my coworker complained about my burping and farting, my manager gave away my project, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker complained about my burping and farting

I have a work situation I have no idea how to deal with. I found out yesterday that my coworker who works in the cubicle next to mine is incredibly offended by the fact that my body makes sounds a lot. I belch pretty constantly throughout the day, with some farts as well. I say “excuse me” frequently, and I’ve been to the doctor and it just happens. My brother and father are the same way. I told her this, and she told me to go to the bathroom. I was literally speechless.

I’m attempting to comply with her demand, but it’s making me less productive, is super anxiety inducing, and a little bit painful. Our boss is really hands-off and I don’t know what he would think if I brought it up, and I don’t think I’m capable of speaking to my coworker about it. I’m pretty sure this mostly doesn’t smell, and scented products make me completely unable to work, so even if there is there’s not a lot to be done. I feel awful and I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job because of this nonsense. What do I do?

If this is the result of a medical condition, it’s reasonable to explain that. If you truly can’t control it, you can’t control it. (I’m assuming you’ve tried over-the-counter treatments like Gas-X and so forth, and that you’ve inquired about treatment with your doctor.)

But it’s also reasonable for your coworker to be pretty miserable if she’s subjected to farting and burping all day. I don’t think you should be shocked by that — it’s understandable that it’s creating a pretty unpleasant environment for her.

If it’s a medical condition, you might be able to talk to your boss about the possibility of moving to a more secluded workspace. But if that’s not possible, I think you probably need to be understanding about the impact it’s having on your cubicle neighbor and not be shocked that it bothers her. It’s similar to if you had a constant cough or nose-sniffling problem; it’s out of your control, but you’d probably still try to be thoughtful about how it impacted others, to the extent that you could.

2. My manager gave a project I’d been promised to a more senior coworker

My manager was going to have me work on a project that would allow me to grow my skills and prove that I’m capable of more advanced work (I’m angling for a promotion in the coming months). Instead, she told me that she gave the project to a (more senior) colleague because she felt that I “have a lot on [my] plate right now and we need to get this done quickly.” Yes, I have a few other ongoing projects I’m working on currently, but I don’t at all feel overwhelmed by the workload.

I’m bummed to miss this opportunity to prove myself. Am I misjudging my workload? Am I working at a jog when I should be working at a sprint? Is this an indication that my turnaround time on projects is too long?

Any of those things could be true, but it’s also possible that it’s just about the reality that someone experienced is going to get it done faster than someone who’s new to the work. She may have genuinely wanted to assign it to you as a growth opportunity and then realized that she just needs it faster than that would allow (stretch projects usually require more feedback, more revision, and more guidance, and generally just take longer to get done).

But you can talk to her and tell her that you were really looking forward to taking that on, that you understand why it didn’t work out this time, and that you’re really interested in similar opportunities in the future.

3. I’m breastfeeding and was told to pump in the bathroom

I’m still nursing my five-month-old and work full-time, which means I breast pump three times a day. Two months ago, it was announced that our office was moving down the road. I followed up with our office manager as well as the assistant, as a detail like needing a private room with a door that locks — just for me — was probably not on the top of their minds. Each time an email was sent about the move, I followed up, and got a “oh yeah…we’re working on it” response.

In hindsight, I should have shared what the expectations — and laws — were. I don’t think the office manager or assistant have HR backgrounds nor have set up breast-pumping stations before, so I have to assume what happened next was an honest mistake.

Fast forward to yesterday, the first day in the office. On the tour in the morning, I was shown a bathroom on the other side of the campus, with the promise of a half fridge to store the expressed milk. I’d be sitting on a toilet (without a lid that seals off the toilet bowl) to pump, holding the pump in my hands, since there is no place to set it down. (I could share more details, but the more I write, the more angry I get. I mean, my kid will eat this – and I’m pumping it where people poop? C’mon!) Since this “room” was not set up yesterday, I pumped once in a bathroom close to me and nearly cried the entire time. I was pretty humiliated.

My boss is out until next week, and I’d like to work with our office manager to find a more suitable solution before sending it up to HR. Office space is tight; there are conference rooms available, but they don’t have the ability to lock.

I’m frustrated at how this has been handled, so fear that I’m going to come from a place of anger OR not stand up for myself. (See previous feelings of humiliation.) It’s now much into the workday of the second day at the new place, and no news.

Speak up and let them know, right away! I’d say it this way: “Legally, we’re actually required to provide a private location for pumping that isn’t a bathroom, and which has a door that locks. Is there an interim location that I should use while this is getting worked out? The bathroom really isn’t an option, legally or practically.”

If you get any push-back or suggestions that you continue using the bathroom just for a few more days, say this: “The bathroom is not an option for this, and the law is explicit that that can’t be our solution.” And I’d consider looping HR in immediately rather than waiting, since they’re likely to be more familiar with the law than your office manager is.

It’s not your problem that office space is at a premium; this is their responsibility to solve, and you reminded them multiple times that they’d need to.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. I was told I’d get a promotion but nothing’s happening

I have been working for a small company for two and a half years as an admin assistant. They’ve paid for two licencing courses to qualify me to be an account manager in two different departments, but I’ve retained all my admin duties and taken up a small portfolio of accounts of my own.

In November, I sat down with the company CEO and he said it was their plan within 4-6 months to hire someone to take over the front desk so I could become a full-time account manager. However, whenever it is brought up again, it’s always in a vague statement like, “Oh, down the road that’s our plan.” I got a small raise in January but I still feel like I’m being underpaid (I took a pay cut to move to this company and have just gotten back to my former rate.) I don’t know how to go about asking them to follow through with their promises. It’s a great company otherwise but I’m getting burned out from being a receptionist and I am starting to feel so unhappy. The job market here is awful so it would not be easy to find a comparable job and I don’t want to waste my training so far.

Ask for a more concrete timeline. Say this: “I’m very eager to work in accounts full-time as we’ve talked about, and I’m hoping that I can do that here since I love the company. Can we talk more concretely about what the timeline for that will look like?”

If you ask this directly and you still get a vague answer, I would assume that it may never happen, or at least doesn’t have enough certainty that it’s something you should plan around. In that case, you’re better off assuming it’s not happening there and deciding what you’d want to do if you knew that for sure. That probably means that you should be job searching. You note the awful job market, but that doesn’t mean that finding another job would be impossible, and you have nothing to lose by trying. If the job market is indeed so bad that nothing pans out, then you’ll know that and won’t be any worse off than you are (in fact, you’ll be better off, because you’ll have more data about the situation).

5. Resigning when my employer has bid out some work based on me

So I have the lucky problem of likely having two job offers. I’ve been contracting for a company part-time for two months with the possibility of getting a full-time job. In the meantime, I’ve been job hunting and have just been offered/accepted something else. I feel bad because I know that the company has bid out some work based on me, and the last I heard it was in legal review — but they were will still unwilling to make me an offer.

I’m waiting for the background check to come through (not really worried) but then I have to tell them. What’s the best way to handle this? The side of me that wants to avoid confrontation wants to do this via email, but I know that’s not the right way to handle this. (unless you tell me it is? :) ) Do you have any suggestions on what to say as to not burn the bridge? They did know I was job hunting. At this point, I don’t think there’s anything that they can say to change my mind. (It’s not just about salary, it’s about commute, stability, type of work, etc.)

It’s good to finally have this type of problem!

Just be direct, and don’t feel guilty. If they wanted to lock you down, they would have made you a job offer — and they know that. They knew you were job hunting, they knew they hadn’t offered you full-time work, and no reasonable person would expect you to turn down full-time work for a job offer that doesn’t actually exist yet.

And yes, talk to your manager in person (assuming you work in the same location; otherwise, phone is fine). Say this: “I’ve really enjoyed working here, and in particular really appreciate how great you’ve been to work with. However, I’ve been offered a full-time job that I’ve decided to accept.”

That’s it — really! If your manager alludes to the bid they have out that’s based on work you’d do, you can say, “Without the certainty of a full-time job here, this wasn’t something I could pass up.” (That does set you up for her possibly saying she could try to expedite an offer for you there, but if that happens, just say, “I really appreciate that, but I’m excited about the offer I’ve accepted. Thank you though.”)

And congratulations!

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 548 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    OP #1–I have Crohn’s and sidekicks, so I feel your pain. However, it sounds like the co-worker is being bothered by the *sounds*, which suggests you may not be keeping your mouth closed when you burp. If other people in your family don’t either, that could explain why you didn’t develop the habit; additionally, tightening your stomach muscles makes things worse (which is why you do it as a kid, of course) and can also become a habit. Patience, not force. This is like sneezing or laughing– it’s something you don’t necessarily realize you have some control over the sound of.

    Which all pretty much applies to the other too, but I’m not going into detail :-).

    1. irritable vowel*

      So true! When you burp you don’t have to sound like Barney on “The Simpsons.” (Which is something I tell my husband on a regular basis.) Farting is a little harder to control sometimes, but it can be done. You may not like it, but standard good manners dictate that we try to control the noises our bodies make, for the benefit of others.

      1. fposte*

        In this case it seemed like it might be for the sake of the OP keeping her job, in fact. Otherwise I generally don’t instruct in such matters.

    2. Len*

      I have crohns too and have lots and lots of upper GI symptoms, I’d say if it bothers the OP themselves then please know that it can often take multiple doctors and many years to diagnose and treat stomach problems and for some people there are things like the FODMAP diet which can be done at home without medicine which help with symptoms. That’s not true for everyone of course, and sometimes the amount of impact on symptoms is not worth the cost of time, money, and emotional energy

      1. Sarah*

        The FODMAP diet has been incredibly helpful for me. I’m practically asymptomatic due to its magic :)

        (Of course, I likely can’t ever eat garlic again, so it’s a bit of a tradeoff, but one I’m willing to make!)

        1. July*

          I’ve just let my dietician and GI and am starting on the FODMAP elimination plan this coming week and (I was going to mention to OP of #1 that perhaps this could be a route to try) and let me just say I sat in that office crying and having a tantrum mostly about garlic because I cook with it (or powder/or garlic salt) in almost EVERYTHING!!!!!!!

          I’m also really sad about stone fruit and mushrooms and hummus.

          I will do my best for the elimination phase and then PRAY I can reintroduce certain things and not have to go on the meds my GI wants me to try (I’d rather avoid meds for almost everything whenever possible)

    3. Panda Bandit*

      This. If you’re silently crop dusting the office people tend not to notice. ;D

      1. OP1*

        You mean to tell me burping silently is a thing people can do. That doesn’t sound real. I’m pretty sure I can’t, though I’ll experiment with the relaxed stomach.

        1. Al Lo*

          I’m quite burpy (my husband says he’s never met someone who burps as much as I do), but almost only at home, where I have kinda terrible eating habits and posture when I eat in front of the TV. It’s not a thing at work. However, unless I’m being deliberate about it, burps are almost always silent. I can’t totally describe it, but it’s kind of keeping the mouth closed and “placing” the burp at the back of the throat (much like placing the voice when singing, although with a less pretty outcome) instead coming out of the mouth.

          1. Jinx*

            Yes, this. My dad is a loud belcher, but I only make sounds when belching if I intentionally keep my mouth open. After lunch that happens frequently.

          2. Muriel Heslop*

            I call it “swallowing your burps.” I have shared this technique with many a middle school boy over the years. It really can work! Even if it’s not totally silent, it really minimizes the noise.

            1. Shortie*

              Interesting! Doesn’t it give you the hiccups? (Everything gives me the hiccups, so just curious.) :-)

        2. fposte*

          Burping pretty quietly, anyway, so you don’t really hear it in the other side of the cubicle wall. Basically, most of the time other people burp you probably don’t notice. I do think you’re facing bigger odds than your average burper, but I have faith in your adaptive abilities.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          Not totally silently, but I can generally burp so that the person in the next cubicle can’t hear me, with the A/C as background noise. I drink a lot of soda water during the day, so I have practice. If I’m not trying to be quiet, it can be easily heard by anyone in the room. Keeping your mouth closed is important for muting the sound. Farting’s harder, but I can definitely reduce the average sound, if not remove it completely.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Keeping your mouth closed is important for muting the sound.

            This. It can be done.

          2. Bigglesworth*

            This. ^ I usually burp with my mouth shut out of habit and no one can tell that I’ve burped, but my sis-in-law can usually beat out the guys with frequency/loudness of her burps (and is quite proud of the fact). It might not be the most pleasant sensation, but burping with your mouth shut may ease your co-worker’s discomfort. Good luck!

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                I had a friend in high school who could do this. We once stood on the shoreline of the Marina Greens in San Francisco while she “serenaded” the many yachts coming and going with a belched version of the “Love Boat” theme song. :-D

              2. Bigglesworth*

                This is what my sis-in-law does! She’s also part of the staff at a seasonal camp and has impressed many of her kids by doing the ABC’s. :)

        4. matcha123*

          Hi, OP. My body seems to be filled with gas, so I feel you with the farting and the burping.

          But, I can promise that I burp silently multiple times each day. With farts, yes, I hold them in until I can get to a bathroom. I just can’t fart in front of people, my body just sucks the gas back in. As mentioned, the way you burp can affect the sound. If you squeeze your lower stomach, you’ll get a loud belch. If you tighten your upper stomach/lower chest, you can produce a burp that silently and slowly passes through your nostrils or mouth.

          For the farts, I am with the bathroom camp people. That’s also because my farts are loud and smell like Satan. Try practicing at home.

          If it’s not worth it to you or you don’t care, I guess that’s your prerogative. However, I doubt that anyone in your office is going to “get over it.”

        5. misspiggy*

          I’ve got a condition that makes me burp and fart a lot. Because I was brought up in a household that was horrified by such noises, I learned to do it silently – at least, 95% of the time. It’s less satisfying, but totally feasible. I visualise the gas bubble, and coordinate my muscles so that it’s moving out slowly rather than all at once. Sometimes a few subtle contortions are needed, and yes it can be painful, but in my case it’s essential. I lead a lot of big meetings and training sessions, and it would significantly undermine the effectiveness of an event to have the chair or facilitator making those noises every five minutes.

        6. Blue Dog*

          If I were your coworker I would be furious. Not furious that you fart and burp all day, even if you’re “pretty sure it mostly doesn’t smell” but furious about your cavalier attitude. You’re creating a loud, stinky disruptive environment for her and you don’t seem to care at all and are angry at HER. A little charm goes a long way. Be apologetic, tell her you’re so sorry, and tell her you’re working on controlling it.

          A friend of mine had gastric bypass surgery, which caused her to belch incredibly loud and fart loudly and often. But she was so embarrassed and apologetic that people just dealt with it, even on car rides. Had she been hostile it would have been a different story.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            I totally agree with your first paragraph, and I have a ton of GI issues, so I should be able to sympathize with this.

          2. the gold digger*

            This. The parents who are clearly trying to comfort or entertain their small children on a plane but the kid is still crying? It’s annoying, but it doesn’t make me angry. Kids cry. Planes are uncomfortable.

            The parent who is oblivious to his obnoxious child – when I have to ask a kid to stop clicking his seatbelt or kicking my seat – now I am pissed off. Because parent, I should not have to do that. You should be mortified that your kid is annoying other people.

          3. Spooky*

            Agreed. Constricting your throat muscles to pop the gas bubble before it reaches your mouth is incredibly easy. Most people do it. If I were your coworker, I’d be grossed out and mad, too. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect people to behave with even the smallest modicum of courtesy and professionalism in the office. It’s the most basic of manners.

          4. Amadeo*

            Yes. I wondered for a moment if you were a past coworker of mine. He would go to lunch to eat something that would completely upset his stomach (and do it regularly *knowing* what the outcome would be) and come back to work were he sat behind us on the other side of a ‘bowling alley’ of desks and belch loudly all afternoon. And then got mad at *us* for being disgusted and annoyed instead of not eating the things that made him ill/gassy/burpy.

            And yes, we did finally officially complain about him. He was unapologetic, made no effort to control it and apparently couldn’t understand why we were so put out.

          5. Triangle Pose*

            Agreed. I have a little second hand fury for the coworker. I know we are suppose to give LWs the benefit of the doubt in that they are writing in for advice, but OP1 is dismissive of coworker’s justified irritation, refers to the situation as “this nonsense” and is cavalier when advised to burp silently (?!). I wonder if coworker is the person who wrote in on this post:


            1. Lou*

              Yes. Exactly. There’s a whiff (no pun intended) of not quiet caring about the coworker. No sense of being mortified.

          6. OriginalEmma*

            Reminds me of The Office (American):

            Michael: What is that smell? Do you smell that? What is that? Like a sulfur deposit under here?
            Pam: Michael, stop.
            Michael: No, I’m serious, we don’t have to put up… Is it the dogs?
            Pam: Michael…
            Michael: You know what, we don’t have to deal with this. I am going to Google sulfur maps.
            Dwight: Michael, it’s Phyllis.
            Michael: No, this is geological.
            Phyllis: I sent an email out to everyone in this area that this might be a side effect to my new allergy medication I’m on.
            Michael: Are you kidding me?
            Phyllis: No.
            Michael: And you guys are okay with this?
            Dwight: She sent an email, so.
            Phyllis: I did.

          7. Abrazos*

            In United States labor law, a hostile work environment exists when one’s behavior within a workplace creates an environment that is difficult for another person to work in. The flatulent, belching office worker’s behavior rises to abusing a colleague. The utter cluelessness of how badly it impacts another human being disqualifies this person from EVER working in a professional office environment. If one cannot control bodily functions, do not work in an office. Find a job where you can work from home. There are certainly plenty of them.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Actually, no. In the U.S., a hostile work environment must be conduct that linked to harassment or discrimination based on sex, religion, disability, race, or another protected characteristic.

        7. Kelly L.*

          Not totally silent, but more like a little growl or gurgle in the back of the throat that can’t be heard from a distance. I have acid reflux and have these a fair amount.

        8. Daisy Steiner*

          I can assure you it’s real! My husband does ‘stealth burps’, thinks I don’t notice them, then turns to me to say something – and boy, do I notice them! I’d honestly prefer he burped noisily, so at least I’d have some warning.

        9. GigglyPuff*

          maybe not silently, but keep your lips loose, try to contain it to the back of the throat like others have said, and then you just let the air pass out your lips.

          Although I will say, my brother has started doing the silent thing without noticing, and it’s sooo not silent. He sounds like he stops breathing, and then it’s like an almost choking sound, or gagging with your mouth closed. It annoys me way more than if he actually burped, but whenever I point it out, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. (but this is not in a work situation, if so, I’d probably prefer the “silent” ones)

          1. fposte*

            That can helps, and it also can minimizes the air you swallow in the process. But with a lot of aerophagia-type situations, the habit is a quick expulsion under pressure when abdominal discomfort is felt, and those can get pretty loud even with the mouth closed.

        10. Kate M*

          Yeah it’s like, instead of opening your mouth to allow all the air and sound to escape, you kind of let the air fill up your mouth, and then exhale silently. It’s pretty common. Not knowing your condition I’m not going to say you can 100% do it, but I’d definitely give it your best effort to try!

          1. Kate M*

            Also, did the doctor indicate that there was a medical reason for this, or just that “it happens”? The reason I ask is that if you were raised in a household that did these things very loudly and in your face, you might not realize that other people burp and fart plenty, it’s just that they’re used to excusing themselves or doing it silently. Therefore, you might think you have a condition where you burp and fart more than the average person just because you don’t hear others do it.

            If your doctor has told you otherwise, of course, that’s a different story. I just didn’t hear that you had actually been diagnosed with something, so it might be worth considering.

        11. Van Wilder*

          Yes, nearly silently. My mom taught me the nice, polite burp. To her chagrin, I returned from college with outstanding belching skills (and I think burping loudly feels better!) But I keep them quiet at work and belch my heart out after hours.

          1. KR*

            I’m imagining someone yodeling or singing opera in their house possibly while cleaning…. but burping instead. Just so you’re aware.

        12. Elizabeth West*

          I do it all the time. I have a hiatal hernia and GERD and burping is part of the deal. All you have to do is keep your mouth closed.

          If you’re used to burping with it open, it may take some doing to change the habit, but I’m confident you can do it.

        13. Artemesia*

          I think maybe one in a hundred of my burps is audible at any distance– those that take me by surprise. Most people I know can burp silently. I find it actually odd that people would make loud burping noises in an office setting; that is by definition rude where I come from — and it is rude precisely because people can control this and the choice to burp loudly is usually that a choice. It is rightly viewed as a hostile aggressive act.

        14. Stranger than fiction*

          Yes it can be done! Have you tried something like Beano? And avoiding gassy foods and carbonated beverages?

        15. Preux*

          The key is to just let the burp come up on its own. Don’t force it up, just allow it up and keep your mouth closed, and let it out your nose.

          The reality is that a lot of people around you are probably silently or quietly releasing gas in either direction pretty often, and you just assume they don’t have to do it as often as you, because you don’t realize they’re doing it.

        16. Panda Bandit*

          Yes, you can burp and fart silently. I’ve been doing it for many years because I’m pretty gassy. I think they’re funny but I know not everyone else appreciates them so I’ve learned to control my muscles.

        17. roostertree*

          The technique I use is to keep the lips sealed, and as the air comes up, it fills out the cheeks. Then blow it out silently. Sometimes there’s throat noise, but at least it’s muted.

        18. Unegen*

          I’m agog that there exists a person who doesn’t know how to do this. Clamp your jaw shut and route the burp out your nose.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      OP – I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you’ve already tried dietary solutions, but my spouse has similar problems and food intolerances were the root cause. I lived with it for years, until he finally gave up wheat and dairy. Our youngest son also has issues with dairy, so it can definitely be something that runs in your family.

      1. Dawn*

        Yup, was going to say this. I used to have terrible gas on a pretty much regular basis until I cut out drinking milk and now it’s 1-2 farts a day and they don’t smell like burning garbage (a win in my book). Yogurt is fine, ice cream is fine, but something about liquid milk just makes me all gurgly!

      2. NolongerMsCleo*

        I finally figured out red dye was the cause of many of my issues. Cut it out, I still have some issues, but not nearly as many. I’m sure if I keep experimenting I can figure out the rest.

      3. CeeCee*

        I was going to suggest something similar. I’ve been dieting for a while (not fun, but necessary for health) and find that there are a few combinations of foods – unfortunately, ones I love to eat – that really make me gassy. It came down to figuring out what they were and making sure that if I chose to enjoy them, I did so outside of the work day.

        So it might be helpful for OP to look into it. See if there are specific foods that might be making it worse.

