The pumping fiasco

Things not to do: leave a door unlocked while using a breast pump at work.
Things not to do: leave a door unlocked while using a breast pump at work. 

There's no easy way to say this but ... my biggest fear has been realised. No, not the shark in the pool thing.


It was a young man who probably didn't even know breast pumps existed, and now we are both scarred for life.

I was originally going to write this post as "The 10 Phases of a Male Co-Worker Walking in on You While You're Pumping", but I couldn't get past "Phase #1: Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod ..."

Then I thought I would make a chart ranking different levels of embarrassment, with "male co-worker walking in on you pumping" being at the top. But I can't think of anything else to put in the chart.

Wearing the same dress to your high school formal as your arch-enemy? Pfffffft. Peeing when you sneeze at the supermarket? Puh-lease. Dress getting stuck in the back of your pantyhose? Been there, done that, I'll do it again if it guarantees a male co-worker will never walk in on me pumping again.

Yesterday, right before I left for the day, I stopped in to pump – I like to pump before I leave because Harlow has usually just finished a bottle when I get home. I wasn’t in my regular office, and in the room I was using there was no counter or bench, so I balanced my pump on the sink to do my business standing up.

I took my shirt off and unhooked those little clippies on my maternity bra. Put my strapless pumping bra on. You know, the really sexy nippleless bra with the three-year-old breast milk stains on it. I assembled the pump, plugged it in, attached myself, etc, etc. Then I balanced the pump on the sink to do my business standing up.

I did everything except – as I was about to learn – LOCK THE FREAKIN' DOOR.


I guess it stands to reason that if you pump two to three times a day, every day, for five months in a row, odds are that one of those times you're going to forget to lock the door. Although the odds are pretty slim that a 25-year-old guy is going to bumble his way in without warning on that one particular time.

Let me tell you, beating the odds is a hoot!

Also, when the guy in question opens the unlocked door, sees you but doesn't really understand what's happening, so he just kind of stands there paralysed while you scream internally, “I am not a wild animal in the woods. Do you think if you stand there not moving I’ll mistake you for a tree and go about my business? Get OUT!” 

A half second later (the longest half second in history), when he finally snapped out of it and started apologising profusely (just get out!), my first instinct was to slam the door in his face. But of course I was still attached to the wall, so the sudden movement made the breast pump fall to the ground. AND it was one of those heavy metals doors that’s impossible to slam because it has some sort of pressurised thing to ensure it closes slowly.

So picture this: 1) Door flung open to reveal me topless, hooked up to milk machine. 2) Machine falls to ground, still attached to breasts. 3) Despite pushing with all my might, door closes at speed of turtle.


Anyway, since this was not my regular office, I had never seen the manboy that entered the room before. At this moment, I know he was wearing stripes and glasses but I can’t picture his face. I'm hoping he can picture tubes and nipples but can’t summon my face either.

And I'm thinking it's finally time to employ some sort of official "pumping privacy" sign. Here are a few options ...  

Ilana writes at, a very funny blog where she offers parental snark and entertainment from the mind of a mum with a three-year-old and a brand spankin' new baby. Check out the best of Mommy Shorts or follow the blog on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.