Every woman who has breastfed a child or pumped her breastmilk has experienced what I like to call a "breastmilk blooper."
There is no more natural of an activity than nursing a child, yet we find ourselves and society unprepared for the phenomenons that occur in the process. Thankfully, children require our full attention, so awkward moments don't phase us mothers for very long. I asked a few mothers to share their breastmilk bloopers with me, so we could take a moment to laugh about the not-so-joyous, but in hindsight comical, experiences that we have had.
First of all, who knew that lactating breasts do not have an on/off switch?
Unfortunately, lactating breasts do not have an on/off switch. Those who are lucky or highly skilled can get into a great routine and avoid spraying at random, but no mother avoids it from the very beginning. Beth was just one of nature's many victims:
"I wasn’t nursing my daughter at the moment, but I thought I was getting mastitis so I was looking for red streaks and lifted my boob up and squirted myself in the face." -Beth
I hear that breastmilk is good for skin, so maybe that was a silver lining for Beth. Perhaps Kelsey's husband's hands required some rejuvenating:
"My husband has always enjoyed casually squeezing my boobs when we're doing stuff around the house (men, right?). After I had my daughter, he did it again not even thinking and got a handful of milk. The expression on his face, priceless! He was so horrified while I was laughing my tail off!" -Kelsey
Kelsey's husband was caught off guard, so he might think twice before the next random squeeze, but something tells me he won't. Amelia, her baby, and a stranger were caught off guard in the following scenario, which was a bit more awkward:
"I was walking through Walmart late one night nursing my son who was around 9 months old. I was doing the 2 shirt method, and he was dozing off. I was looking at the movies while my husband took our oldest to the bathroom. I turned down an aisle and there was an employee crouched down stocking movies. He stood up as soon as I turned the corner and asked if I needed any help. My son unlatched and turned his head quicker than I could react. In the middle of a strong let down. So milk was spraying everywhere. The guy looked shocked. I turned around and ran the other way." -Amelia
The things that can happen when we are on-the-go!
I've pumped behind a coat check at a holiday party where I was a guest. No one, except for my husband and the coat check attendant, was the wiser. I've also been known to pump in front of my dressed up girlfriends while we waited for a Lyft. After all, mothers deserve to get out and have some fun once in a while. Unfortunately, Erika, paid for a day of freedom with her dignity when she went to a football game:
"...I couldn’t bring my pump because it wasn’t a thing to do back then. So, I had plans to hand pump. I put an empty bottle in my little hand purse & off we went. Well, the time comes, I have to go pump in the bathroom ... it’s busy!! I go into a stall, set my beer down on the toilet paper holder & start hand pumping. Well, someone knocked on the door to ask if I was ok because I was taking a long time & startled me! .. beer spills perfectly on my shorts making it look like I peed myself!! I had to do a walk of shame back to the seats looking like I peed myself!" -Erika
I sure hope someone had a beer waiting for Erika when she got back to her seat. The number of spills that have occurred while a woman is pumping are too numerous to count, especially when she is traveling at high speeds. Take Julie, for instance:
"I was pumping under my shirt while driving to pick up my in-laws from the airport and overflowed all over the place. So I stopped, took off my shirt and pants to dry on the dash and was driving down the hwy in my pumping bra and undies. Had a semi pass, slow down for a double take. Probably made his day." -Julie
I wonder if Julie put her clothes on before her in-laws got into the car. I can just imagine the look on my in-laws' faces if I were to show up at the airport half dressed. They enjoyed the '70s, but they didn't attend Woodstock and, even if they had, I don't think it would be all that nostalgic for them to see me pull up half-dressed in my SUV. The same Julie as referenced above had another interesting travel experience on a plane:
"I was flying to visit my family and nursing my baby on the plane. I was next to the window. The man next to me says let him stretch out, so I did. Then he started playing with the babies feet which made things a bit awkward. But overall good flight." -Julie
It was nice of Julie to end her story on a positive and nice of the man next to her to let Julie's son stretch out. After all, there have been a lot of horror stories about anti-child travelers in the news. Still, a baby attached to your breast feels like part of your own body, so it probably should have occurred to the man that Julie could be uncomfortable with him tickling her baby while she breastfed. Also, babies have a tendency to look at their tickler, as would anyone of any age, and that could cause spraying (see above for a refresher on spraying).