    5. Anon1234*

      OP #1 – I have had a lot of digestive type issues in the past (including burping and gas). I recommend that you go see a Naturopathic doc. and/or nutritionist. I had candida and after the treatment (pills from Naturapathic doc. and eliminating carbs and sugars for a while) I felt so much better. I also take a digestive enzyme capsule before my meals and one probiotic capsule after breakfast (30 million minimum) which helps me a lot. Good luck!

      1. MaggiePi*

        Another vote here for giving probiotics a shot. Not many Drs recommend them are they are over-the-counter, but they have helped me a TON with GI issues and actually other bacterial infections.
        YMMV, but it might be worth a try.

        1. NolongerMsCleo*

          Are you saying drs don’t recommend them as in say not to take them, or don’t recommend them as in they just don’t bring it up?

          1. TL -*

            The science consensus, such as it is, on probiotics is they could be a good idea in theory but we don’t know nearly enough to put them into practice effectively. I don’t think there’s any significant risk in taking one, so it wouldn’t be out of line for a doctor to say they’ve seen other patients benefit from them or to say there’s little risk if you asked. But a lot wouldn’t recommend out of hand because the evidence just isn’t there.

            1. fposte*

              The other problems are that stuff sold over the counter often contains strains that aren’t what it says on the package or strains that don’t survive stomach acid (and may be dead before the package is opened anyway). So there may be probiotic strains that work (for instance, Saccharomyces boulardii has shown some promise, as has Lactobacillus plantarum), but it’s really hard to tell just by trying stuff on the drugstore shelf.

              I’ll add another plug for Enteragam, which isn’t technically a probiotic (it’s an immunoglobulin) but works kind of like a massive one.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              And, because for things like SIBO, they don’t know yet if probiotics would make the condition worse. So there’s that, too.

          2. MaggiePi*

            I meant don’t recommend them as in just don’t bring them up/seem to forget they exist.

            However, I did have a relative whose child was eventually prescribed/recommended probiotics after the kid kept getting sick and they eventually figured out he had pretty much no good gut bacteria (either from too many rounds of anti-bios or naturally, i’m not sure.)

            As someone who was on anti-bios very frequently as an infant/toddler, I think a good percentage of my good gut bacteria was wiped out, hence the benefit of probiotics for me, but that’s just a theory.

            1. MaggiePi*

              And I totally agree with the others that it can take some trial and error finding a type and a strength that work for your body.
              Firstly, there is an adjustment period and things can get ‘worse’ before they get better.
              Secondly, sometimes a higher count or different strand just isn’t what your body needs and it takes some tweaking.
              I wish you could get like a probio sampler pack to try different ones for like a week or two each instead of buying a jar of 30 or more pills, but that doesn’t seem to be a thing.

      2. Megs*

        Just be cautious about naturopaths. They are not medical doctors, even if some states allow them to use the name, which isn’t to say that they’re all frauds, but they should absolutely be approached with caution and knowledge.

      3. Laura*

        I also recommend naturopathic doctors for digestive problems. I’ve benefited a lot from seeing one. She did an extensive blood test to identify foods that cause problems for me, then she mapped out an elimination diet to confirm, then recommended probiotic supplements.

    6. NASA*

      This might be a bit much for some…but, for the farts you may need to spread the cheeks a bit to diminish some of the sound. If possible, of course. I don’t expect anyone to grab their bottom walking down a hallway or mid sentence talking to a colleague, haha.

      1. NASA*

        ^side note, this obviously doesn’t solve the potential smell issue. I’m just sitting here laughing thinking of my BIL. He farts all. the. time. They never smell, but that broken/bent trumpet sound multiple times an hour is what really annoys (and also cracks up) the family.

      2. Elle*

        The timing of this post couldn’t be better. I was stretching at the gym today, and the guy next to me kept farting LOUDLY, and didn’t seem remotely phased by it. I finished up quickly and got the hell out of there before I had to deal with the, er, aftermath.

    7. Mary*

      Unfortunately, I started battling with a HUGE build-up of gas as I began aging, and was initially stymied as to how to deal with this painful issue that would bring flare ups of bloating, pain and explosive and very loud belching. When I had the presence of mind to think: “What would the old folk do?” I made a beeline to WalMart and grabbed the biggest bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar I could find. The relief was instant.

      More reading online about this sudden development of gas led me to try probiotics (Digestive Advantage and “Pearls”) and an all natural supplement that is (as they say) “da bomb”: Moringa Olieifera. UNBELIEVABLE results!

      A few sips of Apple Cider Vinegar during my morning routine, usually takes care of any gas that may build up while I’m sleeping. And I was able to pinpoint that eating greasy, spicy and sugary foods usually precipitated a flare up. So since I love to eat and never know where I might stop for a meal or snack, I’m never without a couple Digestive Advantage, Pearls or Moringa, wherever I go.

      There is also wonderful and all natural (but obviously little known), relief from Chron’s. Take your scripts (or write down their names, milligrams and dosage you’ve been recommended) and take it to your local, holistic supplement store. They can give you all natural remedies that you can take alongside your prescription meds where you can ween away from the prescriptions, and enjoy a return to a healthy gut and lifestyle. (I’m speaking from personal experience)!!

      The belching, Crohns and gas are all symptomatic of imbalance in the gut and should not be taken as normal. There is help out there and I promise, you’ll be thankful (and so will your co-workers), if you try these recommendations. Promise.

  2. Recruit-o-Rama*

    OP#3- I nursed both of my kids to 15 and 12 months., respectively. My advice to you is not about what to do about your situation because Alison gave the advice I would give. My advice is both commiseration and advice on how to manage your anger. Back then, 14 years ago for me, I felt the same indignation that you feel. Your feelings are valid and legitimate. But, but, but- people who did not breastfeed and/or pump simply do not have your perspective. They do not understand the logistics, challenges or emotions surrounding the working breastfeeding mother issue. Try as hard as you can to remember that they are not thinking about your breastmilk as much as you are. They don’t feel the engorgement or understand the simple biological urgency of “let down” because they have not experienced it. Try to remember that it is not personal and that if they really knew, they would prioritize this issue they way you do. Take Alison’s advice and come to them with a matter of fact statement. I wish I could give you a big hug, working while breastfeeding is so hard and you deserve a private, gold plated room, sister. I hope that you are able to get this issue resolved very quickly and I hope you know that there are many mothers in the future who will thank you for your preserverance in getting this very simple request accommodated for yourself and for the women who come after you.

    1. Looc64*

      Honestly though. They should have realized that a bathroom is not an acceptable place to pump. And you reminded them several times.

      1. Amy S*

        Recruit-o-Rama, you are very kind to give the office manager and assistant the benefit of the doubt here. It’s very likely that they don’t understand the gravity of the situation. However, the OP sent them several reminders and I don’t understand why they didn’t put more thought into making the correct accommodations. My only thought is ignorance is to blame and hopefully they will learn something from this.

        I’m curious as to how the new office is setup. Is it owned by the OP’s company, or do they have a property manager? My own company has recently moved into a new office space, and one of the things we needed to do was provide a locked space for a staff member who is currently breastfeeding. We have a property manager who handles these types of requests, and it was very easy to ask for an office that came along with lock on the door. It was also relatively inexpensive, too.

        1. Monica*

          Is there any chance that until it is taken care of the OP#3 can prop something against the door to the conference room or sit with the chair against the door while she pumps? Obviously not a long-term solution, but better than a toilet. (For the record, I’d be livid and wouldn’t be coming into work until it is resolved, or taking three “off-site” breaks to do it at home or somewhere else until it was figured out. But that’s me and my temper…)

          1. Debbie Downer*

            I just had a coworker tell me that when she was breastfeeding, she had to put a filing cabinet in front of the door, and she still had someone barge in on her. People are pretty oblivious sometimes. I’d say a locking door is a must.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Someone on on long-ago thread mentioned that a coworker made a sign with a picture of a cow on it that they hung on the door. So maybe a sign that says “Room in use–do not disturb.” Or they could do the cow picture (which I thought was pretty funny).

              1. pieces of flair*

                That might’ve been me! I started with a generic “do not enter” sign, but people would still enter (even though it was locked, all staff had access to the key), I guess assuming the sign didn’t apply to them. I never had that problem once I switched to the cow sign!

              2. sam*

                You would think that would work, but when I was at a law firm and all of us lawyers were lucky enough to actually have our own offices, associates did not have locks on our doors. One of my colleagues was breastfeeding and would do the whole “sign” thing on her door – the mailroom/delivery guys would pay ZERO attention.

                It got to the point where the head partner in her department (a man, BTW) when to the person in charge of facilities and told them that if they didn’t make an exception to the “no locks on associate offices doors” rule for her, he was going to the nearest hardware store to buy a padlock and drill to install on her door himself. She had her doorknob swapped out that afternoon.

                1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

                  I never trusted the locks or the sign. Heavy furniture in front of the door was the way to go. Or a doorstop – I kept one in my pump bag in case I was somewhere without heavy furniture. It’s saved me from idiots with keys on more than one occasion.

                2. Amy G. Golly*

                  Friday Brain, I admire your forethought in bringing your own doorstop! I am going to pass this advice on to friends who are currently breastfeeding.

              3. AthenaC*

                If that works – great. For me, though, I hate any and all comparisons between cows and me when I’m lactating.

                But then again, I’m also the person who thinks that the sight of me with a breast pump attached is its own punishment for those fool enough to barge in on me pumping.

                1. many bells down*

                  Right, I was not shy about public nursing. I never had much luck with a pump, but given a bathroom as the only option I might very well just do it at my desk and to hell with everyone.

          2. OP#3*

            Totally! Until the lock was put on the door, I put a sign up and blocked the door with a chair. And ready to yell “don’t come in!” at any moment.

      2. Nobody*

        Yeah, I mean, I have never breastfed so I don’t have a clue about any of those issues, either, but it is pretty obvious to me that expecting someone to sit on an open toilet to pump is completely unacceptable. Even if there weren’t laws about this, it’s basic decency!

        I once had a coworker who pumped, and she did it in the locker room. I had no idea at the time that there were laws about pumping rooms, but now I know the locker room did not meet the legal requirements. At least there, though, she could sit on a bench or chair and she had a place to put the pump.

    2. moss*

      This is a lovely thing to say and I totally agree. You are doing an amazing, difficult, lonely thing. It’s so hard. It’s hard to give your precious milk to the noisy cold machine instead of your absent baby. It’s really really tough. I commend you for doing this and I stand beside you and cheer you on.

      1. OP1*

        As a currently breastfeeding mother, I agree wholeheartedly with the warm sentiments above. I hope you get the solution you need OP.

      2. Sarahnova*

        Me too. Even though I still express at work, I didn’t have to go back until 8mo when feeding and supply were both well-established, and I have major respect for y’all who do it with very young babies.

    3. Government Worker*

      And anyone who hasn’t breastfed may not really understand the urgency around getting this resolved. I can totally imagine someone coming back and telling OP that they’ll get a lock installed on a conference room… two weeks from now. And when you’re pumping multiple times a day, that’s not really acceptable.

      When I went back to work after my maternity leave it took a couple of days to get things sorted out, and I just dealt with the engorgement and didn’t pump during the work day for two days (I was only intending to pump once during the day based on my freezer stash and how old my baby was). My supply took a noticeable hit immediately and I don’t think it ever quite recovered.

    4. sjw*

      With complete support to the OP’s plight — just a reminder that the law currently does provide the “undue hardship” exemption for employers with less than 50 people. I point this out because I think employees should be informed about what the law actually says before throwing that out there in conversations with employers. The only undue hardship I can even think of, though, is a pure lack of office space. We had that situation where I work — a total of 38 people spread across 2 states — and we had ZERO empty offices, and our conference room was not private. We did, however, have numerous staff that traveled, so we were able to accommodate the employee — just not always the same space every day. Not ideal, but she was flexible and we were committed to finding a solution each day.

      1. Observer*

        That wouldn’t fly here. There is no reason not to put a lock on a conference room door. That would work.

          1. Observer*

            The OP says that there are conference rooms. There is no reasonable excuse to not get a log and curtains if necessary.

            1. Chairs*

              I 100% understand your very understandable typo, but when I see “log” I imagine the OP setting up a barricaded door or something.

              1. So Very Anonymous*

                I was torn between the Log Lady and the much more mundane image of a time log posted on the door for room-reservation signups.

            2. Amy G. Golly*

              It’s not a good solution. There’s only one conference room, and one presumes it’s going to be in use occasionally. Asking her to wait until it’s free or kick everybody out is also not an adequate solution!

              1. Observer*

                She actually uses the plural, so it sounds like there may be more than one. I do agree that it’s probably not the best solution, unless she can just block out her pumping schedule on the room schedule. But, in any case, it’s a quick and easy way to get a temporary solution in place. I mean this HAS to be better than a toilet with no place to put anything.

                1. Amy G. Golly*

                  In the LW’s case? Definitely! I was responding to the situation sjw described: where there’s only one conference room, and the nursing mom ended being shuffled to whichever office was vacant that day!

      2. TempestuousTeapot*

        Undue hardship does not apply here. I say this with confidence given the multiple reminders that were each met with reassurance, not pushback on hardship or ‘we’re doing our best’ comments. At best employer looks incompetent. At worst, negligent, possibly willfully so.

        OP could always take over an office that does lock. A manager or site supervisor with a locking door office can give theirs up at set times for pumping based on the baby’s feeding schedule. This works even for on site contractors. Both the department VP and the East regional manager were willing to give up their locking offices to me when I was pumping breast milk for my youngest, especially after I informed them about being off-handedly informed to use a public toilet stall by my immediate site supervisor. That is NOT hygienic, and did NOT happen. No-one should have to prepare food sitting on a toilet.

    5. 12345678910112 do do do*

      I, too, completely sympathize and Jedi-hug you. I pumped in a conference room that locked, but others had the key and I got walked in on several times. Also, people were supposed to book the room on a calendar, but several times I went to pump and the room was full of a meeting or a class. On at least two occasions, I was in so much pain that I cried and my boss let me use his office – I was mortified. I know that it’s not easy to be loud about this issue, but the bathroom is NOT ACCEPTABLE and you should speak up. Remember that we’re all in solidarity with you, our Internet sister.

      1. OP#3*

        Oof! That sounds rough!

        Thanks for your kind words — I’m emailing Alison with an update, but it all resolved fairly quickly. Thank goodness.

    6. WorkingMom*

      Oh man, OP #3 I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I pumped at work until my son turned 1, I feel your pain. (Both physically and emotionally!) Sitting on a toilet to pump is just awful. Gross and awful. I pumped in public restrooms out of necessity when traveling, and it sucked, but you do what you gotta do! (But that should never be an in-office solution!) I hope this gets resolved quickly for you.

    7. Ad Astra*

      Before I started reading AAM, I had no idea what nursing moms were going through. I mean, I like to think I would have recognized that a toilet isn’t an appropriate place to pump, but I definitely didn’t know about the urgency or discomfort involved. I definitely thought the process was more flexible than it is.

      Would it make sense to use a conference room and put some kind of “DO NOT ENTER” sign on the door until a real solution is worked out? I agree that a lock would be better, but it’s still possible to have some privacy without a locking door.

      1. Sarahnova*

        It’s even more critical in the early months – it takes until about four months for a woman’s milk supply to be well-established, and if she has to be away from her baby before that time and can’t pump very regularly, her supply may take a permanent hit or even dry up altogether. (Basically, after you give birth, your body is trying to figure out if your baby survived, and thus if it needs to sacrifice energy to make milk. If you aren’t able to put your baby to the breast frequently in the early months, or express an equivalent amount of milk as a substitute, your body may “get the message” that there isn’t a baby, and cut the supply.)

          1. Elle*

            Also why they have you nurse as soon as the baby is born (assuming everyone is healthy and able to do so, and that’s the feeding method the mom has chosen.) Also helps the baby learn to latch on quickly, which is another stickler sometimes. I never realized how complicated breastfeeding could be. I should have taken the class beforehand!!

            1. JennyFair*

              Nursing immediately post-birth is also helpful for controlling bleeding and encouraging the uterus to contract. It’s all-around the best thing to do, if possible.

        1. Anna*


          I hadn’t thought about the evolutionary implications, but that completely makes sense.

          1. Sarahnova*

            It’s cool, huh? (Although sad to think about such a high level of infant mortality.) But there are a lot of important reasons why a woman needs to be able to pump as often as she needs, as soon as she needs, if she has to be away from her baby.

          2. OP#3*

            +1 the comment for SCIENCE!

            Literally was going to say the same thing. Bodies are infinitely interesting.

        2. anonderella*

          Yes! (had to tone it down; my original yes was in all-caps. I love this kind of science, where sexual and biological runs into social)

          when women are breastfeeding, it is signalling to the body that there is already a drain on the nutrients/resources, so it acts as a sort of birth control (because physiology) so that a woman doesn’t get pregnant again while breastfeeding. Of course, this is statistically speaking; it is of course possible.

          But when you think of those two things being connected, it makes total sense why the urgency. Her body is trying to decide if it’s ready rejoin her normal cycle, or whether it is being told that it needs to sustain nutrients for two/more. It is literally trying to merge from one highway to another; once it picks a highway, it’s gotta stay there for a while. (I took that metaphor too far – idk what the other cars represent exactly; maybe biological urges?)

          1. Sarahnova*

            Yep. Your body’s always working on the assumption that there are a limited number of calories available; if it ‘thinks’ your baby died, it’s gonna stop making milk and try and get you pregnant again ASAP. You have to feed or pump frequently so it knows this baby is sticking around.
            /end random sidebar on breastfeeding and evolution

    8. OpheliaInWaders*

      While I agree with that people who haven’t breastfed don’t “get it” (and I’ve pumped in some weird places in a pinch, from Amtrak to a storage room at the Smithsonian), I think it is totally fine, in this case for the OP to be angry–I’m angry on her behalf! This is an unacceptable situation, it is illegal, and HR needs to know about it now. It actually doesn’t matter whether the Office Manager gets it or not; s/he has dropped the ball, and isn’t following the law. The reason the law even exists is precisely *because* most people don’t (or refuse to) get it.

      I second the advice to either work from home, or use the conference room (make a room reservation for when you need it!) with the door blocked and a do not disturb sign until they can get this fixed. I would, in this situation, make a nuisance of myself until it was fixed (which I realize may not be OP’s style).

      I’ll refrain from going on a rant about how breastfeeding and a lack of humane parental leave are incompatible, but man, stuff like this just grinds my gears.

      1. Anna*

        I get it on a purely logical level. You can’t ask someone to produce food where people poop. It’s gross and uncomfortable. The company didn’t need to make it a PRIORITY, but they were certainly reminded about it and it should have been something that was done before everyone moved.

        Also yes to your last sentence. So much aggravation that I can’t even express coherently. Also, it would be a sidetrack to the discussion so I will not vent my spleen here.

      2. recruit-o-rama*

        Of course it is fine for her to be angry, I said in my post to her (which was about emotional support) that her feels are valid and legitimate. Her letter said she “fears” that she will come at it with anger so I was trying to give her support in managing that totally justified feeling.

    9. Van Wilder*

      Well said. I’m pregnant for the first time and I still hadn’t thought through the logistics of pumping until reading this. I’m frustrated for you, OP. Best of luck.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        Me too, and I just found out our new office is going to have a “respite room” set aside for pumping. Can’t wait to get in there!

        1. NolongerMsCleo*

          Be prepared to have the appetite of a teenage boy while you are pumping. Bring lots of healthy snacks and drink as much water and Gatorade as possible.
          My daughter is 7 months old and I’ve been pumping at work since I came back when she was 3 months old. Thankfully I have an amazing, supportive boss who completely understands the importance of me pumping whenever I need to (and he’s a man!). Be as consistent as possible. Even missing a few times can make your body adjust and it’s really hard to get your supply back up once it has dipped.

          1. Jessi*

            have you tried pumping after a feed? Ie feed the baby and when she has finished pump? Breast thinks the baby needs more milk and so it then makes more. Another tip is to wait a half hour after a feed and pump then – it shouldn’t interfere with the next feed but it indicates to the breast to produce more milk

    10. Visionary*

      I am hoping that someday pumping at work will be so much, much more common, or that more women who breastfeed will be in senior roles, that people start to get it. I work at what I would say is a very supportive workplace. I was given plenty of time to pump and space to pump in a room that locked. I recognize this is light years beyond what many other women have. However, the room door’s new lock malfunctioned and locked behind me on several occasions, thus locking me out the next time I needed the room, with the only key two floors away, and this was treated as a non-urgent issue for weeks. Plus, I specifically suggested before the room was designed (yes, they put in a new room! like I said, they are supportive!) that an automatic faucet would not be helpful, but there was still an automatic faucet put in the room, with no way to regulate the temperature of the water, no way to plug the sink to wash pump parts, and not a very deep sink at that, basically a handwashing sink like we have in our bathrooms. There are deep sinks with hot and cold water and drain plugs on every floor of our building next to the refrigerators and coffee and I washed my pump parts there. That’s what I mean by people just not “getting” it. Anyone who ever breastfed and designed a new room would advocate for the dishwashing style of sink in the lactation room. I write none of this to complain because they have been so supportive, but even very supportive employers just don’t always understand the needs of breastfeeding women. Way to go OP3; I hope you can breastfeed successfully as many months (or years) as you and baby want to!

    11. recruit-o-rama*

      I feel like I need to come back and put a disclaimer

      *disclaimer- her anger is totally justified, full stop
      *disclaimer- she said she “fears” that she will come at this from a point of anger so my advice was to help her alleviate that fear because regardless of whether her anger is justified or not (it is) in ANY situation, it’s going to be resolved more easily if you can come at it with “just the facts” and not appear emotional.
      *disclaimer- I am giving her emotional support, not legal advice
      *disclaimer- She deserves and is legally entitled to a private, comfortable room without fear of intrusion that is not a place where people go to the bathroom and I want her to get it and not give up but I also recognize that she needs a hug.

    12. AthenaC*

      Hehe – When I had my son 3 years ago, I worked in a department full of men. After a couple months they gave me an office with a door I could close – but MAN the walls were thin – even so, it was confirmed to me that the men I worked with were nevertheless completely oblivious as to why I would shut my door for 20 min 3 times a day.

      Until that point, though, I was in a cube. I looked around the office and saw literally no possible accomodation that could be made. So I didn’t even ask. I just went to the bathroom and pumped while standing by the sink where there was an outlet. The one other (older) lady I worked with didn’t even bat an eye, but I do think I frightened some interns! Oh well.

    13. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      Yes, but it’s the LAW now. So it’s the employer’s job to know, even if they never lactate themselves. Give them a comparative scenario – they wouldn’t open the new workspace without bathrooms for everyone and expect people to just deal with it for a few days, would they?

