I left my son for the first time overnight when he was just 10 weeks old. I worked from home and up until this point never considered that I might have the need to give my breastfed baby a bottle, but clearly he would need one. (And not just one — he’d need more than a few to make it through my three-day trip.) I had no idea what I was in for.
When you’re pregnant you mostly hear about breastfeeding or formula-feeding, not the middle ground options like a combination of both, exclusively pumping and giving bottles, or occasionally pumping. Pumping from the comfort of your living room is one thing; pumping while traveling, out and about, or at the office is another.
I discovered the magic of “family” restrooms (a.k.a. private) in airports on that trip and have been grateful for them ever since, as they allowed me to avoid some pretty awkward pumping situations.
Here are some awkward and funny pumping stories from others that weren’t so lucky.
1. Put Dad on It
“When I came home from the hospital we were living with my parents as our home renovation was just finishing up. In typical fashion, my milk came in and I was in pain! My pump was packed away in one of the many boxes and I needed some relief! My mom, husband and DAD were on a pump hunt. When they finally found it they gave it to me like I knew what to do with it and I gave it right back for them to figure out. My poor mom, husband and DAD were in the kitchen trying to figure out how it worked while I was in pain recovering from a C-section!”
2. Big Sister Help
“My daughter A always pumps enough for her baby, too. My mom was watching both my girls once and M was fighting the bottle, so A pulled her shirt off and said ‘Nana I think I can feed her’.”
3. Flight Delay
“While on a plane, the flight was diverted due to mechanical issues to another airport and then we needed to stay on the plane for two more hours before taking off again. I asked the flight attendant if I could pump in the back bathroom for about 10 minutes. She said that would be fine and that she would redirect people to the front bathroom. After about five minutes and several knocks on the door, I hear on the intercom, ‘Those of you waiting in line for the back bathroom, you may want to come up front … it’s going to be a while.'”
4. Milk on the Loose
“I totally have pumped without the bottles attached and didn’t realize until my leg was covered with milk, then I scrambled to screw the bottles on!”
5. Picture Perfect
“E was 8 days old and we were at a newborn photographer’s studio. She wasn’t latching so I was pumping and bottle feeding her. At that point, I was using right what I pumped at the moment to feed her. I sat in the corner of her studio pumping with a huge hospital grade pump, shifted to get the bottle ready and spilled everything I pumped on her floor. I was snotty nose crying more loudly then the baby crying to be fed!”
6. Perfectly Placed Bottle
“I was running late for work one morning and decided to go ahead and start pumping. I was just going to finish pumping in the car on the way to work, so I was already hooked up — hands-free bra, nursing cover, the whole bit. But when I got to the car I realized I had lost a bottle somewhere along the way. I was already running late, so here I am in a panic trying to find this damn bottle. I thought, surely it’s somewhere incredibly obvious. I tell you, I could NOT find the damn thing! So I started looking for spilled milk — under the couch, even in the dog’s bed — thinking it’s completely leaked out of the bottle by now. Nope — standing perfectly upright in the outside pocket of the diaper bag. No idea how it fell off so perfectly, but I was thankful I didn’t spill any!”
7. Lost Gold
“The day after E was born I was pumping to spoon-feed her because she wasn’t latching. It was the middle of the night and I was so exhausted and didn’t realize what I was doing. I walked right over to the sink with my little bottle of liquid gold and in a sleepy daze turned on the faucet and started to rinse out the bottle and clean it without taking the breast milk out first. I snapped out of it and realized I had literally dumped it down the drain. I cried so loudly I was wailing and I woke my sleeping husband up and the nurse on shift actually came in to ask what had happened.”
8. Walmart Woes
“I went on a trip and forgot my charging cord to the pump and freaked out (I was exclusively pumping). The only store I could find was Walmart and I had the electronics guy helping me try all of the different adapters for the universal cord. I was so happy when I heard that baby start up that I burst into tears and hugged him. Then I sat on the floor in the middle of the electronics department in Walmart in rural West Virginia and pumped without a cover.”
9. Pump and Drive
“I probably shouldn’t pump and drive, huh?? I haven’t been pulled over yet, but boy that would make for an interesting interaction with a cop.”
10. Pardon the Pump
“Being a traveling pumping mom — I’ve pumped everywhere! From first class to the middle seat, in the middle of fields when on work trips (environmental work), on bachelorette party buses — but the worst is being in a work meeting watching the clock knowing you need to leave. ‘Excuse me, I need to pump’ is a lot harder to say than it seems! Telling a male co-worker you have to pump is the worst, but when you are rushing from meetings to pumping room back to meetings, make sure your pumping bra is zipped away! One time my pumping bra was dangling from me and there isn’t much you want to say about a milk-stained bra with nipple holes to a co-worker!”
11. Public Pumping
“The first time I had to pump in public was in a bathroom in TGIFridays, at a lunch with a bunch of my sister’s coworkers. All I had with me was one manual pump (I had been using an automatic one at home) aaaaaaaaaaaaaand no one told me that when you pump one side, the other side leaks too … I didn’t realize I had completely soaked through my bra and shirt on one side, until it dripped down to my belly button. Then I had to continue a lunch with a group of strangers … eating skillet chicken at a TGIFridays … with a breast milk soaked white T-shirt. I held the baby the rest of the meal to cover it up.”
12. Field Trip
“I had to pump in my classroom every day and the maintenance man walked in on me. He practically passed out. I just grabbed a divider (that we use for tests) and put up a shield after that. And having to ask the most random people/places for a place to pump on field trips was the worst.”