Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Federally-Protected Boobs

I regularly go topless at work.

Yes, that's right. I'm back at work now that my daughter is 12-weeks old and I'm still breastfeeding. I was quite impressed when I emailed my HR person to ask if there was someplace other than the bathroom for me to pump and she immediately requested a locked office on my floor.


I was so impressed, I told my husband, who then asked his own HR department at his law firm if they had a locked office available for nursing mothers. They did not then, but they do now. Go husband! If there's one thing he's passionate about, it's liberated titties.

Well now I find out that it's actually a federal law that an employer make a space available for an employee to pump milk that isn't the restroom:

"President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, on March 23rd and the Reconciliation Act of 2010, H.R. 4872, on March 30, 2010. Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk."

Read more about it here.

The only unfortunate part of all this is the fact that I actually have to go to this locked office and pump. My god. Is there anything more boring than pumping milk? I have a double-electric "Pump In Style®" (Yes, that is actually what it's called) so I don't have to hand-pump, but it's still tedious. There's no getting around the fact that you have to hold two plastic cones up to your breasts for fifteen minutes at a time. In a locked, windowless office with no TV or computer, it's like fifteen minutes of ADD torture twice a day.

I've tried reading the New York Times on my Blackberry®, but you try scrolling with a plastic pump suctioned to a nipple in each hand. It's not pretty and it's not easy, especially if you're trying not to break the seal and you don't want to wind up with spilt milk on your smart phone.

Liquids + Cell phones = Bad.

Yesterday I had the good idea to wear a Maxi dress to work. I totally forgot that a Fitted Dress + Electric Breast Pump = Bad Idea. For a moment I considered completely removing the dress and just sitting there at the desk in my underwear and heels while I pumped. But I've had enough anxiety over the "Is the door really locked or did I accidentally unlock it?" as it is, fully-clothed. So imagine a co-worker walking in on me not just pumping, but with me in nothing but a pair of underpants and high heels. You might as well quadruple the humiliation.

If that were to happen I'd immediately become the "Freaky chick who pumps breast milk in the nude at work." Not unlike George Costanza who removed all of this clothing to take a dump. That weird. And it's hard not to make milk coming out of your breasts any more freaky than it is all on its own, mammals or not.

Americans are freaked out by breasts, and even more so when they start leaking fluids, and about a gazillion times more freaky than that when you attach a little sucking baby to them. My god. We get our puritanical bonnets in a bee-tizzy.

I've read with interest over the past few months the stories of breastfeeding mothers being accosted by security guards and restaurant managers for nursing in public. I've read with disappointment as commenters on said articles express their disgust with breastfeeding.

Do you suppose they were weaned too soon from their own mothers and that's why they have such a disgust for something that is pretty darned sweet? I mean, seriously. You're offended by a nursing baby?

The fact of the matter is, while a baby is nursing, you really only see their little head cuddled up against mom. Sure if mom's struggling to latch the baby onto her breast you might get a good view of her nip. In which case, I recommend not looking.


There's plenty I don't want to see in public. I don't like to see people's legs. Legs gross me out. But I can't make wearing shorts illegal. I don't want to see ill-fitting tops, panty lines, goatees, or baseball caps on backwards. There are a whole plethora of shoes I think should be illegal, but I still have to see people in Birkenstocks and Crocs every day of my life.

And what do I do about these things that offend my eye?

I look away.

Fortunately I've only had to breastfeed in public a few times since my daughter was born. I usually skulk off to a far away corner and make sure the latch-on is quick. Once she's in place and happily sucking away, you really can't see anything with my t-shirt bunched up over her head. Maybe I'll take a cloth diaper and lay it across my shoulder. Not that it actually covers anything, but I feel it says, "This is me showing you that I am currently breastfeeding this baby and you might want to look away." I can't cover her entire head because every time I've tried to do it in my own house when we have company, she immediately jerks her head back (with my nipple still in her mouth) as if to say, "What the hell?!?"