      Honestly after how much the OP has tried to get ahead of this issue only to still have them fail her, I think she deserves extra paid time off for as long as it takes them to figure something out. If I were still nursing and there was nowhere but a bathroom to nurse in and no sign in the next hour or so of this getting fixed, I’d get my kid from daycare and go work from home. If OP can’t work from home, they should pay her anyway until they fix it.

      1. recruit-o-rama*

        “Yes, but it’s the LAW now. So it’s the employer’s job to know, even if they never lactate themselves. Give them a comparative scenario – they wouldn’t open the new workspace without bathrooms for everyone and expect people to just deal with it for a few days, would they?”

        What they SHOULD do and what they ARE doing are one thing, but it doesn’t help her with her self admitted “FEAR” of coming at it with anger. Of COURSE, they SHOULD follow the law, especially since she tried to get ahead of it, but they did not and she has a lot of totally justified FEELINGS about it and I was trying to give her emotional support. I do not just sympathize with her, I empathize, I did this, twice, I already went through it. The anger will not help her get what she is legally entitled to, but the emotional support and knowing she is not alone and unsupported might give her the strength to fight for what she deserves, that was the sole intent of my post, it was not about excusing their behavior.

    14. caryatis*

      It’s very easy to stick a bolt on any room. This is a five-minute task for any handyman.

    15. OP#3*

      Thank you! I’ll email Alison the update, but it’s totally, thankfully resolved. Instead of trying to work with the office manager, I sent a note over to our HR. My HR rep acted incredibly fast; came to my office right away to talk and had facility folks put a lock on the conference room door within the hour. HR also was clear that this was the designated conference room for pumping, so the story has a happy ending.

      Thank you again for your kind and supportive words! Now if I could work in a gold-plated conference room…

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Super-happy for you – and for all the future women who’ll need this! Congratulations!

    16. DaBlonde*

      I have a follow-up question.
      At my work, the breast feeding room is in the women’s restroom, but it is the old shower/changing area. It has a door that separates it from the rest of the bathroom, a chair, a table and even a radio/cd player.
      Since it is both in the bathroom and separated from the stalls does it qualify as an appropriate breastfeeding room?

  3. Artemesia*

    Has #1 consulted a doctor about managing this problem? It really sounds like some sort of food intolerance issue or at least that should be explored. The people I have known with this type problem had issues with dairy, wheat etc. Eliminating these things from the diet greatly helped the problem. This is pretty awful to subject someone else to all day; one of the great things about cube farms. If it really cannot be medically managed then seeking a more private location should be a priority.

    Congrats to #5 — not only should you not feel at all guilty but you should feel a little bit smug. Feel great about this; Alison’s advise about what to say to the current manager is spot on. And #4 they will offer the promotion when you give notice for your new job; of course then you get to feel a little smug too. People who yank employees around like this should see them walk out the door to something better. Hope that happens for you.

    1. Kyrielle*

      “…and I’ve been to the doctor and it just happens….” Apparently yes, though – OP#1, was that a GP? Because if it was, you may want to try again with a gastroenterologist, who may be able to help more.

      1. Jeanne*

        I hope “it just happens” was condensed for the letter. Does your coworker know you’ve been to the doctor or does she just think you act like the cube is your own bedroom? You don’t have to give tons of details to reassure her you’ve consulted a doctor. And while I have no idea if this is covered by the ADA, you may want to offer to your manager that you can bring in a letter explaining that it can’t be stopped. I agree with Kyrielle that a visit to a specialist might help. The real question: Is this something you actually care about? Does it bother you that you have this problem or are you satisfied with your efforts? Even if you don’t see the doctor there are probably compromises. Can you burp into a handkerchief which would be quieter? Can you sometimes go to the bathroom or elsewhere to pass gas? Think about trying to meet her halfway.

        1. Brooke*

          “The real question: Is this something you actually care about? Does it bother you that you have this problem or are you satisfied with your efforts?”

          Well put. I’m not convinced by the tone of the OP that he/she is terribly concerned about the impact of these bodily… happenings. If the coworker is picking up on this lack of concern, that alone can be pretty unnerving on TOP of the sounds/smells.

        2. OP1*

          The problem is, like I said in the huge comment elsewhere, the doctor just told me to swallow differently, which didn’t help and given that it seems to be worse in the morning regardless of food, is probably not even the thing. So it’s not an official medical condition, just not a thing medicine can fix, apparently. And I’ve been trying to duck into a meeting room it the bathroom every time, and it’s horribly disruptive.

          1. fposte*

            It quite likely is, actually; the fact that you apparently didn’t even get dietary guidelines (otherwise you probably wouldn’t still have been drinking sodas) suggests that you had a doctor who did the bare minimum and had no interest in management.

            I also think you’re feeling attacked and defensive. And that’s understandable on such a personal subject, but your co-worker is also feeling attacked, and it’s horribly disruptive for her. That doesn’t make you a villain any more than a rattling vent is a villain, but I think you’ll get more sympathy from your co-worker if you demonstrate some yourself about the fact that sitting next to repeated noise, whether it’s a rattle or a burple, is frustrating.

          2. Excel Slayer*

            I get that this is really embarrassing for you, OP, and you really have my sympathy.

            I would absolutely suggest you go see a different doctor – a specialist, as mentioned above, might be ideal.

            I have a family member with a digestive-system-type condition, and she ended up seeing two or three doctors before eventually going to a specialist (who gave her a diet to follow which helped significantly). I’m not suggesting a dietary change might be what you need, but seeing someone who really knows what they’re talking about can make the world of difference.

              1. Zillah*

                Yes. As someone who has digestive problems at times, OP1’s doctor sounds incredibly unhelpful.

          3. OlympiasEpiriot*

            I’ve had three chronic conditions, two that have been painful, in my life. The first was when I was a kid and I was still needing to get up during the night to use the toilet or I risked bedwetting a lot longer than other kids. Fortunately, although the first doctor’s advice was to simply wait longer between using the toilet during the day “to train my bladder” (which is ridiculous and possibly dangerous depending on other issues), my parents pursued advice from other doctors, including specialists. Eventually it was decided that the easiest and healthiest thing was just for me to train myself to wake up a few times. That just meant I needed a longer down time in bed so I got enough sleep. Problem solved. I still like my 10 hours a night in bed, even 40 years later.

            Why this story? Because, ime, not all doctors are created equal. Please pursue this. You may actually have something serious going on even though you say this runs in the family. There are even dietary things that can help, like eliminating individual foods (this takes a while and can be really annoying, but helpful and it is something you can systematically do on your own first without paying a doctor) and seeing which ones make a difference or adding carminative spices to your diet (like fenugreek, cumin, tumeric, etc.).

            Also, please rethink your reaction to your coworker’s feelings. It is one thing for me to put up with the unpleasant physical conditions of a family member who is ill, it is another thing to have that in my office all day, every day, without any end in sight. I’m sympathetic that this makes you anxious, but, I’d hope that would drive you to want to improve the situation.

          4. Mreasy*

            Not to derail with medical discussion, but I wanted to second/third the folks who’ve suggested another opinion. Unfortunately most GPs don’t do much nutrition/dietary training, so they’re unlikely to have helpful suggestions when it comes to issues like this one (it may be why things like Crohn’s & celiac disease have taken so long, relatively, to find an understanding of). I had chronic stomach pain & had a couple of GPs prescribe me meds that didn’t really work, with no dietary guidelines. But I stopped eating a few key things for awhile, taking a probiotic, and voila! I’m not saying it will be that easy for you (and my tum is still a bit wonky at times), but this is something your doc should be taking more seriously. It sounds like a potential precursor for a condition like GERD, and no matter what, it’s a quality of life issue for you!

            1. Newby*

              If one doctor is unhelpful, seeing another is always a good idea. I had a medical condition that the first doctor I saw completely dismissed and made me feel bad for even seeking treatment. When I went to another doctor about another condition and they found out about the initial issue, they were able to quickly fix it and were disgusted with the initial doctor for telling me to just deal with it.

              1. MsChanandlerBong*

                I was hospitalized with chest pain a few years ago. The cardiologist walked into my room and said, “You’re 31 years old; I highly doubt there’s something wrong with your heart” and left. Luckily, my GP at the time is an amazing doctor/person. He had another cardiologist look at my scans, and the other doctor determined I needed a cardiac catheterization. I scheduled the test, but I didn’t even make it that far; I ended up hospitalized with chest pain a week before the test was supposed to happen. The next morning, I had a stent put in to relieve the 70% blockage of my circumflex artery. Some doctors suck and do less than the bare minimum.

            2. many bells down*

              My husband’s celiac disease was actually diagnosed by a *dermatologist*. He used to get a rash that is an uncommon side effect of celiac, and I’d taken him in to find out what the heck it was. You never know what doctor has the solution to your problem!

          5. Artemesia*

            The doctor was apparently concluding that you swallow a lot of air which is one of the causes of lots of gas. Learn to burp without making a sound for starters. And then learn to fart making as little sound as possible. Insist that your boss finds a spot for you where you are not making lives miserable for co-workers.

          6. Marcela*

            OP1, I have endometriosis. I’d say I’ve been experiencing its symptoms since I was 13, 14 years old. I was 35 when a doctor finally listened to me and agreed to perform a surgery which confirmed the endo and allowed me to get medication and live. All the years in between I asked different doctors in 3 different countries for help, only to be told I was normal and that nothing was wrong with me (or that I was exaggerating or looking for drugs). So my stance now is that unless the doctor tries to help me, I’ll go to another and another and another. My experience with them is that some just don’t want to bother. This doesn’t mean I’ll get a solution, but if I were your coworker, my days would be so, so miserable I’d hate to go to work.

        3. MM*

          Also is it the sound or smell bothering co-worker? Maybe a white noise machine could help alleviate some of the problem, and I also think letting her and/or HR know that you are aware this is a problem have been to a doctor and would like to come up with a solution. And I’d 2nd the advice of going to a specialist if your insurance covers it- especially if it runs in your family maybe its something like Crohn’s or IBS or something else that has a hereditary component.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah if you don’t push the issue with your general dr, they’re not gonna refer your for tests or to a specialist, and given the Op seems this is not a big deal, I don’t think they pushed for any further answers.

  4. Three Thousand*

    #1 At first I thought this was literally the mirror-image situation of the person who wrote in once about her burping, farting coworker who was making her miserable, but that guy was doing it intentionally and this OP apparently can’t help it. Weird.

    1. MillersSpring*

      Yes, I know of an obnoxious guy who was doing it on purpose to annoy his new female colleague in the next office. He didn’t like having his little boys club disrupted.

  5. Kyrielle*

    On #5, if your manager comes back and offers the full-time position then, you can use Alison’s wording, or another way to phrase it if you want to soften it more is, “I would have considered that if it had been on the table, of course – but I’ve committed to this new job, and I want to keep my word.”

    That is softening, and I wouldn’t use it if you don’t feel the need to – but I found it easy to say and it -really- left no room for negotiation, which in my case I felt mattered (because they were likely to really try to push me to stay; I knew I wasn’t, and that was a conversation that could get all sorts of awkward). “Well, how can we make you excited for this offer?” can turn into a competition, but what do you say to someone wanting to keep their word? Well, we want you to break it? It’s a nice dead-end.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s great wording. I like how it subtly emphasizes that they had the chance to put an offer on the table and didn’t, while staying really polite.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh! And some people really will say “yes, we want you to break your word.” I once quit a job and used the “I’ve already committed to the new employer” language in response to a counteroffer, and they told me something like, “You don’t even know them, so you shouldn’t worry about whatever you committed to with them.”

        But I still love, love, love your language here.

        1. FD*

          Honesty only matters if you know the person amirite?

          And yet employers like inevitably get surprised when people break their word to them. Reminds me of a man I worked with who was constantly trying take advantage of loopholes in contracts, yet was constantly surprised when others would do the same to him.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Oh my WORD. Hahahaha. If they had come back and said that, I would have said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable breaking my word” and turned into a broken record.

          I’d also have stared at them like they had at least six heads, maybe eight. Wow. Just wow.

        3. Kyrielle*

          (And, okay, I’m still a bit excited that you approve of my wording here. Hee. I originally came up with a slight variant on it for my use because I know I can get defensive or blurt-y under some circumstances, and I wanted a quick way to avoid that possible spiral and stay polite.)

        4. Joseph*

          “And some people really will say “yes, we want you to break your word.” ”
          I don’t get this at all. Like, what is their endgame here?
          “Hey, she changed her mind! We kept someone who actively wanted to leave, she forced us to pay her more than we actually want to, plus she’s willing to break her word when it comes to jobs!” Um…congrats?

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Their endgame is to buy enough time to find a replacement and then fire or sideline the original employee.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think that was the case in that situation (or that it’s always the case when it happens). I’d been there six years, they liked me, it was a job that was hard to fill, and I think they thought it was a temporary blip that they could reverse. I saw them do it to someone else, who gave in, and that person then stayed for years and years afterward without being pushed out.

              The endgame sometimes really is just getting the person to stay, with no nefarious motives.

              1. Jadelyn*

                When we’ve done it at my employer, it’s because we’re realizing, okay, something is obviously making this person unhappy working here. And if they’re a good employee, we’d rather fix whatever it is and have them stay, than just let them walk, go through the PITA that is hiring someone new, only to maybe have them walk too if the underlying issue wasn’t corrected. We’re not trying to force anyone to do anything, or buy time for anything. We’re trying to make sure we know what’s going on and are addressing any problems with that team/department/worksite/etc.

                Maybe we weren’t paying as close to market value as we thought we were – we can correct that.
                Maybe the person felt they didn’t have any opportunities for professional development or advancement – we can work on that.
                Maybe there was mismanagement or personality conflicts – we can at least look into that, and maybe see if the manager needs coaching on their supervisory responsibilities, or check on interpersonal problems before they spread and cause other employees to leave.

                Sure, some employers counteroffer for shady reasons, but it’s not inherently a malicious thing to do.

                1. jhhj*

                  The thing is, when it comes down to “oh, well, you have an offer, I guess we can look into fixing things”, someone is already mostly out the door — if you need to fix your salary or your development, you need to look into it proactively and not just when it finally comes to bite you in the ass.

                  (This is often a problem in romantic relationships — one person will say “X makes me unhappy, I can’t live like this”, other person ignores it entirely, first person finally leaves and second person fixes X. It doesn’t mean that much when you only fix something because it makes you unhappy, not because it makes the person you claim to love unhappy. It’s not the same, but there are useful similarities.)

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @jhhj, absolutely — except that people don’t always tell their manager about their issues/concerns. Sometimes they just start job searching. In some cases, the employer should be well aware of the issue regardless. But in other cases it’s not so obvious.

                3. Jadelyn*

                  Thank you, Alison. It’s not that we don’t care to fix it until they’re leaving – it’s that we don’t necessarily know, especially as I’m coming at this as someone in HR rather than a manager. If an employee hasn’t said anything to their manager about being unhappy, or their manager hasn’t said anything to us about their employee being unhappy, we don’t know what’s going on until we get a resignation letter, at which point it’s like, wait, whoa, what’s going on over there? So yeah, we’re doing damage control, but it’s not out of a lack of interest in fixing issues, it’s a lack of communication, either from the employee or the manager.

                  Trust me, there are plenty of other problems of that type that we do fix proactively as soon as we know it’s an issue. Our HR Manager went out to one of our remote branches for a week to have personal conversations with each member of a struggling team so that she could work with their manager to help them get past the issues they were having and move forward. We just can’t fix problems we haven’t been informed about.

                4. jhhj*

                  True, there are some things you can’t know unless you are told about them. But you probably can know the typical market value for the job (including benefits), the typical hours expected at your workplace, the professional development available and whether it is being used, etc.

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              I saw something similar happen at old job. A regional outside sales rep gave notice and was going to a quasi competitor. They contested, she started, and about a year later, maybe a bit less, they let her go.

          2. myswtghst*

            I think sometimes it comes down to an employer not realizing an employee is serious about leaving until they flat out say “I’m leaving”, and then scrambling to try to make them stay, since they really don’t have a succession plan.

        5. Artemesia*

          Years ago my brother early in his career was offered a job with a new company and the counter offer was to basically put him in charge of a division of the company (much higher up the food chain than his newly accepted offer) He told the company he had accepted with about the offer and that he would like to take it but that he would honor his commitment. The new company basically said ‘we can’t match that offer and think you should take it; we will cross paths again.’ So he took the huge promotion with the original company and a couple of jobs down the road the original offering company came back making him CEO of an entire new unit of their company. Keeping your word and being above board can have real benefits. In his case, the company he promised both let him take the other offer and then sought him ought with a great promotion later. Being ethical does accumulate.

          1. A Bug!*

            This is nice to see.

            Acting with integrity won’t win you points with everyone, but it’ll win you points with people who value integrity, and I’d rather have ten points with those people than a thousand with untrustworthy wheeler-dealers.

    2. Joseph*

      That’s really good and avoids potential issues where if you give a reason, they’ll come back with an answer. I mean, how do you reasonably argue with “I want to be an honest person”?

      Also, OP#5: Wait till you have the other offer firmly in hand before saying anything. The tone of the letter seems to indicate that you’re aware of this, but it bears repeating that there can always be last minute issues that come up and you don’t really have anything until you’re looking at ink-on-paper (or PDF-on-screen).

    3. OP#5*

      Yup! Thank you! I wish I’d had this answer yesterday when I spoke to her, I wasn’t expecting the counter, since they have had a month to do it. (They’ve been promising it for a month) I’ll work on a variation of this wording for today. I did go for in person, although I didn’t like it! :-)

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s amazing how having an offer letter in your hand makes money appear out of thin air from the current employer.

        “Oh wow, what a coincidence, you can suddenly afford to hire me full time/pay me market rate after telling me there was nothing in the budget? What caused this windfall? I hope there wasn’t a death in the family.”

        I feel like nine times out of ten a pushy counter-offer is just insults the intelligence of the employee.

        1. AFT123*

          Isn’t it infuriating? At OldJob, I had pushed and negotiated a raise and title increase about 8 months before I ended up leaving. During the process, they dragged their feet, low-balled with pitiful counter offers, made me write a proposal of why I deserved the raise and what I’d be contributing above and beyond moving forward, etc. I ended up getting about 75% of what I had asked for. Fast forward to 8 months later when I go to put my notice in, without missing a beat, they tell me they’ll match my offer from NewJob, which was a significant increase. No hoops to jump through, effective immediately. I passed, and I left. I had seen the writing on the wall.

          1. AFT123*

            Makes me all mad just thinking about it again, lol. Squabble with me when I want to stay on, am doing awesome, have been there for years, and you won’t budge on $5k, but the second I have another offer in hand and I want to leave, all the sudden you have an extra $25k to give me? WTF?

            1. OhNo*

              Wow, that’s a particularly egregious example. Quibbling over $5k, but then suddenly offering five times that without a blink? I can’t imagine they would have been happy paying you that much for long, so you were probably well rid of them.

  6. Linx*

    OP 1: I’m trying to be sympathetic, but why on earth would you be speechless when your coworker didn’t understand about your father and brother? That doesn’t matter at all to her. She’s trying to do her work amidst your noises and, yes, probable smells. You may be nose blind to it. She feels about you as you do about scented products.
    Please seek your doctor’s opinion.

      1. HRChick*

        Then they need a new doctor.

        If the doctor told him to just breathe differently for chronic gas, he or she was not doing their job.

        He needs to go to a specialist. He needs to have a diet plan. He needs to at least try to get a diagnosis.

        Going to one doctor and accepting that it “just happens” is not enough in my opinion.

        1. INTP*

          Burping and farting many times per day are totally normal, though. The amount of gas might not be medically significant or even above average – it seems like the issue is likely to be a lack of control over volume and location. This could be a medical thing if it’s physically uncontrollable, but it could also just be that the OP wasn’t taught from early childhood, like most of us are, to pay close attention to physical cues so they can leave the room or expel gas as silently as possible.

          1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

            Dad/brother did you no favors here, OP…. you were raised to think the noise is normal when it’s not. Best of luck in learning the art of the silent emission. You definitely need a better doctor than the one you already went to as well. GI issues can be serious down the road so get on board with a specialist now who can work with you to diagnose and improve your situation.

        2. AW*

          Going to one doctor and accepting that it “just happens” is not enough in my opinion.

          The fact remains that “it just happens” is literally the only explanation the OP has at the moment. Were they just supposed to make something up to tell their co-worker instead?

          I don’t know what part of the OP’s letter or their follow-ups in the comments is leading people to accuse them of not doing anything about the issue but it’s not cool.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s because the OP mentioned in the comments that the doctor visit about it was a few years ago and the visit was primarily about a different issue (and the doctor sounded not very on top of it), and because she’s talking about the situation in a way that sounds like she doesn’t fully appreciate why the coworker is legitimately upset. It makes sense to get second opinion from a specialist where it’s the focus of the visit before it becomes reasonable to conclude that there’s nothing else she can do.

  7. MillersSpring*

    Alison mentioned Gas-X; I’d like to put in a recommendation for Phazyme. I was on Jenny Craig, the gassiness became terrible, and Phazyme did the trick.

    1. Blurgle*

      I suspect OP#1 has gone through years of different treatments and has already tried everything any of us could mention and far more.

      It can be horribly hurtful to have a medical condition and be bombarded with “have you tried this? Have you tried that?” from people whose suggestions are at Level 2 while your condition is Level 26.

      1. Mando Diao*

        The OP is claiming that she can’t be around scented products because they render her unable to work. What about the coworker, who is bombarded with scented “products” every day? OP has to be open to some manner of minimizing the disruptions. “I’ve already been to a doctor and they said I’m medically healthy so I’m not going to investigate further. Also, I’m prohibiting you from bringing in Febreze.”

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Actually, I don’t think that’s the case here. OP mentions a conversation with a doctor, but that’s it. And OP doesn’t seem to appreciate that this is legitimately disturbing for a colleague to have to sit through, and a condition she should make every effort to address.

          1. fposte*

            In fairness to the OP, she’s pretty young, she’s doing something her family always does, and her doctor pretty much said “Eh, live with it.” It can take quite a while before you realize you don’t have to (and your family probably doesn’t have to either).

            1. Natalie*

              Ayup. One friend of mine ended up getting tested for celiac for some reason, and once her family was done it turned out 4 of 5 of them have it. (One parent does, so clearly some kind of genetic link.) Suddenly all of these vague things they were living with aren’t issues anymore.

      3. Bekx*

        I used to feel that way, but a forum comment actually DID help a chronic condition I had. So no, I think these comments can be very useful and people aren’t suggesting them to be rude or hurtful.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          I spent two years trying to find out what was wrong with my son and a random comment saved our lives. Everyone knows something, right?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I saw this on that old Medical Mysteries show about a zillion times. People would go to dozens of doctors who would just focus on symptoms, and then they’d go online and find something that clued them in. That is exactly how I figured out what my LD was (the testing I had just confirmed it).

