my work studio is being used as a nursing mothers’ room

A reader writes:

Due to the set-up of my company’s new building, we don’t have an area for breastfeeding moms to pump. So management decided that the studio I use regularly for work-related recording sessions will double as a nursing mothers’ room. I am totally on board with this – nursing moms definitely need somewhere comfortable and private to pump. I want to respect their right to have that, and I don’t want to embarrass anyone or make them uncomfortable.

However, it is starting to cause a weird situation that I don’t know how to address. I schedule the room for recording sessions with my interviewees/subjects in advance. The two nursing mothers in the building right now do not have to “book” the room (and they don’t) and can use it whenever they want. This has led to me scheduling a recording time weeks in advance with some very busy people, getting to the room, and finding it occupied… and then me scrambling!

I typically apologize to the person I made an appointment with, send them back to their desk (if they work in our building — otherwise I bring them to the break room), and tell them I will get them once the room is available (and hopefully they’re still free).

I don’t really explain why the room is “double booked,” because I don’t want to make the mom uncomfortable. But I also worry the person thinks I screwed up the schedule.

I also don’t know what to do when I’m waiting for the room to become available. I feel uncomfortable knocking on the door and bugging them. I feel uncomfortable sitting outside the room waiting. And I feel uncomfortable walking back and forth every few minutes to see if they are done.

One of the woman very considerately told me she is usually in there at X and Y times. Which I appreciate, but now I feel like I have to avoid the room during X and Y times (even though it’s not booked and she is not consistently there at that time).

So basically, I have no idea how to keep my meeting times while respecting the idea of a “nursing mothers room.” And I have no idea what I am allowed to say or ask for as someone else who needs the room for work.

So, what the law requires is that the employer provide a space for nursing mothers that is “made available when needed by the nursing mother,” is shielded from view, and is “free from any intrusion from coworkers and the public.”

Because the law requires that if the space isn’t solely dedicated to nursing mothers’ use, “it must be available when needed,” I don’t see how having the room double as a studio can work. What if you’re in there in the middle of a recording session when someone needs to pump?

And then, obviously, there are the issues it’s causing on your side, all of which are reasonable concerns for you to have and none of which make you unsupportive of your nursing colleagues.

I’d recommend going back to the person who arranged this set-up — or asking your boss to go to that person, depending on the dynamics — and pointing this out. Explain that you’re unable to reliably schedule recordings in the space, and that even if it’s free when you show up there, you’ll be preventing anyone from using it while you’re in there, which doesn’t comply with the law.

Depending on your relationships with the women currently using the room, you might loop them in too and see if they want to add their voices to yours in requesting a different set-up. You’ll want to approach them in a way that makes it clear that you’re totally supportive of their right to private space and that this isn’t about you being annoyed that they’re encroaching on your studio, but rather that your main concern is finding them space that actually works — and that won’t lead to them being locked out when a recording is in session or otherwise causing them hassle.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 147 comments… read them below }

  1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Wow, frustrating for everyone I’m sure.

    Alison, do you have a sense of how the “it must be available when needed” is being interpreted legally? Because unless there is one nursing room for each nursing parent, the room will inherently not be always available. Could nursing/pumping times be scheduled, or must it be available at will?

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      When I pumped, it was on a fairly reliable schedule. I can’t speak to nursing, since that’s more on-demand.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      That’s what I wondered, as well. While I’m well past this stage, I do know my company books our (1) dedicated pumping room through Outlook, just like any other conference room. With a bunch of new moms, they certainly do not have it available whenever needed. . .if you’re physically ready before your scheduled time, too bad. You might have an arrangement to use a friend’s private office or something, but the room isn’t available per your body’s clock.

      1. Jade*

        I wonder if it would be more practical to dedicate a room for pumping and set up room divider screens that each woman could go behind. That could allow for multiple women to use the room at once without having to expose themselves to each other.

        1. Koko*

          I say this in total ignorance as a non-mother, but would the dividers even really be necessary? I would think between one mom and another there would be enough mutual understanding that they could nurse/pump around each other, but I of course don’t want to begrudge anyone their right to want more privacy. Just wondering how much of an issue it would really be for moms.

          1. Analyst*

            Whaaa? Coworkers should not have to be topless in front of each other. The law says the pumping employees are to have privacy from coworkers. And they’re still coworkers even if they also pump. I personally would not have been comfortable with a divider let alone a divider-less room.

            1. Cleo*

              I am a new mom (my little one is 3 months) that just retuned to work and am pumping. I really don’t have a problem nursing in front of people, but pumping in front of anyone other than my husband weirds me out. Maybe because I feel so much more exposed will pumping or just because it’s so weird (you are litterally being milked like a cow).
              I have definitely become much less “prude” since giving birth, but having people walk by while pumping with just a divider would make me uncomfortable.

              1. Anna*

                Same here. I could care less who saw me nursing, but pumping was so weird I wouldn’t let anyone see me do it. I don’t think I could do it at work, period. Working moms who have to do that have my sympathy. I was fortunate enough that I lived close by my work and I just went home.

                1. Afiendishthingy*

                  I’m really glad to see moms who have pumped saying this. As a non-parent, I am not bothered in the slightest by anyone breastfeeding a baby in front of me, but I was so freaked the first time my sister pumped in front of me!

          2. Cici*

            There is no way that I would want to see my manager or supervisor pumping at the same time I was.

          3. Laura*

            When you pump, most women will completely remove their top & bra. I would not want any of my coworkers seeing me like that.

              1. Afiendishthingy*

                Really? From what I’ve seen it looks like it would be highly inconvenient to pump without removing shirt and bra.

              2. Kathryn T.*

                When I pumped, it was shirt off, nursing flaps of my bra down. Very, very close to being completely topless, and NOT a state I would want to be around a coworker in.

              3. Gabrielle*

                When I pumped, it was shirt all the way off, and bra flaps down. Especially if you’re wearing silk, wool, or other dry clean only garments. You want those pieces far away from milk. Also, if I was wearing a sheath dress, sometimes that sucker came completely off and there I was, sitting in a room in just under garments, being milked like a cow.

              4. Kyrielle*

                It’s pretty hard to pump without total or near-total removal. If you’re wearing a nursing bra it can stay on. If you have a button-up-the-front shirt you can open it and hang it down your back and risk milk getting on it, but otherwise it either has to pull way up or be removed completely. And, if you’re using a pumping bra (so that you don’t have to hold the pumping bits manually on for 15+ minutes, which let me tell you, is a godsend since otherwise your hands aren’t free and you can do very little else!), you have to wrap it completely around your torso. This wrinkles your shirt if it’s hanging around your back and is also a little less comfortable IMX than with shirt removal.