You don't eat in the dark with a blanket over your head, and neither does she.

So spare me the "put a blanket over her head" malarkey.

Just don't look.

Why is this so hard?

I promise not to wear any more Maxi dresses and I promise not to whip my entire dress over my head in public even though you could look away in that event too. Ha. Breastfeeding in nothing but your panties and heels.

I wonder when they'll make that a federally-protected status? Woo!


  1. How about inventing a "public breast-feeding burka?" Sort of like a Snuggie for nursing mothers?

  2. Just as France is trying to get women out of the burka, Mister Arthur is trying to put us in them.


    I actually bought a sort of apron-thing for nursing mothers but the baby objects to it. It's sort of like a nursing tent you wear around your neck but she doesn't want to nurse in a tent. Or a burka.

  3. Woof just reminded me that I caught my neighbor peeing in MY backyard the other day!

    Of course, I turned away.


  4. Mom blogger.


    Seriously, great commentary on the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding in public, but people are ALWAYS going to whine, and there is NEVER going to be anything they can do about it, in most states, because it is a perfectly legal activity, even in the middle of a restaurant dining room.

    I'd flash 'em just out of spite, before they could look away.

  5. I work for the fedral government and I am proud to offer my services to protect breasts all over this great land of ours. Because that's just the kind of guy I am.

  6. It's sad that people are so hung up.

  7. What does your hub wear while you breastfeed? Panties and heels?

  8. I find it ridiculous that a whole cottage industry has popped up based on making nursing mothers ashamed. Have you seen those boob tent things? Ridiculous!

  9. Hot pants, Speedos, sooo many people wearing inappropriate Lycra, braless women, they should all be illegal, until the point that breastfeedig in public becomes acceptable and not like some sort of deviant behaviour.

    Although there are some items of clothing that should never come off the band list...

  10. Have to agree, nothing in the world more tedious than pumping and I hate the word too 'pumping' urggghhhhh.
    I once had two of my husbands aunts walk in on me while I was pumping and carry on a conversation.... AWKWARD!

  11. Pumping (ugh, that word!) has always grossed me out and made me feel like I was milking a cow. Then again, I've never tried it in heels and underwear. It might have made the experience seem more enjoyable. :)

  12. I think it would be fun if you did it in your panties and heels at your own desk. Why should you have to leave your desk, even if it is just a cube and everyone else can see when they walk by? What is so offensive about this whole thing again? I hate how our society is so comfortable with violence and so uncomfortable with nudity and sex. Sheesh!

  13. Just for the record, I am 100% in support of women breastfeeding or/and pumping in nothing but their heels and panties.

    Perhaps it could be a federally mandated activity. Is there something I can sign or some march I can join?

    On the more general breastfeeding in public issue, some people are just idiots.

  14. FYI: as an experienced breastfeeding mom (I nursed my two boys for about 3 years each), I can attest that nursing in public gets easier the more you do it.

    Keep fighting the good fight for liberated titties!

  15. @Woof: Tell that to the pigs.

    @Pearl: Good for you Pearl.

    @Caroline: *SCREAM*

    @The Judge: You're a true patriot.

    @Eva: It's bizarre.

    @Wow: He wears his usual loungewear: a thong and slippers.

    @Logical Libby: I've not only seen them, I bought one. *SIGH* It SEEMED like a good idea a the time. The baby set me straight, however.

    @Me: Prison tattoos, facial piercings, fanny packs, overly processed hair, overly siliconed boobies, I could go on some more!

    @McG: Nooooooooo! Oh god, no. For people who've never pumped (ew) or who've never seen someone pumping (ew ew!) it really is rather unsightly to see a nippled stretched that far down a plastic tube. Repeatedly. And rapidly.


    @Twills: I've written "Agency Dairy" on the dry erase board in my pumping (!) room.

    @Fabu: I'm sure I have some co-workers who would agree with you. *Laugh* I, however, am a little shy even with my shirt on.