            1. Julia*

              How did you get the doctor to test for your suspected condition? My experience is that doctors hate it when you self-diagnose.

        2. MM*

          Yes- I have a sleep disorder and every year when I went for my annual exam and mentioned fatigue my primary care doctor always ran tests on my thyroid and did blood work- nothing! It wasn’t until I read an article in the NYT from patients with Narcolepsy recognized myself in the patient stories and asked my doctor about a referral to a sleep specialist that i was finally diagnosed. Now, when people would suggest diet and exercise prior to my diagnosis I would get frustrated because they didn’t help and were sometimes impossible to integrate into my life, so I feel for the OP if they have done all these things. However, if they haven’t seen a specialist they really should if they are able to- just to make sure.

        3. Jadelyn*

          I’m glad someone helped you in that manner, and I don’t think anyone is saying that people have bad intentions when they make these recommendations. But the next person who asks if I’ve tried yoga for my chronic pain and fatigue (sure, let me just go ahead and contort my already-miserable body into various shapes. I’ll get right on that with all that energy I already don’t have.) is going to get slapped with a wet newspaper, so I’m inclined to say “have you tried”s are only okay when they’re requested, not unsolicited.

      4. Triangle Pose*

        Not the case here. And OP1 said that conversation wasn’t even about CONSTANT burping and farting it was about acid reflux. You can’t be fair to the coworker and say “I’ve been to the doctor to try and treat it” when OP went 3 years ago and the doctor’s visit was about something totally different!

      5. Artemesia*

        From the tone of the letter I doubt this. The fact that s/he is surprised that most people burp a lot but do it silently is telling. Apparently the OP grew up in a household where people competed with loud burps and isn’t aware that no one needs to make huge noises when they burp. The co-worker is probably feeling mocked like an 8 year old boy works next to her; most adults (and 8 year old boys if they want to) are perfectly capable of burping without making noise that would be terribly audible in the next cube.

  8. Jen RO*

    #1 – I’m with the coworker on this one. It’s one thing to not be able to stop burping and farting, it’s a whole another thing to do it audibly.

    1. AW*

      It could be that trying to do so silently is painful since that usually means slowing down the air as it comes out.

      The co-worker might be a little more sympathetic to that though if the OP didn’t include that in their explanation of why it’s happening.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Regardless – it’s a normal thing most people do. Why would you be persuaded by the argument “it’s painful” when that’s the case for everyone anyway?

        1. Hermione*

          But painful for everyone once in awhile is significantly different than painful multiple or many times per day.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but there’s no indication that it *is* painful in this case, and it’s not in most cases.

          2. Artemesia*

            Is there anyone here who finds it ‘painful’ to burp relatively silently? Why would it be. I’m betting this is a stimulation cycle i.e. like nail biting, throat clearing, thumb sucking, the constant burping is reassuring or pleasurable to the OP. Swallowing air and then burping it up is quite possibly a habit that is rewarding.

            1. Laoise*

              Yeah, just “swallowing” a burp is really quite painful to me. It causes a sharp pain in my ear. The gas is coming up for a reason; it’s not like it can just go back whence it came like magic. So it creates pressure. It’s a sharp pain, I don’t think I could effectively work through the pain if it were more than hourly.

              I can just keep my lips closed and “soft” as I burp, as also advised here, but that’s not inaudible. I hear my coworkers burp that way several times a day. I don’t assume mine are somehow quieter than theirs via closed lips.

  9. TootsNYC*

    #3, no place to pump breastmilk:

    –you might point out to them that this is not just for you. It’s not a special accommodation that will only benefit you. (Of course, there’s that whole legal thing.) But someone else may need that same space in future months/years, and they should be prepared.

    1. TheSockMonkey*

      OP 3-

      You definitely need to go to HR immediately. If they are slow about getting you a room I’d recommend using the unlocked conference room combined with a sign on the door, some sort of nursing cover and a chair shoved under the door handle or something heavy pushed in front of the door.

      Or, can you pump in the car using a car adapter for the power cord?

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, go to HR now. The law regarding a private space to pump (which specifically says “Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”) is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which HR should be enforcing, and letting the office manager know that it is a requirement, not an option.

        In the short term, a rubber door stop shoved under the door will keep it from opening, combined with an “occupied, do not enter” sign. Honestly, you may want to keep using the door stop even if you get a lock, as I was surprised more than once by maintenance or janitorial staff using a master key not knowing a locked space was occupied.

        Unfortunately, since the law is under the FLSA, it technically only applies to non-exempt (hourly) workers, however, most reasonable companies will apply the private space requirements to all employees, and some states have more comprehensive laws for all employees.

        Go talk to HR today. I’m so sorry you were put in this position. If you have a sympathetic supervisor, you can ask them to advocate with you, but I’d make the first ask to HR yourself so they understand the seriousness of this request.

        1. Natalie*

          State laws also may have stricter requirements that apply to all employees, so that’s worth checking too.

        2. Jadelyn*

          “Exempt” in terms of the FLSA only means exempt from overtime provisions. The rest of it still applies.

      2. aebhel*

        This is more or less what I did when I had to pump. We literally had no place in the building with a locking door that was not (a) a bathroom or (b) someone’s office, so I ended up using a side room that didn’t lock and putting a discreet sign up on the door. It worked fine, although it sounds like I had somewhat more considerate coworkers than the OP does (and it wasn’t a conference room that other people were likely to want to use regularly).

        But yeah, a bathroom is not a solution, and I can’t imagine how anyone could think that was appropriate. Pumping while sitting on a toilet? Seriously? I could maybe have some sympathy for the manager if they were completely blindsided, but they had plenty of time to come up with an appropriate solution. A closet would be a better solution than this.

        1. iseeshiny*

          And you’d end up sitting on a toilet assuming you are able to reach the electrical outlet! I’d end up having to sit on the sink or something at my company’s restroom, or bring in an extension cable. I’ve heard people comparing it to eating in the bathroom, but it’s not – it’s more like cooking in the bathroom.

          1. OhNo*

            I agree with your comparison. It would be one thing if this were something you were ingesting yourself – then you could at least evaluate the gross factor and decide. But this is supposed to feed an infant!

            I bet the boss and HR wouldn’t be comfortable with you prepping food for their kids while sitting on a toilet. Why should it be okay just because it’s for your baby?

      3. Sadsack*

        I’d do the same. Block the door and stick a do not disturb sign on it until management provides a solution.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      +1 – this isn’t going to be the only time this comes up, for sure – and if it’s an issue with sharing the space with other employers, it’s something the building managers should have factored in.

    3. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Yes! This was my thought as well. It’s just something they need to do for long-term planning; just shoving you in a nasty bathroom (!) to pump is not an adequate solution.

  10. OP1*

    OP 1 here. I had an endoscopy a couple of years ago to check if my chronic heartburn was damaging my esophagus (apparently not) and asked about it then, and the doctor said that there was no medical issue and told me I was swallowing air when I eat and drink. I’ve tried to change the way I swallow, but it doesn’t help, and I didn’t eat breakfast this morning but did have lunch, and it got better in the afternoon. I do close my mouth when I burp if I can. And what actually happened was I overheard her talking with our team lead about Lysol, tuned in because I can’t be around scented products, heard “passing gas”, put two and two together and decided I had to say something. The team lead was already saying no, but I couldn’t take the risk. I said Lysol absolutely isn’t an an option, and that further I was sorry if the noises were bothering her, it’s not something I can do anything about, which she interrupted with “go to the bathroom”. I looked at her like she’d grown a second head and tried to laugh. I couldn’t speak or move, though I did drop my gaze. The thing is, this is sometimes happening on a frequency in excess of once a minute. The concentration it takes to hold it as long as possible and the actual leaving my desk is putting a dent in my productivity. I’m fast, so it’s not as bad as it might be, but it’s still concerning. I wasn’t shocked she’d find it unpleasant, I was shocked she thought it okay to demand that I constantly disrupt my day by going to the restroom for every burp. Honestly, I was shocked that people actually attempt that. Going on a diet is not possible for me for mental health reasons (I see a nutritional therapist weekly, I’m doing my best here, please don’t get on my case, it’s hard enough already). I stopped drinking soda at work, I think that’s a reasonable ask. But I feel awful at work all the time now. I’m paying attention to my stomach constantly, trying to make sure I don’t swallow at the wrong moment or breathe too much. I feel jumpy, and worried that she’s upset by the completely uncontrollable “preburp” noises that don’t happen all the time, but a few times a day. I’ve never known anyone else except my father who has this, but sometimes a burp is really noisy inside my body as it moves up. I’m not sure how audible it is outside my body. The farts are almost always silent and as far as I can tell without scent. I’m seeking my father’s advice, since he’s got similar stuff going on. I think that covers the situation at large and the comments I’ve seen so far.

    1. Mando Diao*

      If you can’t change your diet and absolutely (on a medical level) cannot be around scented products, do you think you can learn to deal with the fact that people will be frustrated and might talk about it? As far as compromises go, that’s a fairly easy one.

      1. OP1*

        She’s perfectly welcome to her feelings, I’m just trying to figure out what amount of accommodation of these feelings is reasonable.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think you have to try to accommodate her to the best extent that you can. That probably means seeing a different doctor for a second opinion (probably a GI specialist) and explaining it’s interfering with your life, and trying some of the other strategies people have suggested here. If those efforts don’t change anything, then you’ve made a serious good faith effort and can explain that — but I think given how unpleasant this probably is for your coworker, you do need to try that stuff.

          1. MM*

            Hey Allison, since OP1 mentions what I’m assuming is an eating disorder maybe you could encourage commenters to avoid any suggests related to diet, timing meals, food intake etc as those may be triggering for them

        2. fposte*

          The answer is “some.” You don’t have to get surgery, but the distraction you feel from your work is pretty much what she feels, too. It sounds like she could be nicer about it, but “go to the bathroom” isn’t actually an out of line suggestion for a distracting farter, since she’s not tracking the frequency the way you are and doesn’t grasp the impracticality.

          I also think it would be reasonable to try to talk to her–not just chime in with an existing conversation but to raise the issue with her directly. That’s true even if that’s a hard thing for you. Have a conversation where you put down your dukes, as Carolyn Hax would say, and lead with “I’m sorry.” Then something like “I know this is no fun to sit next to, and I’m hoping the nutritionist helps/trying to get back to a doctor to solve the physical problem. In the meantime, I’m hoping Bob can find me a more isolated desk, and I’m trying to limit myself to the bathroom as much as possible. I hope you can be patient while this gets worked out, and I’m open to discussing other possible suggestions.”

          People rarely get fired just for burping and farting. They do get fired for burping and farting and not getting along with their co-workers. It’s worth putting some effort in to avoid the last.

          1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

            “People rarely get fired just for burping and farting. They do get fired for burping and farting and not getting along with their co-workers. It’s worth putting some effort in to avoid the last.”

            This. My husband has GI issues and he is ON it. Has had a few colonoscopies over the years, has meds, knows how his diet affects him, and found a great unscented spray (at the hardware store of all places) that he carries with him that covers up the smell. Take control of your health and how you present yourself to others, OP. Learn the silent burp, find the spray that works and won’t bother you, find the doctor who will work with you on this, and have sympathy for your coworkers who can’t do anything about this situation, when there is still so much more that you can do.

          2. myswtghst*

            I really like this suggestion of initiating a conversation with the coworker and your wording for it, fposte. It might be awkward, but it also gives both OP1 and the coworker a chance to figure out what the issue really is and what accommodations are actually needed, in addition to hopefully diffusing some tension if OP1 acknowledges how it is impacting coworker and what is being done about it.

        3. Hannah*

          I feel like you need it to be confirmed for sure that farting and/or projecting your burps audibly and then just saying “excuse me” after is not socially acceptable. Please take this as a confirmation. People burp or fart silently when they’re in public or they hold it in. Your cube neighbor does not have unreasonable expectations here and you shouldn’t be shocked or speechless. I’m curious, did you have this problem in school? We’re you homeschooled by any chance? Or did the problem start later in life? I’m taking you at your word that this is not a treatable medical condition, just a case where you weren’t taught this stuff before, but it just seems like this would have come up earlier in life.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I also have a weird potential theory–I wonder if the constant “excusing” is also part of the distraction. I know for me, I can tune out all kinds of random noises, but the second someone starts speaking English words, my brain goes “Oh! I should pay attention to that!” I’ve got a co-worker who mutters to herself all day, and I always get shaken out of my train of thought and think she’s talking to me.

            So while it may feel rude and counterintuitive, in addition to the possible solutions for scent and odor, I wonder if OP might find it useful to excuse herself less, especially with constant, quiet burps. “urp…urp…urp” might be less distracting than “urp…Excuse me!…urp…Excuse me!…urp…Excuse me!”

            1. Michelenyc*

              I sit next to someone that mumbles, sings, read and responds to his e-mail outloud. It is so annoying. It’s not some kind of tic or even tourettes he does it for the attention. It drives me nuts. I obviously I wear headphones as much as possible but some days I don’t want to listen to music.

              1. AnotherAlison*

                I can tune out talking, but my neighbor eats dry cereal over the course of an hour when she comes into work. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. 5 minutes of silence. Chomp. Chomp. I think this is more of an “it’s me, not her” issue, but still drives me batty. I like quiet.

          2. pieces of flair*

            +1. OP, this is really, really not OK. It’s basic manners not to burp or fart in the presence of others. We all have to hold it in. Sure, a burp or fart might slip out by accident sometimes, which is what “excuse me” is for, but that should happen very rarely. I would not be able to tolerate sitting near you. I am literally nauseated by the sound of burping. And your farts obviously smell because why else would your co-worker want to use Lysol? It’s not an environment anyone should have to work in.

            That said, I sympathize with you because it sounds like you really can’t help it and trying to control it is impacting your ability to work. I would just encourage you to understand that your co-worker isn’t in the wrong here (I’m not saying you are either, but you’re the one going against social norms) and try your best to work with her. Might it help to have a fan going in your cubicle, both for some white noise as “cover” and to help dissipate the smell?

            1. Monique*

              I agree – the OP calls it “nonsense” in her original letter, and I’m not sure she appreciates that it really isn’t nonsense, but a valid complaint on her colleague’s part. The norm is to keep these things in, or release them as quietly and infrequently as possible when near other people. I wouldn’t be able to cope with a colleague who did not do this, especially if they were especially gassy, and I’ve never come across it in my working life.

              It’s tricky if it turns out this is caused by a medical issue, but the appropriate thing to do would be to pursue that theory with medical professionals to see what can be done to resolve it – a side comment from a doctor years ago isn’t expert medical advice.

        4. Cafe au Lait*

          Hey OP, I am the coworker in a similar situation. While it’s difficult for you, it’s unbearable for me. I often need to get up, and find another place to work after my coworker passes gas. Additionally, the air flow of my ancient 1950’s building means that the smell lingers for a very long time.

          Perhaps you could ask your manager to buy a high-quality air purifier. Not only will it help recycle the air quickly, but it has the added benefit of producing white noise.

          1. Cafe au Lait*

            Also, you mentioned that it’s worse in the morning. A couple more things to consider:

            * Something about your morning diet causes gas. You might want to add more protein, or add carbs to help slow down digestion.
            * Your office set-up doesn’t allow your food to digest easily. You could explore adding a standing desk to your space, as well as a ergonomic chair or an exercise ball. That might allow your body to process the food differently, reducing the need to belch or pass gas.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Fingers crossed one of those helps – but as someone with IBS, some things are just worse in the morning, even if you eat carefully or delay eating. (Although the latter helps me a lot now that I have a medicine that actually helps with this.)

              1. AnonAnalyst*

                I would also suggest that it might caused from dinner the night before. I don’t have IBS, but I do have a couple of other health issues that mess with my system when things get out of whack, and one in particular slows everything down (curse you, hypothyroidism!) I also have digestive issues I haven’t yet been able to fully resolve, but I have learned that certain foods cause more issues for me so I avoid them.

                However, it took me a long time to realize that issues I was having in the morning were sometimes caused by something I had eaten for dinner the night before, so while the morning diet might be a place to start, it’s not necessarily the food that’s causing the problem.

                1. Cafe au Lait*

                  Or even eating after a particular time.

                  The OP mentioned upthread she’s a nursing mother. I don’t know how old her baby is, but if the OP is waking up multiple times during the night, that could really mess with her digestive issues. I find that when I get less than 6 hours of continuous sleep, I’m really nauseous, fart-y & belch-y the next day too.

                2. Cafe au Lait*

                  Hey Alison, at 7:25, in response to Moss under Recruit-o-Rama’s initial comment, she mentions that she’s a nursing mother.

                3. Kyrielle*

                  Can be caused by what you ate 24-48 hours before, too. But morning is an issue because of the gastrocolic reflex. I wouldn’t expect that to affect burping obviously…but farting and general discomfort, yes.

          2. myswtghst*

            Seconding the air purifier suggestion! I recently got one for my room, and while it was intended to (and does) help with my allergies (boo dust!), it’s also a great white noise machine at night when my SO wants to stay up playing video games. ;)

        5. Belle*

          I also have acid reflux and it took me three difference doctors to finally diagnosis the issue and get the correct medication. I went from having lots of burping to almost none.

          For me, it took a daily medicine to control the acid production. Plus I had to give up all caffeine products (coffee, tea and soda) to help control it. Lastly, we used some wood blocks to slightly elevate our bed to help control the acid feeling in my throat.

          So I would encourage you to speak with another doctor — it might help you too.

            1. LSC*

              Same here. According to my gastroenterologist, swallowing air is actually a response to acid reflux – which, if you have chronic heartburn, is clearly a possibility. Mine is luckily gone now, but at the time, medication (, accompanied by avoiding caffeine and acid food and drinks (lemonade, orange juice, tomato sauce), helped reduce my burping by 90% nearly instantly.

              If you are not in a position to give up caffeine, I echo Kelly L.’s comment above on avoiding drinking it on an empty stomach. In my particular case, I have also noticed that my stomach reacts better to an espresso (though stronger, in a small quantity) than to a large cup of drip coffee.

        6. Triangle Pose*

          OP, you say you were shocked she thought it okay to demand that I constantly disrupt my day by going to the restroom for every burp.

          But you are constantly disrupting her day by burping and farting every minute. I feel like this is a fundamental disconnect here. I’m really sorry you are going through this health issue, but it is at bottom, your health issue and it is highly disruptive to your co-worker. The responsibility is not on her to have “reasonable feelings,” the responsibility is on you to make yourself as least disruptive as possible when your health issues are disrupting other people’s work.

        7. BananaPants*

          If you’re burping and farting as often as once a minute (!) then it’s more than just her “feelings” – you are significantly disrupting her work environment and aren’t being very considerate. OP1, you need to see another doctor. It is not socially acceptable to openly let ’em rip in public, including the workplace. I don’t blame your colleague for being frustrated.

          The guy across the cubicle aisle from me frequently hocks loogies into his wastebasket. He is from a culture where ridding the body of mucus is considered to be healthful. I just find it horribly disgusting and want to gag every time I have to hear it.

          1. Belle*

            Oh my! My gag reflex would definitely kick in if someone close to me did that. Then you would have my puking in the wastebasket while adding to the ickynss of the situation.

            1. MashaKasha*

              Came here to say this. My gag reflex and migraines would be in overdrive if I had to smell my cube neighbor’s gas all day. And honestly, if said neighbor told me I could not use scented products, including Lysol, to mask the fart smell, I’d polish my resume and start looking. This is so, so, so not acceptable.

              I’ve sat next to coworkers who habitually made noises like they were about to hack their entire intestines out through their nose or mouth, and that was annoying enough; but at least I could learn to block them out or put my headphones on. You cannot ignore an offensive smell.

              1. Rafe*

                The coworker suggesting Lysol (as opposed to something lighter, like Febreeze) does indeed suggest there is a strong smell.

                The noises — OMG, I almost cannot take it when a coworker eats at the desk a few times a week. I mean I actually have to get up and just make it my own break time. I can’t take the wolfing down chomping and slurping — it takes me right out of my ability to concentrate. (And he’s not doing work; he’s doing this while surfing the Internet. It seems literally counter-productive not just in terms of him doing this during his off time but basically taking other people surrounding him out of productivity for his time too.) So I cannot imagine if this were to be happening once a minute.

          2. Anna*

            Good god, no. No. No. Just…no. I just cannot even.

            I’m getting gaggy just thinking of this.

          3. TG*

            Someone I work with does this into the toilet instead of the trashcan, but my gag reflex doesn’t know the difference. It’s just one of those sounds that gets to me no matter where it’s happening.

    2. fposte*

      Sounds like an annoying situation all around; I thought aerophagia might be involved, and that’s hard to stop. Do try relaxing your abdomen, which is counterintuitive but lessens the pressure.

      Btw, I’m underwhelmed with your doctor. You’ve got notable GI issues that deserve attention even if they’re not damaging your esophagus. (Though going off the soda may help that too.)

      1. AW*

        Btw, I’m underwhelmed with your doctor.

        I’m also not impressed with a doctor who thinks that someone who has gas to the point of it causing anxiety and work problems is just swallowing air but I’ve gotten a lot of “I don’t know”s from doctors in my time so maybe I’m biased.

        1. OP1*

          I wasn’t terribly impressed either, but in fairness to him it was a few years ago, I was I think still in school, and the visit was primarily about the heartburn.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Then definitely time for another visit (maybe to a GI person this time). This sounds like a pretty big deal, and it’s interfering in your life. You don’t want to rely on a visit from a few years ago that was primarily about something else.

          2. Meg Murry*

            OP, I think you need to go to a doctor with what you wrote above (happening in a frequency in excess of once a minute, it’s causing you anxiety, etc) and also speak to your nutritionist about it.

            I suspect this has been normalized a bit to you, since your father and brother also have it, but what you describe is not typical, and shouldn’t just be written off by a doctor with “well, you swallow air”.

            Unfortunately, if you just say to a doctor “I burp and fart and have had a lot” I suspect they would interpret that as a couple of times a day, because to a person who isn’t in a gastrointestinal situation, more than a couple times a day would be considered “a lot”. You need to quantify to them what “a lot” means to you, and how it is effecting your life. You may even consider printing off what you wrote above and hand it to your doctor, if you are like me and tend to freeze up when the doctor asks you questions. If you are keeping a food diary for the nutritionist, you could also try to record some of this there (stomach uncomfortably rumbling from 8-10 am, uncontrollable burps every minute from 2-3, approximately X burps per day/hour).

