We are lucky enough to live in a time when breast-feeding is no longer the only viable way to feed a child.
A lactating mother can pump that milk to feed her child when she is otherwise unable to breastfeed for one reason or another or use formula as a substitute entirely.
The choice, however, remains the mother’s and the mother’s alone.
So, what happens when outsiders decide that your decision isn’t good enough for them?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Ok_Control_3241 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for outright mentioning pumping in my do not disturb sign?”
OP began with a brief apology.
“Throwaway and I’m typing this on my phone while pumping, so please excuse any typos.”
“I’m a nursing mom, and I am fortunate to have my own office.”
She then got right to the problem at hand.
“Initially, when I returned to work, I would just close my door and put up a sign asking people to please return in 15 minutes.”
“Unfortunately, I’d still have people banging on the door every few minutes or trying to talk to me through the door, or even jiggling the handle, asking if I could ‘just’ whatever…”
“My word that I need 15 undisturbed minutes wasn’t enough, and it made my pumping sessions really stressful (and anyone who’s ever pumped knows stress can really mess up the pumping and make it less efficient.)”
“So I amended the sign to say ‘Pumping–please return in 15 minutes’. That cut down on the disturbances, but apparently, now a couple of coworkers have complained that it’s tmi and making them uncomfortable.”
OP was left to wonder,
“AITA for outright announcing when I’m pumping?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some were quite direct.
“No, you are not wrong to let them know what’s going on. In my field, we have rooms that actually say Private Nursing Room on an official sign.”
“No one has been ignorant enough to complain about the specificity of that. I don’t understand why people in 2023 have a problem with this natural and healthy function.” ~ SevereSwim7756
“you’re a champ for only taking 15 min breaks, honestly pumping is so difficult.”
“There’s no reason at all to not disclose pumping. Nothing about it is gross, weird, or embarrassing. I’d report these colleagues for harassment.” ~ tmqueen
“Your coworkers who bothered you when you are on break are the ones who disrespect boundaries.”
“You shouldn’t have to put up that sign. Just a sign that says you are on a 15-minute break should do the trick. NTA” ~ Illustrious_Dress806
There were personal stories.
“I am one of three mothers pumping at my office- two of the ladies put signs up on their door that simply say ‘pumping’ or ‘pumping please knock’ which I think is very polite of them-“
“I just close my door.”
“Our office doors don’t lock- and we haven’t had any issues.”
“My HR lady did say ‘oh, I just shouldn’t barge in then?’ To which I replied ‘not unless you want to possibly get a peek at my boobs’. Everyone has always knocked on the closed door and waited for a response.”
“IDK what’s wrong with the people OP works with- but a lack of manners seems to be at the top of the list.” ~ Winter-Lili
“Same at my office, we only had an issue one time”
“I have a close friend that used to work with me and pumped for all three of her kids.”
“She put a simple ‘in meeting’ sign on her door and locked it, but everyone knew. She chose that so she could still use the sign other times and it was understood to be respectful.”
“Good idea in theory until she called me one day to come over to her office but hadn’t taken down the sign yet.”
“I had a male coworker come running behind me yelling as I went to open her door yelling ‘stop stop she’s you know….milking'”.
“Dude couldn’t get the correct term out he was so panicked and wide-eyed. Lol” ~ SnooPeppers1641
“I had my second kid when my first was 5 years old.”
“He used to put a pillow under my arm when I nursed 💞 He knew at 5 years old that the baby was eating and it’s important that babies eat” ~ ohdearitsrichardiii
“If there are certain individuals who seem to be continually ignoring your sign, keep note, or better yet, have a trusted coworker who has eyes on your office door keep note of who continually tries to interrupt your pumping time.”
“I had the unfortunate experience with an employee in my former workplace who begin displaying a sudden need to ask me questions during my pumping time.”
“This person was under me in the company, but I did not directly oversee them or have a job that required interacting more than once every 2 weeks.”
“This happened repeatedly, and because they were so aggressive about their supposedly urgent, but ultimately non-time sensitive requests/questions, it caused me a lot of distress.”
“It is unknown whether he was angsty about my getting additional breaks for pumping/feeding, had negative feelings about me not staying at home with my baby, or if he had another unsavory reason to want to try to interact with me during this private time.”
“In the end, steps had to be taken by his manager to prevent him from attempting to interact with me while I was pumping or had my baby in my private office to feed.” ~ sydlioness
Commenters wondered about the HR ramifications.
“If you haven’t already done so, and if your organization has one, get the HR department involved. Sounds like some employees need a talking to.”
“You should have a space for this and should be allowed to do it undisturbed. NTA. The people who think it’s TMI need to grow up.” ~ GOM27
“NTA there are laws about this in the US. It’s not okay for your coworkers to be uncomfortable, but it’s fine for YOU to be uncomfortable while trying to work and take care of your child?”
“People are wild” ~ Agile-Department-345
“Def go to HR and tell them you don’t know what to do.”
“I’m male, so I have no experience or money in the game but wow…”
“Some of these stories in the comments make me see how horrible people are. The ones with female bosses are even worse.. jeez.” ~ zombiestig1
“As a pumping mom myself and a milk donor, I hear so many stories about how going back into work negatively affects milk supply – I’d report anyone who bothers me to HR.”
“Legally the company has to allow accommodations for pumping. 15 minutes doesn’t seem like nearly enough… it takes me at least an hour” ~ Pale_Willingness1882
Though this comment seems to sum it up nicely.
“You are a f*cking nurse and assumedly working in something healthcare-like.”
“If not people should take their healthcare ques from you anyway. Wtf is wrong with making food for your infant child?”
“I can’t even continue because it is so absurd anyone would ever have a problem with this.”
“Oh hey, you know what, I’m going to continue because I have a good point.”
“One reason I was proud of my previous workplace was that they didn’t get all weird with Moms.”
“I worked at a vet office, and we had like 4 vets, a lot of them Mom aged women, as they were newer vets, thus often new mother-aged (vet school takes a million years so female vets may decide to have children somewhat after.)”
“At least one doc, I think two, were perfectly comfortable pumping in the main area (employees walked through often, where they put notes in, away from customers so private from unknown people),”
“And I loved that- they should not have to hide like they are doing something gross, they are making food for their babies.”
“It’s not an embarrassing thing, and if one wants it to be private it should be private but if one wants to pump while putting in notes or whatever that’s great.”
“You couldn’t even see breasts, they just had a frock on that was specific to pumping but who cares if you could have seen breasts we are not in middle school.”
“No one ever had anything to say about it, except that they were glad they worked in a place that didn’t stigmatize stuff like breast milk…”
“I mean come on no one should.”
“I suppose people could feel uncomfortable if breasts were shown, but I don’t even agree with that at all.”
“This whole thing is absurd.”
“The idea that breast milk is so upsetting to some needs to be their personal thing they deal with with a psychiatrist.”
“Like really the idea that you might not be hiding your breasts when in a private room is so upsetting?”
“Give me a break.”
“And you know I hope that you are legally in the right?”
“Very much so. And I have a hard time believing this would fly in a medical setting- to complain about a mom pumping?” ~ TrustTechnical4122
The decisions a mother has to make in order to keep her baby healthy are hers to choose, and the squeamishness of a stranger should not dictate those choices.
That goes for whether you are breastfeeding, pumping, using formula, or some combination of all three.