    @Mike129: This is what I thought the male response would be, but reading a lot of these male commenters on the breastfeeding articles is just shocking to me. Guys against boobs? What?

    @CTJen: Vive la liberte! (I wish I knew how to make accents.)

  16. Even though I have grandkids, I'd almost consider having another child just to be able to breastfeed again. There's nothing like it. Such safety and tenderness and warmth. It's normal, natural, beautiful.

  17. This is the BEST post I have ever read about breast feeding LOL
    I laughed so hard at the" did I lock the door thought while in bra, undies and high heels. "
    I live in Argentina... if the baby cries, the mama whips out that boob and sticks that baby on and everything is quiet and normal and no one even glances up.
    I love it. No one pays any attention. Unless they want to coo at the baby afterwards when it is all smily and full.
    I hate that women have to hide the baby under something.. that baby will start out with the idea he has to eat in the dark? under the table? under the tablecloth? :)
    I am happy for you and your boobs, being Federally Protected and all.

  18. Hi Mandy,
    The title says it all, love it.
    The first time I saw a baby
    nursing in public was on a
    city bus in Nuevo Laredo.
    I noticed a mother & baby
    but then watched for my stop.
    Nursing in public or anyway is
    to me as natural as breathing
    yet some are so up-tight if a child seeing a
    breast will forever harm their
    future. Remember Janet Jackson
    at Superbowl half-time!!

  19. Prepare yourself for some TMI:
    I pumped at my desk at work. I wore a sports bra that then held the suctions cups in place. I took calls, emailed, basically continued to work while pumping. No time lost.

    When my daughter was 3 months old we went on a trip w/ my inlaws, IN A CAR. I manually pumped while sitting in the back seat w/ only the carseat and my infant separating me from my FIL.

    Same trip, I manually pumped WHILE HIKING! My BIL and SIL kept their distance during the start and finish.

    HEE....and yes, feeding in public gets easier the more you do it. though not for my husband for some reason.

  20. A co-worker was "expressing" in her own locked office next to mine. The idiot boss came along and knocked once, then whipped out his key. I guess she thought he'd just go away, so she didn't say anything. I had to yell at him, "You can't go in there, she needs her privacy." He didn't go in, but he never figured out why, either.

  21. When you mentioned "hand milking" the most bizarre image popped into my head. Anyways, anyone who thinks a nursing baby is something kinky seriously needs psychological counseling and possible an extended stay in a home somewhere.

  22. If men breastfed, this would never be an issue. In fact, there would probably be breast pumping competitions held in public places, perhaps even at company barbecues while coworkers placed bets.

  23. My "letdown", intense? (HAH!) I was oh-so-NEW to the breastfeeding in public thing, in a restaurant with my mother-in-law. And she INSISTED I stay at the table. I fumbled...

    I shot her in the shoulder.

    ACROSS the table.

    No one else saw except a non-english speaking waiter who kept trying to explain why he was laughing using hand gestures. The restaurant came to a complete standstill. Rock. On.

  24. I'm sorry but Chantels "let down " story just made me choke on my coffee.. god, what women go through just to feed a baby .. and those kids grow up and most of them never really appreciate it .. do they ?
    My son swears he remembers nothing .. ha !

  25. @middle child: I agree with you, once you get past the 6-8 weeks of physical torture that is the start of breastfeeding.

    @a Broad: I love Argentina. I knew I lived in The United States of Crazy!

    @Raao: Boobs are scary. Boobs are anti-family. ;-)

    @The Mad Woman: You are a breastfeeding over-achiever! I bow to your greater lactation skillz.

    @Blissed-Out: Oh. My. God! What is wrong with that man?!?

    @Alex: I don't even want to know...

    @Princess Stupidhead: Breastfeeding competitions? Now there's an idea! I would totally lose, of course, but I have some friends who would rock it.

    @Chantel: Haaaaaaa! If I go for a long time between feedings, I have sprayed my poor baby in the face. She's scrunched up her eyes and tried to dodge it, but the poor thing, she's just not coordinated enough to dodge and weave a quick, thin stream of breast milk.