            I’m sorry you are dealing with this, and I hope you can find a way to be less uncomfortable.

            1. blackcat*

              I second speaking to your nutritionist. It sounds like you/your nutritionist don’t want to mess around with your diet for good reasons, possibly related to mental health. But if this problem is causing you distress/anxiety, your nutritionist should know. There may be something to try with the support of medical professionals.

              My brother had issues like what you’re describing for years. It was entirely treated by removing certain processed foods and most dairy* from his diet.

              *Turns out, he’s lactose intolerant and made it to age 30 without knowing. He didn’t get sick from it, really, it just significantly contributed to the gas issue.

              1. AnotherAlison*

                I think my husband was around 35 before he figured out dairy was THE problem. Life is so much better without him eating ice cream before going to bed.

                1. Oryx*

                  Ugh. Dairy. It took me years to figure that out and it was only after my sister mentioned having issues that it all kind of clicked.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  I turned out to be lactose intolerant and it took me forever to figure it out because I just didn’t eat dairy all that often. I ate some cheese, but the amounts were small enough and the lactose level low enough that nothing really happened, and I ate ice cream, but not all that often. What turned on the light bulb was The Winter I Got Obsessed with Milk Stout. So amazing going in! So unpleasant afterward! Lactaid pills are glorious things.

                1. Sadsack*

                  For me, anything with chicory root is off limits. If anyone wants a good laugh, visit pleasegodno . com. It’s about kashi cereal and fiber one bars.

                2. Sadsack*

                  OK wait, that website seems to have changed. There used to be a thread on there somewhere about people’s experiences with fiber one bars. It was hysterically funny. I found it after having a bad experience with the bars myself.

                3. Kate M*

                  OMG, I love FiberOne brownies because 1) they’re low calorie, and 2) taste almost like a brownie. But I made the mistake of eating 3 in a day one time and it was…unpleasant. I learned very quickly I can’t eat more than 1 at a time. And even then it’s iffy sometimes.

                4. Kelly L.*

                  Aaaaaand anything with sorbitol. I had this experience once with sugar-free cough drops…yeah, after that I just got the sugar kind and decided I’d worry about my teeth later.

                5. Windchime*

                  OMG Fiber One bars. My farts on those things were spectacular. Spectacular and embarrassing. I had to give the rest of the box away.

            2. Newby*

              Wording can be very important. Doctors hear so many complaints that they tend to assume everyone is exaggerating, so if you understate your issue it will almost certainly be misinterpreted. I learned the hard way that saying I was in pain did not really register with my doctor but saying that the pain was so severe it woke me up multiple times at night made them start paying attention. Saying you have gas probably didn’t really register with the doctor. Saying it happens once a minute and is having a significant quality of life impact could help them to understand how severe it is. Make sure to mention quality of life or work performance so that they realize that this is more than an annoyance to you.

          3. LQ*

            I want to support all the go to another doctor statements. I had something that didn’t seem like a huge deal but would sometimes flare up and make me anxious and stressed (at work, on dates) and it took 6 doctors to get a diagnosis, and then another 3 before I found a thing that would actually help from a doctor who was listening. And it is a pretty common thing that they have stupid hulu advertisements about these days!

            But the kicker is it turns out that the thing I thought was mildly annoying actually has some other serious background effects that it is important for me to know about. Get help for you. (And bonus if it helps relieve the work situation and reduce stress there.)

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I’ve known several people whose seemingly nuisance digestive issues turned out to be a very serious medical issue, with the extreme end of that being stomach cancer. It is not to be taken lightly! Good for you for running it through 9 doctors. A lot of people wouldn’t have patience for that.

              1. LQ*

                It was over like 10 years, so I’m not sure how much applauding I deserve, it would be I’d get a serious flare, go in, not get the help I needed, maybe try again, give up, wait for the next flare. It was horrible. I still avoid going to doctors because of it. But at least now I just go in and say, I need these scripts because I’m having a flare up, mostly they just go ok here now go away.

                It is hard, it sucks. But it can make such a difference in the quality of life. And yes, the very serious medical issue thing. Go in.

                1. fposte*

                  Part of advanced adulthood is realizing that doctors aren’t just machines where you put your presentation in and get a diagnosis out–that it often takes a few tries before you get one who recognizes that particular constellation of symptoms and has experience with some management.

                2. LQ*

                  I hate advanced adulthood. (But that is a great phrase.)

                  Some day I look forward to just taking a pill full of nanobots who take samples and give a diagnosis and fix everything.

          4. Michelle*

            OP1, my son has acid reflux and IBS. He was diagnosed when he was still in elementary school and has been on medicine since then. But we had to go to 4 different doctors, including 2 GI specialists, before we found someone who would believe that a child had acid problems and IBS. I had pretty much “home” diagnosed him by then and the 4th doctor agreed with me. He did the routine testing, confirmed he did indeed have acid and IBS and prescribe meds. He’s been doing very well since then and he’s 23 now.

            He also had ulcers at age 6 months and had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks after he threw up half the blood in his body the day after Christmas. I had been telling the doctor for weeks he wasn’t well but I keep getting the “new mother nerves” excuse. That doctor was not happy to see me the day after my son almost died. Some doctors have to be reminded that we are people, not just patients, and they need to spend more than 5 minutes with you.

            1. Girasol*

              Doctors sometimes tend to downplay any woman’s complaint as being an overreaction or psychosomatic. If the OP were to mention the workplace complaint, the corroboration of others might encourage the doctor to solve the situation rather than pass it off with a “nothing to worry about” and an unhelpful pat answer.

          5. VGN*

            Hopping on the see a doctor bandwagon. My husband had problems with his throat closing while eating – he literally could not swallow. Original doctor’s advice was to just eat more slowly. Turns out he had an atypical presentation of acid reflux that was starting to damage his esophagus.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              My mom just found out she has this! But she refuses to take the prescribed medicine :(

              1. VGN*

                That’s too bad. It’s tough to balance the long term consequences of taking/not taking the meds. My husband tried to lower his dose, but the symptoms came back. He settled on alternating daily between two meds.

          6. Observer*

            That doesn’t excuse him. Burping happens to be a classic side effect of reflux. Furthermore, even the most medicine heavy doctors will provide some diet guidance to patients with reflux – something your doctor apparently didn’t bother with, since he didn’t even suggest you go off soda – one of the WORST things you can drink if you have reflux and / or gas.

            Did he even bother to tell you to keep an eye on the reflux problem? You may not have had damage then, but chronic reflux quite likely will lead to eventual damage, so you want to deal with that.

            Outside of the issues this is creating at work, please find yourself some competent medical advice. Your health will thank you.

          7. Temperance*

            OP1, this is impacting your life in a negative way, even if you aren’t fully cognizant of it. I highly recommend visiting a specialist instead of a GP. There are many things that might be able to alleviate the problem.

            For instance, I’m lactose intolerant. Eating dairy products makes me, well, farty. So I avoid them at work. My problem was easy to solve. I constantly drink seltzer/soda water, which definitely makes me burpy. I can keep the sound silent by keeping my mouth shut and swallowing instead of making a noise.

          8. LSC*

            OP, I am not a doctor, but as someone who had acid reflux, the symptoms you mention (heartburn, swallowing air, burping, farting) are all classic demonstrations of that condition. I echo those who are unimpressed that your doctor doesn’t seem to have made that connection, and would also urge you to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

          9. Renee*

            Are you sure it’s heartburn? What I thought was heartburn was actually gallbladder disease, and gallbladder issues can create a lot of gas and general intestinal unpleasantness.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              My mom has gallbladder issues (actually, her doctor told her to have it removed a few years ago – she didn’t), and I could see this being a possibility. Mom’s gas and bowel movements smell like death.

              1. SimontheGrey*

                My best friend had gas and bowel movements that seriously smelled like fish died in there, and her breath was bad even right after brushing her teeth. Doctors ignored it. Halitosis. Until the tumor that had been growing on her intestines for years finally ruptured and nearly killed her. Guess what? Tumor gone, no breath problems, no gas, etc.

            2. Library Director*

              +1 My husband spent years in misery because of his gallbladder. He ate a very strict diet, drank only water, and still suffered from gas. Test after test showed no gall stones. He finally said to the doctor, “If I presented with these symptoms 20 years ago what would you do?” The response was remove your gallbladder. He finally had surgery and while there were no stones, but it was gravelly and obviously needed to be removed. It was a life changing event.

            3. Renee*

              I had mine out last month due to infection, and although I’m still in some pain from the surgery, the resolution of years of issues has been pretty incredible. I had no idea it was my gallbladder until I went to the ER.

      1. BRR*

        That was going to be my suggestion. I’m not sure of this is a smell or sound issue but if it’s about the sound this could help.

    3. AW*

      I’d make sure the team lead knows it’s a medical issue you’re dealing with but I’d be really, really surprised if burping was enough to get you fired. I think talking with your boss will actually make you feel better on that front.

      As for the co-worker, you did try to apologize and explain and she interrupted. You might make another attempt via email (where she can’t interrupt you) but otherwise you’re already dealing with the issue. You might have to just accept that there’s nothing else you can do to help her out. Easier said than done when you have anxiety but trying to be OK with the fact that you’re doing what you can may be the only thing you can do.

    4. Ellie H.*

      Is it like the “croak” thing people describe here? burp I have a lot of that stuff too except I *can* do it on occasion.
      FWIW I think it’s definitely related to the acid reflux (which I also have). Some of that, for me, just comes and goes w/little rhyme or reason but there is some stuff that helps consistently.

    5. misspiggy*

      Not fun. My partner is in a similar situation (lots of heartburn and burping, little helpful advice from doctors), and is currently gearing up to try again and get some more help. It’s a difficult set of issues to tackle. He takes a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the symptoms, which helps a lot – I’m surprised your doctor didn’t offer you that.

      Having said that, he does belch silently at work and social events. Getting up and walking around seems to help, but if this is happening every minute I can see that’s not always going to work.

      1. blackcat*

        PIPs really aren’t meant for long-term use. They’re designed to be used for 2 months or less at a time, so they aren’t good long-term solutions. I’m sure there are exceptions, but OP1 shouldn’t just go popping them herself long-term. She should see a new GI.

      2. The Strand*

        I am seconding Blackcat’s warning. PPIs are bad news if you take them for a long period: they’re linked to B12 deficiency, which is rarely seen before old age. B12 issues can lead to nerve damage, peripheral neuropathy, psychological issues.

        1. Michelenyc*

          I have a B12 defiency and I am not old. A lot of vegetarians like myself have the issue but also have absorption problems. It’s a bummer but it is getting better. I can definitely say from experience that it makes depression about 1000 times worse!

    6. Jennifer M.*

      While it seems that the comments have covered seeing another specialist which I endorse, something you mentioned caught my eye. You mentioned that your doctor says you are swallowing a lot of air when you eat. What about other times? When I’m awake, I don’t breath through my mouth (unless I have a bad cold), but sometimes during allergy season, I breath through my mouth while I sleep and I swallow a lot of air which leads to an upset stomach in the morning until a take one or two sips of club soda to help me expel that air. One thing that I do during allergy season is sleep with Breathe Right strips to help open my nasal passages so that I can breathe through my nose at night which I prefer because breathing through my mouth often gives me a sore throat because everything gets so dry. As a side effect, I swallow a lot less air. Mouth breathing at night can actually be bad for your dental health because it dries out your mouth and teeth too much so if you are waking up to a dry mouth, give the strips a try.

      1. fposte*

        If there’s a CPAP mask in the mix, apparently those are notorious for aerophagia as well.

      2. LQ*

        Ha! My dental hygienist was on my case about the mouth breathing creating bad dental health. I fixed my allergy medication after a really bad year. My hygienist was super impressed, no more angry red gums! It’s all connected.

      3. Natalie*

        An inhaled corticosteroid can be a great option, too. They can be used long term and don’t cause rebound congestion like decongestants do.

    7. hbc*

      I truly feel for you–it sounds like you’ve got a mix of issues that make it hard to dig into this. But I think you’re also not seeing the full picture. For example, if your coworker is talking about Febreeze, you are absolutely not passing gas “without scent.” It’s pretty dismissive to assume that she’s hearing your burps, which makes her guess correctly about your silent gas, and then imagining a smell from the gas that she doesn’t really know about.

      Please see a specialist and start digging in to all of the internal and external options you have to lessen the impact on yourself and others. You can’t really know it’s uncontrollable or unmitigatable (I know, I know, not a word) until you’ve tried a lot more options, and if you’re burping audibly literally ever minute, I’ve got to believe that it’s significantly impacting a lot of other people around you.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      So, here’s how this reads to me:

      – You haven’t gone to a specialist, you’re not willing to allow scented products, you won’t change your diet, you don’t want to try slowly releasing burps/farts, and you’re not willing to leave the room to do it. The only thing you’ve been willing to adjust is soda-drinking.

      I don’t think that’s fair to your colleagues. At this point, this isn’t even a diagnosed medical issues, but you’re expecting everyone to just deal. What you’re describing is incredibly disruptive and inconsiderate, and it’s not seeming like you’re willing to do much to make the situation better.

      1. MicheleNYC*

        Nailed it! Your dad and brother should also see a specialist this is absolutely not normal.

      2. Dawn*

        OP, these are the cold hard facts of the situation. Not very easy to hear I’m sure, but true.

        Compromise requires effort by *all* parties involved.

      3. Christopher Tracy*

        That’s exactly how it comes off to me too, Katie. This is why I’m siding with the coworker here – that attitude would totally send me over the edge.

      4. LBK*

        Yeah, I have to agree. It doesn’t seem like much effort is being expended here – I get that it’s anxiety-inducing for you right now, but wouldn’t a better solution be to put that effort and energy towards trying to find a long-term solultion? GI issues can be notoriously hard to pinpoint so you might have to go through a few doctors or multiple specialists, but as it stands now it doesn’t really feel like you’re meeting your coworker halfway. I don’t blame her for being frustrated.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            It really isn’t. It’s going to hold OP back from great projects, opportunities, and possible advancement opportunities.

            1. MashaKasha*

              Yup, people are going to go out of their way to avoid working with OP and/or adding her to their project team, and she’ll be left wondering as to why.

          2. Manders*

            Yes, this is something OP may not yet realize: for every person who speaks up, there may be ten who’re quietly getting annoyed but not saying anything. OP, you really don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re not being invited to meetings or you’re putting off the people you need to network with.

            If there really is no medical solution and OP can’t do anything to control the sound or smell, it may be time to either 1) accept that this will always be a career handicap, or 2) work towards a career that can be done remotely.

          3. GreyjoyGardens*

            I agree. Loud, obvious farting and/or burping in public is considered crass, at least in every office I know of. It’s like public nose picking. Bosses and co-workers will think the belcher is raised by wolves or at the very least lacks proper workplace boundaries/manners, and not want to work with them or have them meet important clients.

            Obvious, loud, belching and/or gas-passing is going to do OP no career favors.

      5. K.*


        While burping and farting are natural biological processes, they’re also gross, particularly farting. (The OP says it doesn’t smell; I doubt this.) It’s really not unreasonable to be put off by someone who audibly burps and farts all the livelong day and expects those around them to just deal with it.

      6. ThatGirl*

        I gotta be honest, if I were burping or tooting that much it would get on MY nerves, forget anyone around me. (I bug myself when I have to cough constantly while sick, for instance.) I know the OP has apparently normalized it, but it’s not normal, and is likely disrupting her life without her even realizing it.

        1. LBK*

          Agreed – sometimes the most annoying part of having a cold is the constant noise, even when it’s coming from me. Jeez, body, I’m trying to sleep. Shut up!

      7. Allison*

        I have to agree. OP, right now it sounds like your attitude is “my body makes noise and produces smells and I expect people to just deal with it” which is a rude and inconsiderate position to take here. As I said in a comment downthread, I’ve totally been in positions where my body acted up in ways that (probably) bothered the people around me, and while all those things were natural, I felt bad for the disruption, and I did what I could to mitigate the situation. You don’t have to be perfect, you are human, but you do need to be considerate of the people around you.

      8. BRR*

        Well put. We feel for you op but there has to be an effort to remedy the situation. It’s not fair for yor coworkers.

      9. Lou*

        Yve laid it out quite rightly.
        It’s taking much of my daily willpower to abide by the commenting guidelines.

    9. TotesMaGoats*

      OP, I’d say that your anxiety about it is probably making it worse too. My dad is “burpy”. When he gets stressed out it gets so much worse. They are little burps and sound more like a hiccup but are really frequent. It’s how we know he’s upset.

        1. fposte*

          And aerophagia can actually be a self-stimulation; it’s not uncommon in some human populations and it definitely happens in other animals. The whole routine of swallowing air and releasing the tension may be releasing endorphins.

    10. GigglyPuff*

      “I’m doing my best here, please don’t get on my case, it’s hard enough already”
      I’d like to just say, please don’t think we’re ganging up on you OP. It seems like this is already causing you a lot of anxiety, but you wrote in asking for advice and that’s we’re trying to do. I know sometimes internet comments can sound harsh when we read them, but they’re really just more blunt because it’s harder to figure out tone.

      Something I’m wondering, if the farts are silent and not frequently smelly, it’s possible your co-worker might know how frequent it actually is. If only a few of the burps or farts are noticeable a couple times an hour, then “go to the bathroom” isn’t an unreasonable request if they have no idea of what the real frequency is.

      Like others have suggested, research gastroenterology doctors, tell them just how frequent the symptoms are, what you’ve done to modify, what diet you’re on, etc. It’s also possible, that if you bring it up with your nutritional therapist, and they don’t seem that willing to help, it might be time to move on to another one that can address your mental health reasons and your physical symptoms, possibly one recommended by the gastroenterologist. I know how hard it can be to make yourself do new medical things, I have a chronic disease related to dietary issues, and it can be draining.

    11. Turtle Candle*

      One thing that stood out to me: “looked at her like she’d grown a second head and tried to laugh.” OP1, I know you may have been trying to reduce the tension, but the thing is, this kind of “are you nuts?” response is only likely to irritate your coworker more–as, hopefully, comments here have indicated, this is actually not an inherently ridiculous or laughable thing to be upset by.

      Even if you really truly can’t do anything about this, even if a specialist can’t help, you are likely to get a lot farther if you don’t treat your coworker’s concerns like something goofy or unreasonable; by most people’s standards, they aren’t.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        You totally nailed what was sticking with me about this follow-up. I am sympathetic to the OP since I also have dealt with various digestive issues throughout my working life, particularly when I was younger. It sucks – it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing, and sometimes you really can’t help it.

        Asking someone to go to the bathroom for these things is really, really not an unreasonable request. I get that it might not be feasible to get to the bathroom every time. But it’s absolutely not a request that should cause anyone to look at someone else like they’ve grown a second head. If I were in the coworker’s shoes, that reaction definitely would have made me feel worse about the situation.

        1. fposte*

          My suspicion that this is one of those things where the OP’s family did it one way and they never realized tat most people in the U.S. do it another. It’s like the first time you found somebody hanging the TP another way :-).

          1. INTP*

            Yeah, I agree. Sounds like maybe the OP was taught that their family just burps and farts more than other people, which is probably true to some extent, but most people are emitting gas at least a dozen times per day and just controlling the noise level or doing it in a private location because they have been socialized that this is a non-optional measure of respect for others. No one really explicitly talks about farting norms after childhood, so I imagine it could be a hard thing to pick up if you’re coming from a non-fart-normative family.

    12. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this – I’m sure it’s a really uncomfortable position for you to be in. I, too, have received the “it is what it is” diagnosis for my chronic heartburn. I don’t have any issues with burping (but I know a lot of people with that condition do!) but I yawn ALL the time – it’s difficult when I’m in a board meeting because I need to look … not bored.

      Anyway. It may be worth a second medical opinion because even if the first doctor was correct, there has to be something they can do to help. It’s going to affect your health in other ways now (anxiety, stress, pain, your job, etc.) and it isn’t asking too much for your doctor to intervene somehow. In the meantime, however, while you’re sorting this out, can you ask to move to a more secluded area as Alison suggested? And if your doctor truly can’t help you would he/she be willing to help you with a medical requirement to have your own office? Seriously, there has to be something they can do for you here … and something more than just shrugging their shoulders.

    13. AW*

      The farts are almost always silent and as far as I can tell without scent.

      If they’re talking about Lysol then they’re smelling something. Could it be the burps? Someone farther down said they have a burping co-worker and it’s their breath that’s the smell problem.

      1. sam*

        I was going to mention the same thing – often we become “nose-blind” to ourselves, but you can be sure that others still notice.

    14. Observer*

      I haven’t read the responses yet, so sorry if I repeat something.

      1. You absolutely need to see a (different) GI specialist.

      2. You need to work with your nutritional therapist (and any other therapists you may be working with) about finding a way to change your diet. Your doctor is apparently an idiot, because if you have chronic reflux you most definitely DO have a medical problem that is at least partially responsible for the burping. Also, chronic reflux will almost certainly damage your esophagus sooner or later (I’m talking increased cancer risk among other things), and the single best thing you can do for chronic reflux is to change your diet. In other words, you need to deal with this for your own health, not just your job.

      3. Once you find a doctor who actually realizes that you have a medical issue here, you should find out what medications (prescription or OTC) can help control the symptoms.

      4. Attitude shift. Your co-worker doesn’t have two heads, and what she’s complaining about is not nonsense. You don’t need to give her the full run down (way too much TMI), but you can explain that you are trying to minimize the problem, there are limits to what is practical and that you are trying to find a doctor to help you with this as it’s not easy for you either. Of course, that will only help if it’s honest and sincere.

      5. And, absolutely talk to your boss about a more secluded spot.

      1. SimontheGrey*

        Eh…you can have chronic reflux related to weight which may not be a different medical issue, and if OP is working on a weight issue (I don’t want to assume, but I know that for me, as I gained weight I also leveled up in Sleep Apnea and Acid Reflux) they may not be able to *do* more than they are doing about that. For me personally, changing diet didn’t help. Losing 25 lbs solved my reflux.

    15. INTP*

      I’m sorry to bombard you with more suggestions for a problem I’m sure you’ve already been working on for years, but maybe it can be of some help. When I had GI problems while working in an office, I would go to the bathroom a few times a day, wait until it cleared out (or at least until none of my coworkers were in there), and pass as much gas as I could force out. I was pretty much always holding some in, but after releasing that, I could get rid of even more by massaging my abdomen a bit and doing some stretches that put pressure on my abdomen (bending over in a toe-touch position, sitting on the toilet and pulling my knees into my stomach, sitting on the toilet and twisting to one side as far as possible – google “yoga seated twist” for the idea – and then doing the same twist standing up, doing a yogic squat, etc). I’d basically spend 5-10 minutes just stretching and farting. Doing this every couple of hours allowed me to manage the buildup of gas without farting audibly in front of my coworkers.

