Guest post: evicting lactation room squatters

I’m excited to bring you a guest post today from Amanda, aka @ExclusivelyPump on twitter. Amanda has exclusively pumped for her two babies (that twitter handle is not just a clever nickname) and spent more than her fair share of time in her employer’s lactation room. Here’s her story on negotiating to protect the lactation room from squatters:

My company’s lactation room has everything a nursing mother needs – comfortable chair, side table, phone, fridge, sink, microwave, multiple outlets – even a shower and toilet stall.

The downside to having such a great lactation room is that everyone on our floor used it, including people that were not lactating. As in, men. They used it to make phone calls, to take showers, as a restroom, and as a place to rest. The key was left in the door, and the unwritten rule was that anyone was allowed to use it as needed.

The problem was that there were four other women who had recently had babies and were also using the room, two or three times per day. The room was scheduled pretty much all day long.

At my scheduled pumping time, I would often gather my pumping gear and laptop, go to the lactation room, and find it occupied and locked. I’d knock, but whoever was in there would stay silent. There was no way to know who was in there or when they planned on getting out.

This would really screw up my workday. My days were scheduled with back-to-back meetings, and I needed to pump when I’d scheduled myself to. Also, because the room was booked solid, I couldn’t just walk on in whenever I did get a break. My choices were to skip pumps or pump in the women’s restroom.

I wasn’t sure what to do about this. I was new to the company – I’d started when I was 22 weeks pregnant – and didn’t want to rock the boat. I sent an email to the other four breastfeeding moms asking if they were having the same issues accessing the lactation room. They all were, but were reluctant to make a fuss. I decided to send an email to the admin in charge of the room and ask if the key could be removed from the door and left with her – easy for the breastfeeding moms to access, but might make Dude Who Needs to Make a Call think twice.

She didn’t like this idea. Instead, she suggested posting the schedule on the outside of the door, and encouraging other people on the floor not to use the room if it was already booked for that time. This was less than ideal for a few reasons – first, our pumping schedules would be posted for everyone walking by to see, and second, there was no guarantee that people would abide by this request.

In the end, it worked out okay. Fewer people used the room, and when they did, we got bolder about knocking on the door and waiting for whoever was in there to come out and give us an ashamed look. Still, when each of my babies turned 13 months old, it was a relief to be done with pumping at work and the stress of whether or not I’d be able to access the lactation room when I needed it.

Amanda has two young children and has spent 27 months of her life hooking herself up to breast pumps. She blogs about exclusively pumping breast milk at exclusivepumping.com

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