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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

When Baby Friendly Conferences Have No Place to Pump

There are conferences and conventions for pretty much everything these days and many are becoming baby friendly by offering space for moms to nurse or pump or take unhappy babies. This is fantastic! But sometimes, baby friendly conferences don’t cut it and moms are left in the lurch with no place to pump. What can you do?

What do you do when you're at a conference that has no place to pump?

Recently I attended a conference with about 2,500 other people. The conference was listed as being baby friendly and nursing babes were welcome to come along. I was able to have by baby stay with grandparents so I could go and not be distracted. I took my trusty pump along and planned to use a mother’s lounge to pump as needed.

This conference, despite providing lounges in the past, left me with no place to pump.

There was no mother’s lounge. There was no private space set aside. The only outlets were along the walls of the conference room and exterior hallways. Oh, and the single outlet in the bathroom? Right by the door.

I pumped. Sitting on the floor of the bathroom. Fully exposed. Right by the entry door for all to see. Several women were having severe gastric distress in stalls near me. Some moms offered to find me a chair. Some rolled their eyes. Some looked away in disgust. I was too humiliated to see what the men looking in as they went into their bathroom might have thought.

It was gross. Disgusting. Dirty. I have some body image issues and exposing my post-baby belly was extremely hard to do. And I wasn’t the only mom caught in this situation.

On the second day of the conference, I left my pump at home and took my 9-month-old so I could avoid that nasty situation. I missed a lot of the material because she needed my attention. I feel like my time and money spent on the conference were wasted.

When Baby Friendly Conferences Have No Place to Pump

I don’t want anyone to experience that same humiliation, so here are some things you can do to prepare ahead of time or do if you are caught in that same position:

  • Call the event ahead of time to inquire about a place to pump that is discrete and clean.
  • If the event itself says nothing is available, call the conference center and/or surrounding hotels and inquire. There may likely be a meeting room that can be used. Be sure to thank them and give positive feedback on their social media channels.
  • At the event, talk to anyone in charge. Keep asking until you find the event coordinator and let them know how important this is.
  • Email the events team and make it known, politely, how mothers are affected by this issue. Have other mothers write or call as well.
  • If the event staff cannot secure pumping space, ask the surrounding hotels. Ask for supervisors if needed. They may have a meeting room or unused hotel room that would work for pumping.
  • Follow up after the event to see how pumping moms will be supported in the future.
  • Take batteries and/or a car adapter for your pump in case you need to pump in your car or another hidden-away spot.

I’m not a huge fan of nurse-ins. I’d rather go the route of educating before calling a company out in public, but there is an appropriate time for a nurse-in or pump-in!

How would you have handled my situation?

Audra Michelle has been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for more than 6 years straight. Her first nursed for 15 months, her second for 14 months, and her third weaned at 27 months! Her first baby girl is thriving on breastmilk and will wean when she chooses.  Audra Michelle is a wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend, Jesus lover, and musician. You can find Audra Michelle blogging at UP and at Naturally Well.

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