      Also, some effort at silencing things might go a long way towards relations with your coworkers. I think the way most of us have been conditioned, there is a huge difference between an intentionally muffled gastric noise that you happen to hear (like a closed-mouth burp) and gas emitted freely and loudly in terms of visceral gross-out response. It’s not just about the noise, it’s something about the flagrant disregard for a non-optional social convention (silencing/hiding your farts and burps) that highlights the grossness. Your coworkers are also belching and farting throughout the day, they’re just taking pains to keep others from hearing it – closing their mouths, leaving the room, etc – which might be why they are not understanding about you doing so at your desk. If you make a general effort to keep your mouth closed and go to the restroom when necessary, I think the occasional noise that slips out is far less likely to be held against you. (When you are belching every 30 seconds, that’s a good time to take a break if possible – hang out in the restroom or take a walk outside until it passes. Cite vague gastro problems if your boss asks about it.)

      Finally, I actually watched a mystery diagnosis type show with a man with this exact problem. His condition turned out to be anxiety, and went away when that was treated. (He also got a brief respite via gastroparesis meds.) I’ll link to a clip in a comment in case it’s helpful.

      1. INTP*

        Here is the clip:

        And another thought – if you are in recovery from an eating disorder (apologies if this is off base), it’s normal for your digestion to be a bit sluggish for awhile, and that can cause belching. Talk to your nutritionist about it and she might either have some suggestions or at least be able to tell you how to frame it to your doctor so they’ll listen.

      2. Rat in the Sugar*

        Yup, I have IBS and deal with the gas the same way. I make pretty frequent bathroom trips (every 1.5 hours or so) and just stay in there for 5 minutes. Touch your toes, hug your knees, and do your best impression of a party favor! It really makes a difference in my comfort level, too, as it cuts down on bloating. Even with IBS giving me awful gas all the time, I pretty much never fart outside of the bathroom anymore as it is all saved up for those 5-minute trips.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          To add on to this, don’t start skipping meals, that will actually make it worse! Before my reflux was diagnosed, all I knew was that I got sick every time I ate so I basically just stopped eating–and my IBS went crazy! Getting back on a regular meal schedule made a HUGE difference–so don’t start to skip, and talk to your nutrionist before making changes.

    16. Jaguar*

      Gah. I had a longer post written out, OP, and then ate it. But, suffice to say, I disagree with the majority of the commenters here: if this really is a medical issue outside your control, your co-worker is a jerk (and going straight to management, then coldly suggesting a dehumanising solution like running to the bathroom 10+ times a day so she doesn’t have to hear a burp would seem to confirm that).

      That said, the advice that you should do whatever you can to resolve the issue (seeing other doctors / medical professionals, changing your diet, etc) is something you should absolutely do, because this will definitely haunt you in the future as well.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s so understandable, though, that the coworker felt too uncomfortable to raise it directly with the coworker and was asking for other solutions. I’d bet that a sizable portion of people would be really uncomfortable broaching this directly with a colleague.

        1. Michelenyc*

          There are only a few co-workers that I could actually approach about something like this but they are the ones that I am friends with outside the office so they would already know about a medical issue like this.

        2. Jaguar*

          I certainly would! I used to work and sit beside a co-worker that would eat with their mouth open, and loudly at that. There was a cubical wall separating us, so I was only left to imagine what he was doing (actually, we would go out to lunch regularly, so I got to witness it up close) – but it sounded like he would throw his head back and chew like some Miyazakian nightmare creature. I don’t know why, but people eating with their mouth open just drives me right up the wall.

          That said, the idea of going to our manager first before bringing it up with him is unthinkable to me. If I’m not willing to bring it up with him, then my choice is to deal with it. And I think all this talk about the OP being in the wrong works against the healthy view that adults solve their own problems. People aren’t entitled to have everything just right. You have to live with other people. That includes the messy aspect of finding a way to get along. Going and complaining to the people in charge is for kids. How hard is it, honestly, to start with, “Geez, you burp a lot. Is everything okay?” I think people get it in their heads that they can’t address an issue and it becomes bigger and bigger thing in their minds where they’re villainizing the person and imagining all the ways a conversation can go badly and just lose all perspective, to the point that they can no longer understand how to talk to the person about it like a human being. Or they’re just jerks. This focus on everyone having a right to live their life just so with no social unpleasantness seems to support a hero and villain narrative way too strongly (and is some seriously Jane Austen shit at that). I don’t think people should feel entitled to having everything exactly right. Sometimes you work with someone that does things you don’t like. You can talk to them about it or you can deal with it. Anything else precludes you from being an adult.

        3. myswtghst*

          If there is one thing I’ve learned reading this site over the years, it is that people will do just about anything to avoid an awkward conversation. ;)

          Jaguar – The coworker probably thought they were sparing the OP’s feelings by not directly addressing it with them, and may have reacted in the moment with a suggestion that wasn’t terribly well thought out. Obviously “go to the bathroom” isn’t great or ground-breaking advice, but it may have been given by someone who was frustrated, embarrassed, and who didn’t fully grasp the extent of the OP’s GI issues and anxiety.

          1. Jaguar*

            I get that, I just don’t have sympathy for it. If someone has trouble having a difficult conversation with another person, that’s not the other person’s problem.

            1. Observer*

              In this case, the co-worker had a good reason, though. The co-worker was asking for permission to do something that is generally reasonable, and the OP acted, in HER WORDS, as though the co-worker “had two heads”. Sorry, whatever you want to say about the issue, this is NOT “nonsense”, which is another word the OP used.

              With that kind of attitude, it’s not really surprising that the coworker didn’t react well. She doesn’t really have any context to believe that this is out of the OP’s control. And, she happens to have a point. From what the OP says, he hasn’t done much of anything to control the problem till the coworker made a fuss with the boss. And even now, it doesn’t sound like he had any plans to do anything substantive.

              1. Jaguar*

                I disagree that it’s good reason. You go to management to settle a dispute. She went to management to try and deal with the OP without talking to the OP.

                From what we know, the OP heard “Lysol” and “passing gas” and then brought up the issue. We can’t say for sure the coworker was talking about OP when saying those things, but it seems like a reasonable assumption. Put yourself in the OP’s shoes. Consider that you’re doing something that irritates someone else (and that’s all this is – an irritation). Do you want that person to go straight to management or do you want them to talk to you first?

                1. Triangle Pose*

                  Put yourself in coworker’s shoes. It’s not just an irritation, it’s a major disruption to coworker’s work that OP is audibly burping and farting every other minute. OP has even commented here to say it’s that frequent! OP is the one doing something disruptive and needs to manage it/accommodate coworker. Being blase and unapologetic (about the disruption of coworker’s work, not the medical condition) is also not helping.

                2. Jaguar*

                  Yeah, I agree. It would be really disruptive. So the coworker should have talked to OP. I understand the argument is that having that conversation can be uncomfortable, but that’s no excuse to not do it, let alone go straight to management.

                  The choice should be talk to OP about it or learn to live with it. Going to management should only be involved if OP won’t cooperate. Adults sort issues out with one another.

            2. myswtghst*

              I don’t disagree with you that the right thing to do is to have a conversation with the coworker who is creating the disruption for you, but what should be and what is are often quite different. It’s fine to lack sympathy, but it’s also not a bad idea to realize that many people will go to great lengths to avoid having a tough conversation (otherwise I don’t think Alison or many other advice columnists would have the volume of letters they do!).

              1. Jaguar*

                AAM seems to be swallowing comments whole for me today. Let’s try this again…

                Yeah, I realise that. My point all along, though, is that just because something you should do is difficult or intimidating, that in no way justifies skipping that step. And that’s especially the case when, in my opinion, that means you’re going right to management about a problem you have working with someone that falls outside of the sexual harassment / discrimination / bullying / other list of things you get to skip step one on. To me, it seems extremely egregious to not like someone’s behaviour and not have the guts to address it with them but go straight to their boss about it. It’s such a complete violation of my moral code and I’m astonished that people here seem to be tacitly agreeing with it.

                That’s my first point. I will also extend that to my second point, which is that it seems to me, the mindset here is that if you are inconvenienced by something, you have some right to have it rectified. I totally disagree. You have the right to safety, speech, and legal protection. You don’t have the right to not hear or smell things you don’t want to. Sometimes you have to work with people that are socially or culturally unpleasant. Part of being an adult is learning to either suck it up or address it with that person. I think this pervasive idea that people have a right to not be inconvenienced leads to a justification of complaining to authority as step one. Of course you would go right to management if someone smells bad and sounds unpleasant – there’s something that’s bothering you and it’s someone else’s problem to sort that out for you, since you don’t deserve to have it happen. There’s something profoundly wrong with that way of viewing the world. It strikes me as incredibly entitled and narcissistic.

      2. Manders*

        Maybe the coworker could have handled it more tactfully–people don’t always come across as their best selves when they’re this frustrated with a situation. I think the strong response here is mostly about the fact that OP responded so dismissively to the coworker, without really caring about the fact that her coworker was miserable and had made multiple attempts to solve the problem.

        1. fposte*

          I think it was an exchange that put neither at their best. The co-worker was talking to a manager and not prepared for having this complicated conversation with a colleague; then the OP is suddenly there, and from the sound of it the first thing the OP said was what she *couldn’t* do, which is a bad note to start on, and the co-worker responded accordingly.

    17. ZenCat*

      I second the mention of a white noise machine.

      Maybe it would be reasonable for the lady who complained to be moved. There may be someone who can tolerate it moved there.

      A coworker of mine is perpetually congested and about every ten minutes makes an audible and chewy, thick noise of mucous going straight from his sinus and in to his throat. I can’t eat around it, so I move myself elsewhere when I can.

      I also listen to my music, which is why I suggest a white noise machine for her. If it’s a smell thing – even if it’s a medical issue for you protected under ADA – other people or you should be able to move if needed IMHO.

    18. Kobayashi*

      OP I sympathize. I don’t burp, but I do have gas issues that I wish I didn’t. Personally, I would hope your coworker would be more understanding and just try to ignore it, but people have different tolerances. You state you absolutely cannot be around scented products, you can’t change your diet, and you can’t control your burps and farts. Consider that she might not be able to stand the constant noises and potentially smell (they may or may not smell, but everyone’s sense of smell is different and others may be able to smell it more than you do — especially if it’s frequent and you’ve gone nose blind). So, just like you cannot stand scented products, your coworker apparently cannot stand working with the constant gassy-noisy emissions. I’m not sure what the solution here is except to perhaps be more apologetic and kinder, as others have stated, and discuss the situation with your boss to see if there’s a different location for your workspace that would be less disruptive to your coworker.

  11. AW*

    the company has bid out some work based on me

    LW #5, That sounds like a personal problem for the company.

    I wonder if they’re waiting to see if they can get you on more projects before offering you full-time work. It’s the only reason I can think of why they’d put a temp employee on a bid like that.

      1. OP#5*

        It’s a small company. (15 employees) I believe that’s the case. It is a problem only for them because they wouldn’t pay me if they didn’t get the work so if not like I owe them to hang out and wait but i like them. If I were them, I’d have a plan b, not sure they do. Of course, that’s not really my problem.

      2. OpheliaInWaders*

        Yeah, we do this a lot (most of our work is gov’t contracts, and you have to line up staff way in advance of knowing whether you’ll win), but we also stipulate a period of time during which we expect people to “wait” as part of our contingent offer letter, and it’s generally understood that if we don’t hear back about a contract for several months, it’s not burning a bridge for someone to take another offer.

    1. Joseph*

      “I wonder if they’re waiting to see if they can get you on more projects before offering you full-time work. It’s the only reason I can think of why they’d put a temp employee on a bid like that.”
      Probably true, but as you said, that’s not OP’s problem.

      Company knew OP was (a) part-time and (b) job searching. Therefore, they knew it was a possibility OP could leave at any time. If they really wanted to keep OP, they could have made that happen.

      In your scenario where they don’t have enough projects immediately, they could have explained the situation and put together a formal written plan – “We don’t have enough projects to transition you instantly, but we really want to keep you, so we will make you a full-time account manager in 3 months”. Odds are, if they’d made that offer upfront, OP would have taken it. Instead, my reading of the letter is that they’ve been making vague verbal promises with no real specifics on when it will happen or even whether it’ll happen at all.

      1. Joseph*

        *Full time job in general – not specifically account manager. Was getting the job titles for 4 and 5 confused. :)

  12. Gaia*

    OP 3, I need to say this: You are *not* overreacting. You have every right to be upset and they need to accommodate this (although, of course, if you can channel the upset into productive, professional words that will help). No one, No one, NO ONE would prepare a meal in a bathroom on the toilet. That is repulsive. So why should your child’s milk be pumped there?

    I agree with you that I think this happened out of ignorance and lack of thought instead of malice. That is actually good, it means they will probably be horrified when you point out to them why this is an issue and they will likely want to fix it.

    Good luck, please report back.

    1. Queen Anne of Cleves*

      THIS! Perfect response. “No one, NO ONE would prepare a meal in a bathroom on the toilet.” You would be essentially preparing your child’s meal on the toilet in the bathroom. I doubt the office manager or anyone else would even carry their own drink in there.

      1. Moral panic*

        Sadly I am related to several people that have brought food into the bathroom, my dad once constructed and ate a sandwich while on the toilet!

        Not to mention I’v often caught my boss coming out of our unclean washroom with food in his hands and a cup of coffee.

        Not everyone has the same standards… I can barely use the washroom at work to pee because it is so dirty and I know my boss would expect me to use it comfortably to pump!

    2. OP#3*

      Thank you! I talked to HR straight away, and my rep was mortified that I had this happen to me. Their reaction was incredibly fast — so now have a door that locks to a dedicated lactation room.

  13. Leeza*

    To the breastfeeding mom- if the door to the conference room won’t lock, put up a sign on the door that says Pumping or something like that. Then, push something in front of the door inside the room in case someone ignores the sign. You should absolutely not be pumping in the bathroom.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Agreed. If there’s a meeting room, go ahead and inform everyone that you need it, and take it over. You have both the need and the legal right, and you’ve done everything you could to alert the organisation. This is their problem; I’d feel free to make it so, by telling them you will not be pumping in the bathroom again and claiming any suitable meeting room space.

    2. Tommy*

      That still sucks, though. If I were asked to do something that exposes my body in a room where I’d have to keep in the back of my mind that a coworker could try to walk in at any moment, I’d feel so on edge.

      I think replacing the lock on the door should be easy if you make it a priority.

      1. BRR*

        A new door knob with lock isn’t that expensive. That’s far better than hope for the best. There’s too many people in the world who don’t read-ignore signs.

      2. Snowglobe*

        And in some buildings, conference rooms have frosted glass walls, which would make me extremely uncomfortable.

    3. Maegan*

      OP3: I would pump in a conference room and use a rubber doorstop to hold the door shut. I use one for pumping and it works fairly well. Combined with a sign saying “room in use, do not enter,” it’s the best I could do in a building with no locking doors. Talk to the admin who schedules the rooms and see about blocking off the time you need. It’s illegal for them to give you a bathroom to pump in. Plain and simple. I’m so sorry. I can find some pamphlets when I get to a desktop if you’d like.

      1. dawbs*

        This is rather where I was landing too.

        I find, on things like this, saying “hey, what is the solution?” or “hey, do you realize this is a problem and is illegal?” gets a *shrug* response.

        But doing a “Hey, I wanted to highlight that X is a problem and is illegal. I’m planning on doing Y to rectify it. Do you object or have a better solution?” works much better.

        OP, I would make an effort to not let any ‘maybe they thought it was ok’ come through when you talk to them. I’d go with “of COURSE a bathroom isn’t an appropriate solution. They were being short sighted and forgot to think this through”.

      2. KR*

        Also, OP could sit against the door so that anyone who tries to open it will open it into their chair and back.

        Of course, her workplace should just give her a legal space to pump. But this might work in the interim.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      I was going to suggest this too. And use a scarf or nursing cover so that you’re not anxious about having someone walk in on you. I realize they should provide a locking room, but if they don’t, this is workable.

      1. BananaPants*

        Yes – I kept a nursing cover in my pump bag for the occasions where I was at an off-site location and needed to pump in my car or had to use a conference room or other ad-hoc solution. After the newborn stage I breastfed in public without a cover because I found it more modest and less obvious, so at least the nursing cover that I got as a gift still went to good use!

      2. I'm Not Phyllis*

        I read this as they are legally required to provide her a space with a locked door … and if that’s the case they need to just do it.

        1. Anon Moose*

          No, the law says it just needs to free from intrusion. A locked door would, of course, be the most ideal solution but its not legally prescribed according to the Department of Labor.

    5. LQ*

      If the boss is gone for the week is the boss’s office a possible spot to pump while they sort out accommodations?

  14. Jwal*

    I didn’t realise until I was about 20 that people can’t always control farting. It sounds weird writing that, but because I don’t (unless it happens to be part of going to the loo) and my family doesn’t either, so it never occurred to me. Kids were told off in primary school for doing it on purpose, and it was generally regarded as rude.

    In fact I’ve never heard anyone at work doing that, or belching.

    OP1 I bet your coworker has a bit of this view – thinking that it’s a gross behaviour that most people don’t do. The fact that you have a medical problem should give you some sympathy if I was them, but I’d find it really annoying that this was accompanied by the attitude that “everybody does this normal thing” because that’s not really true.

    1. Miss Nomer*

      I’m with you. Initially upon reading the letter I was shocked that someone would view the coworker as being the unreasonable one, but then I thought about it more and realized that was probably a bias on my part just based on my upbringing.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      My aunt burps constantly as a result of chronic heartburn. She can’t control it at all – it just happens. She tries to be as quiet as she can but it still happens. She’s been to multiple doctors and on all different medication … her heartburn is under control (or at least not painful while on meds) but the burping continues!

    3. Just Another Techie*

      I didn’t realize until my 30s (when I started reading Ask a Manager, lol) that farting was something you can control. My parents never taught me that when I was a kid, and I just thought it was a totally uncontrollable thing, like hiccups. I was mortified when I realized that you actually can hold them in, or at least, control how loud they are. I want to go back and apologize to every classmate or coworker I ever farted in front of.

    4. Anony "I can't believe I am writing this in a public forum" mous*

      I actually didn’t realize that other people had so much control over farting until my late teens. (I could never fart on purpose either, so that has always weirded me out too.) The only way I can truly hold in a fart (and even then only for a minute or two) is by visibly clenching, and I could never hold in a fart if I had to dash off (requiring relaxing those muscles) to the restroom to let it out. I wish I could really control it. Seriously, are there instructions on how to do this?!? (I’m not kidding.) That said, I normally can be discreet (i.e. quickly move a few feet away or turn away from the crowd) and usually can ensure that I am…ummm…relaxed enough that it won’t make noise.But holding it in entirely longer than a minute? Not so much. I only very rarely have embarrassing moments with an quite but audible “pfft!” or “frump!” so I’m definitely not in the same league as the OP, but I wouldn’t exactly say that I can control farting either.

      Random note…one day I had a meal that didn’t sit with me too well, and (after some googling and experimenting) found that eating some fennel seeds really does help control the odor.

      1. INTP*

        Regarding instructions…have you ever done kegels? For me the muscle contraction that controls farting is essentially the same thing. It’s not visible to other people because it’s internal muscles, not your entire glute region.

        (If you are a man I am not sure if this will work, but I hear they can do kegels too, so maybe worth a try?)

      2. Turanga Leela*

        I can’t believe I’m talking about this either… but basically, it’s the same as not pooping yourself. You feel gas on its way down, and you clench and send it back up. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. You get the gas back in securely, then walk (not dash) to the bathroom to use the toilet and let it out there.

        The biggest thing is teaching your body to recognize when you’re about to fart. It might help to practice not farting outside the bathroom at home.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          The comments above show how people are so different, and don’t even know it. But some people have to push out farts and never fart accidentally, some people feel them coming and can control it (like you said), and some people have no warning and they just happen. I sometimes have some warning, but often there is no warning and nothing I can do but be surprised. Not all of them are controllable.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              A couple of weeks back, someone complained. Fish don’t creep people out the way spiders do. Maybe I should modify her photo and gave her a hat. :)

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                I love spiders, but have had to create a “block” list for my friends on FB who freak out if they see a picture of one. This time of year, my house and property are *inundated* with them, so I get lots of opportunities for awesome photos of them building webs, hanging out, or even wrapping up a tasty meal. [Mostly lawn spiders, red spotted orb weavers, yellow-and-black garden spiders, and the common house spider.]

                Maybe if I start Photoshopping hats onto them, my friends wouldn’t freak out as much? :-)

      3. matcha123*

        I’m surprised that so many people can’t hold in their farts! If I may, I think that if you’re clenching the way I imagine you are, you are also putting pressure on your stomach which then makes it hard to hold the fart bubble in.
        When you feel the fart bubble making its way down, relax your stomach muscles, but tighten your butt cheeks. Moving swiftly to the toilet requires the same combination of little to no pressure/flexing of the stomach and flexing of the butt. It works the same with burps and peeing…and pooping…Obviously we can’t hold it in forever, but it will buy you some time. Anything from a few extra minutes to hours.

        1. LiptonTeaForMe*

          I hate to tell you this, but I have found as I get older that I cannot do the things my younger self could…muscles don’t work as well as they used to.

  15. Matt*

    #1 I’m on the opposite side of this – my office-mate is burping (thank God not farting) a lot. He has a lot of health conditions, for which he has to take a lot of medication, which seems to lead to some gastrointestinal conditions as well, and I feel sorry for him, but it’s just disgusting or me – the problem is not the noise, but in 50 % of the cases his burps do release a really smelly gas cloud out of his stomach which is then wavering over to me. I’ve come as far as holding my breath as soon as I hear his burps. I just love the two days of the week when he’s doing home office and I have clean air in the office …

    1. KR*

      Could you get a small air filter for your office? You could do it under the guise of allergies, dust in the air, or say you can smell mustiness coming from the HVAC system. There’s plenty of small, cheaper ones that are pretty quiet and keep the air moving on the DL.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I have a coworker (fortunately a couple of rows away) with a chronic coughing issue. I don’t know if it’s from asthma, COPD, or what, but whoever it is will cough and cough and cough and cough and cough. It sounds like they’re not covering their mouth either (difficult to do when you’re coughing for ten minutes straight). I just turn up my music because I can’t make it stop.

    3. SchoolSupportStaffer*

      My coworker blows his nose about once an hour and it’s so loud, you’d think it was the trumpets taking down the walls of Jericho. I can hear it clearly through my noise canceling headphones playing loud rock music. How does one even DO that…but what are you gonna do.