Michelle was pumping in the car, safe from tickling strangers, but she did wonder if she was experiencing a breastmilk blooper when she saw a smokestack through her window:
"I pumped in my brother's truck on my way to Cedar Point while we went past a nuclear power plant." -Michelle
The Nuclear Plant that Michelle drove by has been the site of several safety incidents, but I'm sure all was in order that day. After all, she wasn't driving through Trunoble.
Speaking of waste...
We've all spilled a drop, or a bottle, of milk or two or three. Many of us have shed an equivalent amount of tears over it. We agree with Andi when she says:
“Whoever said don’t cry over spilled milk never pumped for 20 minutes and dumped over their collection containers” -Andi
Katie wasn't about to cry, so she took action:
"One time I spilled about an ounce of milk on the counter (first time mom at this point), I was so upset that I grabbed a medicine syringe and sucked it up and put it back in the bottle!" -Katie
Finally, I can't end this blog post without talking about workplace bloopers!
There's no time to gossip as a breastfeeding mother, but sometimes we still end up at the center of a controversy. Murial was just going about her motherly business when she sparked outrage:
"One time I was pumping in the break room, and the exterminator was there. Well, since we only had 4 employees they knew just to stay out. Well the exterminator walked in and I had nothing on, and was just hooking up my pump. he slammed the door so quick and ran away. He told my boss he wasn’t coming back." -Murial
That exterminator needs to lighten up. He can deal with a plethora of disgusting bugs, but he is traumatized by a woman's breasts?
I nearly found myself in the same predicament as Murial when we had a fire drill at my office. Our drills were voluntary and I stayed in my office to pump. I had a locked door and no windows at the time, so I continued to work and pump during the fire drill. Suddenly, with no warning, someone was unlocking my door. I yelled out, "Don't open the door, I'm in here!" The man yelled back, "I have to come in to make sure you're safe as part of the drill!" He got the door unlocked and started to push it open. I yelled, "DO NOT COME IN HERE!" in my scariest voice (which is pretty scary). He hesitated, but still held the door open ajar. I could hear the paralegal who sat outside my door reasoning with him. Finally, he backed down. This man took his duty very seriously, so kudos to him for that. Had he been a colleague, I would have been even more flustered at the prospect of an invasion. Unfortunately, Jenna did experience being flustered by a colleague:
"While my manager (female) was on vacation, I used to go into her office, lock it, and pump while I did computer work. We didn’t have any other place besides the break room to pump. One day our general manager (male), needed something in that office and unlocks it and comes in unbeknownst to him that I was pumping. I was covered but he was MORTIFIED. Needless to say it was awkward the rest of the day." -Jenna
I'm glad for Jenna and her colleague that she was covered when he walked in. Perhaps next time she could try Jen's trick, although she shouldn't have had to:
"After I had my first (who is 17 now yikes!) I would pump at work. To let people know I was busy pumping, I hung half a Kemp's ice cream bucket on the door." -Jen
Unfortunately for Jenna, she didn't have a locked door to rely on. Thankfully, our places of work are getting with the program and designating rooms with lockable doors for pumping. If your place of work does not provide adequate space or breaks for pumping, review the FAQs at https://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/faqbtnm.htm.
Well, that's about all that I can pump out regarding breastmilk bloopers today, but the material is endless. Thank you to the mothers who shared their stories. Without our senses of humor, we might go a little crazy after all that we endure as mothers. Remember that you are not alone, because there's another mother out there who just squirted herself in the face with breastmilk.
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