6 Pitfalls Of Pumping While Working At A Restaurant

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breastpump photoPumping at work for that precious boob gold is basically the worst. Not only is it annoying to do it outside of your comfort zone (which would be in front of The History Channel wearing yoga pants for me), but most work places aren’t exactly set up to cater to this particular need. This is especially true if you work at a busy restaurant, which is exactly what I dealt with while breastfeeding my oldest child. I was 20-years-old, a student and full time waitress, and somehow managed  to pump behind the scenes at a Manhattan restaurant for almost a year. It was NOT fun. Here are some of the pitfalls.

1. Hearing “Why don’t you just use formula?” every single day

I seriously had to hear this question at least once a day from some of my less-than-supportive co-workers.

2. Pumping in a filthy bathroom

If there’s one thing Manhattan restaurants are lacking, it’s space. The place I worked at was tiny, and the back of house area was even tinier. The only place I could pump in privacy was this tiny, filthy bathroom at the back of the building. Again, not fun.

3. Losing my lunch break

For the entire year that I pumped at work I lost out on a comfortable lunch break because my 30 minute break was the only time I could pump. I mean, sure I could have scarfed down a sandwich or some chips while pumping, but who wants to eat in a filthy bathroom? Hell, I felt bad using the milk that I pumped in there, but at least I was able to keep it clean by not letting it touch anything (I pumped directly into a sanitized baggie thingy). No way I could do that with a cheeseburger or whatever.

4. Manual pumping sucks

When I say that this bathroom was tiny, I mean TINY. And the break area in this place was non-existent. Which means there was no place to store or use the fancy shmancy electric pump I had on loan from WIC. And since, again, I was a 20-year-old student with an infant, I couldn’t afford a portable one, which left me with one option – a crappy manual pump that took forever and hurt like a mofo.

5. Sexual harrassment

I ended up leaving this job over some serious sexual harassment issues on the part of a 17-year-veteran employee, but he was hardly the only guy to make sexual comments towards me. Especially when I needed to, or was trying to pump. There’s not like hearing three sous chefs chant “lemme see those titties” to get you amp-ed for pumping. NOT. And of course the managers did nothing.

6. Painful boobs

Unfortunately, due to a hectic schedule and a huge volume of customers, there were plenty of days when I got no break at all (looking back, I’m not sure how this place is still open, considering all the laws they broke). If you’ve ever been a breastfeeding mom, I’m sure you know how painful it can be not to pump or nurse for an entire 8-hour-shift. Sometimes, in the winter when I was wearing a heavy coat, I would put ice packs in my shirt on top of my bra on the subway ride home. It was that painful.

(Photo: Draw/Shutterstock)


  1. jorgemandrews

    August 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

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  2. guest

    August 16, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t know how you managed this. Kudos, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. I think I would have given up-you’re a stronger and more determined woman than I am.

    • guest

      August 18, 2014 at 3:16 am

      Wow downvoted for that? I guess you really can offend someone somewhere on this site, no matter how innocuous the comment.

  3. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    August 16, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    I dealt with all of these working retail except for the manual pumping. I was lucky enough to swing an electric one. I don’t envy having to pump manually at all. You’re like…a superhero.

  4. chill

    August 17, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Wow, that’s amazing and you deserve some sort of award for persevering through all that. I was very lucky and only had to pump in a bathroom a handful of times. But it was usually a nice office bathroom, not a nasty restaurant one. I’m sorry you had to tolerate all of that (#5 pissed me off the most though… 🙁 )

  5. val97

    August 18, 2014 at 9:14 am

    This brought back memories. I was a 23 year old bartender when I had my first. I pumped in the freaking dry storage room. It didn’t even lock from the inside, so I had to put up a little note asking people to knock, but of course any one who has worked in a restaurant knows that when someone needs something from dry storage, they just barge on in. Luckily I was not easily embarrassed. Sometimes my mom would bring my son in and I would nurse him back there. That was the best.

  6. ted3553

    August 18, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I work at an office and one of the reasons I chose not to breastfeed was that I’d have to pump at work. We had a nice bathroom but I’d still have to sit on a toilet as my office was more of a modified cubicle at the time. I mentioned this to a couple men in the office and they were shocked because they’d never thought about it.

  7. Jayamama

    August 18, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Articles like this one put my stresses as a SAHM in perspective. Sure, I have bad days, but I’ve only had to pump for my babies when I was leaving them with a babysitter. It reminds me to be thankful for being able to stay at home with them. I’m very fortunate to have that ability.

  8. Pingback: Nursing Mom On Jury Duty Posts Pictures Of Bathroom She Had To Pump In

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