                Pumping requires attaching bits of plastic to your breasts. They don’t just adhere on their own, and the process itself can be messy, since milk is a liquid – especially if they aren’t firmly pressed in. Holding them there for the full time is wearying; being able to look down and see that things are still lined up is handy; shirts are an inconvenience.

                1. Observer*

                  I’m perfectly well aware of what it takes to pump – I’ve done it, my friends have done it, and so have relatives I’m close enough to, to discuss it. None of us ever totally took our tops and bras off.

                  When I pumped, pumping bras weren’t available, but I doubt I would have used one. What I did find very useful were the clips designed to hold the piece to the bra, which actually REQUIRES you leave the bra on, although the flaps are obviously down.

                  If you don’t wear dry clean only, then the occasional splash of mild is no big deal, and many, many women do NOT wear dry clean only at work. In fact, I know women who specifically tried to avoid dry clean only during the first months of nursing (or throughout, depending on their experience), because they were concerned about leaks, which is no big deal if your shirt is washable.

                  Typically, I would either open the top front of my shirt or pull it up, depending on what i was wearing. I never felt any need to take off a button up shirt, and taking off something that I had to pull over my head was going to be far more hassle than I wanted to deal with.

                2. Kyrielle*

                  Huh. I’ve never heard of or seen those clips. Only the dedicated pumping bras.

                  I don’t wear dry clean only, but walking out with a wet spot on my shirt or pants was not something I wanted to do – I not only got the shirt out of the way, I laid down towels.

          4. Kyrielle*

            This would creep me out so badly. You’d have to wear a nursing cover over your pumping for it to be private. Even if you use one of the ways to avoid removing your top (and I didn’t like to, because then if milk spilled it got on my work shirt!), your nipples are still exposed. Yes, presumably you’d be facing away so only at most your bare back would be on display, but it doesn’t *feel* that way. I was self-conscious about the *noise* from my pump. (Lucky for me I was in a room with noisy equipment…I actually liked that it mostly covered my pump’s noise, that reassured me.)

            And self-consciousness and stress can inhibit let-down…so that’s doubly not good. (And if you have a mother who listens to tape of their baby to help the pumping work, which for some of us does help, now they need ear phones or everyone else also has to listen.)

            Could it be managed if it had to be? Yes. Is it a great answer? Nope.

          5. HigherEd*

            No. Just no. Pumping is not exactly a delicate process. I barely wanted to do it around my husband, let alone a coworker.

          6. hbc*

            It sounds like I was more clothed/covered than most people here when I pumped, but still, I’d want that divider. I once pumped in a restaurant out of necessity, and it was so, so awkward.

            1. Rachael*

              I once had to pump in a Nordstrom’s Mother’s Room and had at least 10-12 oblivious people wander in there to sit down *right* next to me or look in the mirror. I had a nursing cover on, and literally had to stare people down who were looking at me with a weird hostility. I constantly had to tell people that it was a mother’s room. They looked at me as if I was doing something horrendous and crazy. Worst experience of my life.

          7. Observer*

            This would TOTALLY be an issue. As you can see by my other responses, I never went topless, but it IS exposed, at best. We all fully and completely understand a LOT of things about each other, but it doesn’t mean we want to see it, nor that we want to be seen.

            The law was written the way it was for a reason – some basic privacy is the MINIMUM that women need to be able to deal with this.

          8. Wambui*

            “Just wondering how much of an issue it would really be for moms.”

            When my twins were in the NICU, I had no problem pumping in the lactation room with other moms. However, I’d feel extremely uncomfortable pumping with my co-workers. I never saw the NICU moms again, but it would be quite awkward to get on the elevator and see someone that you’ve seen topless before.

          9. superblarg*

            My company has a dedicated room, with 4 spaces, curtained off (chair, small table, extension cord), fridge, sink, shelf for people to leave pump bags. Privacy indeed – I can’t imagine how mortifying it would be to share space with coworkers in the open.

            I know a lot of people undress at least some when pumping. I didn’t, because I used the Freemie milk collection system with my pump, which completely eliminated any nudity or exposure – the cups slip discreetly(ish) into a bra or shelf tank, with a tube running either up or under the shirt. It meant that I could also pump on my drive to work (with a power converter, DC to AC, for the pump).

            I wish more people knew about Freemie! I only learned towards the end of my pumping time, but still found it so much more comfortable and convenient.

        2. Laura*

          My work provided a room with 3 separate areas to pump, all divided by hospital type curtains (floor to ceiling). The fridge and sink area were available right when you walked in. I loved this setup and never had to worry that I wouldn’t be able to pump.

        3. Elizabeth*

          I feel like last time a related topic came up, it was explained that the law requires a room with a locked door for individual usage, so something like this wouldn’t work. Someone can clarify the exact requirement, but that’s the part I remember.

          1. Meg Murry*

            The law requires a room that is free from intrusion – so most people interpret that as locking, but technically the law doesn’t specifically say “locking”. And even I the room does lock, I know some moms who were interrupted by janitors or maintenance staff with master keys. For anyone paranoid about that, a rubber doorstop is easy to keep in your pump bag and when shoved under the door it will keep people from being able to open the door if they do manage to unlock it.

            Also, although some states have more stringent laws, the federal law is part of the FLSA, which means it technically only applies to non-exempt (hourly) employees, not to exempt (salaried) employees. Most companies try to provide a space for salaried employees as well, but I do know of at least one that basically said ” the law doesn’t make us do anything for you as a salary employee, so you are on your own.” Luckily she had a supportive boss that wanted to keep her happy and productive so the boss was able to work out a private space for the employee – but HR was no help.

            When I was pumping and we were trying to juggle 4 people in one room, we all had each other’s phone numbers and would text if we needed to swap times. We also kept a stack of post-it notes in the room and we’d stick notes like “running late but out by 10:05” on the door.

        4. Mike C.*

          This is a recording studio, wouldn’t the pumping equipment be picked up by microphones?

          1. Meg Murry*

            If I was the pumping mom I’d be worried that I would spill milk on the expensive recording equipment, because I’m a klutz and I’ve spilled more than once while pumping, especially if I was trying to multi-task and eat a snack or lunch during my pumping break.

            OP, I think you have the right idea that if you and the pumping moms approached management together in a “this is our concern and this is our proposal” that would be the best way to handle it. It sounds like right now you are dealing with reasonable people, but the next mom to return to work might not be so flexible.

            Also, for anyone in this situaton: if at all possible, give the newest returning mom the most flexibility, don’t make her be stuck with whatever times are left over. Returning to work after having a baby is hard enough, and we formed an informal support group of pumping moms to help out new moms when it came to scheduling/logistics/phrasing to use with your boss regarding pumping, etc, which helped a lot.

