Pumping at the White House

Avatar for cmkristy
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2005
Pumping at the White House
Wed, 03-13-2013 - 8:37am

When I imagined my journalism career, I never pictured myself standing shirtless in a unisex bathroom in the White House.

But that is precisely where I found myself in November, as a new mother of a nursing infant returning from maternity leave to cover the president.

Hiding in a bathroom is a common condition for many breastfeeding moms seeking a private place to pump milk in their workplace.

But it's a condition the White House has been trying to eliminate. Under President Barack Obama's new health care law, employers with more than 50 workers are required to provide a private lactation space other than a restroom for nursing mothers up to one year after giving birth.

"One of the most common reasons mothers cite for discontinuing breastfeeding is returning to work and not having break time or a private space to express milk,” White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, chair of the president's Council on Women and Girls, wrote about the president’s health care law in a Dec. 2010 White House blog post.

So then why was I stuck pumping in a bathroom at the very address where the lactation room requirement had originated?


Interesting article!  Anyone else run into something similar at their place of employment?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2010
Sat, 05-25-2013 - 2:04am

I'll agree...interesting!

One of the things that sold me on my current place of employment was that while I was interviewing, they pointed out the designated lactation room (technically it's called the "personal use" room, but it's mainly for lactating mothers/they have priority over the room).  My oldest was about 18 months old when I started there and he had long stopped nursing...but we were planning for #2 and I wanted to be able to nurse for longer than I had with my first (stopped at about 6 months for various reasons).

There were a lot of things that I could totally relate to in the article because there was no other choice than to pump in bathrooms (and there wasn't a unisex one to be found where I was!), so I was in regular old bathroom stalls when I needed to pump...kind of kills the mood when there's people coming in and out, toilets flushing and so on.  I honestly would have been happy if there was a place to sit within the bathroom that I could just pull a curtain around (I've seen those in a few stores...within the bathroom there's a seating area for nursing or pumping...not fantastic, but definitely better than balancing around an open toilet!).  

In the end, it does seem a bit weird (ironic?) that the place that pushed for employers having designated space for mothers to pump didn't have a space to do just that.  At bare minimum, even when there isn't a lactating/pumping mom around, it might have been a good idea just to have a "personal use" room just available to cover their behinds... :)


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