      1. myswtghst*

        I have a coworker who sounds like this when blowing their nose too! Thankfully it’s only during cold season, but if it weren’t so distracting it would be kind of impressive.

  16. Anon for this*

    OP1 – I get you. I have GERD, which can make you burp more. I’m lactose intolerant. And for a medical reason, my joints crack easily. Sometimes there are three or four cracks just from standing up. Sometimes I just can’t do very much to stop it.

    But it’s still distracting and pretty thoroughly unpleasant for other people. It’s also distracting and unpleasant for you, if you’re doing it every minute!

    I think you need to try a new doctor. I don’t understand why the last one would have written this off, unless they didn’t understand the frequency. They really should have looked into this.

  17. Jen*

    #3- You might find the best approach here is to come back with some options for your office mgr to consider. Assume they didn’t realize what they were suggesting with the bathroom approach.

    I’ve pumped through 2 kids and certtainly used my fair share of bathrooms to do so, but not as an Official Space at work. Truthfully, a 100% private bathroom (ie door that locks) with an outlet, chair and counter space would not bother me in the slightest. But I know some people don’t like pumping in bathrooms full stop.

    You could lay out exactly what you need: Chair, outlet, table/stand, door that locks. Then suggest some options: ability to book a conference room (with a lock) regularly, ability to time share an office somewhere, ability to use a room that might be outside your office but within your building (sometimes there are spaces like this in larger office buildings), or, if you’re comfortable with it, the single bathroom with chair and table setup (again, I’ve done the pump rodeo twice now and actually would prefer the altered [and goes without saying CLEAN] bathroom setup since there’s a sink in there already– but I know people feel differently about this). If all this fails, you can let them know what your options are– for me, I’ve had to pump in my car before. Takes me out of the office for longer, but gives me privacy.

    1. Jen*

      And, you’ve got this. The first 6 months back to work when pumping was SO HARD. So hard And I travel a lot too, so it meant schlepping a pump, back up parts, batteries and a cooler across the country and pumping in random airports, hotel lobbies, some office in the bowels of O’Hare, you name it. I used to be embarrassed about Things. But you don’t know Embarrassed until you have TSA unpacking your breast milk and suggesting you TASTE it to ensure you are not trying to bring down a plane (note: you do not have to do this. I did not do it; I raised hell and then immediately spend $85 to get TSA precheck), or until you have to ask various restaurants in the terminal for sacks of ice to keep your milk chilled….basically, working + pumping taught me to just ask for what I need and people will make it happen.

      1. Dawn*

        Yeah and ANYONE who gives you anything other than cheerful help can go soak their head. I don’t have kids, and I don’t want kids, but I will absolutely throw down on anyone’s right to breastfeed because THAT’S HOW BABIES GOT FED for oh… most of the entirety of human existence?

        So yeah, if you ever need someone to stand around and bodyguard/ get pissed when you don’t have the energy/ punch somebody, random internet commenter Dawn has got your back :)

        1. I'm Not Phyllis*

          Yep – I’m with you here. I don’t have kids either but I’d never stop a mother from doing what she needs to do to feed her child. That just seems whackydoodles to me.

        2. KR*

          +10000000000000000000000000000000 We all have your back OP, and if you worked at the same company as I do, I would be raising hell to get you the private maternity room you deserve (as it so happens, both my jobs have plenty of private spaces with plugs and locking doors. good to know if I ever get pregnant).

      2. OP#3*

        Thank you! It thankfully resolved very quickly as soon as I approached HR. There’s so many emotions (and hormones) wrapped up in breastfeeding that it clouded how I would normally be able to handle conflict. Aka – just calmly talk about the issue until a humane resolution is found. You sound like a major pumping pro!

  18. Just a Thought*

    To #3: Oh hell no! I pumped for my son for 11 months and I work full time and this makes me see RED.

    You should tell your boss you’ll be using her office to pump while she’s on vacation or working from home until this is addressed. If there haven’t been a lot of pumping moms in your office place you might feel like you are alone in this, but believe me, there is an army of working moms who fight for this every day in their workplaces. Know they are all standing behind you.

    1. Betty Sapphire*

      I was stunned to read #3! My first workplace had VERY limited workspace (7 people, three rooms) and last year was the first time the company had an employee have a baby. With space so coveted, it was lovely to see the new mom so supported. She shared an office with one other female and she was able to privately pump right at her desk. No judgement, no boob-shaming. Seeing that support and respect molded my view on working, nursing moms and I would not hesitate to offer my private office for a woman to do whatever she needs to do for her baby.

      OP, please give us an update! You deserve to pump in a cleaner, more sanitary environment.

      1. OP#3*

        That is amazing! What a wonderful story.

        I’m glad to report that my conversation with HR went swimmingly, and have access to a safe, private room with a locking door. Phew.

        1. Betty Sapphire*

          Hooray!!! I’m so happy and relieved to hear that. Congratulations on your baby, and congrats on your new room!

    2. The Other Katie*

      I’m currently pumping for my 5 month old son, and this makes me so angry as well! I just want to give OP3 a big hug. I can totally see feeling forced to use the bathroom, but there’s no way in heck I’d do it more than once. I’d set up my pump at my desk and pump in the middle of everything. I’m sure it would expedite the process of finding you a new pumping room, besides the bathroom. But then again, I get pretty riled up by these things.

      I have an inside office with a locking door where I pump. My coworkers like to keep the air set at 76 and then open their windows, leaving it 80-82 degrees in my office. It only gets worse when the door is locked. I mentioned it was hot several times, and asked to turn the air down. They thought that was unreasonable, so I just calmly said that I would just leave my door open when pumping from now on, so I could enjoy the cross breeze. The air was turned down pretty quickly.

      1. Margali*

        >They thought that was unreasonable, so I just calmly said that I would just leave my door open when pumping from now on, so I could enjoy the cross breeze. The air was turned down pretty quickly.

        You’re awesome, Other Katie!

      2. Just a Thought*

        This is one other thing you can do if it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. Just say fine I’ll pump at my desk. For some reason it makes other people SUPER uncomfortable and they will be much quicker to find a solution. I know some of the Mom’s in my exclusive pumping support group did just pump at their desks with a cover. I did pump in public a few times with a nursing cover too. Not my favorite option but when you need to pump you need to pump.

  19. Roscoe*

    #2 Thats how seniority works. Even if you are doing a good job, sometimes the senior person gets the better assignments. I’d argue that, assuming they aren’t screw ups, its a pretty fair thing as well. I’m the senior person in my department, and yeah, I kind of expect that since I’ve put in my time, I should be getting the best things to work on.

    #3 Out of curioustiy, legally speaking, is this private, locked door space only for companies of a certain size or for every place? If its for everywhere, I’d say I’ve been at a ton of places that were apparently breaking the law.

      1. Meg Murry*

        50 employees doesn’t automatically exempt them though. It’s 50 employees AND ” if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”

    1. Meg Murry*

      For # The FLSA explicitly says “required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. ”

      So it doesn’t technically require a lock, but it does require some way to be “free from intrusion” – and the easiest way to make that happen is usually a lock, or some combination of lock/latch + sign.

      However, there is a line that says “An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection, if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business” But, the definition of “undue hardship” as defined by most courts is a lot higher than “it’s a pain” or “we can’t afford $100 to change out a doorknob to one with a lock” – however, I know there are a more than a few employers, unfortunately, that will take the “so sue us” route, knowing that many employees won’t.

      Also, since it’s under FLSA, it *technically* only applies to non-exempt workers. So a company officially doesn’t have to apply the rules to salaried employees. They also don’t always have to have a space available, only once an employee tells them they need it (so it’s more like an accommodation as requested to provide the space, as opposed to something like bathrooms and drinking water, which needs to be provided by default) – and it doesn’t have to be a dedicated space only for the use of the pumping mother, it just has to be available as she needs it (so the example of a conference room would be ok, as long as the pumping woman could reserve it – it would not be ok if she is often prevented from reserving it due to day long meetings booking it solid).

  20. Moral panic*

    For #3, how far does an employer have to go to accommodate?

    My workplace only has 2 rooms with doors – the bathroom and my bosses office. So would my boss be forced to gove up his office whenever an employee needed to pump? Even if he was not inconvenienced by it, his office has confidential files that the employee would have unsupervised access to.

    Or what if the workplace has no locking doors or no doors at all? Does the employer need to renovate the office to make a suitable room?

    1. Pwyll*

      Employers with less than 50 employees can request an exemption from the Department of Labor by demonstrating that providing such a place would be an undue hardship for the business. But unless or until they get the exemption (which IMO would be a pretty big if) you’re probably right that they’d need to use the Boss’s office or some other similarly private location.

      I’ve hard of very small businesses coming up with an arrangement with a neighboring business (as in, the next door down the hall in an office complex) to use one of their conference rooms, for example.

    2. Faith*

      If your company employs more than 50 people, they have to comply with the federal law about providing nursing mothers with breaks for expressing the milk and the appropriate room for doing so.

      I honestly can’t imagine a building without any locking doors. Back when I was pumping, my company downsized their office space and we lost our designated maternity room. So, they put a lock on a server room and made signs instructing others not to try to come in when in use. It wasn’t ideal, but it had a chair, an electric outlet, a table to put my pump on, and a locking door. Plus, the walls were thick enough to where the pump noises wouldn’t be heard outside. I’ve heard of companies setting up janitorial closets the same way.

      1. KR*

        A server room is a great idea! Also, any good data center never goes above 70-72 degrees and the noise of the servers itself is a great way to get some privacy. I have one server that’s been living behind me for the past month and it pretty much sounds like a loud fan on medium/high constantly – imagine a room full of them.

        1. KR*

          Also, a good IT department will lock their server room down so that no one wanders in there and unplugs something – they could give you the key.

        2. AFT123*

          I love server rooms, they’re so relaxing. Especially if you turn off the overhead lights.

    3. CAA*

      I don’t think the FLSA actually requires a room with walls and a locking door. Google says “a place that is shielded from view that is not a bathroom.”

      I worked at a small company in an industrial space where the only rooms with opaque doors were bathrooms. The conference room and the CEO’s office both had glass walls and doors. Everything else was open space.

      When one of my coworkers needed a pumping area, the solution they came up with was to curtain off a narrow hallway that led to a bathroom and put a soft chair and small table in the hall. I left shortly after this arrangement started, so I never got her perspective on it, but apparently it was legal. We are in California, which requires all companies to provide pumping space, not just those with 50 or more employees.

      1. Anon Moose*

        The department of labor says “shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public.” The second part of that clause could reasonably be interpreted to mean a lock. A sign on a door *could* possibly work, but would that always guarantee some coworker would not interrupt? Depends on the workplace and on the comfort of the person involved, I would imagine.

    4. BananaPants*

      In restaurants or retail establishments, it is not uncommon for a manager to give up their office if that’s least-disruptive to the business. Otherwise they can curtain off an area or otherwise provide privacy. The pumping employee has to be shielded from view, but that doesn’t mean they have to be inside a room behind a closed door.

      Those confidential files should probably be in lockable filing cabinets anyways.

    5. Doxology*

      My workplace recently renovated (not for this reason) and added a nursing room outside one of our family bathrooms (although, for pumping the adjacent bathroom door does need to be open since the nursing room does not have an outlet). However, before the renovation one of my coworkers was using a manager’s office to pump. Granted, I work in a library so there is plenty of work to be done outside the office.

    6. Observer*

      If it’s over 50 employees, they probably have to renovate.

      Between 15 (I think) and 50, major renovations, probably not. Getting a door on a one room is generally not a major renovation and would be expected in most cases.

    7. Jen*

      I would say that “undue hardship” would mean no, they don’t have to renovate the office, but they DO have to allow you to go out to your car to pump, even if it means checking out for more time than they’d otherwise like. Or something similar.

        1. BananaPants*

          A lot of women pump in the car by choice, even while driving (you can still wear a seatbelt normally). I know of working moms with long commutes who pumped during the commute rather than during work, so if they spend from 7-8 AM commuting, they’d pump on the way to work and then not have to pump until lunch.

          I’ve pumped in a car. If mom has a nursing cover or receiving blanket, no one will see anything.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            It’s not a long-term solution for an office though – just because you do, doesn’t mean the next employee is comfortable with it (or even has a car)

          2. Observer*

            I don’t think an employer can legally require that. And, it really is not a viable solution for long term pumping in many places. Either it’s hot (and you really don’t want to have the car running just so you can run the AC) or it’s COLD (same problem with heat) for a good part of the year.

            And, all that assumes that the mother has a reasonably comfortable car that is easily accessible to her. If someone commutes or has not such convenient parking arrangements, that just won’t work at all.

        2. dawbs*

          I did it a lot (mostly while driving–long commute), but I think that there’s a lot of ‘it depends’ there.

          With a cover, sitting in the front seat, I wasn’t really exposed. The biggest problem I had when I was doing the occasional parking-lot-pump session was temperature.

          If I was on the road and drove somewhere, it was reasonable to park (or continue driving after parking to hook up) and pump. If I was coming out to my car which had been sitting in the parking lot for 5 hours, it could be a serious problem–in January, in a blizzard, it’s hard to sit in the car and get warm enough to be able to sit in the car for 20 minutes–the first 20 minutes are just warming up the car.
          If I was coming out to my car in July, in the heat wave, I’d have to run the air for 1/2 an hour to be able to stand to sit in there to pump.

          It’s an emergency solution, but not really what I’d want to do every day.

    8. Mando Diao*

      Most businesses with such limited set-ups are generally going to be so small that these regulations wouldn’t apply in the first place. Either that or a new mother might not come back to work there; her job wouldn’t be protected at a small business, and it’s probable that she’d have already been replaced.

      Doesn’t mean that the business shouldn’t comply with these requests out of basic decency and professionalism, but IMO you’re presenting a hypothetical that doesn’t come into play too often, and when it does…well, there are bigger “is this legal” fish to fry at a small business and these concerns often descend into BS arguments where bosses end up mandating whatever they want, because they don’t know the laws, and they’ve created environments where it never occurs to anyone else to research the laws.

  21. Allison*

    #1, sometimes our bodies make noise! Burping, farting, coughing, and sneezing are all things humans do, but we still need to be considerate of others and try to minimize the noises and smells when we can.

    I’m a belcher too, there’s nothing like a good BUUUURP after dinner! But I’m getting better about doing that because it is gross and off-putting, even to people who know me. If I’m at, say, work, or a nice restaurant, I keep my mouth closed, cover my mouth a little, and try to soften the burp as best I can, and then say “excuse me” if I think it was noticeable to others.

    As for farts, those are a little harder to control sometimes, but recently I went through a change in diet my body didn’t react well to, and I farted a lot. And they smelled terrible, and I felt terrible for stinking up the place! I’d never been of the mind that you should hold in farts, just sneak them out quietly when you can, but that doesn’t really help the smell. Eventually I realized I could move away from people when I felt a big one coming on, and charco caps worked wonders! Taking digestive enzymes before you eat can also help with the gas, I know Beano is a big one, I take this Rainbow Light stuff from a health food store.

    I was also very recently a sneezy, goopy, coughing, nose blowing mess from my allergies. I wasn’t doing it on purpose and I felt miserable, but I also knew my, erm, snot management was probably bugging everyone, so I’m sure everyone is happy now that I’m on Claritin!

    1. Michelenyc*

      I strongly agree with everyone suggestiong digestive enzymes and Probiotics. I take them everyday especially if I know I am going to eat something that is not a normal part of my diet like dairy and gluten. I am not celiac but gluten does cause my eczema to flair up and it helps for me to stay away from it. I am Veg partically vegan so avoid dairy but sometimes I need pizza!

  22. jmb*

    OP #3, I just wanted to chime in with support as another working, pumping mom of a 5 month old. There is a lot of good advice in the comments! And I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. Pumping and working is hard enough already! I really hope you are able to get a new set up at work quickly.

    1. BetsyTacy*

      I am physically pumping right now, and I join this chorus of support.

      Alternate suggestion if they say you don’t have a space (and assuming you commute by car): I have an adaptor that plugs into my car (a Medela one). I have used this multiple times while at off site meetings… or while travelling… or when I’m going to a place that I don’t have a space to pump in… I park in a corner, use a nursing cover and a hands-free br@ and listen to the radio while I pump. It’s actually quite peaceful.

      1. Wendy*

        Cheers to another Betsy-Tacy fan! Are you a member of the Maud-L email discussion list? :)

    2. WT*

      Another pumping mom sending support. In my office I “joked” that I would just pump at my desk (in a cube farm) with a cover if I couldn’t find a spot to pump. I think they knew it wasn’t really a joke. I feel fortunate to have a decent set up available to me, albeit on the other side of the building. Push back and don’t feel bad!

  23. Important Moi*

    OP#1: How about a white noise machine?

    Maybe, air freshener, as well? Your letter suggests you don’t like it, but you co-worker doesn’t have to tolerate your noises.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Most offices won’t allow air freshener because of allergies (and it sounds like OP1 might have allergies?). A white noise machine is a great idea though!

  24. Pwyll*

    As a male, it continues to baffle me that anyone would consider a bathroom to be an acceptable location to pump milk. Do people think of it like some kind of bodily fluid issue, and not the preparation of -food- for an -infant-? I just don’t get it.

    1. Myrin*

      Do people think of it like some kind of bodily fluid issue?
      I’m very sure many do! I will never ever in all my life forget that one tumblr(?) post where some guy in complete and utter earnesty compared a breastfeeding woman to himself “feeding” a woman who gave him a blowjob his sperm. It was so totally bizarre that I couldn’t do anything but laugh maniacally at my computer screen the first time I read it. It’s compltely weird to me how someone could ever honestly thinkt hat way; like, do you really, really not see a difference between sperm and breastmilk? Not even one? Hnnn?

    2. aebhel*

      I think (well, I *hope*) that it’s just cluelessness – “You need a private place to pump, a bathroom is private, there you go!!” and not really thinking about the implications of it.

      If that’s the case here, then hopefully the manager will be reasonable about it when it’s explained to her.

      1. Shortie*

        Yes, hopefully so. That’s what I would add to Alison’s good advice…a brief, kind explanation about WHY the bathroom doesn’t work. Many people have never breastfed or have not breastfed at work, so the reasoning behind a bathroom not being acceptable might not occur to them. (They are not thinking about sitting, holding everything, etc., so they may think they’ve come up with a good solution.) Honestly, there has been a time in my life when it wouldn’t have occurred to me.

    3. Roscoe*

      Honestly, I think for a lot of guys, they don’t see it as “food” but more as a beverage. Speaking from experience, I (and many of my friends) have taken beers into bathrooms at bars. Or water bottles into bathrooms at the beach or a store. So I think in looking at it that way, it doesn’t seem to be the same as sitting down for dinner in the bathroom. I’ll admit, I used to see it that way as well, but I’ve come around now that I have more friends with kids.

      1. Jubilance*

        Yuck! As a scientist, I never take anything I plan to consume into the bathroom. Studies have shown that the force generated from the toilet flushing, causes microscopic bits of fecal matter to be blown up to 20 feet away! I always cringe when I see people take food and drinks into the bathroom, if only they know what was flying onto/into what their about to consume.

        1. Roscoe*

          I’m not saying its a GOOD idea, just that I’ve done it, and I’ve seen a lot of people do it.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, if I’m heading to a bar bathroom I’m not usually in the “scientific considerations” headspace.

            1. MyFakeNameIsLaura*


              Once I’ve decided to use the bathroom in a bar, taking my drink with me isn’t that much more dangerous.

            2. Ife*

              If it’s a choice between leaving my drink unattended at the bar/table, and putting it by the sink in the bathroom…. yeah, I’m gonna pick sink in the bathroom. And I am the type of person to use a paper towel to open the door when leaving the restroom.

        2. KR*

          Ugh, yes. I always leave my water bottle outside the bathrooms when I have to run in (I carry it everywhere with me because of 2 past trips to the ER for severe dehydration lol) and I’m sure it looks funny, just sitting there, but it’s better than bringing it where no food should ever go.

          1. OfficePrincess*

            Around here it’s totally normal to see water bottles or cups sitting on top of the water fountain. It’s on the way to the bathroom and the perfect spot to set it down for a minute until you’re back to refill it.

        3. Kyrielle*

          Yeah, that same data point leads to my always always always putting the lid down to flush at home – can’t really do that in a standard public restroom that doesn’t have one though.

          I _do_ sometimes take my water bottle in when at work, but there’s a shelf that’s around a corner from the stall area to put it on.

        4. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Yes, very true. But, I also have a rule never to leave my drink unsupervised. I have put a drink into my shoulder bag and held it carefully so nothing spilt or used a plastic bag if I had one squirreled away. I also don’t like guzzling drinks, and I have had the situation pop up where if I finish a drink and then go to the toilet, someone buys me one before I get back and acts like they’ve done me some huge favor. I prefer to reappear with a drink still to be consumed.

      2. Student*

        It’s a beverage for a person with essentially no immune system! Babies can’t handle diseases the way adults can! That’s so fundamentally important. I am sure that an adult man can drink a toilet-beer with pretty low odds of harm. That’s because the adult generally has a good immune system, there’s a lot bigger ratio of adult-to-disease than with a baby so infection is less severe to start with, and the beer actively disinfects anything it touches whereas the milk incubates and feeds the bacteria (water has very little for the bacteria to flourish in, compared to milk). If the adult man gets a little sick from his toilet-beer experience, it’ll probably be mild. If an infant gets sick, it’s potentially life-threatening from the exact same things that adults just shrug off.

        Plus, you do that once in a while for a short period of time. Presumably you aren’t drinking toilet-beer several times a day. A breastfeeding woman is dealing with this multiple times a day for a decent chunk of overall time. Frequency makes both comfort and exposure very different.

    4. BananaPants*

      There are plenty of men (and women) who think that nursing moms should go to the bathroom to feed their babies, too.

      1. Pwyll*

        If anyone ever complained to me about a nursing mother in my workplace and insisted they do so in the bathroom, I would send an all-staff e-mail informing everyone that we unfortunately have had to reclaim the space for our kitchen/break room, and per Ass Hat’s suggestion, all employees are now hereby instructed to eat lunch in the bathroom. As an accommodation, we’ll install some tables in there for you.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      Do people think of it like some kind of bodily fluid issue, and not the preparation of -food- for an -infant-?

      I think maybe some people who don’t get it are thinking of where it comes from, and not where it’s going? It comes out of your body, so you do it in the bathroom. Instead of, it goes into your baby, so you do it someplace clean.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        That’s really well-explained – I’ve never understood the stance of it’s a “bodily fluid”, rather than food, but that kind of makes sense of that viewpoint.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          (Obvs I disagree with people who think “it comes from the body so belongs in the toilet”…)

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Oh, yes, I do too. I just think that might be where they’re coming from, though.