          2. JessB*

            I can’t imagine that the recording equipment is left recording when there’s no staff in the room, so although the microphones might be capable of that (if they’re in the right position, etc.) they shouldn’t be on at the same time the women are pumping.

    3. Analyst*

      It’s definitely not ideal for pumping employees to have to schedule their time, or for other company needs to suffer because the room is in too-high of a demand. The best solution is for a new pumping room to be set up and the two employees can work a schedule with each other.

      When I pumped, the first place was where I had a dedicated room, but then when I changed jobs I had to schedule my time for a small conference room. And I did, and it was fine. But even as a newbie employee I felt empowered enough to boot anyone else from the room if needed if I was having an issue (and oh, the issues pumping can bring… clogged ducts, uneven production volumes, etc. that can require extra time pumping). Are your two coworkers similarly empowered, OP? Even if there’s a recording going on?

      Thank you for caring, OP, and I’m sorry this is impacting your ability to work. I hope you have a reasonable manager who can sort it out for the benefit of all involved.

      1. It's OP!*

        Believe it or not, I haven’t had a mom boot me out during recording yet. I don’t know if it’s because of “luck” or that they chose not to disturb me and went somewhere else (or waited).

        If it did happen, I would leave with my interviewee, but I imagine that’d be a bit awkward for all of us.

        1. Anna*

          I don’t think this is a workable situation for either side. You need to do your job and the people your interviewing have schedules they need to keep, and the mothers don’t have a reliably available space. This isn’t even about it being a minor inconvenience to you; it is impacting how you do your job. I think your company needs to come up with a better solution for everyone.

        2. Witty Nickname*

          If I was pumping, I’d be terrified I’d knock over a bottle and spill it all over the expensive recording equipment! Or my pump will malfunction and leak milk all over it (the inexpensive pump I kept to use at home did that several times when I was pumping). That just seems like a terrible place to have a pumping room!

        3. snuck*

          I pumped for my first child (he couldn’t breast feed at all), and frankly… If I was at work I could have rearranged my pumping an a half hour window or something – especially if I knew that the room I wanted was going to be booked. And pumping (for me) wasn’t a long exercise. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it in an open space even with other mothers (but I’d be happy to chat through a curtain or over a wall).

          If there’s another option for these mothers at times when you are in the recording studio (ie a conference room or similar) then they can surely look at the Outlook booking for the recording studio and if they find you have it booked they can go to the alternate place. It mightn’t be as convenient, but it might be how it works. A mother probably can’t up and leave mid pump quickly and easily – the body doesn’t work well with that, and you need to stick to a bit of schedule – your body gets into the rhythm of when the milk is needed and prepares it for feed time.

          I’ve worked in an office that set up a nursing room in the outside lift well kitchen – the building had several tenants, we had the whole floor, and the lift well had a small kitchenette and toilets… we put an armchair in the kitchenette and made sure the door could close, and left that as the pumping room. The staff all had a fully functional kitchen / staff room inside the main floor area. It’s just another idea. And while I’m not a fan AT ALL of pumping in toilets… if you have a toilet that is not needed for your general population and not accessible to the public (like a disabled toilet, which no one needs to use) then it could be well cleaned and designated the pumping room – with clear instructions to staff that it’s only for people with mobility issues or pumping to use – that all staff are expected to use the normal toilets at all times no matter what. (not sure if this is legal, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be.)

          1. Elliot*

            A room provided to a pumping mother must not be a bathroom as per the law. And as someone who must use a single stall, unisex restroom, I can attest to how a lot of people prefer to use that room, even when they aren’t supposed to. Trying to keep employees out of a restricted restroom is a job and a half.

            1. snuck*

              Yeah. I wondered about that. My field is a predominantly male field, they’d rather pee in the street than risk walking in on a woman pumping ;)

              I like that it’s not a bathroom by law – bathrooms are just gross most of the time, and even if it was exclusively for this purpose (and a key or similar put on it so that others couldn’t use it) it’s a pretty miserable environment. And if it had a shower or similar you’d get people wanting to use it for showers after cycling etc which would see it swiftly turn back into a toilet.

    4. Emmy*

      I always pumped at regular, scheduled times, and I know of other companies that have shared pumping rooms where moms need to reserve the space on a calendar. It doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.

      1. Elle*

        One aspect of nursing/pumping that took me totally off guard was how utterly uncomfortable it was when it was time to nurse or pump. It isn’t like you can easily wait an extra hour or two.

        1. Jeanne*

          But you often do have to wait anyway. If your pump time is 10:30 and you have a meeting 10-11 then you have to wait. We do need to accomodate breast feeding moms but they need to be reasonable accomodations like they would be for anything else. At a large company, you can’t give 30 women each their own private room. You also can’t do this for a total of 2 hours a day without it affecting your work. Scheduling is reasonable and I think you have to find some way to deal with that.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s a good question and I’m not sure. I know that some places have one large room with curtains dividing it into multiple private spaces, but I don’t know how the law has been interpreted on the scheduled vs. at-will question (though I suspect if challenged, it might come down more on the side of at-will — but I’m totally guessing here).

      1. Marie*

        My mom, who is an attorney, said the employer must make a “reasonable effort.” And before you get to challenging them legally, you have to demonstrate you tried to resolve it with management and can’t come up with a workable solution. She said my employer has to make a “reasonable effort” to meet my need pump whenever I have it. I dont know how this has been interpreted either but I can I can imagine that giving each woman her own private space to use anytime could be considered unreasonable.

        1. AthenaC*

          “Reasonable effort” … yeah, when I had to pump I just plugged in to an outlet and stood near the sink in the restroom. I honestly didn’t even ask for any other arrangement because I looked around and there simply wasn’t any other space to be had.

          Now it did so happen that after a month or so I got moved from a cube into an office, so – problem solved! The walls were super thin, though, and pumps are super loud, so I wondered what everyone in my male-heavy department thought was going on when my door was closed a few times a day.

  2. DMC*

    First, thank you for being so understanding of your coworkers’ situation as nursing mothers. I think Alison’s advice is spot on, so don’t really have anything to add there, but if it’s a new building, I’m a little surprised there isn’t such a space. Is every place in that area taken? Perhaps a storage room could be changed so that it’s no longer a storage room and, instead, is a comfortable place for nursing mothers?

    1. It's OP!*

      No, but it’s odd. We rent a wing of this building and the rest is mostly empty right now. In our area that we rent, there isn’t really a lot of “extra” space and most of the conference rooms have “window walls” (so I understand why they wouldn’t work!). My studio was basically chosen by default.

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        For the conference rooms window walls, maybe suggest designating one of them as the nursing mother’s room and have the windows covered or blinds installed. That would at least be a temporary solution.