    @a Broad: No, it is a selfless act. Especially when you're crying while you're doing it those first few weeks. Yowzers. My six-year-old has repeatedly asked if he could "just taste it," but I tell him no on account of my not wanting to pay for that therapy bill ten to twenty years from now.

  26. Taking the "Breastfeeding is Gross" stance is a great way to pick up chicks.

    I kid.

    Really it's just the absolutely simplest way to be a troll, as everyone has a strong opinion about it on the internet it seems.

    Me? I'm all for boobies. Everywhere. All the time. The End.

  27. Great post. The mothering instinct trumps modesty every time. I was surprised how easy it got to nurse in public. I stopped caring what other people thought about it. Babies gotta eat.

    Warning: If you visit Northern California, avoid looking down. It's a swamp of Crocs and Berks.

  28. @Kurt: You remind me of that Pedigree or some other dog food brand commercial: "We're for dogs." Except your tagline (and mankind's) would be: "We're for boobs."

    Hey. That would make a nice PSA for breastfeeding.

    @Sere: There's a lot of Birks in Ann Arbor but I tend to stay away from there. And I see a lot of Crocs around here, but they're mostly on kids so they get a pass.

  29. I'd much rather see a boob than some of the crap people wear.

  30. My company has nursing rooms on 3 of our 5 floors. Pretty great of them to do that.

    I was going to ask you if you had a "Hooter Hider" or whatever those apron things are, but it seems you do. I would definitely wear one of those if I had to breastfeed...I'm the shy girl who can't bear to bare the boobs in public.

  31. When my 7 year old was a baby, I was working part-time doing late night merchandising shifts at GAP. I had to pump in the fitting rooms. I think it made my co-workers uncomfortable because they always walked by my locked door faster than could even be comfortable but I was not about to sit on a toilet seat and do it.

  32. it's never really bothered me....not that i'm all earth mother and all that, but it's just a part of life.

    but..yeah...i've never had to do something like that at work (good thing you don't work at my old office where each office has a glass wall)

  33. Why is peeing being put at the same level as breast feeding mothers? lol I mean that's not in the same group of bodily functions is it? I just never even thought it was my business to get upset over a woman taking care of her baby's needs. ha )

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  35. @Jessica: Exactly my sentiments.

    @Mel: There's what you think you'd do, and then there's what you actually do. In this case, the baby made it known in no uncertain terms would she nurse under a tent. People really can't see anything if you hunch over and bunch your t-shirt up. You get quick at it.

    @Melissa: Did you have an outlet in there? 'Cause I need my electric pump. That manual pump is torture!

    @Santa: From your lips to the rest of the world's ears.

  36. Hooray for baby girl. My daughter refused to nurse under a blanket, too. It was f-in' hot under there. Too bad I was self-conscious. I sucked. I sure hope I'll be over that by the second one. Glad to hear you're not self-conscious - 'cause you shouldn't be! Do your thing, Super Mama Mandy!

  37. Loved your post, but reading about you trying to fumble with your phone while holding the cups made me comment. You must get yourself a pumping band. It was the best breastfeeding investment I made (rivaling the stylish messenger bag of the Pump In Style). Google it. It's an adjustable elastic band that fits snugly across your chest. The cups poke through little slits at nipple level and it holds up the cups for you so you can pump hands free. I got all my emailing done while pumping. Helps you forget the fact that you're doing such a bizarre activity.

  38. After a month of holding my pump with two hands (on baby number 2 no less), I read the instructions! Which showed me how to hold both cups with one arm: left arm bent and pressing on the left cup to hold it in place and then left hand holding the right cup.

  39. Hey, I know this is way late coming, but rather than having to hold the pumper up to your own boobs, there are bras that hold the suctions to you. I didn't use one with my daughter and can't vouch for any brand, but I'm so gonna try it with number two. I like multi-tasking.