about what was going on, especially when I was doing the "dishes" afterwards.

I put the word "Moo" on a Post-It outside my office door and was never bothered once.

Kudos to all the mamas who are pumping at work. It sucks (no pun intended) but it's worth it!

I had a sign with a smiling cartoon cow on it that said "I'll be back soon" on my cubicle. All my coworkers knew what that meant, so they could tactfully tell anyone else that I was away from my desk, without feeling awkward about it.

We have a designated pumping room at my work, so I just threw up a "please knock before entering" sign. No one ever knocked, though. If people had regularly knocked, I think it would have said "do not disturb".

I had "please do not enter when this sign is up" and it worked for me. I had coworkers who otherwise would knock and then let themselves in.

I put up a "please come back in 10 minutes" sign. Or else a "please come back after 12:30 sign." I found that as long as people had a definite time frame that they could come back, they left me alone.

I used a sign that said "Do not disturb." Nobody ever did (it's a small office, they all knew what I was doing).

Everyone at my work now knows my little guy, so i printed a picture of him and wrote a talking bubble coming out of his mouth that says, "please don't disturb. my mom's in here." I did this only AFTER being walked in on! It only takes one time :)

Oh, yeah, I'm not very private, so I posted a note on my door that said, "Makin' milk--MOO!"

No one ever knocked.

I work at a law firm and the administrator installed locks on the attorney mothers' office doors after one was walked in on (they also got their own mini-fridges in their offices to not have to store the milk in the community fridge in the break room). For the support staff who does not get the privacy of their own offices, well, so far not one of us has ever pumped at work. We all switched our babies to formula when we had to come back full-time in order to pay the bills, get health insurance, etc.

Interesting how class differences that affect mother-child health come into play even in the workplace...

lisa, that makes my stomach turn and my blood boil. it's disgusting that it would come down to classes..... i'm so sorry.

I teach at a university and found that NOT putting a DND sign on my door was more effective for me than putting one up. If I put one up, students I guess would think, "well, she must be in there." If I didn't, they'd knock, I'd ignore, and they'd leave. I always figured that if they listened close enough, though, they could hear the lovely WHEEZING of the pump machine...

PS: I love that this picture shows a running skort and a race number....:)..a less private pumping moment!

lisa, there is a law in Oregon that protects your right to pump and store milk. Employers must provide a private place (other than a bathroom stall) with a locking door, that all their employees have access to for pumping.
Here is a flyer on the topic, if you'd like to know more:

Two FREE trainings to support worksite lactation programs

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
8:30 am – 10:30 am & 10:45 am – 3:00 pm

Portland State Office Building, Room 1D
800 NE Oregon Street, Portland, OR 97232
Easily accessible by MAX and bus

Target audience:

* Business managers, HR managers, and other decision-makers in the business community.
* Physicians, registered nurses, lactation consultants and peer counselors, midwives, doulas, health educators, dietitians, WIC educators, occupational therapists, and others who support families in the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding.

Learning Objectives:

Participants from training Part 1, from 8:30-10:30am, will be able to:

* Explain the provisions of Oregon's Rest Breaks for Breast Milk Expression law
* Describe the three ways supporting breastfeeding families can improve a company’s bottom line
* List the four components of a successful workplace lactation support program

Participants from training Parts 1 & 2, which continues until 3:00pm, will be able to:

* Describe at least two motivators of employers and two potential barriers to implementing a workplace lactation program
* Outline needs and resources for the breastfeeding employee
* Develop a strategic plan for implementing The Business Case for Breastfeeding in your community.

Flyers and intake form attached.
To register:

* Contact Amelia Psmythe, Director, Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon
* amelia@breastfeedin gOR.org or 503.804.6515

If people have a general sense that you are pumping at work, "do not disturb" should suffice. It did for me, and I pumped in an unlocked (and unlockable) conference room.

Ok, there was that one time that the hair-brained receptionist thought it was necessary to bust in with some message that could have waited 10 minutes, but that's just her.

Oh, definitely post a sign! Just makes it less awkward for everybody. Nobody WANTS to walk in on you or disturb you. I just put a sign up that said "room in use" and nobody ever bothered me. I don't have an office, so this room was a closet, but whatevs, you do what you have to do, right?

While I've tried to be quiet and discrete about pumping at work (most people don't realize what I've been doing for the last several months), part of me thinks there is a benefit to being open about it and to not having it be such a hush hush topic. Maybe other moms would be encourage to try.

If you feel like privacy is a must, then just say "do not disturb". I do think, however, that it helps all the other mamas out there if you are open about what you are doing. It's bad enough that we get 6-12 weeks maternity leave (if we are that lucky), there should at least be support for breastfeeding after the return to work!

Two FREE trainings offered in Portland to support worksite lactation programs

Friday, October 23rd, 2009, 8:30 am – 10:30 am & 10:45 am – 3:00 pm
Contact Amelia at amelia@breastfeedingor.org for more info.

I am just discovering this website and somewhat confused how to post, but does anyone know how to go about finding a breast milk donor? We have a 7 month old with formula intolerance.

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