        1. JessaB*

          Heck buying a cheap old fashioned hospital type screen (the kind that stands in a frame and has segments that you can position) would make a room with windows useable. Amazon has them from 80 bucks to 150 (that one has casters so it can be positioned.) And if you get a couple of them you can screen off more than one mom at a time.

      2. Margaret*

        In our office, all the conference rooms as well as private offices have window walls into the hallway (partially frosted, but by no means in a way that provides privacy for this purpose). But the “health room” (available as pumping space for women working in cubes) and the conference rooms all have curtains that can be pulled across the window, and any new mothers with offices can get a curtain or shade to put in front of their window. I really don’t see why one or more conference rooms couldn’t have a curtain or shade put in so they can at a minimum use that as a backup, if not the primary pumping space.

      3. Veronica*

        My pumping room was a small conference room with windows and they installed blinds before I returned from maternity leave, so I would have privacy. My pumping time were blocked off on a shared calendar. I guess it seems odd that you can’t use a calendar system for the recording studio that the pumping women also use to schedule their pump time. Once you settle into a routine, the pumping times don’t vary much.

  3. Elsie*

    Is this just for pumping and not nursing? I admit I know next to nothing about pumping, but would it be possible for the new moms to pump on a schedule, and then book the room for that time? That way, LW can look at a shared calendar when making an appointment, see that a mom has the room from 10:00 to 10:30, and know she can make the appointment for 10:45. This is how it works at my office, where our small conference rooms are used for this purpose. While the calendar entry doesn’t say “SUE PUMPING IN 2”, it will say that the room is occupied for a certain amount of time, and we all know to plan meetings and calls around that booked time.

    1. Kyrielle*

      In general, scheduling ahead would be good – but it depends in part on the nursing mothers. Some people keep (and need to keep) very strict schedules to keep their supply; they wouldn’t have much trouble booking it.

      Others can be more flexible, and depending on their job may have to be. I would pump maybe a half hour late some days because of issues. Or sometimes a half hour early because my body was making it clear that I needed to pump *now* and I was uncomfortable, and would soon be in pain. (Or because my boss suddenly dropped a meeting on top of the time I would have been pumping.)

      Spaces that are almost never used work better, IMX – in the case of the company I was at at the time, it was the phone/network room. No one was in there except for scheduled or emergency maintenance, and the latter was quite rare.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yep! And it was an extra win in summer, because the equipment in there had its own supplemental AC. *I* won because it was super-comfortable.

          And IT won because they knew within an hour or two the time the AC failed, because I went in, came back out, and said, “Uh, guys…just a heads-up….”

        2. Observer*

          Please don’t do that. For one thing, a lot of these rooms are NOISY – enough to make pumping there stressful. A lot of our staff did use out server room, for the purpose at one point, since it was often the only available room, but no one was happy about it.

          I, in my hat as IT, was also less than thrilled, because it’s a TERRIBLE idea from a security perspective, as you wind up giving the key / access code for a highly sensitive room to a lot of people who have no business being in there. At least the set up was such that the chances of someone spilling milk on expensive equipment was minuscule. But, if there is any chance that some milk could get spilled on something – NO WAY. It’s not just the expense of the computer, it’s also the fact that you could take down a significant chink of business required functionality.

          1. Kyrielle*

            The security risk would be my main concern, but it was a small office and in practice those of us in there were trusted to access it when needed, by IT. It was also really the only space we had besides managers’ offices (and not all of those – some had a lot of windows, and none had locks).

            Different people and needs – I loved the noise, which wasn’t too loud but just present, because it hid the noise of my pump a bit and made me less self-conscious. :)

            1. Observer*

              A lot of server rooms are way more noisy than what you describe. Noisy enough that you can’t carry on a phone conversation in them. Not that most people want to have phone conversations while they are pumping, of course, but I’m just trying to illustrate the noise level.

              I was never worried about malfeasance, but about accidents, or someone leaving the door unlocked.

              At least the outlet people used was far enough away from the equipment outlets, that that was not likely to cause problems.

              The fact is that server / network rooms are rarely occupied for a REASON. Those reasons make them less than ideal pumping rooms.

          2. superblarg*

            Stress when nursing doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but can prevent the milk from coming out. There are all kinds of tricks pumping moms have to use when the baby isn’t actually there, and most of them require relaxation.

    2. Charliebd*

      I pumped at work until my daughter was 16 months old, so I have lots of pumping (and nursing) experience! Generally you can pump on a reliable schedule, but depending on what else is happening at work and home, there will be unpredictable times you’re engorged and need to pump RIGHT NOW. For example, baby wakes up late and doesn’t nurse as long as normal, or you have a meeting run late into your normal pump time so you have an unpredictable need to pump. I have a private office with a door that locks, so thankfully never had an issue with a booked up pump room. However, if I had relied on a common pumping room and found it inaccessible when I needed it I would have been a pretty grumpy and distracted employee! I would also have felt like my right to pump wasn’t being respected.

      Not that lactating and urinating are similar, but imagine desperately needing to pee and not being able to access the restroom for an indefinite amount of time–how productive would you be while waiting and how irritated would you be in that situation?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Exactly spot on. Never mind your body/baby’s schedule, but I remember times when something work-related just could not be wrapped up and it’s time to go pump. . .I’d end up 15-30 minutes later than usual, which wasn’t a big deal schedule-wise since at that time, two of us were sharing one of those old fashion rest areas in a bathroom, but I’d be screwed trying to fit it into my company’s current rigid pump room schedule nowadays.

      2. HigherEd*

        I pumped at work with both kids. With kiddo #1, we were located in a building that we’d outgrown and the best we could come up with for a mothers’ room was a conference room. Not a great scenario. Even though I had it booked, I can’t tell you how many times a meeting would run over, and then I was in the awkward position of either having to interrupt, or take my stuff somewhere else on campus. It was a big distractio and definitely created a lot of extra stress. By the time I had kiddo #2, my office had moved to renovated facilities and the pumping situation was much more private and comfortable. Guess which kid I was able to breastfeed for 13 months?

      3. Jeanne*

        But it is not the same. Only people with specific illnesses need the length of pumping time to urinate.

        1. Charliebd*

          You’re not grasping my analogy. It’s not about the length of time needed to pump or urinate, it was a parallel between having a pressing and uncomfortable biological need and having to wait indefinitely to address it.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I lost my supply when I was late for my pumping session by a couple of hours. This wasn’t at work, but I was exclusively pumping for my preemie. Once I missed that session, my supply dried up and I couldn’t get it back.

      Being able to pump *anytime* is critical. Nursing in today’s world is hard enough because most women can’t just hole up at home without distractions to keep it moving. Stress plays a big part in keeping supply up, so stressing about pumping at work is definitely not going to help.