  25. INFJ*

    #2 I’ve had this happen to me before. It most likely really is about the needs for that project and not a reflection on you. Since your manager is looking to give you stretch assignments (this one just happened to not work out), you will probably get the next opportunity.

    1. LQ*

      Agreed. I have a thing I’m trying to teach someone else and the last three projects haven’t worked out. One had to be done in 12 hours. I just didn’t have enough time to even invite her to sit with me and watch. I really do want to train her on how to do it and give her the project, but it hasn’t been feasible. I finally invited her to just spend an hour at the end of a Friday to talk about it because I’m worried the next project won’t work out either. Finding a way to pass the stretch projects along can be hard.

      I think it is important to let your manager know that you have time, but sometimes it isn’t just about your time, or you don’t know how much time the project will consume/how fast it needs to get done. There are a lot of moving parts to something like that.

  26. BananaPants*

    #3 – I’ve been in your shoes, mama. I work in a male-dominated workplace and when I had our first baby in 2010 I was the first female engineer in many years who had returned to work after having a baby. Our (female) HR manager told me that I could not use an empty office because coworkers would view it as a special privilege, and I was relegated to pumping in the only single-room bathroom in the building. HR insisted that I needed access to running water for pumping and that the bathroom was the only option, even though I informed her in writing repeatedly that I did not need running water and that state law required them to provide me with a non-bathroom location to pump.

    Unfortunately many of my coworkers used that bathroom for more *noxious* bathroom trips, if you catch my meaning, and many times I had to pump my baby’s food near a smelly toilet. HR had facilities bring in a chair and a tub of Clorox wipes so I could sanitize the countertop. I sat in the chair up against the door, as far from the toilet as I could get. My pump has an internal rechargeable battery so I didn’t need to plug in to the outlet (naturally, next to the toilet). I periodically sent emails to HR and my manager reminding them that state law required me to have a private, non-bathroom location to pump (as an exempt employee the federal laws do not apply). There was no response other than my manager encouraging me to keep arguing with HR – although he didn’t step in to help me.

    Think about the message that my company – in the top 50 of the Fortune 500 and one of the largest private employers in the state – was sending to me: they cared so little about me as an employee that they couldn’t even bother to follow very clear and long-standing state law. It was utterly demoralizing. I couldn’t quit my job because I was (and still am) the bigger breadwinner in the family.

    When the baby was 10 months old, a pregnant coworker asked me about my pumping arrangements and was so horrified that she went over our HR manager’s head to the corporate workforce diversity coordinator. Within 2 weeks we had a lactation room in our building – one of those unused offices that I had previously been forbidden to use! They provided a comfortable chair, a desk and phone so that I could bring in my laptop, and a dorm-sized refrigerator to store milk. I got to use that room for the last month or so of pumping at work before I pump weaned, and then for the entire 9+ months that I pumped after maternity leave for our second baby a few years later. Several other coworkers have also used it, and it’s available for visitors and employees from other business units.

    Be aware that breastfeeding advocates will constantly bring up the federal law (the FLSA amendment), but the provisions only apply if you are non-exempt. If you are an exempt employee, the FLSA provisions do NOT apply to you but there may be state laws that protect your right to pump in a private, non-bathroom space. If you’re exempt you’re going to have to negotiate this without the backup of federal law on your side.

    I just want to encourage you to stick with it and keep pushing for a better location to pump at work. Pumping wasn’t much fun but it meant we never had to spend money on formula and it allowed me to keep nursing when baby and I were together. Both of our girls continued to nurse until 2+ years old and I treasure having had that relationship with them. As a bonus, with our second baby I pumped enough to meet our baby’s needs at daycare and to donate 500 ounces of excess milk to the local milk bank. I’m convinced it was because having the lactation room made me more comfortable and allowed me to relax while pumping, rather than raging against the machine (as it were).

    1. Pwyll*

      I like to think faced with such a scenario I would have just used the empty office anyway. What would they do, fire you? But I’m glad the company was forced to do the right thing in the end.

      1. BananaPants*

        They kept the empty offices locked, and only facilities and the admin assistants had keys.

  27. KR*

    1) Could you try a white noise machine or some music in your cubicle (preferably music that the complaining coworker likes)? It might be worth going back to your doctor too – if you explain that it’s impacting your life and work negatively they might be more apt to find a solution.
    3)I would be mad if I were in your shoes too! Especially since you told them as soon as it was announced your office was moving when they really should have been planning for it anyway. It might be worth it to point out that while it is awful for you now that there isn’t a pumping space, inevitably someone else in your office will get pregnant and they need to have a room ready to go. Could one of the conference rooms make a temporary pumping room until they find a better one and you could put a note on the door – or does your maintenance staff or building manager have a key for the door that you could have? I know in one of my jobs the doors don’t lock unless you have the right key.
    4) I second Allison’s advice and I would recommend setting an internal deadline for yourself. I am hoping one of my part time jobs will develop into full time, but it takes a lot of time since my manager is bogged down with other work and it’s government so nothing moves quickly. While my manager knows that I’m getting really tired of not having benefits, having to work 2 jobs, and not having enough time to do all my work, I haven’t told him that if by the middle of July the position isn’t set in stone, I’m giving myself permission to start looking around for another job. It’s good to have a plan even if your employer doesn’t!

  28. Mimmy*

    #1 – I was called out for farting at a previous job. In a performance review. About 4-5 months after the fact. So be lucky your coworker is bringing it to your attention now. I would definitely try to be more conscious of the sounds you’re making because I know how uncomfortable it is to others. For me, it was just a bad habit, but for you, if it’s a medical condition, I would ask your doctor–if you haven’t already–for suggestions in reducing the gassiness.

    1. Pwyll*

      This happened to me in one of my first admin jobs too. Apparently I let one go at reception one day (ONE DAY) and 9 months later at my performance review I was asked to please “not drop stink bombs at reception” and was told that it was a serious performance metric.

      1. WT*

        Wow! That seems a bit harsh from whoever complained. I assume everyone has things “slip out” from time to time. It would be the more constant, unabashed flow I would start to wonder about.

        1. Pwyll*

          Meh, a symptom of other management issues. They also told me I couldn’t eat anything that smells at my desk, but we didn’t have a lunch room, and EVERYONE ate at their desk. Which literally meant I could only eat salads and cold sandwiches, because even my grilled cheese sandwich was too “smelly”. And they constantly complained about the work of the one person who took lunch outside the office every day because they were “never around” and “took way too many breaks.”

          They were just a mess.

  29. Erin*

    #1 – Yep, that’s not crazy that this is creating a negative environment for your coworker. You should do what you can do control it – but you can only do what you can do.

    As Alison suggested upthread, you should go see a doctor again and see what your options are. Try different things. If Gas-X or what have you doesn’t work, try another brand.

    And then I’d communicate this to your coworker and let her know you’ve been to the doctor and are trying different treatments to see what works – even if in the end the situation is still less than ideal, I think the fact that you’re trying to control it can do a lot for her piece of mind and yours.

    I have CF and a chronic, super annoying, cough. When I communicate to people it’s a chronic, genetic health problem, not contagious, and I am using my inhaler or whatnot, they tend to be much more sympathetic. Otherwise they’re like, Why the heck didn’t she stay home or take a cough drop for God’s sake?? :)

  30. animaniactoo*

    OP3, I would encourage you to loop HR in at this point as a “head’s up”, and note that you’re going to try to work with the office manager to solve it, but that if you don’t get a satisfactory solution today, you will need to elevate this to them. In part, because that gives them the time to brush up on the legal requirements, and it lets them prepare for having the conversation with the OM if they need to. Which gets you quicker action if they’re not “taking a day to figure it out” after you come to them later (if you need to).

    For the OM, I think I would approach this with them from the angle of “I didn’t say anything yesterday because I was stunned and trying to figure out how to deal with this. When I notified you of the need for a lactation room, I thought you were aware of the requirements so I didn’t go into detail. Legally, it has to be a space that is not a bathroom. Apart from the sanitary issue, there’s also a functionality problem. I need a table to put stuff on as I handle it, and I need an electric outlet available. I realize it may take a bit to put something else into action on a permanent basis, but I need another solution that I can use right now even as a temporary option. What can we do?” which both says that you’re taking this as a mistake and gives the specifics so that they can start thinking in that space.

  31. The Strand*

    OP #1 – If it helps, some of us are big-time methane makers (about a third of the population). Everyone, even people who think they don’t fart, does pass gas pretty continuously throughout the day, it’s only that some people have particularly malodorous odor and sound due to GI problems. So I’m sorry, but as to the expectation some have of not “farting” in front of others because of manners, you’re probably passing gas without realizing it anyways, but probably not a “methane maker”. There’s also a ton we’re still understanding about people’s spincters, smooth muscle in the guts, etc.
    I am not your doctor but it sounds like you have GERD and possibly IBS (which can be primarily gas rather than constipation or diahrrea). Most primary care providers don’t really get a lot of info about nutrition or GI-related disorders. (I guess I was personally lucky to have my GI issues diagnosed as a teenager. They are well controlled by supplements and avoiding trigger foods, but can get worse under stress.)
    Also, Gas-X (simethicone) does NOT prevent gas (which is why I thought it was weird the Social Security farter referred to using it). It actually makes gas bubbles larger and easier to pass. It’s really useful for pain but it won’t eliminate gas altogether, in fact in your case it might make it worse, with larger farts being more odorous.
    I suggest you look into Beano (alpha-galactosidase). You take a couple of capsules before you eat a trigger food. Unlike activated charcoal (which has been debunked in at least one study I found), there are studies that back up its usage: is pretty heavily cited in the medical literature.
    Long-term, I think you should consider the following:
    1) Start tracking what you eat. Maybe cruciferous vegetables, soy, or lactose are driving some of your issues. The FODMAP diet, as has been suggested, is one method to help you.
    2) Find out if you’re more sensitive to soluble or insoluble fiber, or starches.
    3) Avoid soda
    4) Consider activated charcoal deodorizer pads like Flat-D.
    Be very careful what kind of probiotics you take, because no joke, there are huge differences between people’s native biomes. Something that works great for Aunt Marge could cause you more gas.
    Check out IBS boards and find out how others deal with this.
    And just let your coworker know, you’re sorry she’s been dealing with this frustrating issue, you are taking steps to make it better.

  32. FlyingHigh*

    LW #1 About 7-8 years ago I was prescribed a short-term medication that caused frequent, odorous gas and burping. At the time, I was sitting in a small area with 2 other people and needed a solution for all of us. It is really rough on the people around you. I used one of those charcoal filtered chair pads like GasBGone and it really helped. It cut down on noise and odor. In addition, I used a fragrance/perfume free air freshener (my coworker was scent sensitive) to keep the area free of odors. It worked well, well enough that one of my coworkers used the same solution for a family member who had IBS and really bad gas as well.

    Also, please find another doctor. The doctor should have mentioned some simple, but often effective, remedies like avoiding caffeine, carbonated beverages and gum chewing.

    It turned out that the medicine I was prescribed had a binding agent that my body couldn’t happen. Now, if I need the meds, he has it compounded to avoid that ingredient. Good luck in finding a solution to your issues.

  33. OP 4*

    OP 4 here- Thanks for answering my question! I’ve been keeping an eye out for a new job, and will continue to do so, and I know for a fact there is only 2 other firms in town that do this kind of account management, and neither one has the reputation of the one I’m currently at. I am also very nervous about confrontation and discussions of this nature which I know i need to get over if I’m going to get anywhere. The answer I know I’m going to get is just that we are waiting for more business to afford to replace me so I don’t know if there is any push back on that.

    1. Anon Moose*

      I’m confused about what difference the firm’s reputation would make (I am reading it as external reputation in the business vs. reputation about being a good place to work)? There are places that can be well known companies and well liked by customers but absolutely horrible to work at. Regardless of their reputation, this firm isn’t paying you/ promoting you as promised. What benefit would you get by staying? Plus, their reputation may help you get the next job.
      I would just keep bringing it up periodically- any news on the promotion?- and keep doing good work. You can communicate professionally and in a non-accusatory tone that you are disappointed it is taking so long or that the “based on business” is different than you originally understood when they first told you about it. If they ignore you, they really shouldn’t be surprised that you’re job searching. Hopefully though it will encourage your managers to fight to get the promotion put through to keep you.
      Actually job search, too. Even if you really want to stay there you can always bring a job offer back to your company for a counter-offer, right?

      1. OP 4*

        They are well respected as a good firm to hire, and the reputation of the other places as workplaces is really bad, as in they don’t care who they hire, the job is not done to any standard, we often get their disgruntled clients so I know I wouldn’t be comfortable. The benefit of staying is basically retaining a non minimum wage job and not throwing away a few years of training to start fresh somewhere else.

        I will try to bring it up next week and see what happens. I know I need more training as well but its impossible to get it when I am not able to work under/with another manager because of my duties as admin.

  34. Noah*

    #5 — I did just what you’re worried about yesterday. My current employer was totally supportive–they understand why I’m leaving and why I didn’t tell them when they were bidding. I hope yours is too.

    1. OP #5*

      Congrats!!! :) I’m not sure it’s going to work out that way but not everyone is as nice. I hope you enjoy your new job!

  35. Marisol*

    OP #1 , here are some probiotic supps you can try: Prescript-Assist Probiotic; Advanced Orthomolecular Research AOR Probiotic; Garden of Life Primal Defense ULTRA; You can get them all on Amazon; or Elixa Probiotic which has it’s own website.

    Also, this is really weird, but in addition to the probiotics, that is, the friendly bacteria living in the gut, humans need PRE-biotics, which are the substance that the pro-biotics eat. They don’t eat what we eat, they primarily eat something called resistance starch. The most commonly used form of resistant starch one is Bob’s Red Mill, Premium Unmodified Potato Starch, but green banana flour, inulin, and a few others work too.

    It’s too complicated to go into here but if you google around, you’ll get some good info. Chris Kressler and Mark Sisson have good nutrition blogs. There’s also good info on this website called, although the author is obnoxious, so you have to take it for what it is.

    I would start with the Elixa probiotic since that is the only one not meant to be paired with resistant starch. Then take the other supps and VERY SLOWLY introduce potato starch, taking it together with the probiotic. I say go slowly because in the short term, it increases flatulence, but that resolves as the gut microbiome starts to flourish. So start with a quarter teaspoon and over time you can increase to a few tablespoons a night.

    This will improve your overall health and should help with farts and burps. I know, it sounds crazy, but you will find plenty of good research to back this up if you are interested. And I agree that most people are taught to burp and fart in a subtle, socially-acceptable way, so it sounds like you just might need some practice there.

    Good luck!

  36. CS*

    Wait, LW 1 thinks burping and farting openly in the workplace is OK? I’m gassy as hell but I hold in the farts and belch with my mouth closed. Yes, holding in gas can be uncomfortable sometimes, but it’s common courtesy to not rip ass with abandon in a public or professional setting.

  37. JoAnna*

    Re: #3, I had to play “musical offices” quite a bit at my new workplace when pumping, as they didn’t have a dedicated spot (the only other pumping mom had her own office). It got REALLY annoying. But then TPTB decided to remodel the office, and the solution they used was to create a small conference room, only big enough for 3-4 people, called a “huddle room.” It has a table, 3-4 chairs, and that’s about it — but it also has a door that locks. And since it’s a conference room, it’s on our office-wide Outlook calendar scheduling tool (meaning people can reserve it). So it is dual-purpose — it serves as a small conference room for small meetings, employee reviews, etc., and also as a room for pumping moms.

    I hope your employer finds a solution, because the bathroom is wholly unacceptable. (I’ve had to do that before, too.)

  38. OriginalEmma*

    “..Going on a diet is not possible for me for mental health reasons…”

    This reads to me as a specious excuse. It sounds more like a ideological belief (like the folks who disdain any manner of dietary control as capitulating to the patriarchy, diet and exercise is inherently body shaming, etc).

    Dietary modification is an important part of managing many chronic diseases, including eating disorders and mental illnesses. The word “diet” may scare you due to your rigid belief of it as crash dieting, fads, etc. but your diet is simply what you eat daily.

    1. addlady*

      Given that we don’t know anything about what she’s going through, I would take her word for this.

    2. Rat in the Sugar*

      If OP is recovering from an eating disorder, her nutrionist may be more focused on establishing a regular meal schedule than worrying about the contents of those meals. OP should listen to her nutrionist.

      1. a*

        Yes! It can be really harmful to people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia to engage in dietary restriction.

        We should take OP at their word that dieting would be impossible because of mental health, not make assumptions that they don’t know what the word diet means.

      2. Observer*

        Except that this presents a perfect example of why this tack doesn’t really work in the long term. I do believe that the OP is not making excuses here. But the reality is that, aside from the job issues, if the OP doesn’t make some dietary changes, they are likely to suffer from some fairly severe medical repercussions. Beyond the burping, farting and reflux (which HURTS), which is already a present problem, un-managed reflux is a risk factor for esophageal cancer and can cause narrowing and ulcers of the esophagus.

        So really, it’s time to have a discussion with the nutritionist and any other therapists about the NEED to be able to be at least somewhat restrictive with diet. (And, it generally IS possible to do even with illnesses like anorexia. But the therapist(s) involved need to be on board with it and know what they are doing.)

  39. Meg L*

    #3 – I”m not a parent and I think I’ve always been kind of a jerk about nursing mother’s needing a special space to pump – why not use a private bathroom? BUT your line about this is the food your child is going to eat, and also the place where people poop made everything click for me.

    Imagine asking someone to store there bagged lunch in a fridge in the office bathroom and then requiring them to eat it while sitting on a toilet. SO GROSS. You have totally changed my opinion on this!

    All the best with this and I hope you get your nice spot ASAP!

  40. Anna*

    I know a million people have already made suggestions for OP#1…I’m hoping you will see another specialist! But as a temporary solution, is there maybe somewhere else you can sit? Maybe near an open window? Mostly because outside noise will help drown out your issues, also help the smell. Also, depending on what your job is, ask if you can work from home until you get to see a specialist.

  41. LiptonTeaForMe*

    First I have to say I feel for you. I don’t have as much of an issue with burping anymore, I don’t drink pop/soda/soft drinks anymore. As far as the burping goes, just close your mouth, least that way others will not smell what you taste. The farting on the other hand is a big issue for me or actually for others that are within my immediate vicinity. I also cannot handle scented products as they significantly mess with my asthma. I can be apologetic about it, but I literally have no control over it. There is not a pill that I can take and voila, the issue has resolved itself.

    I don’t know what your medical issue may be, but I can tell you it is a pain in the ass to go to doctor after doctor after specialist after specialist for an answer and get no help! I had already determined that it had something to do with my diet, but I didn’t know how to fix it. I discovered on a retreat that served organic only that the issues I had were not strongly in the forefront of my life for the two weeks I was there. And I had read enough to know that the food from the growing up years of my grandpa were not grown in the same manner today. Today we get a lot of pesticides and whatnot added to promote growth and volume and some people’s bellies can handle it and some cannot, I am one of the cannots.

    Believe me when I say this, trying to maintain the symptoms is like walking through a minefield. One day you can eat say a nectarine and have no issues, the next day you can eat the same thing and have abdominal cramps, gas, and who knows what else. It is not as easy as changing your diet or eliminating something from your diet, it is a lot of trial and error trying to figure out what your body can handle. A gastroenterologist can help with this to a point, but your body will react differently than others as well.

    All of my fun issues began with pancreatitis that finally after 10+ years was diagnosed as acid reflux and ulcerative colitis. But the diagnosis only gives you a name to a group of symptoms, you still have to figure out how to walk through the minefield. The mines will change too with the prescriptions you take as well as the stress you are under as well as the food you ingest. And even if you think you have a handle on it, you will still have the gas. We determined that I have a slow stomach motility and it can take 24 to 48 hours to digest heavy foods. So if I knowingly eat something that is going to cause the gas from hell, I try to limit it to Friday as I know I will deal with it over the weekend or I eat it early in the morning as I will have the evenings when I am home.

    But resolving the gas issue is not as simple as folks think it is, as there are many parts that play into this.

  42. Kat*

    Two suggestions for OP:
    1. Get a white noise machine and use it in your cubicle. You can show your attempt at cooperation with your coworker by asking what sound she likes, i.e. gentle ocean waves vs rain storm.
    2. This may be related to your diet. If you have food intolerance(s), this can make you burpy and farty. Google “how to find out if I have a food intolerance.” You can read about how to do an elimination diet. And yes, this can be hereditary.

  43. Diane*

    25 years ago when I was pumping at work and no one had yet invented “mother’s rooms,” I printed a sign that said, Don’t Open This Door. I’m Pumping Breastmilk in Here. I put it on the conference room door and closed all the blinds. For the first few days, I had a coworker keep watch outside the door, but as it turned out, the sign worked really well. Eventually I condensed it to “Pumping” and that worked just fine also, because by that time, everyone I worked with knew exactly what was going on. Hang in there!

    (BTW when my mother-in-law tried to force me to breastfeed in the restaurant restroom so she wouldn’t have to know her grandchild was eating under that blanket, I told her she could go eat in the bathroom if she wanted to, but we were teaching our children to eat at the table.

  44. Gridlock*

    Knock off eating the FIBER ONE bars because the Chickory Root Extract will make you gas up.

  45. Mike*

    I’m inclined by OP #1 to think that they need to take manners into more consideration. The occasional burp or fart is going to happen, we’re humans. When they catch you off guard that’s one thing. If they’re chronic, then it’s up to you to manage them with consideration in public. Whether that’s through diet, medicine, or removing yourself to a less populated place, it’s your responsibility not to make your unfortunate neighbors live with your persistent bodily noises and smells. I would not want to be your cube neighbor, and would complain just as much.

  46. Mitch*

    Really? A breast pumping station at work? I’m sorry, but I have to draw the line there. Businesses have been under fire to provide more and more accommodations for new parents, but that is simply too much. What’s wrong with the bathroom? You have a counter, you can move a seat in front of it, and it all works out. You do NOT need a special area specifically for pumping breast milk, that is simply unrealistic. And if you have to pump three times a day, why not before work, lunch, and after work?
    Businesses give you plenty of time to get your affairs in order before returning to work, but suddenly that’s not enough? This is one of those “If you give a mouse a cookie…” scenarios.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      It’s three times in nine hours, not three times a day. When she is not at work she’s probably, you know, breastfeeding the baby directly.
      Would you make your kids a sandwich in the bathroom? Then why do you expect her to prep her child’s food in the bathroom?

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