Oh the places you'll pump
I was busy during my first year at Kudos. Amrita hired me as the first employee. We went from a concept to a prototype to a brand to real production. We traveled down the East Coast and across the Midwest visiting suppliers and manufacturers, trying to bring this dream of a plant-based baby diaper to life.
And I nursed and pumped for my daughter from the day I started at Kudos, when Ginny was four and a half months old, until the day she turned one.
The traveling and my bus commute meant I had to implement a different pumping scheme than I used for my first baby, when I worked at a desk all day and went to a small closet lactation room three times a day. Gone were the days of a reliable electrical outlet and refrigerator. I needed to learn to pump anywhere, and now I want to share what I learned.
Pumping in a ...bathroom
Pumping food for a baby in a bathroom is not ideal, and there is legal protection requiring workplaces to provide a non-restroom for lactation. But I have most definitely pumped in a restroom (even sitting on the floor) when visiting conferences or suppliers. I don’t fault the facilities I traveled to since most small businesses don’t have a permanent lactation suite set up.
What you need for pumping breastmilk in a bathroom (though I hope you will never have to do it!):
- Long power cord (maybe you can pump in a stall for some privacy if the cord is long enough!) or batteries for your pump
- Wipes and more wipes to sanitize all the things
- Crack-to-activate ice packs - these are typically marketed for pain relief but can work to keep milk cool when you don’t have a freezer
Pumping in a ...rental car
In Kudos’ first year we did quite a lot of driving to visit our suppliers and better understand how to make all the materials in our diapers. That meant lots of pumping while riding and sitting in a car. Obviously for safety, the best thing to do is be a passenger or park while pumping if you’re driving solo. There are some cigarette lighter power adapters available for pumps, or make sure you bring batteries.
What you need for pumping breastmilk in a car:
- Car power adapter or battery option
- Hands-free double pumping bra
- Tinted windows
Pumping in an ...airport
Eventually our travels for Kudos required flying. In my experience, airports are leading the way in providing lactation spaces for pumping and nursing moms. The Mamava and Pumpspotting apps were helpful to me in finding places to pump nearby in whatever terminal I flew through. Shoutout to Boston Logan airport - they have a nursing space in each terminal with a shelf and sink and plug (plus a lockable door).
The biggest deal with pumping in an airport is getting breastmilk through security. There are a couple options that TSA finds acceptable for flying with breastmilk. One is traveling with a cooler containing a small amount of breastmilk, like what you would have pumped the morning of your flight. The other option is to carry on your frozen breastmilk saved during your trip. I’ve exercised both options, and had no trouble getting through security with milk, fresh or frozen. Oddly enough my breast pump has been a problem before - I guess TSA agents think it looks strange? I’ve twice had my pump swabbed for explosives residue. #SMH
What you need for pumping in an airport:
- Cooler with frozen ice packs
- Plastic milk storage bags
- A smile and a positive attitude to possibly have to explain why you’re carrying-on your expressed milk
Pumping in a ...conference room with glass walls
Our initial office for Kudos was awesome - a great co-working space with conference rooms and collaborative peers in a central location in downtown Boston. What was lacking? A non-bathroom space that wasn’t see-through. Every office and conference room in our first office had glass doors and glass walls. So I became adept at keeping my back turned and wearing a large cardigan to pump with some privacy.
What you need for pumping in a glass-walled conference room:
- Large cardigan to block pumping from view
- Chair facing into the conference room, preferably toward an outside wall of the building
- A “please do not disturb - meeting in progress” sign for the door
What’s the strangest place you’ve pumped milk? We’d love to know! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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