      1. DMR*

        This is a really crucial point. Not pumping when you need to is not only uncomfortable, it can result in losing your ability to lactate.

      2. Jeanne*

        If you can take the time to pump at any time in your work day, you are one lucky worker. Most workers cannot do that. Meetings, deadlines.

  4. Just Another Techie*

    Huh. I’m curious about how “made available when needed by the nursing mother” gets interpreted. At my office our nursing mothers room is also for use by people whose religion mandates scheduled daily prayers and for people who are just feeling ill and need to lie down for a short while. Nursing mothers get top priority, but they have to book the room in advance. There’s a schedule posted on the door, and if a nursnig mother or pray-er has the room booked you can’t go in for unscheduled uses (like “I have a migraine coming on and need to lie down in the dark until my rescue meds kick in).

      1. DCGirl*

        The law requires that employers provide sufficient break time; it does not say that an employer cannot set up a schedule.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          It says it has to be available as needed. If a nursing mother needed the room but someone was in there praying, that’s not compliant. And the law also acknowledges that the breaks might vary:

          “Employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The frequency of breaks needed to express milk as well as the duration of each break will likely vary.”

          1. Jeanne*

            There has to be more to it. By this, the mother can just take breaks all day and not work. Depending on the job, you can’t just walk away from your machine or walk out of your meeting.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              No – you can look up the law. And since the vast majority of women are pumping because they need to and aren’t trying to scam the company into taking free breaks all day, it’s not really a concern.

              1. Nonprofit mom*

                It does say that the breaks can be unpaid though. (Unless the mom is using an already established paid break to nurse/pump.)

                1. Jeanne*

                  I guess this is what is missing from the thread that is bothering me. So you take 2-3 breaks a day to pump because that is what you need. At least 30 min each break. If you are an hourly employee, esp shift work, you cannot stay late to make up that time or work from home. You can’t necessarily give up your whole lunch break to pump because nursing moms need to eat too. That is significant pay lost in a week.

                2. Observer*

                  @Jeanne, it is totally true that pumping can be as much of a cost to a woman as purchasing formula. And many people fault the law for this reason.

                  However, it’s still miles ahead of what USED to be the situation, which was that women often were not allowed to pump at work, or even if they were officially allowed, their employers would not do anything at all to make it practical, such a space with an outlet and comfortable chair – sometimes ever the bathroom won’t work, besides the gross factor.

                  And, fortunately, sometimes women can make the time up.

                  In any case, because this tends to be unpaid time, it means that it’s EXTREMELY unlikely that a woman is just going to take tons of pumping breaks “just because”.

              2. Jeanne*

                I disagree. It may not be a concern with a nice office job. When you’re working in the plant and you have to get someone to do your job on the packaging line, you have to remove your extra hair nets, shoe covers, etc., then pump, then put back on new equipment, and go back to work it is an issue. It has nothing to do with scamming. You as the employee also have responsibilities to the company and a compromise needs to be reached. I would like to see court cases/rulings on this.

                1. Observer*

                  Sure – a compromise may need to be reached. But the “compromise” CANNOT be based on the company forcing a rigid,standard pumping schedule on woman. As a practical matter, that’s not much of a “compromise”.

  5. AMG*

    Ugh. So frustrating. I can see the original idea being ‘this room isn’t always in use’ but for heaven’s sake, didn’t they think about when it IS being used? Good food for thought in case it ever comes up for me.

    1. Perpetuum Mobile*

      From my personal experience, booking in advance doesn’t always work. When I started pumping with my first, we had a room with two doored, lockable pods – and that’s for a company with ~2,500 people in the building. Yes, lactating mothers can benefit – physiologically – from the pumping schedule plus it works well to seamlessly (hopefully) fit pumping into a work day but then the reality kicks in: the most popular time when it was absolutely impossible to get into the pod was of course lunch! As yeah we all know what the law says but honestly some of us had managers who’d prefer their employees working, not pumping. So mothers loved to use their lunch to pump.

      This is when we complained enough and an Outlook schedule was created. Guess what, with the same two pods some people were smart to book the most popular and convenient times a year ahead leaving everyone else pissed off like hell. Something even more annoying was when you’d show up for your Outlook-booked appointment – and your pod was taken. Happened to me so many times I stopped counting and instead started making plans with my wonderful admin if I can use one of the conference rooms on the floor. Then those occasions when a mother would have to skip her booked session for an important meeting or to finish an urgent assignment and while running at 100 m/h would forget to cancel her booking. Then someone would come in and fume like crazy seeing an empty pod that’s supposed to be booked and afraid to take it over (“What if she shows up in two minutes?”)

      Long story short, the number of complaints about the lack of space and scheduled pumping got so bad that the management actually did something great: they relocated a guy from the office next door and completely re-built the area. They combined the formed larger pods with his office and at the end we got eight (!) mini-pods, with no doors but fabric curtains. Yes, we could hear each others’ pumps but who cared, with eight private pods there was always a free space whenever you showed up to pump. And no conflicts over bookings! So the answer is to have ENOUGH space, even slightly more then the management may think the mothers would need…it really solves the issue.

  6. kac*

    I admit I don’t know much about pumping (don’t have children yet), but I’m curious: Can you work with the mothers to see if you can all share scheduling responsibilities? If I were one of those mothers, I’d rather the chance to work directly with you to come up with a good solution, than to push back and have this become a big, bureaucratic process. Especially since you *are* supportive of these moms, it seems worthwhile to make that clear and loop them in.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Yeah, I think this should be the first step. Some other replies on this post make it sound like some mothers would have an issue with scheduling while others would be fine, so to me that sounds like a reason to bring it up with OP’s coworkers. If one or both of them is worried about needing to pump RIGHT NOW as some commenters describe, it may be a no-go. But if it is workable, it’s a whole lot easier than bringing management into it.

      1. AnneS*

        I think opinions vary on how much of an issue scheduling would be at least partially because it depends on the nature of the job. It was much more difficult for me to pump consistently with my second baby because I was managing more people, responsible for a new department that included a lot more external meetings, and in the midst of several busy projects so I had to squeeze in pumping time when I could and it wasn’t always consistent.

        1. It's OP!*

          Thanks for the feedback. That is a good point. I would rather approach the mothers first anyways; my manager is a guy who is a little awkward about it as well. So honestly, it might be easier for me as a woman to talk to them without him.

