Working Moms’ Challenge – Finding a way to pump
There are so many adjustments as a new mum, but adjusting from a full-time mum to a working mum can sometimes require more effort, and is often quicker than expected. Pumping at work, finding a schedule that fits, looking for a private, clean and comfortable room with a lockable door to express breastmilk - these are some of the real challenges that are present for a working pumping mum.
Back in the workforce after the birth of her son, Flo who pumps for her baby recalls some challenges she faced when she was travelling for work when baby was around five months old – using the most feasible space she could to express milk which was less-than-ideal: a disabled toilet.
“When I was visiting our overseas office for a work trip, there were two full days of meetings with only 15-30 minute breaks in between and a one hour lunch break. Although the breaks were quite generous for these important full-day events and my boss and colleagues were extremely understanding, I struggled with attending the meetings and ensuring enough time for me to pump throughout the day. It didn’t help that I had gotten mastitis the night before the flight there which meant I was on antibiotics and pumping every three hours!
The office had an amazing parents room but to get there was quite a journey – I had to take the lift down to the ground floor from the top floor, go in and out of ground security gates and catch the lift back up to another floor, go through two further security accessed doors whilst winding down some corridors. Each journey would take around seven to ten minutes each way and coupled with the amount of time that I had to pump on each side, every pumping session turned out to be a race against time.
You can imagine how many times I had to apologise on the first day for stepping in and out of the meetings!
By the second day, I realised that going to the parents room was just not feasible and asked the concierge for options to which they replied... “maybe try the toilets?” So I ended up using the disabled toilet on the same floor as my meetings to pump. It was definitely quite an experience – smelly, without any seating nor space to place my pumping equipment. I had to trade the comfort and cleanliness of the parents room for efficiency, something that I believe a lot of working mothers struggle with at times.
But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m still pumping and he is just over one year old. A lot of women I know breastfed their children till they were two. But in Hong Kong it’s rare for women to do so past three or four months. I feel that society, work and family pressure plays a sad role in this.”
What are some of the challenges that you have faced as a working pumping mum? Let us know in the comments below.
Flo is an Ex-lawyer and Diversity & Inclusion advocate.