corporate lactation

Adventures in the Mother’s Room


I know that many years ago, I wrote up something on my blog about the fact that there was a room at my company reserved for working moms to go and pump. Here’s the old post: “A Corporate Lactation Program.” Wow, I was so very much, quite, extremely, really really naïve back then.

Today, I use the lactation rooms at work frequently. Pumping is the highlight of my day.

When I first returned to work after Dom was born, I went to HR because I had to check in with them. They went through the checklist and paperwork to make sure I was safe to be there and then the woman who was helping me asked, “Are you going to pump?”

Yep.

She excused herself for a minute, walked around the corner, then came back with a plastic bag. Inside were items that now looked familiar to me: pump parts. I had my personal pump in the car parked just outside. I guess I would take their pump parts, too, because they hooked up to whatever pump my company had in their lactation rooms.

Aside: From the very first day that Dominic was born, I started pumping because I had a hard time getting him to nurse on one side. Eventually (about 3-4 weeks later, I can’t remember for sure), I was able to get him to nurse both sides so I didn’t have to nurse and pump for every feeding. Phew.

Okay, back to the first day back at work.

After handing me the pump parts, she told me I would need to talk to security about getting access to the “Mother’s Rooms.” I trekked up the stairs to find security and told them I needed more “power” granted to my employee badge. They then told me to go to another location down the hall, around a corner, through a number of doors, down more halls, etc, until in a dimly-lit office space, I found a group of cubicles crammed with computers and cables and a handful of employees. A guy there asked me for my employee number, typed it into a computer, then took my employee badge and held it up to a scanner until it beeped at him.

I now had access to the Mother’s Rooms.

I was very happy because it was time to find one of these rooms and start using my new pump parts.

I forgot to ask where to go and had already started walking away from the dark offices. I was too embarrassed to go back and ask them where to go so I wandered around for another 20 minutes. Eventually I found an unmarked door in between an elevator and drinking fountain. It was locked, but on the handle, had a small, black reader. I held my badge up to it to see what might happen. It beeped at me and a little green light turned on. I turned the handle and walked in.

Just inside the door, there were two more doors that opened up to two small rooms. The room that I stood in had coat racks that were filled with peoples’ bags. To my right was a sink and next to that a fridge. Inside the fridge, were many black cooler bags, most of them labeled with somebody’s name.

I went into one of the smaller rooms and shut the door behind me, locking the deadbolt. There was one chair in there and a small desk protruding from the wall. On the desk was what I guessed was a pump. It didn’t look like the pump I had. My pump was a tiny little box. This pump was the size of 3 or 4 of mine, with the pump “workings” exposed through the clear plastic glass.

That was the Mother’s Room in our main facility.

We have two other buildings here in Research Park. I work in a building without a mother’s room so I either walk up to the main facility or to another building we refer to simply by the address: 560.

mothers_room1

Over in 560, their Mother’s Room is actually labeled with a sign posted next to the door. It’s only one room, though, without a “waiting room”. This mother’s room, instead, has a small black fridge inside of it and a cupboard with the pump on the shelf next to the sink. It looks just like the picture on the left.

Somebody came up with the brilliant idea of posting a schedule outside of this room so you can sign up for your time to use it, in 30 minute increments. I am very glad for this signup. I used to sit outside the room waiting and waiting for somebody else to finish up. Since I walked over from another building, I couldn’t just go back to my desk to wait it out.

I have learned something using this room. Well, I’ve learned a lot of things, but this is something that I have documented with pictures. I have learned that it is very difficult to throw things away in the garbage in these rooms. It’s tough to get things in that garbage can, even though the rooms are so small that you can reach out and touch the can while sitting in the chair. But it’s tough to get those paper towels in:

mothers_room

It’s even so tough that people leave them on the counter as well.

mothers_room2

Some good things I’ve learned from this room as well:

  1. When I had some problems with some of my first-issue pump parts, HR gave me brand new ones, no questions asked, no extra charge.
  2. I am very glad that I work for a company who gives us these rooms so that I’m not sitting in my car or a bathroom stall. (I work in a shared office so I couldn’t just sit at my desk.)
  3. I’ve learned that sometimes, you don’t tell people that you are going to pump because it makes THEM nervous.
  4. There have been a few times where I forgot to lock the door behind me. Thankfully, nobody tried to come in. Awkward!
  5. The moms that use the room in 560 almost never talk to each other, even avoiding eye contact when leaving the room and somebody is waiting outside. This seems odd.
  6. The moms that use the rooms in the main facility often chat in the “waiting room” before and after pumping. They’re friendly.
  7. I only wish that my company would also provide lactation cookies in these rooms for free. That would be pretty awesome.

So, any working moms or former working moms, what was your pumping experience like?

Episode 46: A Corporate Lactation Program


I logged in to our time clock application this morning: Double click to open the kiosk, enter employee number, enter last four digits of social security number (oooo, how secure). Ah, there you are. Let’s check and see when I’ve been arriving at work. Yep, lookin’ good (for me):
8:11 AM
8:09 AM
8:05 AM
8:26 AM
8:16 AM

Let’s check and see how much paid time off I have accrued. OH BEAUTIFUL VACATION HOW SWEET IT IS: 89:10 hours just waiting for me to sign up for on the calendar. I need to come up with a way to trick my boss into letting me use those. Last year, it was, “Hey, I’m going to Portland, where you used to live and I need some suggestions on where to go… oh yeah? Multnomah falls? Sounds good. Oh, yeah, and will you approve my vacation, please? It’s in four days and I already bought the flights. Thank you.” Yep, I got the vacation.

Okay, back to the time clock application.

Let’s check and see how much long-term sick I have accrued: HOLY FRAGRANT B.M., BATMAN, THAT’S A LOT OF SICK TIME: 264:53. So if I want to use that I have to do one of three things: really get injured so I have a doctor’s note about why I’m staying home or in the hospital for 33 days; find a doctor friend who will write me a note and a really good reason like, “Her imaginary therapist (whom she fired) says she needs a mental break for 33 days or she’ll go seriously insane”; or, have a baby.

Looks like I won’t be using that sick time for a long time, but that brings me to my next topic: having a baby.

I was talking to Stacky last week.

“Hey, you look pregnant.”

She’s due at the end of July and I’ve known since almost the start. See how funny I am saying things like that? We laughed so hard.

No. We didn’t. Stacky just looked at me and said, “So, I look fat?”

I quickly changed the subject to something much less awkward.

“So. You’re going to be breastfeeding before too long now.”

Yeah, I’m pretty smooth. And somehow, instead of giving me an odd look, she started talking about some of the things that she’s purchased already, some of which are related to breastfeeding, but let’s not really go into details here. And then I found out about our company’s HUGE SECRET.

Did you know that companies have corporate lactation programs?

Yeah, you read that right: a lactation program.

Somebody in HR was sitting around one day thinking, “Hmm, wonder what kind of a benefit program I could come up with today because I don’t have anything else to do this moment.” She looked over at a picture of her little baby and thought about how right this moment, she’d really LOVE to have a private place to pump some milk.

Yep. That’s how it went down and the next day, the lactation room was created.

So now I have a new mission at work and it has nothing to do with testing web applications. Somewhere there is a locked door and behind it, is a serene room with soothing music, comfortable chairs and, if I was the designer, a couple of hammocks.

We have a lactation room somewhere.

They give out keys to this secret room.

It’s a benefit I had no idea existed.

Did I mention that there is a SECRET lactation room somewhere?

I’m going to go for a walk now. There’s a door down the hall that I haven’t checked behind yet.