  7. AnneS*

    On behalf of working and nursing moms everywhere, thanks for being so considerate of your colleagues’ needs! Asking moms to book the rooms could help mitigate the issue as pumping times are likely to be fairly consistent, but the problem with relying on the nursing moms booking the room in advance is that they might not always be able to use those scheduled times – a meeting comes up, employee needs to vent, etc. However, when they have the time, they REALLY need to pump – so their baby has food, so they avoid pain and infection, etc. etc. and being unable to get into the room puts them in a really unpleasant position. So I echo Alison’s last two paragraphs to advocate for a more suitable space for pumping, and to diplomatically and compassionately involve the moms in the conversation.

    1. AnonInSC*

      I agree with AnneS (and echo her thanks!). If I was one of the mothers, I would want to find a solution that worked for you as well. It really seems the company needs a better spot – presumably your productivity is impacted since it IS a room that needs to be used regularly. And when you need to pump…well, you need to pump. Not being able to pump when needed can also affect supply. It’s awesome you are so supportive, but you do also need to be able to do your work. That’s a fair request.

  8. Gandalf the Nude*

    To the folks saying the mothers should book the room, I don’t think that would meet the legal requirement. If she gets tied up in a meeting or working a tight deadline and misses the time she booked in the nursing room, she can’t be SOL. And as others have mentioned, sometimes nursing mothers aren’t able to keep to a schedule. She needs to still have access to a space to pump in those circumstances, so at best it may reduce the instances of these conflicts but would still be on shaky ground compliance-wise for the same reasons the current set up is.

    1. fairyfreak*

      They would only be SOL if the meeting room was booked solid, though. My company has us book the room, but there aren’t that many 0f us that use it, so if I got off schedule for a meeting/something else, I just went into the system and re-booked for when I got free.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        It’s true. If there are only two in this situation, they should be able to work around each other. And new moms SHOULD have an understanding of what other new moms are going through in that regard (they don’t always, but they should).

  9. Thinking out loud*

    I’m at a new company now, but I worked at a large company while I was nursing/pumping. Each building had a mother’s room that was used for pumping, and you needed to schedule time on a shared calendar in order to use the room. We generally set up standing times, but there were definitely times that we needed to adjust (baby didn’t nurse this morning, I got stuck in a meeting during my normal pumping time and couldn’t get away, etc); in those cases, we could look at the calendar. (Sometimes, I could just wait five minutes and the room would open up, but sometimes someone else was scheduled to start in five minutes and I could contact her and ask her to put off her pumping for half an hour to save me.) So the room wasn’t available whenever needed it but always met my needs – I’d recommend that as the first option here.

    1. Analyst*

      I remember one of the best things about pumping was how it saved me from being stuck at meetings… I would (and did) excuse myself to go if needed, and would remind folks of my hard stop if we were straying off-course or things were being dragged out. As I was scheduling a room with other business needs popping up as well, it was non-negotiable that I would meet my appointment time with myself in that crappy little conference room.

      1. It's OP!*

        Unfortunately, we’re cubes. And the other meeting rooms have “window walls” (so I understand how the studio was pretty much chosen by default).

        1. Observer*

          If you do need to talk to the boss come up with a solution. In this case it’s really simple – a curtain od blinds that can be closed.

  10. Aimless*

    I have three kids, and I pumped at work for about a year for each of them. So I speak with vast experience when I say that pre-booking the room in advance should not cause any undue hardship for the nursing moms and seems to be the simplest solution.

    Unlike nursing an actual child, pumping can be easily done on a set schedule – in fact it is much better that way. Your body tends to get used to pumping or nursing at specific times, and if that gets delayed by an hour or so, it can become very uncomfortable. If I were in that situation, I would much rather go through the slight hassle of pre-booking the room then to run the risk of getting all my pumping equipment together, going to the room, finding it occupied, and having to delay the process.

  11. AndersonDarling*

    I don’t know the size of the organization, but what would happen if 5 mothers needed to pump instead of 2? The organization should be considering other options now.

  12. 12345678910112 do do do*

    Thank you for being so considerate of your colleagues’ needs, and for working with everybody to find a solution that works for all parties. This post is making me want to cry, because I’m remembering all the times that I desperately needed to pump and the conference room that I usually used was occupied; I’d have to awkwardly scramble for somewhere to pump, including taking over people’s offices for a short while because I didn’t have my own space. And this was in 2014 at a major university. I want to cry all over again. Maybe I won’t read this post anymore.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      I’m wondering why it wasn’t possible, with the months of notice that one generally has that a pumping room is needed, to find you a stable solution. I don’t love it that my solution for my nursing mother staff member is going to be a storage room, but I had 12 months to get it together (pregnancy + maternity leave). If I hadn’t had that room, I would have switched spaces with her and given her my office and taken her cubicle for the months that she needs to pump.

      Or is your boss kind of a putz?

  13. Anne*

    This is a really interesting topic to me (I nursed and pumped at work till my baby turned 1 and continued to nurse at home till 21 months), and I agree with Alison’s advice. Right now, it sounds like the nursing mothers have all the flexibility, which is coming at your expense (and you sound awesome for being so considerate of them!). There’s got to be a middle ground somewhere in there where your needs for the room are met too, especially since you have to book the room and they don’t.

    FWIW, this was my pumping experience: I generally stuck to a schedule (I think it was twice a day around 10 and 2:30/3, and I nursed my son over lunch) and that has been the norm with 5 or so mothers in my department who have pumped. At the time I pumped my boss was also pumping as well, so we had to coordinate with each other’s schedule especially on days where our group had its regular meeting. We were lucky in that our company has a “privacy room” which is basically a pumping room and can double as a place where people can take private phone calls or lay down if they’re not feeling well.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I agree that I generally stuck to a schedule – but I did need to be flexible on some occasions. The baby not eating enough in the morning was definitely one of them – I would be miserable by my first scheduled time if that happened and I didn’t adjust (but I always just adjusted – there was only me and, at one point, one other woman using the space).

      The rest of the reasons were business needs – a meeting overlapping the beginning or end of the scheduled time, or a non-meeting but very high priority work item in progress at the beginning.

      Even so, starting by scheduling if they can do it will yield a huge improvement, even though it won’t fix all situations and a separate room would be more ideal.

  14. Similar Situation*

    We had a situation like this so we had two locations. Literally the only two non-restroom locations in the building with doors. They had windows and no locks, so we had to install locks and shades. Location #1 was the ideal location like your studio. But was occasionally reserved by other employees for business purposes. So we posted when the room was reserved. If the mother saw it was reserved she would have to go to location #2 (10 feet away). Location #2 was the manager’s office so not really ideal but the manager made it available whenever needed. Not sure if having two locations is ok, but it was are only option unless we wanted to start building walls.

    1. It's OP!*

      That’s an interesting solution… Because we have a higher-up’s office right by the studio but he’s out a lot for work. He’s also very approachable; I wonder if he would be open to this. (Assuming the mothers were also OK with me asking him).

