I’m the VP of sales at mimijumi and a new mom to a five-month-old daughter. I recently returned from maternity leave and took my first work trip away from my daughter. Let me tell you – I give a shout out to all the traveling mommas out there; it is no joke! From scheduling when to pump, figuring out appropriate outfits you can wear to pump at work, flying with breastmilk and all the supplies, dealing with security lines and rude agents, sharing a hotel room with a non-pumping colleague and just being away from your baby in general, it is all so hard! Here’s my experience and some tips I learned.
This was my first time traveling while nursing, so I asked all my friends and researched as much in advance as possible. As we all know, you cannot fully prep for the unknown. Our flight was held on the tarmac longer than expected, so I found myself pumping breast milk literally on the plane (in the last seat, next to the bathroom-ugh, sweating, and battling the beverage cart along with a few men hoping to catch a glimpse).
I was traveling to attend the All Baby & Child Trade Show in Tampa, Florida, to spread the word to retailers about mimijumi from our trade show booth. And, since we were there most of the day, guess what - I also found myself pumping at the booth. It was hilarious. I received stares galore, full breast pump inquires (brand, strength, portability, noise level) and one woman actually peeked down my cover to see ”what was happening down there”. It was a crazy experience I will never forget!
Most people praised me for doing whatever it took to feed my baby the way I chose. A few people tried to make me feel uncomfortable and judged, but I did my best to ignore them. It helped that I was at A TRADE SHOW FOR BABY PRODUCTS, so if there were ever a place to pump at your company’s booth – this was it!
I am lucky to work in such an uplifting industry and for such a great company like mimijumi that supports my choice to breastfeed. The company also helps me reach my breastfeeding goals by using mimijumi bottles and by encouraging pumping at work.
Even with a supportive employer, breast pumping while away on work travel can be a challenge. Here are some things that helped me:
First off: get a good breast pump. Ask a lactation consultant and your girlfriends for a recommendation based on your needs (Will you be traveling? How frequently will you be pumping?). Mine was recommended to me and everyone comments on its portability, convenience and quietness. And definitely check with your health insurance company – you may be able to have the price fully credited! I used this Spectra breast pump:
Bring a portable cooler with you everywhere. But get a cute, tote bag shape so it doesn’t look like you are transporting organs when you are flying with breast milk.
Outfits – Button downs and nursing tanks are a traveling mom’s best friend. You can pump without having to completely undress. Avoid shift dresses, hard to maneuver fabrics and necklaces that get in the way. You will wear them again – I promise. There are also some companies designing shirts just for breastfeeding and pumping mamas.
Nursing cover – You don’t have to sit in a nasty airport/trade show/public restroom to pump. Do it out in the open and use a hands free bra nursing cover for privacy. This way you can decide when to pump on your own schedule without feeling self=conscious. Here are my faves:
Facetime or Skype with your little one! It helped me to see her and hear her and remember why I was working so hard. The breast milk was for her and for her well-being. Facetime and Skype are great ways to stay connected when you can’t be there.
Have your carer feed your baby using mimijumi bottles while you are away! The last thing you want is to do all this hard work collecting breast milk and have your baby refuse to breastfeed when you return. mimijumi bottles eliminate nipple confusion and let you go back and forth from breastfeeding to bottle feeding easily, allowing you to live your life and reach your breastfeeding goals.
Finally – be friendly and open about pumping, so that you control the situation whether it’s pumping at work or pumping in public. Don’t let anyone make you feel inappropriate or uncomfortable. People sometimes walked by our mimijumi booth staring and I would loudly announce “don’t mind me-just pumping over here.” People would laugh or say “good for you,” or admit they were wondering what you were doing. What may seem to be a judging look could simply be a look of confusion from a person who has never encountered public breast pumping. If anything, it was a conversation starter – which is great for me because I am in sales! In public, I would just make eye contact and smile at people who stared. When I acknowledged their stare, most of the time they would look away.
And after all that – hit up the airport bar. You worked hard for your job AND for your family, so get a beer on the company’s tab. You deserve it – thanks mimijumi. ;)