      1. KR*

        My department head allows new mothers at work to use her office for pumping. She just takes her work elsewhere for a little bit. If this manager has a laptop, that’s an added bonus.

  15. Eric*

    If the room is booked and has been for weeks and the women have to pump right then, the least the women can do is give the OP the heads up so they are not showing up to the room with people in tow expecting the use it.

  16. pomme de terre*

    What in the world was the recording studio designated for this? It has to be one of the most specialized rooms in the building; surely there is a random conference room or unoccupied office that would better meet the needs of the nursing moms.

    My only reasonable guess is that the recording studio is relatively closed off in an open space set-up and therefore offers the most privacy to the moms. But it’s still a silly solution.

      1. pomme de terre*

        Argh, that stinks! I work in an open plan office and our “mothers room” is a converted closet. It’s reasonably private and comfortable, although it only fits one person (max two) at a time. I think I’d still prefer that to a highly technical utilitarian space!

        Related: my office has a Game of Thrones watching club that meets weekly during the season to watch the show at lunch on Mondays. We meet in the one office that has proper walls and even then we put something on the door, since the show is so graphic.

  17. DCGirl*

    I’m just not sure that it’s illegal to require nursing mothers to schedule times to pump (with the understanding, of course, that some flexibility is required). My company is also one where the rooms are used as well for people who need to a private space to pray or a place to lie down because they’re feeling ill. During one especially fertile period for the company, we were paying for cabs home for people who felt unwell because the “health rooms” (as well call them) were booked solid with nursing mothers.

      1. DCGirl*

        Didn’t say that they were. Just making an observation on whether scheduling is illegal or not.

  18. Ghost Town*

    I pumped for about 9 months after returning to work. Luckily, I could close my door and have all the privacy I needed (now, I couldn’t b/c our doors are 75% transparent glass). I kept up a pretty aggressive pumping schedule to maintain supply (3x/day plus nursing at lunch and then 4x/day when I dropped the lunch-nursing session). I was able to keep things on a fairly regular schedule, but also frequently altered that schedule to accommodate other meetings.

    It got trickier when I was elsewhere on campus for the day and had to make arrangements to pump in a new location. If I hadn’t been on a general schedule, it would have been nearly impossible.

    All in all, scheduling sounds like a good idea, until it is met with real world issues that need to be confronted right now, or meetings that run long, or meetings that are scheduled without thought to your pumping needs, or even traffic making you a bit late.

  19. The Rat-Catcher*

    We have a dedicated room for nursing moms, but we do use a schedule to determine who will be in there when. I can see where there might be an issue if Mom can’t adhere to her schedule, but that hasn’t caused a problem for us so far (granted, we only have a couple of nursing mothers in the whole building at any given time). There is also a stall in the bathroom with a couch – certainly not the most comfortable and not at all the ideal space, but a viable backup if the room is taken and an emergent situation like that one comes up.

    I think it’s a great solution, but I realize it requires you to have two separate pumping spaces, and the issues with one of them being your studio are all also very valid. It’s just what we do and it works for us, so I suspect asking nursing moms to keep to some sort of a schedule, provided that there was a viable backup like ours for emergencies, is probably legal.

  20. Dubby*

    I’m currently a pumper and have a shared office in a building with no mom’s room, so I go all over the place to pump. I have sort of a tier system for pumping places around this building and I switch where I go to match the availability. Interestingly, I’m also sharing a studio room for my primary pumping area. It is used by others from time to time, so I have regular bookings elsewhere.

    I do T/Th morning and afternoons room A, MWF morning and afternoons room B. I also have access to room C if my meetings push the pumping time off and the others are booked. I’ve only needed room C once, but it was super handy to have available when I needed it. There are even several other conference rooms I can snag if everything else falls through.

    Are there any other conference rooms in the building that can be adapted for pumping? E.g. a blind put in to cover the window or a room divider that can be tucked in the corner and deployed whenever someone needs privacy. I’ve pumped in a room that had frosted contact paper (it looked classier than it sounds) over the glass door for privacy.

    Since it seems like this studio room is the preferred pumping area, I’d suggest this system:

    a) have the two pumpers select 60 minute blocks of time around their regular pumping routines. I say 60 minutes because this gives you the flexibility of being early, late, or taking some extra time if you’ve got blocked ducts. This is guaranteed flexibility they don’t need to ask for.
    b) The times established in A are considered protected for pumping and not to be booked over. The pumpers can borrow or share time between each other, but that’s between them to wrangle.
    c) The pumpers are free to take additional time beyond their blocks from item A, they just need to check and book the time on a shared calendar. This lets you know if they are in there without potentially disturbing them.
    d) those who wish to use the studio space during the pumping time are free to ask if a pumper may be able to move, but the pumper has priority and has the right to refuse any/all of these requests.
    e) have a backup pumping space established. This could be a small conference room or someone’s office (I’d nominate someone in HR) who can vacate. If you are allowed to book conference rooms for private phone calls you should have the right book them as a backup pumping space. A backup place is needed no just because overlaps with needing the studio space will need to happen, but also because at some point the pumpers are going to need to overlap as well.
    f) Create a third backup space, even if it’s a space of last resort (say, kicking an HR person out of their office for 20 minutes). Again, my third tier backup space has only been needed once in many months, but it is nice to have the option and know where to go for it.

    This system should give the pumpers open flexibility to pump when needed (as in, there is always an open space available somewhere), but maintains calendar order and transparency.

    1. It's OP!*

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Dubby. I do like the idea of creating a back up space since someone could have an emergency during a recording session. It would have to be an office – all our conference rooms are “window wall” rooms.

      Right now, I’m hoping for a quiet moment to talk to the mom I know personally and see what she thinks. Hopefully she can help with mom #2 and we can at least get a schedule going, and try for another space (at least a back up space!).

      1. Dubby*

        I hate those window wall rooms. Talk to your building OP and HR, because you may be able to get a room dividing screen to place in a conference room to act as a privacy shield. Hell, non pumpers may like to have some privacy as well. Can you imagine having a sensitive HR performance meeting and be completely visible?

        Alternatively, because this is going into legit legal issues about not having a space, your company might consider installing some frosting covering on the glass for one of the conference rooms to make it private.

  21. It's OP!*

    Thanks for all the wonderful responses. I do think it makes the most sense to talk to the nursing moms (well, in my case they are both pumping) about us all asking for separate rooms. I want to try approaching the one I know personally (who gave me a rough schedule) in private, since I’d be more comfortable with her.

    Otherwise, it is very helpful to get an idea about schedules for pumping, and that other offices do have mothers schedule the room. I get that emergencies happen, but even that would help me out in the mean time!

    1. Analyst*

      Best of luck to you, OP! I hope the three of you can brainstorm good solutions… if the pumping room needs are affecting you, it’s probably affecting them as well! I personally wouldn’t have wanted to take over someone’s specialized room at work… an overlooked closet with an outlet/table/chair would have been infinitely preferable to a high-demand room!

    2. Beth*

      I definitely appreciate your being so nice about this. Trust me, not everyone is. As a pumping mom, I would want you to come to me first, and so we could work out a schedule. Depending, the moms may not want to request separate spaces. If that happened, you may get to keep your studio, but they might get stuck in a dirty 3’x3′ closet. Or if you ask for this, the pumpers may get deemed as “problems”.
      I can tell you that our pumping room used to be duel use, it was often a problem. Eventually we managed to get the pumping room made solely for pumping, but not before we were all made to be “problems” by HR. So please, talk it over with the moms.

  22. Chameleon*

    When I went back to work after my daughter, my work had a huge number of new moms, all of whom had to pump 2-3 times a day. Our room was very tightly scheduled. But we also had a back-up room for emergencies, so I never had problems pumping. Maybe if there isn’t anything quite as good as the studio, they can use a less-great room as a backup?

    Ironically, I am pumping as I write this!

  23. jmm*

    Def agree that first step is trying to get the boss to find another private room for the nursing mothers. If boss is not willing, and if OP has a private office with a door, would it be possible for OP to post his/her recording schedule on the recording studio door, and if the recording studio is in use, the nursing mothers can use OP’s office to pump? Obviously, again, this would only work if OP has a private office.

  24. DMR*

    I pumped through my son’s first birthday, and honestly didn’t mind people knowing that I was pumping; if you’re talking to the mothers about the arrangement, you can check how they feel about you letting interviewees know the cause of the delay.

    I was fortunate enough to have a private office to pump in, but both offices I worked in had windows to the hallway. The first put up curtains, the second installed blinds, and both worked well.

  25. Janelle*

    I feel like you could just tape the schedule for when you have it booked to the door. That way, the nursing mother sees it on her way into the room, and you don’t have the awkward business of walking in on her.

    1. KR*

      I like this idea too. My college used to tape up room schedules to every classroom so if you were wondering if you had the right class or wanted to use a computer or have a meeting you knew right away who would be using the room and when.

  26. dawbs*

    This is far from the world’s most convenient option, and may not meet the legal-requirement–but, cars were my back up option. Would there be, uh…a nice secluded company vehicle to lend for pump time as the backp-up pumping space maybe?

    Now, this assumes that the pumping mom has a car adapter (I did, the basic one to go with common pumps is about $20) and is willing to use a nursing cover or a blanket (because cars are giant all glass windows)–but it is possible to do it discretely (I did it a ton, I claim it’s doable) . Although it’s miserable in the middle of a blizzard in January, because the car does NOT warm up fast enough.

    1. Observer*

      There is no way this is meeting the legal requirements. And, really? Asking women to go out to the car to pump? You might as well tell her up front that you just can’t be bothered to accomodate her.

  27. Marina*

    Such a fascinating topic with lots of great suggestions here. I’m expecting and wondering how on earth my office will accommodate me when I get back so this gives me ideas! We have an open office with a few conference rooms with glass walls (no privacy) and just two bathrooms. I can’t imagine occupying one of the bathrooms several times per day (or even if they will be available!)… But you all give me hope that we’ll come to a solution.

    1. Analyst*

      Talk with your HR department now – they legally can’t offer you a bathroom. Most likely you’ll get a conference room with the windows thoroughly covered.

  28. Nonprofit mom*

    Related topic… Any advice on how to handle an all day job interview when pumping? It seems really uncomfortable to ask for an accommodation as your first impression. I would be comfortable slipping away to pump in my car but how do you approach doing even that? It doesn’t help that I’m in the director-level of the nonprofit sector so interviews are often conducted by board members that aren’t necessarily familiar with HR. Also, what are the the thoughts on asking about nursing/pumping accommodations in the interview process? Save it for the offer stage?

    1. Perpetuum Mobile*

      I can’t help specifically with the interview in mind but I was pumping when I had to go out of town for a week long course that was quite important for a new role that my managers wanted me to take. At the end of the day, no matter how I felt about it, I just had to do straight: a week before I called the lady who was in charge of the course and asked what accommodations if any they have for lactating mothers, is there a schedule, etc-etc. No problem after that. I’d get into the auditorium 15 minutes late and spend my lunch pumping. With the all-day interview it may be different but they can and should accommodate your needs. I would just discuss in advance. Good luck.

    2. Anne*

      I think you just need to bring it up with them prior to the interview. Maybe something like “I was wondering if there would be any scheduled breaks during the interview, I will need to pump 2-3x during the day, around the times of XX and XX for about XX minutes.” Just be upfront and treat it like the non-negotiable it is, since going all day without pumping is probably going to be a terrible day for you. That may help lead you into a conversation about nursing/pumping accommodations, but if it doesn’t I’d probably save it for the offer stage.

  29. Amanda*

    From reading through the comments, it seems like it would be a good ideal for all employers to have a room with floor to ceiling dividers that nursing mothers could use, that is just for nursing. The could provide a sink and small fridge. Maybe set-up like cubicles, but with the taller walls. That way, nursing mothers could just work out a schedule among themselves.

  30. CreationEdge*

    Really late on the ball game here, but some office furniture companies make this easy installation modular walls that just get put up with tension, no drilling or screwing. You can put up floor-to-ceiling walls anywhere, including doors, to make permanent or temporary rooms. A possible solution to anyone able to gen this done for their company. Best part is that when there’s no need, or space changes, they can be moved or removed.

    Second, Target stores have a policy that if you need to nurse while shopping they will find you a private room that’s not a bathroom. Sometimes it’s a changing room, sometimes a room in the back.

  31. Emily*

    When I pumped, the nursing moms took it upon themselves to set-up a calendar so we wouldn’t overlap. I’m surprised they haven’t thought to book it themselves. You pretty much set-up a schedule and stick to it otherwise your levels will get out whack. We’d also add “in at ___pm/am” as a sign on the door as it usually takes 15-30 minutes (our room had a sink for cleaning parts in it).

  32. Observer*

    The other thing that has been mentioned, should you should really bring up to your boss is that fact that if this is actually a recording studio, rather than just the only room with walls and a door, is that the equipment in there is NOT going interact well with spilled milk – and “well the women need to be careful” simply isn’t a realistic response.

  33. Calvin Hodgson*

    I was thinking you could use the janitors closet for meetings but then I remember that would only work at my work since the mother’s room is used as an impromptu meeting space as it is one of the few with closed doors.

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